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Title: Wood-Block Printing - A Description of the Craft of Woodcutting and Colour Printing Based on the Japanese Practice
Author: Fletcher, F. Morley (Frank Morley), 1866-1949
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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      Inconsistency in spelling and hyphenation is as in the original.



The Artistic Crafts Series of Technical Handbooks
Edited By W. R. Lethaby

WOOD-BLOCK PRINTING

A Description of the Craft of
Woodcutting & Colour Printing
Based on the Japanese Practice

by

F. MORLEY FLETCHER

With Drawings and Illustrations by
the Author and A. W. Seaby.
Also Collotype Reproductions
of Various Examples of
Printing, and an Original
Print Designed and Cut by
the Author Printed by Hand
on Japanese Taper



[Illustration: Meadowsweet.
Collotype reproduction of a woodblock print by the Author.
(_Frontispiece_.)]



London
Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd.
Parker Street, Kingsway, W.C.2
Bath, Melbourne, Toronto, New York
Printed By
Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd.
Bath, England



EDITOR'S PREFACE


In issuing these volumes of a series of Handbooks on the Artistic
Crafts, it will be well to state what are our general aims.

In the first place, we wish to provide trustworthy text-books of
workshop practice, from the points of view of experts who have
critically examined the methods current in the shops, and putting aside
vain survivals, are prepared to say what is good workmanship, and to set
up a standard of quality in the crafts which are more especially
associated with design. Secondly, in doing this, we hope to treat design
itself as an essential part of good workmanship. During the last century
most of the arts, save painting and sculpture of an academic kind, were
little considered, and there was a tendency to look on "design" as a
mere matter of _appearance_. Such "ornamentation" as there was was
usually obtained by following in a mechanical way a drawing provided by
an artist who often knew little of the technical processes involved in
production. With the critical attention given to the crafts by Ruskin
and Morris, it came to be seen that it was impossible to detach design
from craft in this way, and that, in the widest sense, true design is an
inseparable element of good quality, involving as it does the selection
of good and suitable material, contrivance for special purpose, expert
workmanship, proper finish, and so on, far more than mere ornament, and
indeed, that ornamentation itself was rather an exuberance of fine
workmanship than a matter of merely abstract lines. Workmanship when
separated by too wide a gulf from fresh thought--that is, from
design--inevitably decays, and, on the other hand, ornamentation,
divorced from workmanship, is necessarily unreal, and quickly falls
into affectation. Proper ornamentation may be defined as a language
addressed to the eye; it is pleasant thought expressed in the speech of
the tool.

In the third place, we would have this series put artistic craftsmanship
before people as furnishing reasonable occupations for those who would
gain a livelihood. Although within the bounds of academic art, the
competition, of its kind, is so acute that only a very few per cent. can
fairly hope to succeed as painters and sculptors; yet, as artistic
craftsmen, there is every probability that nearly every one who would
pass through a sufficient period of apprenticeship to workmanship and
design would reach a measure of success.

In the blending of hand-work and thought in such arts as we propose to
deal with, happy careers may be found as far removed from the dreary
routine of hack labour as from the terrible uncertainty of academic art.
It is desirable in every way that men of good education should be
brought back into the productive crafts: there are more than enough of
us "in the city," and it is probable that more consideration will be
given in this century than in the last to Design and Workmanship.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are two common ways of studying old and foreign arts--the way of
the connoisseur and the way of the craftsman. The collector may value
such arts for their strangeness and scarcity, while the artist finds in
them stimulus in his own work and hints for new developments.

The following account of colour-printing from wood-blocks is based on a
study of the methods which were lately only practised in Japan, but
which at an earlier time were to some degree in use in Europe also. The
main principles of the art, indeed, were well known in the West long
before colour prints were produced in Japan, and there is some reason to
suppose that the Japanese may have founded their methods in imitating
the prints taken from Europe by missionaries. Major Strange says: "The
European art of _chiaroscuro_ engraving is in all essentials identical
with that of Japanese colour-printing.... It seems, therefore, not vain
to point out that the accidental sight of one of the Italian
colour-prints may have suggested the process to the Japanese." The
Italians aimed more at expressing "relief" and the Japanese at flat
colour arrangements; the former used oily colours, and the latter fair
distemper tints; these are the chief differences. Both in the West and
the East the design was cut on the plank surface of the wood with a
knife; not across the grain with a graver, as is done in most modern
wood engraving, although large plank woodcuts were produced by Walter
Crane and Herkomer, about thirty years ago, as posters.

