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Printing a woodblock print the Japanese way with water-based inks

Demonstration at "The Print Studio" in Hamilton, Canada, June 2007

Fotos by Katherine Zarull

Before starting to print, I have prepared my working space. The block is placed in front of me, behind it the paper, on the left humid newsprint for storing the printed sheets. As right hander, I have placed the required tools and material ready on the right side: inks, paste and water, brushes and the printing tool baren. The prints I am going to print is done from three blocks which I will print one after the other. I am starting with the first block, the "background block".

Before inking, I soak the block with water so it might be able to absorb ink easily.

I apply ink with a pigment brush, add a few drops of printing paste and mix both on the block with a printing brush, thus creating an even film of colour.

I take the paper and place it into the kento registration marks. I cover it with a protective paper. I print by rubbing the paper with the baren.

Print of the first plate. The "grainy" texture, called gomazuri (printing a "sesame seed" pattern) results from a block which is too wet or lacks paste. It appears often in the first pulled prints.

I continue with the second plate. I ink it with two different colours including one gradation, and I print it.

Print of the first and second plate

I ink the third plate...

... and I print it.

The three plates...

... and the final print.


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