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Printing

The wood most commonly used by the Japanese for their printing-blocks is a cherry wood very similar to that grown in England. The Canadian cherry wood, which is more easily obtained than English cherry, is of too open a grain to be of use. The more slowly grown English wood has a closer grain and is the best for all the purposes of block cutting and printing. Well-seasoned planks should be obtained and kept ready for cutting up as may be required.

6. Cut away CH, DH, holding down firmly the end done.

7. Twist up the ends tightly, pull over to the centre, and tie tightly together; cut off ends.

8. Polish on board and oil slightly.

Twist the inside part of the baren occasionally to save wear by changing its position within the sheath.

Several substitutes have been tried in place of the Japanese baren, with coverings of leather, shark's skin, celluloid, and various other materials, but these necessitate the use of a backing sheet to protect the paper from their harsh surfaces.

Both surfaces of the plank should be planed smooth and then finished with a steel scraper, but not touched with sand-paper.

It is understood that the face of the plank is used for the printing surface, and not the end of the grain as in blocks for modern wood engraving.

The tools needed for cutting the blocks are the following:

The depth to which the spaces must be cleared will depend on their width, as, in printing, the paper will sag more deeply in a wide space than in a narrow one. In spaces of half an inch the depth of the first V-cuts is sufficient, but the proportionate depth is about that of the diagram above. The small spaces are cleared by means of small flat or round chisels without the mallet or the preliminary gouge cut: this is only needed where a large space has to be cleared.

Japanese printing brushes are sold by some artists' colour dealers, but these are not essential, nor have they any practical superiority over well-made Western brushes.

Fig 20
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