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Suggestions for more content
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Author:  Tom Kristensen [ Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:08 am ]
Post subject:  Suggestions for more content

Love the book, thanks. No doubt it will grow...

If you are looking for suggestions, a couple of things I would like:

An alphabetic video/audio glossary - where you have a labelled thumbnail of all the tools and materials and by clicking through you can hear the correct Japanese pronunciation and a short commentary. I hate to think how mangled my Japanese terminology must sound, and when I have to teach other people (say school kids in a demonstration) it would be great to have a resource to brush up on spoken language.

For beginners, it would be great to have a checklist of things required to get started, perhaps this could be just an appendix linked to the glossary

In a future fat edition perhaps it would be instructive to many readers if you would show them through a pile of prints, different styles and formats. It seems to me that many people, and indeed many woodblock artists, are largely unaware of what a Japanese print looks like.

Author:  David Bull [ Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Suggestions for more content

Tom Kristensen wrote:
If you are looking for suggestions, a couple of things I would like: An alphabetic video/audio glossary -

I hadn't though of this at all, but it is now top of the list for adding to the next update version.

Tom Kristensen wrote:
In a future fat edition perhaps it would be instructive to many readers if you would show them through a pile of prints ...

Here's what I'm sort of thinking for the books to follow:

1) Carving
- anything and everything that I have learned, hopefully organized into useful categories. And I intend to also include a section where I visit a carver who was trained classically, and have him delineate the complete 'vocabulary' of basic strokes that he learned when he was a kid (something I myself am very weak on). I also want to document the katagiri-bori method (carving the whole image without turning the block at all) before the last guys who know about it disappear. Nobody alive can now do this, but at least some of them spent time with older carvers who could ...

2) Printing
- ditto ... This will be much 'fatter', because there are so many possible variations in the tools and techniques ... Many many hundreds of pages, I think ...

3) Japanese prints in general
- overview of the genre from the perspective of the 'object', rather than from the 'artist'. No end to this one too, but I have no idea when I will ever find the time for it ...

4) Another volume aimed at relative beginners - this time not using the key block technique, but the method of working colours directly from a master sketch. Lots of people don't like the delicate line carving, and they are kind of left-out in the present volume ...

So many things to do ... so little time ...

Thanks for the suggestions Tom!

Author:  Annie Bissett [ Mon Oct 12, 2009 8:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Suggestions for more content

I love the book. It's just wonderful, as full of excellence as your prints.

I've finally gotten fairly good at sharpening my hangi-toh (a larger stone helped a lot), but I would love to see a video on sharpening a u-gouge, which I still struggle with.

Author:  David Bull [ Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Suggestions for more content

Interesting to hear you mention a larger stone. I specifically chose a small one for this 'beginners' demonstration, because the wider the space is that one works on, the more chance there is of 'rocking' the tip; I thought that keeping everything 'close and tight' would help people control things better.

But yes, using a larger stone and taking wider sweeps is the way that pros do it - the idea is to do the job as fast and efficiently as possible!

As for the u-gouge suggestion, I'll add it to the (ever-growing) list of things to consider for the next upgrade version. Thanks!

Author:  Julio Rodriguez [ Tue Oct 13, 2009 8:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Suggestions for more content


I think #4 on your list of things to do "working colors from a master sketch' would be a very important addition to the book. For me that's one the toughest parts...planning and creating the color separations...I am not talking about the actual work but rather the preliminary visualization of the color areas from the sketch...such as overlaying two colors to achieve a third, the use of a grey block for depth ala Yoshida, etc. These are the details that make Japanese printmaking so rewarding.

Author:  David Bull [ Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Suggestions for more content

Hah! I knew somebody would bring this up! There's a real reason why I put that item at #4 on the list, and not at #1. Namely, I'm no good at it!

I don't mean the 'mechanics'. If the concept is clear there on the paper, then I can work out separations and how to physically make the thing. That's what I did a few years ago when I made a print of this image (drawn on a computer) from Gary Luedke:


My print:

But you asked about 'preliminary visualization' ... you know ... the 'art' part of it, and that's where I don't have a lot to bring to the table.

So I won't be starting that book just yet; I really have to sit down and think about how to approach it. (Actually I think that what should happen is that Matt Brown would write that book. I wonder if he would be interested in putting it together ... he did talk about creating a 'how-to' book one day many years ago when we were talking about these things ...)