The old woodcuts of the fifteenth century were produced as pictures as
well as for the illustration of books; frequently they were of
considerable size. Often, too, they were coloured by stencil plates or
freely by hand.

At the same time the printing in colour of letters and other simple
devices in books from wood-blocks was done, and a book printed at St.
Albans in 1486 has many coats of arms printed in this way; some of the
shields having two or three different colours.[1]

About the year 1500 a method of printing woodcuts in several flat tones
was invented in Germany and practised by Lucas Cranach and others. A
fine print of Adam and Eve by Hans Baldung in the Victoria and Albert
Museum has, besides the bold black "drawing," an over-tint printed in
warm brown out of which sharp high lights are cut; the print is thus in
three tones.

[1] See R. M. Burch, _Colour Printing_, 1900.

Ugo da Carpo (_c._ 1480-1530) working in Venice, introduced this new
type of tone woodcut into Italy; indeed, he claimed to be the inventor
of the method. "This was called _chiaroscuro_, a name still given to
it, and was, in fact, a simple form of our modern chromo printing." His
woodcuts are in a simple, vigorous style; one of them after Raphael's
"Death of Ananias," printed in brown, has a depth and brilliancy which
may remind us of the mezzo-tints of Turner's _Liber Studiorum_. This is
proudly signed, "Per Ugo da Carpo," and some copies are said to be dated
1518.

Andrea Andreani (_c._ 1560-1623), a better known but not a better
artist, produced a great number of these tone woodcuts. Several prints
after Mantegna's "Triumphs of Caesar" have a special charm from the
beauty of the originals; they are printed in three tints of grey besides
the "drawing"; the palest of these tints covers the surface, except for
high lights cut out of it. A fine print of a Holy Family, about 15×18
inches, has a middle tone of fair blue and a shadow tint of full rich
green. Copies of two immense woodcuts at the Victoria and Albert Museum,
of Biblical subjects, seem to have been seems to cramp the hand and
injure the eyes of all but the most gifted draughtsmen. It is desirable
to cultivate the ability to seize and record the "map-form" of any
object rapidly and correctly. Some practice in elementary
colour-printing would certainly be of general usefulness, and simpler
exercises may be contrived by cutting out with scissors and laying down
shapes in black or coloured papers unaided by any pattern.

Finally, the hope may be expressed that the beautiful art of
wood-cutting as developed in Western Europe and brought to such
perfection only a generation ago is only temporarily in abeyance, and
that it too may have another day.

                                                W. R. LETHABY.
  _September 1916._



AUTHOR'S NOTE


This little book gives an account of one of the primitive crafts, in the
practice of which only the simplest tools and materials are used. Their
method of use may serve as a means of expression for artist-craftsmen,
or may be studied in preparation for, or as a guide towards, more
elaborate work in printing, of which the main principles may be seen
most clearly in their application in the primitive craft.

In these days the need for reference to primitive handicrafts has not
ceased with the advent of the machine. The best achievements of
hand-work will always be the standards for reference; and on their study
must machine craft be based. The machine can only increase the power
and scale of the crafts that have already been perfected by hand-work.
Their principles, and the art of their design, do not alter under the
machine. If the machine disregards these its work becomes base. And it
is under the simple conditions of a handicraft that the principles of an
art can be most clearly experienced.

The best of all the wonderful and excellent work that is produced to-day
by machinery is that which bears evidence in itself of its derivation
from arts under the pure conditions of classic craftsmanship, and shows
the influence of their study.

The series of which this book is a part stands for the principles and
the spirit of the classic examples. To be associated with those
fellow-craftsmen who have been privileged to work for the Series is
itself an honour of high estimation in the mind of the present writer.
If the book contributes even a little toward the usefulness of the
series the experiments which are recorded here will have been well
worth while.

To my friend Mr. J. D. Batten is due all the credit of the initial work.
He began the search for a pure style of colour-printing, and most
generously supported and encouraged my own experiments in the Japanese
method.

To my old colleague Mr. A. W. Seaby I would also express my indebtedness
for his kind help and advice.

