Learning Mokuhanga: revising and editioning, Emily Orzech

In my last post I wrote about the process of learning Mokuhanga, or Japanese woodblock printmaking, from carving the blocks to pulling the first proof (or draft).

Revising a woodblock for mokuhanga

After I pulled the first proof, I began by revising my blocks. One of the worst problems I encountered was that some of the areas of ink in my print were speckling. You can see this on the proof in the image above. I asked the instructor of the workshop, Annie Bissett, what might have gone wrong. She suggested I might have too much water on my paper or block. I was used to etching and was going by the feel of the paper based on that experience. She also pointed out that the ink naturally is less flat than screenprint, which I normally work in, because of the way the ink permeates the paper.

More proofs while learning mokuhanga

Above are a couple of the proofs I pulled. I discovered that my paper was slightly too wet and my block was much too wet. I reduced the water. One of the other surprises was that prints lighten a lot when they dry. With oil based woodblock, what you see is what you get. Both of these proofs came out lighter than I anticipated and were still to uneven.

Editioning the first layer of a mokuhanga

Once I was able to get the ink constancy and color combinations I liked, I finally began to edition (creating multiple identical copies of a print). Above, I have completed the first layer of color. I keep the paper in a plastic bag, or damp pack, in order to keep the paper evenly moist.

Editioning the first print.

The final version of the print
The final version of the print
1 Comment
  1. Avatar photo
    Anastasia Patsey

    Hi, Emily! It was interesting for me to read about this technique that you’re exploring. I’m also learning new professional terms from your posts 🙂 One can actually think of printing as a rather technical process, but it is so lively and individual, with lots of delicate details you have to keep in mind. And in the end each print is still individual.

    Will you continue working in this technique and make new prints?

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