Author:  Hideki Arichi [ Sun Oct 25, 2009 12:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Suggestions for more content

I'd be interested in how certain techniques have been used to achieve various textures.

For example Kiyoshi Saito's work is very distinct in its use of the grain and in getting a dimpled effect which has me baffled. ... artist=201

It suggests here that he had a 'rare tool' that he used to 'scratch and pick at the wood'. Any ideas what that could have been? A key? A fork? :?:

Examples of not only Ukioye Prints but others through the years up to today would be interesting.

Author:  David Bull [ Sun Oct 25, 2009 12:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Suggestions for more content

Well, discussions of how to print textures would of course be a section of that 'next' book that I mentioned. And it would be a pretty extensive section, I think, as there is no end to the possibilities there ...

As I start to think about those future books a bit more, I'm realizing that I should probably involve some other craftsmen too - get some 'guest articles' perhaps - because there are just too many aspects of printmaking that I myself have little experience with. This texturing thing is one of those; I myself don't like it so much, so don't use it.

Saito-san was known for his very 'rich' textures, and I think that - for the most part - these are not single impressions, but were mostly obtained by having his printers overprint them multiple times, using varied approaches each time. A light goma-zuri would be overprinted by a heavy one, then perhaps yet another one in another tone, etc. etc. The final built-up texture (in his backgrounds) would be very dense, and almost impossible to analyze.

As for the 'rare tool' I have no idea. Looking at that phrase though, makes me suspect that it might be a stilted translation from Japanese. Rather than 'rare tool', I think it probably should read 'tool rarely used' ... For example, maybe a hammer, or stone, or something similar used to make marks on the wood. (But as I said, I have no specific knowledge of this.)

(I met Saito-san only once, at his home. He didn't like me from the start, and I didn't much like him either. End of that story.) :|

Author:  Tom Kristensen [ Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Suggestions for more content

I remember my first post to the barenforum was also seeking answers to the riddle of the Saito textures. I didn't get a lot of joy. Someone suggested that I try timbers with different grain patterns, and yes, this is one source of texture seen in a smaller number of Saito prints, but the more common texture is seen in the dappled shades of grey and brown.

I think Dave is correct in identifying that a lot of the texture typical to Saito prints is the result of multiple watery impressions. Saito prints show an extensive bleed-through on the verso, often with smudging, indicating that the paper was pretty damp. The verso also shows deeply embossed impressions, indicating multiple passes with the same block If you study the print usually you can find an underlying block with light grey texture and then perhaps a couple more reduced blocks with heavier treatments. The problem with relying simply on goma-zuri to give texture is that the results are hard to control. I think most Saito texture blocks have been 'distressed' in some way, I have heard that placing a carved block face down on a road and driving over it with a car was one technique he used to get an organic texture. Perhaps he used a meat tenderiser, perhaps he had a range of bashing devices, maybe he used chains? It is also possible that some blocks were made from different substrates and perhaps 'sticky' inks were sometimes applied with rollers. I think there is a huge range of tricks involved.

In the book by by Oliver Statler, Sato complains that he didn't really enjoy the work needed to find the right textures, but he couldn't really leave the job to someone else, but there is no doubt that the Saito catalogue is a team effort and that his printers contribute their own style to the work.

It does sound like Saito was perhaps a little over-opinionated about the direction of woodblock prints in the modern era. I think he was ideologically opposed to older styles of prints and saw himself as a rebel who would re-invent the artform. Perhaps he would have been ultra-prickly towards a westerner treading on the woodblock turf. Whether he 'improved' on the techniques of old is debatable, but he did succeed in producing a massive body of consistent work that was also commercially very successful. None of the other print makers in Sosaku hanga have made such a variety of work, and I don't think any of them worked as hard as he did.

Author:  Hideki Arichi [ Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Suggestions for more content

Thanks for the answers on Saito also were his prints made using oil based colour?

I found another one who's working method sounds intriguing. From what I gather Yoshida,Masaji cut the pieces out so that they fit like a jigsaw but raised the areas to be printed as and when. That's where I'm a little puzzled, the paper was also pinned to the frame holding the pieces. The descriptions are from the written explantion in 'Modern Japanese Prints 1912-1989' by Lawrence Smith. Do any of the other readers here know more about Yoshida or know of pictures of his blocks? Thanks.

Also tips on carving circles and long straight lines would be interesting.

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