                                                      F. M. F.

  EDINBURGH COLLEGE OF ART,
      _September 1916._



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER I
                                                                    PAGE

  Introduction and Description of the Origins of
  Wood-block Printing--Its Uses for Personal
  Artistic Expression, for Reproduction of
  Decorative Designs, and as a Fundamental
  Training for Student of Printed Decoration                           1


  CHAPTER II

  General Description of the Operation of Printing
  from a Set of Blocks                                                 9


  CHAPTER III

  Description of the Materials and Tools required
  for Block Cutting                                                   17


  CHAPTER IV

  Block Cutting and the Planning of Blocks                            23


  CHAPTER V

  Preparation of Paper, Ink, Colour, and Paste for
  Printing                                                            47


  CHAPTER VI

  Detailed Method of Printing--The Printing
  Tools, Baren and Brushes                                            61


  CHAPTER VII

  Principles and Main Considerations in Designing
  Wood-block Prints--Their Application to
  Modern Colour Printing                                              81


  CHAPTER VIII

  Co-operative Printing                                               89


  APPENDIX

  Prints and Collotype Plates                                         94

  Books of Reference                                                 129

  INDEX                                                              130



  ILLUSTRATIONS


  FIG.                         PAGE

  1. PLAN OF WORK-TABLE                                      11

  2. BLOCK MOUNTED WITH CROSS ENDS TO
  PREVENT WARPING                                            18

  3. DRAWING OF THE KNIFE                                    19

  4. SIZES OF CHISELS                                        20

  5. SHORT CHISEL IN SPLIT HANDLE                            21

  6. MALLET                                                  21

  7. POSITION OF THE HANDS IN USING THE
  KNIFE                                                      30

  8. ANOTHER POSITION OF THE HANDS IN USING THE KNIFE        31

  9. KNIFE CUTS IN SECTION                                   33

  10. DIAGRAM OF KNIFE CUTS                                  33

  11. METHOD OF HOLDING GOUGE                                35

  12. CLEARING OF WOOD BETWEEN KNIFE CUTS                    35

  13. POSITION OF REGISTER MARKS                             37

  14. REGISTER MARKS                                         37

  15. REGISTER MARKS (SECTION OF)                            38

  16. SECTION OF COLOUR-BLOCK                                42

  17. DRAWING OF SIZING OF PAPER                             49

  18. CORK OF INK-BOTTLE WITH WAD FOR PRESERVATIVE           56

  19. METHOD OF RE-COVERING BAREN                            64

  20. DRAWING OF BRUSHES                                     66

  21. MANNER OF HOLDING THE PAPER                            70

  22. MANNER OF USING THE BAREN                              72



COLLOTYPE PLATES


  1. MEADOWSWEET. REPRODUCTION OF A WOOD-BLOCK
     PRINT BY THE AUTHOR                             _Frontispiece_

  2. KEY-BLOCK OF A PRINT DRAWN AND CUT
     BY THE AUTHOR                                            5

  3. THE BAREN, OR PRINTING PAD                              12

  4. COLOUR-BLOCK OF A PRINT OF WHICH THE
     KEY-BLOCK IS SHOWN AT P. 5                              23

  5. IMPRESSION (NEARLY ACTUAL SIZE) OR A
     PORTION OF A JAPANESE WOOD BLOCK
     SHOWING GREAT VARIETY IN THE
     CHARACTER OF THE LINES AND SPOTS
     SUGGESTING FORM                                         26

  6. REPRODUCTION OF AN IMPRESSION (REDUCED)
     OF THE KEY-BLOCK OF A JAPANESE PRINT
     SHOWING ADMIRABLE VARIETY IN THE
     MEANS USED TO SUGGEST FORM                              33

  7. PORTION OF DETAIL FROM A JAPANESE
     WOOD BLOCK                                              48



APPENDIX


                                                           PAGE

  8. WOOD-BLOCK PRINT BY THE AUTHOR                          95

  9. FIRST PRINTING (_Collotype reproduction_)               98

  10. SECOND PRINTING   "     "                             100

  11. THIRD PRINTING    "     "                             102

  12. FOURTH PRINTING   "     "                             104

  13. FIFTH PRINTING    "     "                             105

  14. SIXTH PRINTING    "      "                            107

  15. EIGHTH PRINTING   "     "                             109

  16. COLLOTYPE REPRODUCTION OF A COLOUR
      PRINT BY HIROSHIGÉ                                    111

  17. COLLOTYPE REPRODUCTION OF A PORTION
      OF THE PRINT SHOWN ON THE PRECEDING
      PAGE, ACTUAL SIZE, SHOWING THE TREATMENT
      OF THE FOLIAGE AND THE EXPRESSIVE
      DRAWING OF THE TREE-TRUNK AND STEMS                    114

