Today's postings

  1. [Baren 24086] Re: Sharkskin (Mike Lyon)
  2. [Baren 24087] Re: Sharkskin, vegetarian supplies, smoothing paper ("Needham, Erin (Inland)")
  3. [Baren 24088] Re: Sharkskin (Sharri LaPierre)
  4. [Baren 24089] Ronin Gallery -- SHUNGA: Erotic Prints for Valentines Day (Mike Lyon)
  5. [Baren 24090] exchange prints (FurryPressII #
  6. [Baren 24091] Member changed email address (Woodblocksteve #
  7. [Baren 24092] Paper (John and Michelle Morrell)
  8. [Baren 24093] Re: Sharkskin, vegetarian supplies, smoothing paper (David Bull)
  9. [Baren 24094] unsharky skin (Cucamongie #
  10. [Baren 24095] RE: unsharky skin ("Maria Arango")
  11. [Baren 24096] Re: First exchange. (Julio.Rodriguez #
  12. [Baren 24097] Re: wow (Cyndy Wilson)
Member image

Message 1
From: Mike Lyon
Date: Mon, 02 Feb 2004 09:41:07 -0600
Subject: [Baren 24086] Re: Sharkskin
Send Message: To this poster

Steve wrote:
>I know that purpose of the sharkskin is to split the hairs of the brush so
>that it carries more pigment but is this ?:- A - Absolutely essential B -
>A good thing to do but not essential C - Only an expert would notice the
>difference Secondly. Is there an easier alternative?

Dear Steve,

As Carol Lyons said, there are many approaches -- here's my experience
regarding brushes...

ANY brush will more or less work. You can use water color brushes, wide
house painting brushes, shoe brushes, tooth brushes -- all these will
'work' in terms of spreading pigment and water and paste around on the
block, but mostly they are not capable of quickly (or ever) producing a
smooth and even application of color -- they'll leave somewhat random
streaks on the block and in the print. That's an effect you may find
pleasing (I sometimes do!). But for genuine control and the ability to
print a smooth color without streaks or blotches you really need a very
good brush -- one with lots of hairs, not too soft and not too stiff, and
with many, many hair tips very close together of similar length and
flexible at the tips...

In my experience, the inexpensive (sosaku bake) brushes on Baren Mall are not good enough
to accomplish this, no matter how you trim and burn and split the
hairs... but the expensive ones (professional grade) ARE good enough --
and right out of the box! The ones sold by McClain's fall roughly in between
(in my opinion)...

The performance of ALL of these brushes can be substantially improved by
treatment on a belt or disk sander. I use a belt sander and, after
trimming the brush to the shape I want with scissors (I trim the hairs to
length by 'feel' based on how flexible they seem and then leave a flat
bottom and round over all the edges), I hold them down with a lot of
pressure on a belt sander for a minute or two, turning the brush around and
around, so that the hairs become worn down to points at the tip. David
Bull (who is a MUCH more competent and experienced printer than I) says
that this is NOT as good as actually splitting the tips of the hairs with
sharkskin (repeated dying, streaking, and perming while blow drying and
using a cheap hairbrush can accomplish the same thing according to my
teenage daughter -- just kidding :-) and I believe him... He uses
something akin to a disk sander with sharkskin attached to the face of the
disk -- that way he can effectively treat a brush in five to ten
minutes. From time to time as required, Dave re-treats his brushes when
the splits have worn or broken off. See here: and also

-- Mike

Mike Lyon
Member image

Message 2
From: "Needham, Erin (Inland)"
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2004 10:03:17 -0600
Subject: [Baren 24087] Re: Sharkskin, vegetarian supplies, smoothing paper
Send Message: To this poster

Steve, David et al...

Steve, thanks for bringing up the shark skin issue. I had some questions
about other supplies as well. Based on your post I assume that you have
found 'furless' brushes for applying paste & pigment. Could you give me
details about these?

My bigger concern is with finding vegetarian paper. David, in one of your
follow-up posts you mentioned that Japanese papers are all vegetable matter.
I had assumed that they were sized with gelatin or hide glue. Are they all
free of animal products? Can anyone also suggest western printing papers
that don't have gelatin (or other animal product) sizing?

I'm planning on building a jack press soon. Including a 20 ton jack I think
that my material budget will easily come in under $150(US). David, I think
that this kind of press could be built so that it could be disassemble for
storage and would offer plenty of pressure to smooth paper against metal (or
even masonite) plates.


