It’s been a crazy month for me: Spring Break (which was nice), then I blew out my shoulder from printing too much (I didn’t know I had rhomboid muscles… but after a week of intense pain, I sure do NOW!), and had an unrelated surgery from which I am now recouping with the help of some rather heavy meds. So, Dear Reader, I trust that I remain coherent…
Anyway, enough of that. Around 1993, before I mustered the courage to make woodblock prints, I collected them. It was great to see the prints in a reference book, but looking at the real thing has taught me a lot about color and printing techniques. As most of you know, woodblock prints are even more beautiful in the hand, the richness of the colors, embossing, and the details really come alive.
I believe these prints are first editions ranging from 1836 to 2003 and cover ukiyo-e > shin hanga > sosaku hanga movements > the modern day. It’s admittedly heavy with Hiroshi Yoshida who’s “My Main Man”. Don’t worry, Hasui- you’re cool too…
So this is March’s entry. I hope the next article will have a bit more content- but until then, I do hope you enjoy the selection below.
So, some of you know about tanuki statues– (here’s a brief description)- you see them in front of Japanese restaurants and bars. They’re kinda gimmicky in a charming way.
I have a friend that I’ve known for over 30 years who traded me this fellow. He’s had it since he was stationed in Japan during the mid-60s and (as far as I can tell) is stoneware from Shigaraki (ESE from Kyoto).
I think this one’s a relatively handsome example (about 19″ tall) and not quite as ‘pie-eyed’ and cutesy as some touristy tanuki statues (there are female ones, anime ones, hello kitty ones, etc.).
I hope that he (obviously) will bestow luck upon his new namesake business.
I have very limited space to print as you can see. It’s doubles as my office at the university and is a mess most of the time. I hope that someday soon, I can locate to a studio where I am not falling over stuff- or stuff falling on top of me.
As you can see, I have pretty much all I need except space and time… I am presently building a forced-air print drying press (from a conversation I had in Hawaii with the gracious Paul Binnie)- details to come on that [UPDATE: here is the print dryer post]…
I’ve always loved senjafuda.Senjafuda (in Japanese- literally “thousand shrine cards”) are taken by travelers and pilgrims where they are pasted on rafters and posts. They don’t look as junky as you might expect- much better than graffiti IMO.
Making and collecting senjafuda (some are quite spectacular) is very popular thing to do in Japan. As an artist, they’re very convenient to make- you have some left-over wood? Perfect. Some extra paper scraps? A piece here a piece there, and voilà!
I plan to use this as a demonstration and simple print for my printmaking students to start mokuhanga. The idea is to print around 200 (this test batch is only 14) to bring and give away at my IMC2017 Mokuhanga Conference talk at the University of Hawaii in late Sept. Shhh! it’s a secret surprise…
Technically, it’s obviously a 3-color print- actually 5 impressions as the red and black are over-printed. I took a hint from Mokuhankan’s print parties in Asakusa and printed the black keyblock last- that keeps the lighters colors clean! Normally, the black keyblock is printed first, but sometimes the black bleeds into the later lighter colored blocks resulting in a dingy mess.
As Thomas Edison said: “There are no rules here- we’re trying to get things done”.
Incidentally, I’m using ‘black hole’ sumi or sumi no kaori (literally “scent of carbon”?)- anyway it’s velvety-smooth-nano-vanta-fiber-crow-in-a-coalmine-event-horizon bahahalackkkk! If you’re interested in buying this glorious stuff, the only place I could find is a calligraphy shop in France of all places. See: Comptoir de Secritures
I received something wonderfully unexpected- apparently, our intrepid mascot is a world traveller. A past art student of mine, Caroline Welsch carried a Tanuki Prints sticker to Paris on her trip and was nice enough to position him, well, you know where this is.
Tanuki is good luck, that is, if you have a drink with him, Caroline!
FYI, for every print purchased, you’ll receive a Tanuki Prints sticker- I’d love to see him travel from each and every corner of the globe!
I know he’ll be in Japan come May.
For more interesting facts about the actual and mythical Tanuki, or the Japanese racoon-dog, click here