  18. COLLOTYPE REPRODUCTION OF ANOTHER
      PORTION OF THE PRINT SHOWN ON P. 111
      ACTUAL SIZE, SHOWING THE EXPRESSIVE
      USE OF LINE IN THE DRAWING OF THE
      DISTANT FORMS                                          116

  19. COLLOTYPE REPRODUCTION OF A COLOUR
      PRINT BY HIROSHIGÉ                                     118

  20. COLLOTYPE REPRODUCTION OF A PORTION
      (ACTUAL SIZE) OF THE PRINT ON THE
      PRECEDING PAGE, SHOWING TREATMENT
      OF TREE FORMS AND DISTANCE                             120

  21. COLLOTYPE REPRODUCTION OF A COLOUR
      PRINT BY HIROSHIGÉ                                     121

  22. COLLOTYPE REPRODUCTION OF A PORTION,
      ACTUAL SIZE, OF THE PRINT ON THE
      PRECEDING PAGE, SHOWING TREATMENT
      OF TREE AND BLOSSOM                                    123

  23. THE TIGER. COLLOTYPE REPRODUCTION
      OF A COLOUR PRINT BY J. D. BATTEN                      125

  24. LAPWINGS. COLLOTYPE REPRODUCTION OF
      A COLOUR PRINT BY A. W. SEABY                           127



  ERRATA


  Page 62.--For "bamboo-sheath" read "bamboo leaf".

   "   63.--In last paragraph, delete "the inside of".

   "   64.--Third line from bottom, after "occasionally"
            insert "when printing".



WOOD-BLOCK PRINTING

BY THE

JAPANESE METHOD



CHAPTER I


_INTRODUCTORY_

     Introduction and Description of the Origins of Wood-block Printing;
     its uses for personal artistic expression, for reproduction of
     decorative designs, and as a fundamental training for students of
     printed decoration.

The few wood-block prints shown from time to time by the Society of
Graver Printers in Colour, and the occasional appearance of a wood-block
print in the Graver Section of the International Society's Exhibitions,
or in those of the Society of Arts and Crafts, are the outcome of the
experiments of a small group of English artists in making prints by the
Japanese method, or by methods based on the Japanese practice.

My interest was first drawn in 1897 to experiments that were being made
by Mr. J. D. Batten, who for two years previously had attempted, and
partially succeeded in making, a print from wood and metal blocks with
colour mixed with glycerine and dextrine, the glycerine being afterwards
removed by washing the prints in alcohol. As the Japanese method seemed
to promise greater advantages and simplicity, we began experiments
together, using as our text-book the pamphlet by T. Tokuno, published by
the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, and the dextrine and glycerine
method was soon abandoned. The edition of prints, however, of Eve and
the Serpent designed by J. D. Batten, printed by myself and published at
that time, was produced partly by the earlier method and partly in the
simpler Japanese way.

Familiar as everyone is with Japanese prints, it is not generally known
that they are produced by means of an extremely simple craft. No
machinery is required, but only a few tools for cutting the designs on
the surface of the planks of cherry wood from which the impressions are
taken. No press is used, but a round flat pad, which is rubbed on the
back of the print as it lies on the blocks. The colours are mixed with
water and paste made from rice flour. The details of the craft and
photographs of the tools were given in full in the Smithsonian
Institution pamphlet already mentioned.

It is slow and unsatisfactory work, however, learning manipulation from
a book, and several technical difficulties that seemed insurmountable
were made clear by the chance discovery in London of a Japanese
printseller who, although not a printer, was sufficiently familiar with
the work to give some invaluable hints and demonstrations.

Further encouragement was given to the work by the institution, a little
later, of a class in wood-cuts in colour under my charge, at the L.C.C.
Central School of Arts and Crafts, which for several years became the
chief centre of the movement.

Such are the bare historical facts of the development in our country of
this craft imported from the Far East.

