« Large Flea Market Prints | Front Page | New Ukiyo-e Hero Coming Along Nicely »

Block-less Snow Technique

Posted by Cameron Hilker on July 26, 2018 [Permalink]

Rei learned how to use gold flakes this week, but she's not the only printer gaining new skills. Suga-san has been working on the "Winter Ferry" design for the Mystique of the Japanese Print series and needed to add snow to the print. This required some interesting tools and experimentation.

The tools David Bull used years ago are still in the Ome workshop, so Suga-san had to first gather all the necessary materials and tools to add snow here in Asakusa.

To create the snow on this particular print, the pigment is not applied in the same way as the rest of the colors, by using carved wood blocks and rubbing the paper with a baren. Instead, Suga-san needed to find some controlled way to spray the wet gofun (white pigment made from ground seashells) onto the print. Dave is planning to write a more complete explanation on the woodblock.com encyclopedia page in the future, so keep an eye out for that.

Suga-san first grabbed a print for practice and tested a toothbrush loaded with the gofun by brushing it against a hand-held strainer (much like the one Rei used to apply gold flakes).

Unfortunately the toothbrush ended up splattering the pigment with inconsistent droplet sizes, some of which were much too large, as you can see here. She was hoping for something with smaller, more regular droplets to create an attractive print for the subscribers to the Mystique of the Japanese Print series.

After some experimentation with different brushes, she found a long, very stiff one that seemed to do the trick.

Much better!

Because of all the white pigment splattering around for this technique, Suga-san was very thorough in protecting all her pigments, brushes, other prints, and everything else she uses around her printing space. Her newspaper barrier made for quite a sight!

Here is a comparison showing what these prints look like before and after this final snow application is performed. What a difference it makes!

To me, as an outsider who does not make any woodblock prints or have any experience with the techniques used in Mokuhankan's prints, I find the process amazing to watch and document. I love to see all the experimentation and adjustments that go into creating the high quality prints we send all around the world, and I hope you enjoy learning a little bit more about it as well.




Added by: Stu on July 26, 2018, 11:44 pm

This is one of my favourite prints from the Mystique of the Japanese Print series, and I'm glad to see that others will be able to share in new copies of this print!


Add Your Input


(you may use simple HTML tags for style)