I’ve just gotten through my first suminagashi (Japanese ink marbling) attempt since…the time I first learned the technique, years ago. It’s pretty simple, and fairly fast: my biggest problem was not having the space to let as many prints dry as possible. Because of this — and because I entirely forgot about my Stonehenge cotton rag hand-printing paper when in the process of prepping my papers (during which I got to play around with a mat cutter, paper, and a cutting mat [hahaha sharp things]) — I somehow avoided printing any of the Stonehenge! Gah! It wasn’t even on my mind!
The good part of this is that I was able to mess up on papers not nearly as precious. As it was my first time in years doing this form of marbling, there were the inevitable prints which didn’t turn out as I liked — about five of them. It wasn’t so bad, though: there are at least nine prints which came out of the set which are pleasant enough to behold. I had been planning on trying to do the “crocus” prints on top of them, though I hadn’t planned on using Wet Media and Drawing papers for that!
Beh. (“But, ehhh.”) Anyway. I’m dealing with Sumifactant, Boku-Undo inks, and really cheap brushes, along with a disposable tray of the type used to cook turkeys, copy paper for interleaving, and some of my most-hated textbooks as weights. 😛 I know the Boku-Undo are non-toxic; the Sumifactant, I’m not sure about, but what I heard from Colophon Book Arts (here is their “Oriental” page) was encouraging. Of course, though, I got the stuff…years ago. The page says it lasts indefinitely when tightly capped.
I don’t know why it hit me tonight that, “hey! I can do this!” What I do know is that the sun is down and as such I won’t be able to take any appreciable photos of the prints under artificial lighting. (Not only is the lighting in the area such that I’ll cast shadows on anything on the table [the prints are still wet], but it will cause a yellow-orange cast over everything…which is annoying to try and work out through Photoshop for every image, while still keeping colors accurate. I’ll try to get some photos in the morning.)
I didn’t mention that when everything got pulled off of the table (long, likely irrelevant story), D didn’t notice one of my small pattern tracings (2″x 2″) for the crocus block, and so it is now…gone. Basically. As in it fluttered away into the ether. I’m not too thrilled about this, but it’s easy enough to do again — it’s just that I feel like I’ll never be able to do it again in exactly the same way (but is that a goal…?). I kind of wish I had scanned it.
The other day, I was also able to get some reading done in Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop by April Vollmer, and now have a relatively clearer idea of how to register (align) multicolor prints. I don’t think I’ve read all the way through the section of how to carve the block and pull prints, but what I have read makes more sense when read straight through than when looked at piecemeal and out of order. (The illustrations tend to encourage the latter approach, with me.)
I do think that it would be okay, though, to do a second crocus block without worrying about print registration (but I will want to mark which direction is “up”). I can worry about registration when working on the gingko leaf, which is the project after this. For one thing, working with registration implies making a key block (a block with areas of color outlined), then carving the key block, then producing multiple prints (one for each color block) on translucent paper, then pasting those prints reversed on each subsequent block (I’m thinking UHU Stic would be good for this, as it washes off with water even after it’s dry), then possibly oiling the paper, then carving through the paper and removing what’s left with water.
I kind of wish that I knew how to register prints in linoleum block printing, though: I’m not totally positive that the technique will transfer over from mokuhanga (Japanese woodblock printing) to linocuts, particularly because I’m working with opaque inks. What I’ve seen recommended for mokuhanga are opaque watercolors (gouache) — Holbein at that (I have these already) — but they’re applied so diluted that I don’t think the opacity is a big thing. At least, when compared to Speedball Printing Ink, the latter is a good deal more opaque (or so I would think after having used the black ink and having felt the texture it leaves on top of the paper). It might be, though, that I’m supposed to be printing on soaked paper, not dry paper: something I can test, since I didn’t use any of my Stonehenge! (And, I just realized, I do have a vat to soak these in: the same vat I used to marble the papers, tonight.)
Which reminds me that I wanted to get back on top of learning Japanese language (nihongo). I had just been wondering if there were guides to, or commentary on, comparisons of the different media in Japanese (I’m not sure how much material exists on this in English). Then I realized that I’d have to be able to read kanji for that, most likely.
Ah ha ha. I should be getting to sleep…