On a merely superficial acquaintance the Japanese craft of
block-printing may appear to be no more than a primitive though delicate
form of colour reproduction, which modern mechanical methods have long
superseded, even in the land of its invention; and that to study so
limited a mode of expression would be hardly of any practical value to
an artist. Moreover, the craft is under the disadvantage that all the
stages of the work, from making the first design to taking the final
impressions, must be done by the artist himself--work which includes the
delicate cutting of line and planning of colour blocks, and the
preparation of colour and paper. In Japan there were trained craftsmen
expert in each of these branches of the craft, and each carried out
his part under the supervision of the artist. No part but the design was
done by him. So that the very character of the work has an essential
difference. Under our present conditions the artist must undertake the
whole craft, with all its detail.

[Illustration: Plate II.--Key-block of the print shown on the
frontispiece.

(The portion of wood lying outside the points of the mass of foliage is
left standing to support the paper, but is not inked in printing.)

(_To face page 5._)]

Simple as the process is, there is, from first to last, a long labour
involved in planning, cutting and printing, before a satisfactory batch
of prints is produced. After several attempts in delegating printing to
well-trained pupils I have found it impossible to obtain the best
results by that means, but the cutting of the colour-blocks and the
clearing of the key-block after the first cutting of the line may well
be done by assistant craftsmen.

A larger demand for the prints might bring about a commercial
development of the work, and the consequent employment of trained
craftsmen or craftswomen, but the result would be a different one from
that which has been obtained by the artists who are willing to
undertake the whole production of their work.

The actual value of wood-block prints for use as decoration is a matter
of personal taste and experience.

In my own opinion there is an element that always remains foreign in the
prints of the Japanese masters, yet I know of no other kind of art that
has the same telling value on a wall, or the same decorative charm in
modern domestic rooms as the wood-block print. A single print well
placed in a room of quiet colour will enrich and dominate a whole wall.

The modern vogue still favours more expensive although less decorative
forms of art, or works of reproduction without colour, yet here is an
art available to all who care for expressive design and colour, and
within the means of the large public to whom the cost of pictures is
prohibitive. In its possibility as a decorative means of expression well
suited to our modern needs and uses, and in the particular charm that
colour has when printed from wood on a paper that is beautiful already
by its own quality, there is no doubt of the scope and opportunity
offered by this art.

But as with new wine and old bottles, a new condition of simplicity in
furniture and of pure colour in decoration must first be established. A
wood-block print will not tell well amid a wilderness of bric-à-brac or
on a gaudy wall-paper.

From another and quite different point of view, the art of block-cutting
and colour-printing has, however, a special and important value. To any
student of pictorial art, especially to any who may wish to design for
modern printed decoration, no work gives such instruction in economy of
design, in the resources of line and its expressive development, and in
the use and behaviour of colour. This has been the expressed opinion of
many who have undertaken a course of wood-block printing for this object
alone.

The same opinion is emphatically stated by Professor Emil Orlik, whose
prints are well known in modern exhibitions. On the occasion of a visit
to the Kunstgewerbeschule of Berlin, I found him conducting a class for
designers for printed decoration, in which the Japanese craft of
block-printing was made the basis of their training. He held to the view
that the primitive craft teaches the students the very economy and
simplicity upon which the successful use of the great modern resources
of colour-printing depend, yet which cannot be learnt except by recourse
to simpler conditions and more narrow limitations before dealing with
the greater scope of the machine.

My own experience also convinces me that whatever may be the ultimate
value of the Eastern craft to our artists as a mode of personal
expression, there is no doubt of its effect and usefulness in training
students to design with economy and simplicity for modern printing
processes.



CHAPTER II


     General Description of the Operation of Printing from a Set of
     Blocks

The early stages of any craft are more interesting when we are familiar
with the final result. For this reason it is often an advantage to begin
at the end.

To see a few impressions taken from a set of blocks in colour printing,
or to print them oneself, gives the best possible idea of the quality
and essential character of print-making. So also in describing the work
it will perhaps tend to make the various stages clearer if the final act
of printing is first explained.

The most striking characteristic of this craft is the primitive
simplicity of the act of printing. No press is required, and no
machinery.