Member image

Message 3
From: Sharri LaPierre
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2004 09:34:42 -0800
Subject: [Baren 24088] Re: Sharkskin
Send Message: To this poster

"I know that purpose of the sharkskin is to split the hairs of the
brush so
that it carries more pigment but is this ?:-"

Funny you should ask about the sharks opinion. As a matter of fact
someone did ask and, believe it or not, they were all dead set against
this practice. Pun intended. They were so much so that they
immediately came up with a non-shark substitute which can be purchased
from McClains Printmaking Supplies ( It
looks a lot like a cheese grater mounted on wood. And lastly, yes, the
experts (and they are ones supposed to know these obscure facts) say it
is absolutely, without a doubt, essential to split hairs.

Member image

Message 4
From: Mike Lyon
Date: Mon, 02 Feb 2004 12:52:32 -0600
Subject: [Baren 24089] Ronin Gallery -- SHUNGA: Erotic Prints for Valentines Day
Send Message: To this poster

Thought some of you shunga fans might enjoy a little Valentine's day
shopping! :-)

>Ronin Gallery is exceptionally pleased to present SHUNGA: EROTIC PRINTS OF
>JAPAN. Shunga, or as literally translated "Spring Pictures", are a genre
>of woodblock prints that depict the entire gamut of sensual and sexual
>pleasures. Thirty prints dating from the 17th thru 19th century have been
>specially selected for this exhibition. Some of the artists represented
>are Moronobu, Harunobu, Koryusai, Kiyonaga, Utamaro, Hokusai, Eizan, Eisen
>and Kunisada. They are priced from $50 to $4500. (Please note that many of
>the pictures are sexually explicit). If you would like to view them please
>click the following link:

-- Mike

Mike Lyon
Member image

Message 5
From: FurryPressII #
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2004 13:54:19 EST
Subject: [Baren 24090] exchange prints
Send Message: To this poster

R. S. Charles print arrived today.

the following print are in house;
R. S Charles
Mike Lyon
John Center
Darrell Madis
Christina Blank
Carol Lyons
B. Patera
Gayle Wohlken
David Mohallatee
R Hudson
April Vollmer
Gillyin Gatto
Philip Smith

13 prints in house and some have contacted me and said prints were in the
mail or drying rack. Will those who are on the waiting list please contact me.

If you are signed up and can't get your print in please contact me as well.

john center
Member image

Message 6
From: Woodblocksteve #
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2004 14:22:55 EST
Subject: [Baren 24091] Member changed email address
Send Message: To this poster

Hi everyone,

This is Steve Elliott from England. I've had to change my email address from to this new one. Nothing else changed. I did think of
calling it blockheadsteve which some might think more appropriate but I finally
settled on woodblocksteve.

Many thanks to everyone who replied to my sharkskin question.


Member image

Message 7
From: John and Michelle Morrell
Date: Mon, 02 Feb 2004 13:19:20 -0900
Subject: [Baren 24092] Paper
Send Message: To this poster

Dave wrote:

"My problem with this, is that I think that what is happening here is
basically 'cooking' the paper. It's very thin, the griddle is extremely
hot, the paper is made of nothing but 'vegetable' material ... Surely
some of the protein structures or whatever down inside the fibres _must_
be partially broken down by this superheating? The paper doesn't look
much different, but I just don't trust this process - when thinking
forward a hundred years or so ... But please understand that I have no
'proof' of any damage; many if not most papermakers use this system, and
probably nearly every sheet of Japanese paper you have ever bought has
been dried this way (air drying boards are _very_ expensive to maintain)."

Ah, hah. I think you're worred about it getting brittle, fragile, and
falling apart like old crackers. I certainly have no suggestions!

"...Anytime that there is a fear that the paper might stretch or lose
stability during the upcoming printing, it's common to 'kill' it before
starting. For us that means working it on a blank block with a strong
baren; making sure it does any stretching before the real work begins.
For western printmakers, I suppose they do this with a press, I don't
know if it is common.."

I've never considered stretching the paper before printing it. This is
something I'll have to try. Thank you for the idea.

