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As an illustration of the great variety of form that may be expressed by the key-block, a reproduction is given (page 33) of an impression from a Japanese key-block. It will be seen that the lines and spots express much more than boundaries of form. In the case of the lighter tree foliage the boundaries are left to be determined entirely by the subsequent colour blocks, and only the interior form or character of the foliage is suggested. The quality or kind of line, too, varies with the thing expressed, whether tree, rock, sea, or the little ship.

A paste must be used with the colour in order to hold it on to the surface of the paper and to give brilliancy. The colour, if printed without paste, would dry to powder again. The paste also preserves the matt quality which is characteristic of the Japanese prints.

Transcriber's Note: The note stating (actual size) is no longer correct.

An original print in colour, designed and cut by the author and printed by hand on Japanese paper, followed by collotype reproductions showing the separate impressions of the colour blocks used for this print, and other collotype reproductions of various examples of printing and design.


Simple as the process is, there is, from first to last, a long labour involved in planning, cutting and printing, before a satisfactory batch of prints is produced. After several attempts in delegating printing to well-trained pupils I have found it impossible to obtain the best results by that means, but the cutting of the colour-blocks and the clearing of the key-block after the first cutting of the line may well be done by assistant craftsmen.

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.

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