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Mystique Series #14 : where the design came from

Posted by Dave Bull at 9:08 AM, June 9, 2011 [Permalink]

Now that printing on Mystique #14 is about to begin, I guess it's time to talk about the design for this one. Let's see where it came from ...

Exhibit #1 - a pocketbook on 'Chiyogami' (Japanese traditional printed papers):

Although most of the book is indeed about chiyogami, there are a number of pages inside that show leaves from a Meiji-era pattern book. One - a quite modern design, with the patterns framed in 'tsuba' (sword guard) shaped outlines - caught my eye:

This seemed like an interesting concept for the print, but the particular patterns in this example weren't so attractive to me (at that moment). A few pages on, this came up:


Next step was the decision to use two patterns on this image, rather than the three that were on the original page. Using three would simply make them too small to enjoy. Back to my bookshelf, for Exhibit #2, another pattern book, this one from early Showa:

Readers of my David's Choice eBook might recognize this, as I featured one of the leaves in that production. This spread caught my eye this time:

This miniature bamboo forest would do just perfectly for the second pattern in our print. And as an added bonus, that swirly background pattern also looks useful ...

So there are the 'parts'. It's now Thursday morning, and in a few minutes I'll be heading down to the workshop for the first test printing. I don't anticipate any particular problems to arise, and I certainly hope none do, as this will be a live-on air session of the new, improved Woodblock Webcam, complete with 'drop in' guests I think ...


Following comment posted by: Dave on June 9, 2011 2:41 PM

Drop in guests indeed! Five people did indeed come by, although I think the most we had in the loop at any one moment were four ... (And it seems there were others watching via Ustream but who decided to keep quiet!)

It was indeed a most interesting experience. There I was, sitting at my riverside workbench in Ome, listening to friends in: Tennessee, Michigan, Boston, Kyoto and Kamakura ...

We initially had a small feedback/echo problem, but once people realized their Ustream audio had to be turned off, it became smoother. Connection quality varied with each person, with the member on a satellite link from a rural US area not being able to interact as smoothly as the one 'next door' to me in Kamakura.

But it worked. Amazingly, it just worked. Sometimes I joined in, sometimes I just listened to their conversation. Near the end of our session, when we were down to just three of us, I was puzzling about a colour/tint question on the print, and got direct feedback from the watchers as I held each version up to the camera for their perusal.

In the end, of course, I'll be making my own decisions on the tones and colours for this print, and now that I've had a couple of hours to think about it, I already have another idea to test out, so they may yet be surprised when they receive their copy.

And I can only imagine what it must feel like, to be sitting 'at home' somewhere out there, to watch this proofing take place (partly with your input), and to then receive the actual print in the post a couple of weeks later ... knowing that this is how it was born.


Following comment posted by: gunilla widolm on June 10, 2011 4:51 AM

I live in Sweden. I am working with etchings mostly but also with woodcuts. I liked the images very much and find them elegant and subtile!
They inspired me veru much.

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