Michelle Morrell
Member image

Message 8
From: David Bull
Date: Tue, 3 Feb 2004 07:38:15 +0900
Subject: [Baren 24093] Re: Sharkskin, vegetarian supplies, smoothing paper
Send Message: To this poster

> My bigger concern is with finding vegetarian paper. David, in one of
> your follow-up posts you mentioned that Japanese papers are all
> vegetable matter. I had assumed that they were sized with gelatin or
> hide glue. Are they all free of animal products?

You're correct on both counts ... it all depends at which point you take
the 'snapshot' for discussion.

When I described the paper drying process the other day, I was
describing something that happens at the paper maker's workshop. At this
point, the only things 'in' the paper are:

1) the kozo (mulberry) fibres
2) the 'tororo-aoi' plant extract that provides the viscosity for the
paper forming process
3) fine rice powder (in the old days)
4) fine 'kaolin' (white clay) (these days)

Later, when the paper has been dried and shipped out, it will be sized
with gelatin/alum before use by printmakers. I am told that the gelatin
comes from horses (bones? skin?), but I imagine that there could be
'anything' in there.

If you don't want to have _any_ animal products in your finished prints,
then you will have to learn to print on paper without sizing ... (And
don't forget to throw away all your brushes, as they are of course made
from animal hair, in our case usually horse ...)

Member image

Message 9
From: Cucamongie #
Date: Mon, 02 Feb 2004 19:04:41 -0500
Subject: [Baren 24094] unsharky skin
Send Message: To this poster

Steve, if you want to stay away from using sharkskin, you can buy something called "dragonskin" from McClain's ( which can be used for the same purpose. It's a rough piece of some sort of metal (?) mounted on a wood board which you wet your brush and brush back and forth & diagonally, etc -
I know the "purists" may not like this, but it's worked fine for me.
best wishes
Member image

Message 10
From: "Maria Arango"
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2004 16:08:04 -0800
Subject: [Baren 24095] RE: unsharky skin
Send Message: To this poster

Sure, Sarah, just because dragons are extinct doesn't mean that they
deserve any less respect than the sharks :-)
To get split ends on your hair, Mike's daughter has the best solution.
So there.
Member image

Message 11
From: Julio.Rodriguez #
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2004 18:17:55 -0600
Subject: [Baren 24096] Re: First exchange.
Send Message: To this poster

"Julio, my husband and I thought that the man was trying to figure out a
'kama sutra' position in the book while the woman was waiting patiently...
we enjoyed your print very much. "

Hi Renee, thanks for mentioning my 18A print. I guess I felt that lately
Barenforum has gotten a bit risque with all the discussion about
pillow-books, shunga prints, Nude calendars, etc...and thus an idea/image
was born.

I like your husband's take on the print, but you can also look at the
print in different ways...the woman is 'on-top' riding the baren
satisfying herself while peeking down at the pillow-book images her
'excited' partner is looking at.

Or, by the expression on her face, she's just like totally frustrated
with him for looking at the book and saying kinda of like...are we going
to ever do it or what ?

Or, could it be that the man is so much into himself and getting pleasure
from the book that he's in a fantasy world, totally ignoring his partner
and delaying the actual "act" ?

It certainly can speak for some men and their infatuation with
super-models, girlie-magazines, adult-videos, etc...while 'ignoring' the
real thing.

Or, could it be that they are getting ready to use/ride the giant baren as
a sex toy and the guy is looking at his Yoshida manual for ideas on proper
baren usage ?

Anyways, glad you guys enjoyed the little print......Julio Rodriguez
(Skokie, Illinois)
Member image

Message 12
From: Cyndy Wilson
Date: Mon, 02 Feb 2004 20:55:54 -0700
Subject: [Baren 24097] Re: wow
Send Message: To this poster


You have a place to stay in Spokane if you come this far north and west!!

Cyndy Wilson

> Wowwieee!!!
> Thank you all who sent invitations in response to my road-trip ditty. I
> am keeping all of them in a special folder and will give some thought to
> my route. As for dates, I don't have any yet, all depends on soooo many
> things. But the trip is set and the idea is taking shape. My thougths is
> that I can bring blocks and paper and do some sort of a "sense of
> (printmaker's) place" theme piece with every one of you in a
> collaborative arrangement. Then I would bind all the prints in a book
> and it would be like a diary of the trip to be sent to each participant
> after the trip is over. Cool, huh?
> Anyhow, thanks for the warm invites! So far it looks like quite a
> trip...if I hit all the places I'd be on the road for months :-)
> Maria Arango
> Las Vegas Nevada USA