Lesson #36: Trying to avoid 'kento' stains ...
(entry by Dave Bull)
Q: When printing a block where the design is very close to the kento, how does one avoid inking the kento and marking the paper?
A: This photo might help ... (This was a difficult shot ... a black block, shot at an angle that makes focussing awkward ...)
The fuzzy 'mountain' in the far distance is the 'kagi', the corner registration mark. The angled raised part in the middle right is the 'hikitsuke', the straight-line registration mark. The two 'railroad tracks' are part of the carved design of the print, which extends off to the left.
The wood of the registration marks has been shaved down below the original level of the block, and in addition, has been beveled off away from the brushing area. So the baren thus sails over them by a fraction of a millimetre, and doesn't touch.
The wood area between the registration mark and the carved area can give trouble though. It gets slathered with pigment, and if you press the paper down too far with your finger when you are inserting it into the mark, it picks up pigment here. You can carve it out deeper in a 'U' shape, but that tends to make it difficult to insert the paper cleanly against the mark.
If it's any consolation, even the most famous of the old prints carry small marks and blotches in these two places ... It's one of the defining marks of a woodblock print ...