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My First Moku Hanga... 
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Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:30 pm
Posts: 10
Location: Atlanta Georgia
Post My First Moku Hanga...
So I printed my moku hanga blocks and it was an interesting experience. My black layer went down perfectly. I really had no issues that I couldn't resolve with a little trouble shooting. This is exciting because my first black layer was very intricate and I was pretty worried about getting good results. Or little bits of it falling off during the printing.

The problems started with the color block.
I decided to print the color block right after I finished printing my keyblock. Awful prints. (on scraps of paper) I decided that my brush was making everything too wet because I had just washed it off. Is this one of the reasons printers have multiple brushes... So they can always have a dry one? I was getting ink filling in the small grooves and I was worried that I hadn't carved them deep enough. And my blue was printing teal. (The block I chose to carve had another printing experience in the distant past which stained it a yellow green) That yellow/green came to haunt me. I was able to work out the color thing but the printing issue was more persistent. I remembered reading that it was ok to let the key black layer "rest" overnight. So I put my stack into a little zip plastic bag and went to bed. Maybe printing would be better tomorrow?

Today.
I had the same difficulty but I went and printed my edition. In hopes that I would be able to troubleshoot my way through as I printed. The results are so-so. So let me start with the good. I had great registration. And I was able to pull a few prints that are ok. This is the best print I pulled
Image
And this is what all the bad prints looked like.
Image
Pretty noticeable streaking and the ink is gobbing on the lines a bit. Also I was getting the "too wet" texture you talked about all at once. But I had barely enough liquid on the block to cover the surface! There are prints where the corners didn't get inked because I was using such a tiny amount of ink. But even on those prints I am still getting the "too wet" texture. In desperation I took a very soft big dry brush and gently wiped that over the surface of the block right before printing. And it helped with the too wet thing but only a little.

Maybe my brush is bad. I grabbed one of my mom's old brushes and it isn't stiff at all and I don't know it that could be my problem? I hope the pictures help.
Image
It's not bad for a first moku hanga and maybe I am being too hard on it. But I really want to be able to do this right!


Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:16 am
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Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:30 pm
Posts: 10
Location: Atlanta Georgia
Post Re: My First Moku Hanga...
It just occurred to me that I had put my nori paste in the fridge after my first day of printing. Could the fact that my paste was cool affect anything?


Sun Apr 10, 2011 3:45 pm
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Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:30 pm
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Location: Atlanta Georgia
Post Re: My First Moku Hanga...
I decided that I needed more definition in the tree line so I printed a reduction of my color block.
Image

I had similar printing issues this round too... So I joined the Baren Forums and asked around

Mike Lyon said
"That's a sheep hair brush -- looks like a 'water' brush and would be good for dampening watercolor paper for washes, but won't work well for printing - way too soft... If you can't afford (or can't wait for) a 'real' printing brush, then look for a cheap (unused) shoe brush with densest hair possible -- horse hair works well and easy to find.

Paste / water experiment -- next time you're printing, start with clean block and brushes. Make a few prints without paste -- just water and pigment. You should see dotty printing -- that 'water texture' you mentioned (it's called goma-zuri = sesame seed printing). Then begin to add some paste and pigment and water and continue printing. As you add more paste, printing should get smoother and smoother until you've added so much paste that you begin to see your brush strokes in the prints -- the more paste you add from then on, the more pronounced the brush marks. If you want smooth printing, you have to be in the middle between too little paste (goma-zuri shows up) and too much (brush strokes show up)."

It seems like really good advise. So my plan is I am going to get this shoe brush and practice printing on scraps of paper.


Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:37 pm
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Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:30 pm
Posts: 194
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Post Re: My First Moku Hanga...
I'm sorry that I was too busy the past couple of days to respond promptly to this post, but it seems you're getting lots of good advice over there on [Baren] to make up for it! (That group is of course an excellent resource ...) [Edit: the thread containing Ms. Skoonberg's discussion has been archived here.]

Mike is definitely correct about your brush - it is way too soft. We don't 'paint' our pigment onto the blocks, we 'brush' it on, using the force of the bristles to get the stuff distributed smoothly. It'll make a huge difference in your work to get a firm brush.

As for the rest, it's difficult to know what to advise, because none of us can tell what kind of image is in your mind. Do you want deeper colour? If so, then make your pigment mix less watery ...

Fun to watch!


Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:59 pm
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Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:30 pm
Posts: 10
Location: Atlanta Georgia
Post Re: My First Moku Hanga...
You are a busy person and people shoot you printing questions all the time. I just figured I would be proactive about figuring this out. Instead of just waiting for my internet sensei. (Who is allowed to take days off.) I will just carve some new blocks and make a better print next time. I am kind of itching to get a new brush right now and see how much of a difference it makes.

And now I am a member of the baren forum and they are a pretty cool group. Although the format takes some getting used to. I am learning things about western printing too.


Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:09 am
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