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Printing

A beginner with the knife usually applies too much pressure or is apt to put the left finger at a point too high up on the blade, where it loses its control. The finger should be as close down to the wood as possible, where its control is most effective. A small piece of india-rubber tubing round the knife blade helps to protect the finger.

Fig 8

Success in printing depends very much on care and orderliness. It is necessary to keep to a fixed arrangement of the position of everything on the work-table and to have all kept as clean as possible. To see the deft and unhurried work of a Japanese craftsman at printing is a great lesson, and a reproach to Western clumsiness.

The positions indicated by the diagram on page 11 will be found to be practical and convenient.

The early stages of any craft are more interesting when we are familiar with the final result. For this reason it is often an advantage to begin at the end.

To see a few impressions taken from a set of blocks in colour printing, or to print them oneself, gives the best possible idea of the quality and essential character of print-making. So also in describing the work it will perhaps tend to make the various stages clearer if the final act of printing is first explained.

With practice the knife soon becomes an easy and a very precise tool, capable of great expressiveness in drawing. Bear in mind that both sides of a line are drawn by the knife. The special power of developing the expressive form of line on both sides is a resource tending to great development of drawing in designs for wood-block prints. The line may be of varying form, changing from silhouette to pure line as may best serve to express the design. It should never be a mere diagram.

As made by the Japanese, the baren is about five inches in diameter, and consists of a circular board upon which a flat coil of cord or twisted fibre is laid. This is held in place by a covering made of a strip of bamboo-sheath, the two ends of which are twisted and brought together at the back of the board so as to form a handle. The flat surface of the bamboo-sheath is on the under side of the pad when the handle is uppermost.

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