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These are all the tools that are needed for block cutting. For keeping them in order it is well to have oilstones of three grades:

Fig 6

The paper made by the Japanese from the inner bark of young shoots of the mulberry and certain other plants of similar fibre is beyond all others the best for wood-block printing. It is in itself a very remarkable material, and is used in Japan for a great variety of purposes, on account of the strength and toughness due to its long silky fibre.

Beside the printing of flat masses of colour, one of the great resources of block printing is in the power of delicate gradation in printing. The simplest way of making a gradation from strong to pale colour is to dip one corner of a broad brush into the colour and the other corner into water so that the water just runs into the colour: then, by squeezing the whole width of the brush broadly between the thumb and forefinger so that most of the water is squeezed out, the brush is left charged with a tint gradated from side to side.

by F. Morley Fletcher


1. A carborundum stone for rapidly re-covering the shape of a chipped or blunt tool.

2. A good ordinary oil stone.

3. A hard stone for keeping a fine edge on the knife in cutting line blocks. The American "Washita" stone is good for this purpose.

Plate IV

The sheet gelatine sold by grocers for cooking makes an excellent size. Six of the thin sheets to a pint of water is a good strength.[3] The gelatine is dissolved in hot water, but should not be boiled, as that partially destroys the size. When dissolved, a little powdered alum is also stirred in, about as much as will lie on a shilling to a pint of water. The addition of the alum is important, as it acts as a mordant and helps to make a better colour impression.

Fig 17

No care need be taken to prevent "offsetting" of the colour while printing. The prints may be piled on the top of each other immediately as they are lifted from the block, without fear of offsetting or marking each other. Only an excessive use of colour, or the leaving of heavy ridges of colour at the edges of the block by careless brushing, will sometimes mark the next print on the pile.

In issuing these volumes of a series of Handbooks on the Artistic Crafts, it will be well to state what are our general aims.

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