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General update ...

Posted by Dave Bull at 2:24 AM, April 8, 2012 [Permalink]

A week without an update! Whatever 'flock' of readers the Woodblock RoundTable may have gathered have probably wandered away in search of more reliable blog content! But it can't be helped, I'm afraid; the work has to come first, and writing about it sometimes just has to wait ...

I've been spreading myself around a number of projects over this past week; the most important of which (although the one that actually got the least amount of time) was moving forward on getting this print done. I ran off a couple of quick proof copies on the block set I finished last week,, mostly just to confirm that there were no major errors in carving, and that there was indeed a print 'in there' waiting to come out. With that done, I began to get the batch of paper ready for next week's printing - starting as always with the sizing:

This went particularly smoothly this time, whether because of the weather (clear but not too dry) or because of my gradually accumulating experience, I can't say. I ended up with a stack of very smooth sheets. Printer Tsushima-san was here in the afternoon of that day, and although we didn't try it this time, at some point in the not-too-distant future, she'll have to be trying this for herself ... (I didn't tell her when I hired her last year that she would end up 'in the kitchen'!)

Another job taking up a good many hours this week was the preparation of the spring issue of the newsletter. It's almost ready to go to press, and the final copy should be pasted into place later tonight, and it'll be off to the printers in the morning:

The next major 'time sink' was the case construction project - building the storage boxes for the upcoming print series. Some recent posts have covered our progress so far, but this week Lee-san and I found ourselves getting bogged down. We've been 'tooling up' as best we can, but are finding it difficult to draw the line between the construction steps that need special jigs and tools, and those that simply have to be done one-off by hand. It's kind of an 80-20 rule - around 80% of the work can be done in 20% of the time, but getting that final 20% done properly eats up 80% of the time. We've got to find a way to improve the accuracy of the initial steps in order to reduce the need for so much final 'detailing'.

And we're running out of time to get this thing up and running, so we have to get these details worked out over the next few days. While Lee-san was off this weekend, I snuck down into his workspace and made my own trial run of our production line, pushing his work to one side and making a batch of three cases:

They turned out 'OK', but not as good as I would like. I think Monday will be a final day of planning, and we'll then have to just swallow hard, clear the decks, and press the big button to start the line operating ...

But that short recounting of things I have been involved with this week certainly isn't enough to account for all the 'missing' time. For that, you'll have to wait for tomorrow evening's update over on the Mokuhankan Conversations blog!

[By the way, there's a bit of 'bonus detail' in that last photo for those who look for it!]


Following comment posted by: Diana Cadwallader on April 9, 2012 12:59 AM

Might the "bonus detail" be the small box with oval ends that could be a tool box, but maybe it's a case for spectacles to examine the prints!

Following comment posted by: Margaret Maloney on April 11, 2012 2:35 PM

I think the "bonus detail" is the "finished" first print of the new series sitting in a display box on one of the shelves!

(I say finished, but as you're still sizing, I assume that's a test print.)

Following comment posted by: Dave on April 11, 2012 2:42 PM

And the 'winner' is indeed Margaret!

It's one of the four test prints I ran the other day to confirm the condition of the blocks. It's not finished all the way, as the fan colors on the dancer's kimono have yet to be done. (Those take time, and weren't relevant to the test ...)

First batch of 120 sheets is now moistened (I had the Webcam recording for part of that), and printing begins later this evening,. In the meantime, I'm working as an assistant on Lee-san's production line ...

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