Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Chestnuts. Etagami to Woodblock: LAILAC DEMO

I cut the blocks for this woodblock print just in time for my little demo for the LAILAC Japanese festival in Scandicci/Florence this weekend.  I had just one hour for my demo both Saturday and Sunday so there really wasn't much time but I think it went well, although I was talking too fast, forgetting to use the microphone,  and printing too so I didn't get to take any photos during my talk (although I took a bunch of the Etagami section).  I had a good crowd, interested and attentive but lacked a video feed so it was hard for those in back to see what I was doing.

I did manage to do a brief oral explanation of moku hanga and the history of Japanese woodblock and Ukiyo-e, describing the big difference between Western and Japanese woodblock techniques with an emphasis on why I use this method for my own work and then quickly moved to the demo part which is why I was there.

Since a big part of the Japanese festival is the Etagami corner (20 Japanese members of the Etagami society came over and were assisting at the tables showing people how to do etagami), I chose to do one of the Fall postcards I made last year, reworking it as a woodblock print.

I had time just to print the keyblock and text and one-two of the color blocks (I had carved 7) so I ended up with about 10 partially printed pieces of washi.
So now that the fair is over, I retreated to my studio and finished these proofs before the paper could go bad.
The original sumi and watercolor etagami postcard.

Simple version; no text and just one of the background blocks.
Text block added (it also has additional chestnut drawing details).

An additional background color block added.

Here are three of the printed variants. These are all on Shin Hosho (from Woodlike Matsumura in Japan and via Intaglio Printmakers in the UK).
One is without the carved text block (which also had some additional drawing lines)
One is with a faint yellow background/beta ban block.
And one is with a supplementary background green block that added a little more depth and was in keeping with the original watercolor washes.
 The hardest part was the small purple/blue spot on the upright chestnut. It meant a round bokashi on one block with blue, and the careful removal of pigment in the same area on another block and there is quite a bit of variability to how they came out.

I'm pretty happy with this. It's pretty close to the original Sumi and watercolor drawing that was the inspiration and a good printing exercise.  I'm not sure which I like better, the one with or without the text. The former retains better the idea of a watercolor still life while the one with text is still an etagami or "Word Picture".   The text reads, "AUTUMN TREASURE" and is a accurate description about how we feel about finding local chestnuts in the woods.

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