Hmm. Well, I’m back from the Japanese stationery store, with somewhat less money 😉 but plentiful supplies…a new appreciation for the library (you mean I don’t have to buy the books to read them?) and I have realized that I need to get a Pinterest account.
After thinking a bit on what Google has hinted are called “dotted grid” notebooks or journals, I did a little online visual research on them (with help from Pinterest)…and it just increased the urge. So I did go ahead and get one of these today. I also got a pad of washi, though I’m certain it is machine-made: the brand is Aitoh, which also makes the Boku-Undo marbling (suminagashi) inks.
The paper is for calligraphy and ink painting…also of use in mokuhanga (woodcut) transfers. I’m pretty sure that it’s sized (has sizing/is chemically treated to alter ink behavior) on one side. It can take original ink paintings, it can be printed onto with a mixture of nori and gouache, and it can be glued down to other blocks to transfer a design from a key-block print to other color blocks, meaning I can then accurately carve and register (align) the other blocks. (Kozo [mulberry] washi, as this is, is known for not deforming much [let alone falling apart] when wet, which is the reason I wouldn’t just use tracing paper.)
Speaking of which, I also found a small tube of rice starch glue (nori), which means that there is now essentially nothing (other than having to acquire basswood sheets or shina plywood) keeping me from trying out woodcuts: the colors I have, need the nori to spread evenly. I don’t have the same brushes as I’ve seen being used elsewhere for mokuhanga, but I can try and wing it with natural-bristle stencil brushes. (I’m deliberately not going into flagging the bristles, here; though I remember reading something about a substitute for “dragon skin” [sharkskin] to fray them, online.)
I’m still concerned about insect infestation in regard to the nori (particularly since we do have bugs that eat starch here [luckily they’re just silverfish: ugly and annoying but not disease-ridden]), but I haven’t tried it yet; and for less than $4, it was good to get it.
The other stuff…well, I did find steel stub nibs for calligraphy at this place, though they’re a little large to store with all my other nibs. They’re also coated in machine oil, which I may be able to get rid of through a soak in soapy water, as versus heating them. I probably could have waited and hoped to find them at either of the two art stores on this side of the Bay, but…I just didn’t. It’s kind of like I could have waited to buy a baren from the Japanese knife store that I wanted to visit, but thought it would have been more expensive there (it wasn’t; they had a workable model for about $13 less than I paid for my Speedball baren). If I really get into mokuhanga, I may have to go there, though — I’m not sure the Speedball one will be as forgiving on non-cotton paper. (It is kozo, though, which I would think to be tougher than it seems.)
Aside from that, I did get a set of Speedball printing papers (which I didn’t know existed until today), two shitajiki with grid lines on them (I HAVE WANTED THESE FOR YEARS!), two Zig pens to just try hand lettering with (a brush and a calligraphy nib), and some cheap papers in which to practice my Japanese writing.
Right: shitajiki are called “pencil boards” in English; they are sheets of firm plastic to put under the page you’re currently writing (or drawing) on, in order to protect the rest of the pad or notebook from indentations. The shitajiki I got are essentially like a ruled template to put behind a piece of white paper in order to write in straight lines; only, Japanese writing is based more on a grid than a line, and can run either horizontally (left to right) or vertically (right to left). This means that I can use cheap translucent white paper now (like, the stuff from the dollar store), to practice writing. Both of these were under $5 — one is clear and one is transparent blue (I’m not sure why).
I was not able to find the bocha today. It’s not a big loss, considering.
I also did find the printmaking section of the bookstore (finally!), but they were mostly focused on admiring prints, not making prints. (I have found a place that does have books on the art of mokuhanga; they’re just online.) However — when I grow out of my current Japanese-language-learning texts, I will also be able to go back there for plentiful beginner and intermediate reading material.
Today did reinforce the desire to be able to read written Japanese: the store assistant I questioned as to whether the washi was sized or unsized had no idea what I meant by “sized.” If I had been able to read the packages, I probably wouldn’t have had to ask. In addition, there were books on woodcut prints at the bookstore, and while I could appreciate the art, I couldn’t read the commentary — as it was in Japanese.
I can restart my language learning, though. Soon. I just need to work out my priorities where it comes to work, Summer school, art, and Japanese-language learning. Ideally I would be able to do all of this…but I’m not sure that is possible.
Could it be that I will actually have to schedule my summertime?
Eh. I guess it’s better to trial it now than when things are going full speed…