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Senshafuda Project - Spring 2011 keyblock done

Posted by Dave Bull on April 8, 2011 [Permalink]

Continued from the previous post in the thread | Starting point of the entire thread is here

We made major progress yesterday on the senshafuda project: Sato-san has finished the keyblock, and we had a meeting (together with printer Tetsui-san) to work out the colour separations.

We met at Tetsui-san's place, taking over the kitchen table for our work. The first thing we did was run off a bunch of photocopies of our design, so we could mess around with the planning as freely as possible. (That's Sato-san on my right, with Tetsui-san across the table.) (images clickable)

The whole thing is an exercise in trade-offs. We (obviously) want the prints to be as 'pretty' as possible, and that involves using plenty of colour blocks, many gradations, delicate touches, etc. etc. Every time we want to add something though, we have to balance that with the 'cost' - in extra printing time. It's very easy indeed to keep adding things ... but somebody then has to sit down and print them!

We had a lot of fun with this - it's actually just a 'puzzle' of sorts, and we think we came up with plenty of good ideas about how to make the prints as interesting and attractive as possible, yet without leaving Tetsui-san with a printing job that will extend into next year ...

Tetsui-san then took the block into his workroom, and got ready to run off the kyogo-zuri (impressions from the keyblock on which the colour zones will be delineated for carving.)

The block getting its first workout ...

We're using a thin gampi - too thin to print by itself, so it's laid down on a thick backing paper.

While Tetsui-san ran them off, Sato-san couldn't resist studying some of the blocks lying around the workshop. This guy has an insatiable appetite for learning anything and everything about this craft. (Reminds me of somebody I 'knew' nearly thirty years ago ...)

The printing turned up a couple of small problems with the block, and the guys are trying to decide what to do about one of those spots.

It's a place where there is a small split in the wood, which accumulates pigment, leaving a dark spot in the impression (you can see it in the next photo even on these rough sheets, down near the thumb that is holding the iPhone.) Hopefully, it will respond to a light grinding with a nagura stone ... we'll see.

Anyway, here are some of the kyogo sheets. Sato-san will take these home, and carefully mark out the colour zones, going by the plan we worked out on the photocopies. He'll then get busy carving the colour blocks.

He figures it will take him until the middle of next week. In the meantime, Tetsui-san will continue with other work, and I'll get the paper sized. (Tetsui-san has too much work waiting to be able to do that job, so it's going to fall to me ...)

The next step will be proof printing, back here at Tetsui-san's place. If Kaori-san is available, we'll of course get her involved, but if she can't escape from work, Tetsui-san and I will do it together. Sato-san also wants to come, even though technically at that point he's 'done' with his part in this project. But of course he wants to see how the proofing proceeds, in order to learn more about how colours overlay, and etc. and etc.

More then!

This thread continues here ...




Added by: Marc Kahn on April 9, 2011, 12:00 pm

How exciting for you to be the mentor for such enthusiastic young people! Maybe it's my overactive imagination, but the photos convey to me that they have an intense level of commitment to doing it right. The Mokuhankan Atelier emerges...

Added by: Dave on April 9, 2011, 12:12 pm

These guys are both enthusiastic, but at the same time quite 'fearful' (that's a bit too strong ...). They well-know my own capabilities, and knowing that they can't reach that level yet, are both somewhat concerned that I'll reject what they produce.

We're already seeing this - the block Sato-san put on the table isn't as 'good' as what I could have done myself. Should I thus reject it? Of course not; I've been carving nearly thirty years, and he has less than two years under his belt. The block is actually a lot better than what I had been afraid of, and I was very relieved to see it. I'm now even more confident that the prints will look fine!

So I have to find the right words to let him know that this is 'good', and the job will be acceptable to the collectors - but without having him develop the idea in his mind that 'this level is OK', because in the long term, it's not.

It's worth mentioning too that they can see this blog - Sato-san in particular reads English quite well - so you can direct any questions/discussions here for them, and I'll see that replies get posted here somehow. (But don't do anything right now that would require a long extended reply - I want him to keep at the blocks until this set is ready; he can 'chat' here later!)


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