Today's postings

  1. [Baren 23647] Re: bevel or straight edge, etching (Charles Morgan)
  2. [Baren 23648] Yoshidas (Charles Morgan)
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Message 1
From: Charles Morgan
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2003 04:13:46 -0800
Subject: [Baren 23647] Re: bevel or straight edge, etching
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Hello Dave,

At 01:18 PM 12/16/03 +0900, you wrote:
>In the traditional method that I outlined (point of the knife 'outside' -
>eyes looking _over_ the hand), the block is _not_ turned around when the
>opposite side of the line is cut. Eh? But doesn't this mean that the
>bevel would then be against the good wood when cutting that second
>side? It does indeed, and in those cases where the line is thin enough,
>or the angle inconvenient, etc., the carver first makes a 'muda-bori'
>(throw-away) cut just a smidgen away from where the real cut is to go.
>Then he immediately follows this with the real cut ... bevel against the
>good wood. But the waste wood is now free to move away because of the
>relief offered by the throw-away cut, and there is minimal compression on
>the remaining 'good' wood.
>Now that's the _gospel_ of the traditional method, and we are told that
>the best carvers in the old days considered it a point of pride never to
>move their block once it had been placed on their desk. Even perfect
>circles were cut with flexing the wrist, not by moving the block.

Yes, I see. So if one is always pulling the knife toward oneself, AND not
rotating the block, then carving in BOTH ways (flat against the line and
bevel against the line) would not only be acceptable but absolutely necessary.

>But we _know_ what we 'should' be doing. I had a great demonstration of
>this while filming a documentary program with the late Ito Susumu, one of
>the most respected of the old carvers. I sat by his bench as the camera
>people crowded around, shooting from this angle and that, and I noticed
>that he _never_ moved his block while the tape was rolling. He would cut
>only along lines that were within a certain angle, but then, once the
>switch went off and the cameraman moved to adjust the angle, he would
>quickly swivel the block to a new position, ready for a bunch more carving
>as soon as the tape rolled again. All through the day's filming, not
>_once_ did he rotate the block while they were 'watching'.

What a great story!!! Vanity, vanity, vanity ...

>Actually, there is a _third_ way. Imagine a line where one side is cut on
>the 'wider at the base' principle, and the opposite side is cut with the
>'narrower at the base' principle. [snip] An extra benefit, especially for
>the publisher, is that when the wood wears down when large editions are
>pulled, the lines do not quickly become fat and wide as those carved in
>the other fashion do.

Clever technique, no doubt about it. Must require a pretty deft hand with
the carving knife not to over do the undercut. Have you tried this one
yourself, Dave? How hard is it to do?

But as you point out, the method would not work well at all with soft woods
or plywood. Do you think it would work with maple?

>And for 'documentation' Charles, this is discussed on pages 274~5 of
>Katsuyuki Nishijima's well known hanga manual published in 1976, although
>he includes it merely for historical reference, not as a recommendation of
>a method to use.

Sounds like a good source book to peruse. I tried to find it, but it does
not seem to be in the local libraries. I could find no copies through World
Cat under either Katsuyuki Nishijima or under K. Nishijima. And Abe Books
did not list any used copies under that author's name. Is there some other
spelling of the author's name? Do you have a title and ISBN number?

Cheers ....... Charles
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Message 2
From: Charles Morgan
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2003 04:23:19 -0800
Subject: [Baren 23648] Yoshidas
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Say, Julio,

Does your book on the Yoshidas mention anyone else who has pursued the fine
line relief etching + wood block print technique?

Obviously Dave went there to study wood block techniques, not fine line
etching. And Noboru apparently went there to study wood block techniques.
But it seems the Yoshidas (at least some of them) were masters at combining
woodblock and fine line etching. Surely someone else must have studied the
technique with the Yoshidas, or at least pursued it.

Does your book say anything about how the plates were inked? I would think
that inking such a low relief plate by hand would be very difficult if not
impossible. Did they use a self-inking press or anything similar?

Cheers ..... Charles