A block is laid flat on the table with its cut surface uppermost, and is
kept steady by a small wad of damp paper placed under each corner. A
pile of paper slightly damped ready for printing lies within reach just
beyond the wood-block, so that the printer may easily lift the paper
sheet by sheet on to the block as it is required.

It is the practice in Japan to work squatting on the floor, with the
blocks and tools also on the floor in front of the craftsman. Our own
habit of working at a table is less simple, but has some advantages. One
practice or habit of the Japanese is, however, to be followed with
particular care. No description can give quite fully the sense of
extreme orderliness and careful deliberation of their work. Everything
is placed where it will be most convenient for use, and this orderliness
is preserved throughout the day's work. Their shapely tools and vessels
are handled with a deftness that shames our clumsy ways, and everything
that they use is kept quite clean. This skilful orderliness is essential
to fine craftmanship, and is a sign of mastery.


The arrangement of tools and vessels on a work-table may be as the
accompanying plan shows:

[Illustration: FIG. 1.--Plan of work-table.

  A. Block.
  B. Sheets of damped paper lying on a board.
  C. Second board lifted from B.
  D. Brushes lying on a strip of wood.
  E. White plate or dish containing colour.
  F. Saucer containing paste of rice-flour.
  G. Baren, or printing pad, lying on a sheet of paper
  slightly oiled with sweet oil and tacked to
  the table.
  H. Deep bowl of water and brush for moistening
  the damping sheets.
  I. Saucer of water for use in printing.
  J. Sponge.]

When printing on a table arranged in this way the board lying on the
sheets of damped paper at B is first lifted off and placed at C to
receive the sheets as they are done. If the block A is quite dry, it is
thoroughly moistened with a damp sponge and wiped. The colour from a
saucer, E, is then brushed over the printing surface thinly, and a trace
of paste taken from F is also brushed into the colour. (This is best
done after the colour is roughly spread on the block.) The brush is laid
down in its place, D, and the top sheet of paper from the pile is
immediately lifted to its register marks (notches to keep the paper in
its place) on the block. The manner of holding the paper is shown on
page 70. This must be done deftly, and it is important to waste no time,
as the colour would soon dry on the exposed block and print badly.

Pressure is then applied to the back of the paper as it lies on the wet
block. This is done by a round pad called the _baren_ by the Japanese.
It is made of a coil of cord covered by bamboo sheath as shown later
on page 62. The pad is rubbed by hand with considerable pressure, moving
transversely forwards and backwards across the block, working from the
left to the right. Once all over the block should be enough. The paper
is then lifted off and laid face upwards on the board at C. The block is
then re-charged with colour for another impression, and the whole
operation repeated as many times as there are sheets to be printed.

[Illustration: Plate III. The Baren, or printing pad.

(The pad is actually 5 inches in diameter.)

(_To face page 12._)]

When this is done all the sheets will have received a single impression,
which may be either a patch of colour or an impression in line of part
of the design of the print. The block A is then removed, cleaned, and
put away; and the block for the second impression put in its place.

It is usual to print the line or key-block of a design first, as one is
then able to detect faulty registering or imperfect fitting of the
blocks and to correct them at once. But there are cases in which a
gradated tone, such as a sky, may need to be printed before the line
block.

The complete design of a print may require several blocks for colour as
well as the key block which prints the line. The impressions from all
these blocks may be printed one after another without waiting for the
colour on the paper to dry.

As soon as the batch of damped sheets has been passed over the first
block, the sheets are replaced at B between boards, and, if necessary,
damped again by means of damping sheets (as described later in Chapter
V) ready for the next impression, which may be proceeded with at once
without fear of the colour running. It is a remarkable fact that patches
of wet colour which touch one another do not run if properly printed.

For the second printing fresh colour is prepared and clean paste, and
the printing proceeds as already described, care being taken to watch
the proper registering or fitting of each impression to its place in the
design.

There are many niceties and details to be observed in the printing of
both line and colour blocks. These are given in special chapters
following. This description of the main action of printing will be of
use in giving a general idea of the final operation before the details
of the preliminary stages are described.



CHAPTER III


     Description of the Materials and Tools required for Block-cutting

The wood most commonly used by the Japanese for their printing-blocks is
a cherry wood very similar to that grown in England. The Canadian cherry
wood, which is more easily obtained than English cherry, is of too open
a grain to be of use. The more slowly grown English wood has a closer
grain and is the best for all the purposes of block cutting and
printing. Well-seasoned planks should be obtained and kept ready for
cutting up as may be required.

