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A Necklace of Memorable Days

by Factotum

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"Happiness is a matter of one's most ordinary everyday mode of consciousness being busy and lively and unconcerned with self. To be damned is for one's ordinary everyday mode of consciousness to be unremitting agonising preoccupation with self."

Iris Murdoch, The Nice and The Good

What sort of diary should I like mine to be? Something loose-knit and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful, that comes into my mind. I should like it to resemble some deep old desk or capacious hold-all, in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking them through. I should like to come back, after a year or two, and find that the collection had sorted itself and refined itself and coalesced, as such deposits so mysteriously do, into a mould, transparent enough to reflect the light of our life, and yet steady, tranquil compounds with the aloofness of a work of art. The main requisite, I think, on reading my old volumes, is not to play the part of a censor, but to write as the mood comes or of anything whatever; since I was curious to find how I went for things put in haphazard, and found the significance to lie where I never saw it at the time.

V. Woolf

" She strung the afternoon on the necklace of memorable days, which was not too long for her to be able to recall this one or that one; this view, that city; to finger it, to feel it, to savour, sighing, the quality that made it unique."

Virginia Woolf, Moments of Being

"Why did I write any of my books, after all? For the sake of the pleasure, for the sake of the difficulty. I have no social purpose, no moral message; I've no general ideas to exploit, I just like composing riddles with elegant solutions."

Vladamir Nabokov

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Intro to Moku Hanga

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Last week, I took a one week course (4 days) introducing Japanese Woodblock printing.
The top photo shows the basic printing set up. The black area on the upper left of the wood block (shina plywood) is the area that was used to print the first colour, in this case black. The carved but uninked area below that is where the second colour, blue, will be printed. The shapes on the lower edge are the kentos, used to position the paper correctly, so each colour appears exactly where it's supposed to.
The second photo shows one of the first proofs, with little carving done and therefore mostly black. The third photo shows a proof from the same area of the block with much more carving done and therefore with much more white. The last photo shows a quick experiment with adding a second colour. The proofs should really be kept moist until all the colours have been added, but in this case, the blue was added to dry paper... Other colours will get added later, and everything will have to get tidied up.
The last photo shows the scraps of wax paper used to protect the paper from the baren during the printing process. I liked their transparency, so i stuck them up in the studio windows.

ooh excellent, hopefully you didn't gouge your fingers too many times making the block, they're fiddly little buggers

18th Jan 2009, 00:14

factotum says:

Just one little nick....

18th Jan 2009, 00:22


18th Jan 2009, 00:28

Geodyne says:

Oh, how fabulous. There's true skill in making those.

18th Jan 2009, 08:42

factotum says:

Geo, there really is. The drawing and designing all the different blocks, the carving and the printing are all challenging, but lots of fun. Even though the workshop is over, I plan to add at least two more colours to this first experiment. Then I can turn the block over and use it for a more considered project.

18th Jan 2009, 13:38

Jane Doe says:

Beautiful. A friend of mine has been doing a printing course a Gainsborough House and made the most beautiful Christmas cards, miniature works of art.

18th Jan 2009, 14:06

nige says:

Lovely. Really lovely. How does the process differ to traditional woodcuts, facto?

18th Jan 2009, 17:01

Caine says:

Very impressive!

18th Jan 2009, 17:19

factotum says:

I don't really know, Nige, because I'm not really a printmaker. I think traditional European woodcuts or wood engravings like Durer's would have been made with a much harder wood, and maybe on the endgrain. Sprocket would know!

18th Jan 2009, 17:21

lilitiger says:

Using ply is a great idea. Never thought of it. Can't wait to see your next try, looks promising!

19th Jan 2009, 08:58

factotum says:

Lilitiger, this is what we were using:

19th Jan 2009, 22:16

540air says:

These are great, I really like them.

19th Jan 2009, 22:38

Viv says:

Sure you will go on experimenting for some time :)
Looks great

21st Jan 2009, 00:51

factotum says:

It should be a lifetime, Viv.

21st Jan 2009, 03:25

Viv says:

:) whatever that maybe...

21st Jan 2009, 09:29

factotum says:

GD, Yes, we were using gouges and skews. That shina plywood is a delight to carve, much easier to work than lino. If you aren't using the results for printmaking, are they sculptural relief carvings?

24th Jan 2009, 01:34

factotum says:

Please put up some prints!

30th Jan 2009, 02:13

taniwha says:

These are wonderful. I'd put 'em on my wall.

30th Jan 2009, 07:39