Re: Re: i have a question


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Posted by Joel Trosch on April 06, 1998 at 03:58:44:

In Reply to: Re: i have a question posted by Thomas Crossland on April 04, 1998 at 19:46:56:

: : i want to know how they made ukiyoe hanga.
: : i can't understand the process.
: : please tell me.
: Naomi,
: I'll try to explain as simply as possible. Think of "ukiyoe hanga" (woodblock prints) as if they were rubber stamps and then a single color stamp pad. The only real difference is that for EACH color, it was necessary to carve out a different block of cherry wood for each color used. The unneeded surface areas of the wood block are removed by carving away, thus leaving the raised areas to first contact the ink (which in this case is brushed on) and then to contact the paper where THAT single color is then applied (the sheet of paper is actually laid face down upon the inked woodblock, and the ink is "transfered" by rubbing with much pressure with a small pad known as a "baren".) Therefore, to print say, a seven color "hanga," the artist would need to carve seven different woodblocks, one for each of the colors desired--each of these differently carved woodblocks would then contribute it's own areas and color to the total print. (Actually, there would usually also be an additional block known as the "key block" which is first done in thin black outlines to first "sketch" out the artwork in black lines. This "sketch" is also usually printed first by itself onto seven pieces of very thin paper which are then lightly glued--facing in reverse direction--onto the face of each of the seven UN-carved woodblocks, and these outlines then show the woodblock carver where to leave the original raised wood for that individual color.)

: During the Edo, Meiji, and even Taisho periods in Japan, the above process in reality normally involved the cooperation and division of tasks among a group of artesians working together. The artist would first produce the "sketch" and then at least oversee the carving of the (black) "key block." Once this was produced to his satisfaction and printed alone (without colored areas), he would then indicate which areas were to be carved for the various individual colors. Basically, the more colors desired, the more woodblocks would need to be carved. Of course, color areas could also be overlapped or overprinted to produce varied color hues. The third important person in the production of "hanga" was then the printer who completed the third and final task of performing the printing the colors. Organizing, orchestrating, and overseeing and this entire process was the task of the publisher. And so, to produce a single, beautiful "hanga" would involve the efforts of many skilled craftsmen working toward a common goal. Considering the distructive passage of time--with wars, fires, earthquakes, worms, mould and mildews, indifferent handling, etc.--it is truely with amazement and much affection and gratitued that we today are choosen to temporarily be the custodians of these beautiful works of art. Enjoy!!!

Naomi- To supplement Thomas Crossland's very helpful explanation, you may wish to locate a copy of Color Woodblock Printmaking: The Traditional Method of Ukiyo-e by Margaret Miller Kanada, which discusses and illustrates the process. It even takes an Eizan print and shows how each of the 12 or so blocks added its color to create the final print. The book was published in 1989 by Shufunotomo Co. Ltd. and in its fourth printing in 1995. I have seen it within the past 2 months for sale at the book shop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.



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