When a set of blocks is to be cut for a given design, the size of the
printing surface of each block should be made equal to the size of the
design plus 1 inch or, for large prints, 1-1/2 inch in addition long
ways, and 1/4 or 1/2 inch crossways. The thickness of the plank need not
be more than 5/8 or 3/4 inch. It is best for the protection of the
surfaces of the printing blocks and to prevent warping, also for
convenience in storing and handling them, to fix across each end a piece
of wood slightly thicker than the plank itself. These cross-ends should
be mounted as shown in fig. 2.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.--Block mounted with cross ends to
prevent warping.]

Both surfaces of the plank should be planed smooth and then finished
with a steel scraper, but not touched with sand-paper.

It is understood that the face of the plank is used for the printing
surface, and not the end of the grain as in blocks for modern wood
engraving.

The tools needed for cutting the blocks are the following:

1. THE KNIFE

[Illustration: FIG. 3.--Drawing of the knife.]

With this knife the most important and delicate work is done. All the
lines of the key-block as well as the boundaries of the colour masses
are cut with it, before the removal of intervening spaces.

The blade lies in a slot and is held tight by the tapered ferrule. This
can be pulled off by hand and the blade lengthened by pulling it
forward in the slot.

2. CHISELS

These are used for removing the wood between the cut lines or colour
masses, and should be ordinary carvers' chisels of the following sizes:

[Illustration: FIG. 4.--Sizes of chisels.]

except those under No. 9, which are short-handled chisels for small
work.

The Japanese toolmakers fit these small chisels into a split handle as
shown in fig. 5. The blade is held tightly in its place by the tapered
ferrule when the handle is closed, or can be lengthened by opening the
handle and pulling forward the blade in its slot. In this way the blade
can be used down to its last inch.

3. MALLET

This is needed for driving the larger chisels.

[Illustration: FIG. 5.--Short chisel in split handle.]

[Illustration: FIG. 6.--Mallet.]

These are all the tools that are needed for block cutting. For keeping
them in order it is well to have oilstones of three grades:

1. A carborundum stone for rapidly re-covering the shape of a chipped
or blunt tool.

2. A good ordinary oil stone.

3. A hard stone for keeping a fine edge on the knife in cutting line
blocks. The American "Washita" stone is good for this purpose.

[Illustration: Plate IV. Colour block of a print of which the key-block
is shown on page 5.]

(_To face page 23._)



CHAPTER IV


     Block Cutting and the Planning of Blocks


The cutting of a line block needs patience and care and skill, but it is
not the most difficult part of print making, nor is it so hopeless an
enterprise as it seems at first to one who has not tried to use the
block-cutter's knife.

In Japan this work is a highly specialised craft, never undertaken by
the artist himself, but carried out by skilled craftsmen who only do
this part of the work of making colour prints. Even the clearing of the
spaces between the cut lines is done by assistant craftsmen or
craftswomen.

The exquisite perfection of the cutting of the lines in the finest of
the Japanese prints, as, for instance, the profile of a face in a
design by Outamaro, has required the special training and tradition of
generations of craftsmen.

The knife, however, is not a difficult weapon to an artist who has hands
and a trained sense of form. In carrying out his own work, moreover, he
may express a quality that is of greater value even than technical
perfection.

At present we have no craftsmen ready for this work--nor could our
designs be safely trusted to the interpretation of Japanese
block-cutters. Until we train craftsmen among ourselves we must
therefore continue to cut our own blocks.


CUTTING

A set of blocks consists of a key-block and several colour blocks. The
block that must be cut first is that which prints the line or "key" of
the design. By means of impressions from this key-block the various
other blocks for printing the coloured portions of the design are cut.
The key-block is the most important of the set of blocks and contains
the essential part of the design.

A drawing of that part of the design which is to be cut on the key-block
should first be made. This is done on the thinnest of Japanese tissue
paper in black indelible ink. The drawing is then pasted face downward
on the prepared first block with good starch paste. It is best to lay
the drawing flat on its back upon a pad of a few sheets of paper of
about the same size, and to rub the paste on the surface of the block,
not on the paper. The block is now laid down firmly with its pasted side
on the drawing, which at once adheres to the block. Next turn the block
over and lay a dry sheet of paper over the damp drawing so as to protect
it, and with the baren, or printing rubber, rub the drawing flat, and
well on to the block all over.

