Friday, February 28, 2014


I signed up for this print exchange on a whim.
I liked the idea of their sketch book project and the idea of a kind of traveling library with artists' sketchbooks on display all over the country and I was intrigued by their offering of their second
Printmakers exchange. (
The idea is similar.
500 Printmakers will each create an edition of 12 prints. One will go in their archives, one will be displayed in their Brooklyn Art Library in New York and the other 10 will be randomly distributed back to participating artists. The entry fee was a little steep ($50.00) and I was going to pass but it was the theme that convinced me to participate.
This year's theme is:  "Waiting for a Sign"--- not that that is so uncontrollably appealing it's just that I had done this sketch about 4-5 months ago:

I don't know if it's legible but the scrawled writing at the bottom reads, "waiting for some kind of sign..."
I had imagined some kind of figure on a bench reading in the foreground with this happening behind and the reader oblivious to all.   I liked the nervous sky and silly clouds and the Biblical-scale arrow coming down from the heavens. 

I took this strange coincidence as an omen that I should participate, but I decided in the end NOT to do this particular print for this exchange....mostly because I'd like to do it later and because I had envisioned this bigger and I wanted to play a bit with the printing......

So I went back to my idea file and pulled out another sketch which I've worked up and gotten as far as printed up and glued down ready for carving. It's perhaps not as exciting but it's part of a series I'm working on and at this 5"x7" scale will be a kind of trial or test print.

It also includes an arrow, a lot of blue, a wall and a sky and even a subtle, spiritual nod.  Stay tuned. Carving starts tomorrow.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wear and Tear

I reached another small milestone--I had to repair the takenokawa (cover) on my home-made Baren.  This means that I've been using them and my 11cm hemp-twine and glue, twisted-cord baren developed a tear bad enough during the print run of horses that I had to stop using it. (See my post on making one:

No worry. Practice works and I'm no longer panicking when I have to tie on a new one (I've done it now almost a dozen times....).
I'm also no longer worried about running out of bamboo leaf culms since I found a stash on the ground in the garden's bamboo patch.....and there's probably a botanical garden near you too where you can find some big enough to try out (

Snip, trash, rinse, rinse, stretch, stretch, smooth, smooth, rub, rub, rub, pleat, pleat, pleat, tie and snip.
There you are; all done.
It does get easier.
And this will definitely work.

Ready for the next one.

PS. This works reasonably well as a medium-soft baren and I used it on the thinner Japanese papers where my Murasaki baren was too hard and when I wanted a little mottling/wood grain to show.
My other home-made baren (14 cm kite-string twisted cord) instead worked really well for printing the key block.  Neither are strong enough for really good smooth color but I'm pretty happy with how they both perform.