I was lucky enough to attend a Japanese Woodblock Course with Laura Boswell a couple of weekends ago. Laura’s work can be seen on her website.
Japanese Woodblock – Mokuhanga (Moku meaning wood and Hanga printmaking) is a relief printmaking method which is similar to printing with lino. There are a few differences in the way you cut your block, registration, paper preparation but I think the main difference is the way you ink your block. Instead of using rollers and block printing ink you use watercolour paint and Nori paste (rice flour paste). This gives you lots of flexibility with blending colours and creative inking. It also means you don’t need a huge amount of kit to start – just Japanese Ply, Japanese Woodcut Tools, Watercolour Paints, Nori Paste, Inking Brushes and a Baren.
Laura got us to all to design an image that would involve cutting more than one plate. We then traced the layers onto our piece of ply.
Most of the design was cut using the Hangito knife held like a weapon rather than a pencil, the V tool was hardly ever used during the weekend.
Cutting the Kento marks – these were key and would enable us to get good tight registration.
Inking up using a mix of watercolour paints and Nori paste.
The paint and nori paste is mixed on the block using Japanese Inking brushes. You don’t need much and you want the wood just to appear to have a sheen rather than be swimming in ink. Only the ink on the surface will print the excess ink will flow away into the gulley.
Laura mid demonstration.
Here are the other participants’ prints from the weekend.