Suminagashi is a Japanese
technique for marbling paper or silk,
and has been in use since the 12th century.
I’ve been curious to try it since I began practicing
Turkish marbling last year. And today,
during my Friday residency at Tiger Lily Press,
I finally had the opportunity.
It’s considerably easier to set up than Turkish marbling. All that’s
needed is a tray of tap water, sumi ink, surfactant, a few sumi brushes
and unsized washi.
I practiced first on smaller sheets of scrap paper just to
figure out the ratio of ink to surfactant. I only used black sumi ink
diluted to two different values. They were far too pale initially,
and as I progressed I continued to darken them. Too bad I ran out
of paper before I could get the one value as dark as I wanted.
To create the pattern, the brushes are dipped in the diluted ink & surfactant,
and then barely allowed to touch the surface of the water. Instantly a
small circle of ink floats on the surface. With each touch of the brush,
concentric circles can be built up to any size.
In addition, I use a third brush that is dipped in plain water mixed
with a few drops of surfactant. This brush is used
to create a clear circle which will print as a clear line.
After the circles are created, I then fan (or blow across)
the surface of the water which causes the
floating ink to begin to swirl and move around to create the pattern.
It’s impossible to control it, and it’s not supposed to be. Part of the charm is
in relinquishing control and allowing
the pattern to develop on its own.
In order to capture the pattern, a sheet
of unsized washi is lowered onto the surface
and the pattern is immediately transferred to the paper.
At this point, three blocks (of six total)
are close enough to completion that I was
finally able to proof them today.
The text block needs more clearing and sanding in the background as well as
tidying up around the text.
Silhouette block #1 also needs
more work on the background to even it out
to help prevent ink being transferred to the paper.
Same issue with this block, although here I
had serious swirly baren marks!
Last week, as part of my residency at
Tiger Lily Press, I gave an hour long talk
on my recent work and discussed the process
of mokuhanga and chine colle.
Here I’m showing the three woodblocks
used in printing the color for this image, as well as
the original silverpoint drawing, the chine colle
copy of the drawing and the finished print.
Close up of the finished print, “Dead Weight”,
These are two of the woodblocks that were
overprinted onto a photographic image.
“Prayers for a Happy Death 3”
I also brought along some a few tools
used in the mokuhanga process including these
Japanese brushes for applying ink
to the block.
The only etching I had time to do this past year.
One copper plate, which was editioned at three different
stages as I made progress on the image.
This is “Creep 2” and “Creep 3”.
Marbling paper has become a pleasant
diversion from the time consuming reduction
mokuhanga prints that I’ve been doing lately.
Until today, I’ve only been fiddling around
with the “stones” pattern. That’s where the paint
is sprinkled or sprayed on the surface of the size
and allowed to do it’s own thing without
much help from me.
Pattern was on my mind today, so I dug out
my old marbling combs and proceeded to
Every sheet has some flaws and
technical mistakes. Not that it’s a big deal
since I’m simply experimenting and
enjoying the process at this point!
A few weeks ago I tried my hand
at sizing Japanese washi.
Yesterday, at TLP, I finally had the opportunity
to practice printing on all three papers.
This is a color block that will be used on another print
in progress, here I’m using diluted sumi ink to experiment with.
I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have
any majors problems that can occur, such as
bleeding ink, paper sticking to the block, etc.
The paper on the left is Seichosen, the middle
paper is Kozo, and Gampi on the right.
Gampi was the only one that had some issues,
even after pressing it, the paper still has
unsightly buckles. For that reason, I don’t
plan on using it for printing purposes.
Next experiment? Seeing how well
these work as chine colle.
OK, my post title roughly translates
to “woodblock carving of net pattern”.
That would be an age old Japanese method of
carving delicate linework such as hair,
tree branches, and of course..nets.
The method involves utilizing two woodblocks,
one with horizontal lines and the other
with vertical lines. When printed on top of each other,
a crosshatched pattern is achieved.
I decided to give it a try for this
current reduction print I’m working on.
My results are truly underwhelming compared to
the early Japanese prints that I’ve studied.
I used a straight edge and the smallest u-gouge (1mm)
to make the lines. It was truly tedious and time consuming,
but I can know say that I’ve tried it, and it
may be the last time that I do!
Below are the two carved blocks,
the lines were carved at opposing 45 degree angles
instead of vertical & horizontal.