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Kakegami project - from 0 to '60' in four sessions ...

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

Time for an update on the kakegami - the wrapping paper for Japanese confections ...

I posted snapshots of Tsushima-san working at her new bench, but don't want to leave the impression that she has been doing that every day. She has three children (and their dad) to 'manage', and has not been able to spend more than two mornings here in any given week. So far we have had four sessions.

I posted the 'results' of her first session at the time, and it certainly looked as though she might be the type to catch on pretty quickly. The second day wasn't quite as successful, because I overdid it and gave her some quite difficult blocks to test (a few from Ueda-san's magnificent stash).

She was back here yesterday and today, and these results I can happily post ...

During the intervening few days, I carved a pair of blocks for a simple plum blossom pattern. All the confectionery makers around here sell plum-based products, as that's the name of our town; Ome translates literally as 'blue plum', which really means 'green plum', a kind of fruit not eaten directly, but used for confections and in the production of ume-shu, a very popular plum 'wine'. (But if somebody offers you some, don't even think of drinking it like wine!)

She had a go at printing it, and the results weren't bad:

The piece of paper is quite wide, and this will be size of our finished kakegami, large enough to wrap around a package of confectionery.

Here's a closeup of the pattern. Not the smoothest printing impression you've ever seen, but this was her third day:

For this morning's session, I prepared a different kind of pigment - something quite a bit thicker and more dense. We're doing this printing on dry paper, remember. (Moistening and then drying would take way too much time on a job of this type, and would simply add too much to our base cost.) And I made the plums a bit more pinkish and cheerful.

I also prepared (with my laser printer) the mockup of the printing that will appear on the wrapper - the address of the confectionery shop, Mokuhankan's info, and the 'title' of the confection (which will of course be interchangeable ...)

A very nice job! Here's a closeup of the same area we saw a moment ago:

She did a run of a couple of dozen sheets (while the Webcam was running too!). They weren't all of the same quality, but overall, it's clear that she is pretty much ready to go. I took a couple of the sheets over to the confectionery this afternoon, and the owner was enthusiastic too ... "Nice!"

He and I discussed what kind of lettering should be on the front and I came home with some samples of the text. I'll cut a couple of blocks for these as soon as I can catch a minute, and Tsushima-san will then run up the first batch for taking to the shop ...

From zero to 'pro' :-) in four days!




Added by: Dave on July 8, 2011, 5:35 pm

I should have included it earlier, but this is the shop that has agreed to try this experiment with us.

I wonder, should I perhaps talk to them about putting their 'Ome Senbei' into the Mokuhankan catalogue? Crazy?

Added by: Barbara Mason on July 9, 2011, 12:22 am

I don't think it is crazy to put it in the catalog, it is charming and not everything has to be perfect to be appreciated! The carving is amazing! and the cost will be low so many will buy it.

Added by: Barbara Mason on July 9, 2011, 12:23 am


Will it come with candy??? That would be nice!

Added by: Dave on July 9, 2011, 12:27 am

Barbara, I meant the senbei (cookies), not the wrappers!

Added by: Marc Kahn on July 9, 2011, 9:55 am

If the size of the printed paper is set, it must be that the size of the box to be wrapped is a given set of dimensions. I would very much like to see what a wrapped box will look like.

Added by: Dave on July 9, 2011, 2:36 pm

For each of their confections, they have a variety of options for the customers: pack of 10, pack of 20, etc. etc. This paper is thus prepared in a wide format so that it will wrap around right to left. In the case of the smallest package, much of the pattern area will also 'wrap around'; for the largest package, it will end up being centered in the middle of the front face.

Once we're in the shop for real, I'll take some snapshots ...

Added by: Anita Cage on July 15, 2011, 12:42 pm

Yes, cookies, please! Would they ship to the U.S.?

Added by: Dave on July 15, 2011, 12:54 pm

ship to the US?

He himself wouldn't ship anywhere ... he's just a local little shop. He'd panic to even think of such a thing!

What I was mulling over was the idea of putting some of his confections actually into the Mokuhankan catalogue - the ones that are 'dry' and thus have no problem with refrigeration, etc. (like the Ome Sembei illustrated above). Of course each package would come with the woodblock wrapper ...

But I rather suspect that they would end up just too expensive for most overseas people. Remember, these confections aren't priced like 'cookies' are in the supermarket; they are priced as 'gifts'. Then with the shipping too ...

Anyway, next time I'm over talking to him I'll bounce the idea around a bit, and will check package weights, etc.

(It was supposed to be this afternoon that I next head over there ... to deliver the first batch of wrappers printed with his custom calligraphy - which I carved over the weekend, and which Tsushima-san was going to print this morning. But five minutes before she was supposed to get here she called in sick (kid's fever) yet again ... The next free day she has is Tuesday next week ...)


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