The bamboo in the garden is coming up and that means I'll be gathering takenokawa--the leaf sheaths or culms from the bamboo plant that I use for covering my barens.
I have a few workshops and classes starting next month and one of the things that always interests students are my home-made barens. A basic plastic baren like we use in my classes costs just $6.00 but as the papers get thicker and the work more complicated, a stronger baren with a little more "feel" and heft makes printing easier and improves the quality of the printed image. Mid-range barens get expensive fast, and professional barens can cost--depending on type--from $150 to over $1000.
The one's I make take a few days to put together but cost just about $5.00 in materials and work well enough for beginners and students on both thin Japanese papers and thicker European papers and will function until one has made enough prints to think about moving to a better tool. Instructions on how they're made can be found in earlier posts--the biggest change I've made is in hardening the twisted twine with PVA glue so it will stay hard longer--and using different strings to make medium or harder barens. I've had 3 of my barens find new homes recently so I have to make a few new ones so I'll have some for my next workshop for students to try out. For someone who wants to make their own look over my earlier posts:
http://rospobio.blogspot.it/2013/05/making-twisted-cord-baren.html or http://rospobio.blogspot.it/2015/01/home-made-barens-revisited-and-now-on.html