Your First Print : Support Forum

Frothy Sea with Cat
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Author:  James Cope [ Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:49 am ]
Post subject:  Frothy Sea with Cat

Here is my post "Your First Print" keyblock. I was very pleased with it but did have some trouble clearing out nice and smoothly with some of the lines being so close together, I guess I need a narrower aisuki?

I thought that the print was less exciting than the block, but I suppose I have spent days and days learning to cut and all of five minutes learning to print like this. Most of the prints were far too wet, and I was prancing around all over the block with a far too small, brush.. lessons learned! I hope.
This was intended as a key-block.

Author:  David Bull [ Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Frothy Sea with Cat

Pretty impressive! That's a whole lot more accomplished than my own 'first print' was, so many years ago!

Are you left-handed? You've put the registration marks in the opposite corner from what is traditional. It's no big deal if you are going to be printing by yourself, but if you have any intention of your blocks ever being printed by somebody else, you might consider using the other corner ...

What's the wood?

Author:  James Cope [ Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Frothy Sea with Cat

Thanks David, very kind, but as you said yourself, your book wasn't available to you then! I did a rather awful print of a tree complete with bevel against the line, as my very first print but as that was prior to getting Your First Print it is gratifyingly not relevant here!
I think that because the process of transferring the image onto the block face down occludes the problem of lateral inversion I forgot that it would actually be relevant to the kento! So I left the space for the markings on the wrong side when I drew up my image.
The wood is apparently magnolia, I think it is quite easy to work.

Author:  David Bull [ Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Frothy Sea with Cat

You say 'key block' so you are planning some colours for this? With that sea pattern, there are lots of interesting possibilities ...

Author:  James Cope [ Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Frothy Sea with Cat

I was a little impatient to just start carving so I haven't planned as much as I probably should have. I imagined it as a steely-grey night scene, and I'd still like to do that even though now it has manifested itself in this medium I feel like I should be spoofing Hokusai's blue waves, or am I thinking about this all wrong, I suppose I could re-use the blocks in any combination of colours?

Firstly I am going to put a bit of colour into the waves at least, just leaving the tops and a few of those circles as the paper, though I bet embossing them would makes things more interesting (if possible). Looking around, I would guess I will need at least three colours to make up the waves, do you think I could blend these together (itabokashi)?

The clouds in the sky don't really work as they should for a keyblock as I had decided to print the darker parts of the clouds with the same colour as the lines, I'm not sure why but I think it was because I didn't want to rely solely on outline. I think I have more misgivings about having done the waves in outline, considering that the clouds aren't.. I'm definitely still figuring things out! I was thinking that it would make sense to fade the horizon between the sky and the sea with some bokashi.
As for the cat, it will probably be black (in memory of our recently departed, mischievous, Bilbo). Though I think I will probably end up using some "white lines" to give some fur highlights, which I am sure I read somewhere isn't the old way of doing things.

Sorry to ramble on, did you have any suggestions? as you said there are possibilities, and I think I'm having trouble getting my head around them all, still I'd like to be as ambitious as possible.

Author:  David Bull [ Mon Mar 05, 2012 1:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Frothy Sea with Cat

The possibilities are of course pretty much infinite, and that's the problem. Where does one start?
In this case, given that you don't have a whole lot of experience putting colour on paper, it really doesn't make a lot of sense to get too ambitious just yet. Cut yourself a straight-forward block for the water - leaving some white foamy highlights. Cut another one for the sky, again perhaps leaving some white areas. And you'll need something for the cat.
At first, don't go much further than that; cut them and practice with each one until you can make some sort of basically acceptable impressions. Then, with that 'print' in hand, and the experience under your belt, put it aside for a bit and study it. I think at that point you will then start to see ways in which you might be able to add more blocks to bring out such things as depth and 'mood' in the design. But until you have that basic experience, it's not really very productive to overly think this.
And of course, as you mentioned, any given block can be printed in innumerable ways, so with some experimentation you'll be able to try many different ideas on that first simple block set. If you cut them too complicated at first, you limit your options ...
(Another thing to mention is that in the sea area, you have put a lot of motion and activity into your key block, so the colour block(s) for that area do not need to carry all that much information. They will not need to be very complex.)

Author:  James Cope [ Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Frothy Sea with Cat

Thanks David, I can't tell you how great it is to have a teacher, telling me what to do! I've a good idea of what to work on now and shall have to look forward to having some much better impressions to post on here in the next few weeks.

Author:  James Cope [ Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Frothy Sea with Cat


Well, I have not yet come to the end of my grandiose schemes but have had a chance fiddle with the first colour block. I think I will need to redo this one due to my mis-handling of the hanshita (is that right?); it seems registered ok on the right hand side, but all off on the left; I would guess this to be due to the paper distorting after absorbing water from the glue or merely me moving it around clumsily whilst trying to smooth it down onto the block. I will look closely at David's refined technique I think, and perhaps use wood glue rather than self made rice glue, which I ended up having to use anyway in order to re-glue bits of peeling paper.
As an aside, this was using "shina" plywood, the top lamination is very thin and comes away all too easily in smaller printing areas, also some parts came away from the middle layers when I dampened the block prior to printing, not sure I will be using this stuff again unless I am advised that I am not treating it properly.

Author:  David Bull [ Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Frothy Sea with Cat

At this point, looking at the mis-registration, it's difficult to tell whether the problem is in the carving or the printing. Did your paper expand/contract while making this sample print, or did it expand/contract while making the colour transfers for carving?

It might still be possible to print this - when printing the blue, push the paper 'half-way' across the mis-registered distance, trying to 'even out' the difference, and you might find it close to acceptable ...

Not sure what else to add - making the transfers (especially on images with plenty of fine detail) is a critically important step. Both when printing them, and gluing them, water is your enemy! Keep things as 'dry' and stable as possible ...

Author:  James Cope [ Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Frothy Sea with Cat


Wow David! that has pretty much almost (but not quite!) sorted that out! plus it was loads of fun putting in the shims, something which I thought would be a real pain. Now to rid myself of the blotchyness. I supposed that I should come out and admit that I have been using cheap, manufactured Hosho paper all along; while harbouring some much nicer handmade paper, hidden away so that I can't ruin it. I have alot more practice printing to do, so I won't beg for more advice on that yet.

I really thought I would have to cut this block again, thanks.

Author:  David Bull [ Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Frothy Sea with Cat

Looking good! Glad that the adjustment worked out ...

As for paper, the 'blotchyness' is really not something that is being caused by the cheaper paper, I think, so please leave your 'good stuff' in reserve for a while! Just practice some more with the stuff you have, adjusting the moisture balances back and forth (and perhaps upping the paste a bit) ...

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