The drawing should then be allowed to dry thoroughly on the block.

With regard to the design of the key block, it is a common mistake to
treat this as a drawing only of outlines of the forms of the print. Much
modern so-called decorative printing has been weak in this respect. A
flat, characterless line, with no more expression than a bent gaspipe,
is often printed round the forms of a design, followed by printings of
flat colour, the whole resulting in a travesty of "flat" decorative
treatment.

The key design should be a skeleton of all the forms of a print,
expressing much more than mere exterior boundaries. It may so suggest
form that although the colour be printed by a flat tint the result is
not flat. When one is unconscious of any flatness in the final effect,
though the result is obtained by flat printing, then the proper use of
flat treatment has been made. The affectation of flatness in inferior
colour printing and poster work is due to a misapprehension of the true
principle of flat treatment.

[Illustration: Plate V. Impression (nearly actual size) of a portion of
a Japanese wood block showing great variety in the character of the
lines and spots suggesting form.]

(_To face page 26._)

As an illustration of the great variety of form that may be expressed by
the key-block, a reproduction is given (page 33) of an impression from a
Japanese key-block. It will be seen that the lines and spots express
much more than boundaries of form. In the case of the lighter tree
foliage the boundaries are left to be determined entirely by the
subsequent colour blocks, and only the interior form or character of the
foliage is suggested. The quality or kind of line, too, varies with the
thing expressed, whether tree, rock, sea, or the little ship. The
design, too, is in itself beautiful and gives the essential form of the
entire print.

The study of the drawing of any of the key-blocks of the Japanese
masters will reveal their wonderful power and resource in the suggestion
of essential form by black lines, spots, and masses of one uniform tint
of black or grey. The development of this kind of expressive drawing is
most important to the designer of printed decoration, whether by wood
blocks, or lithography, or any other printing process.

Other good types of drawing for the purposes of key-blocks in wood are
given on Plate V facing page 26 and Plate XVI p. iii in Appendix.

When the key-block with its design pasted upon it is thoroughly dry, a
little sweet oil should be rubbed with the finger at that part where the
cutting is to begin, so as to make the paper transparent and the black
line quite clear.

In order to keep the block from moving on the work-table, there should
be fixed one or two strips of wood screwed down, to act as stops in case
the block tends to slip, but the block should lie freely on the table,
so that it may be easily turned round during the cutting when necessary.
One should, however, learn to use the cutting knife in all directions,
and to move the block as little as possible.

The knife is held and guided by the right hand, but is pushed along by
the middle finger of the left hand placed at the back of the blade,
close down near the point. The left hand should be generally flat on the
work-table, palm down, and the nail of the middle finger must be kept
short. This position is shown (fig. 7) on p. 30.

The flat side of the knife should always be against the line to be cut.

Sometimes it is convenient to drive the knife from right to left, but in
this case the pressure is given by the right hand, and the left middle
finger is used to check and steady the knife, the finger being pressed
against the knife just above the cutting edge.

A good position for cutting a long straight line towards oneself on the
block is shown below (fig. 8). The left hand is on its side, and the
middle finger is hooked round and pulls the knife while the right hand
guides it.

In all cases the middle finger of the left hand pushes or steadies the
knife, or acts as a fulcrum.

[Illustration: FIG. 7.--Position of the hands in using the
knife.]

A beginner with the knife usually applies too much pressure or is apt
to put the left finger at a point too high up on the blade, where it
loses its control. The finger should be as close down to the wood as
possible, where its control is most effective. A small piece of
india-rubber tubing round the knife blade helps to protect the finger.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.--Another position of the hands in using
the knife.]

With practice the knife soon becomes an easy and a very precise tool,
capable of great expressiveness in drawing. Bear in mind that both sides
of a line are drawn by the knife. The special power of developing the
expressive form of line _on both sides_ is a resource tending to great
development of drawing in designs for wood-block prints. The line may be
of varying form, changing from silhouette to pure line as may best serve
to express the design. It should never be a mere diagram.

[Illustration: Plate VI. Reproduction of an impression (reduced) of the
key-block of a Japanese print showing admirable variety in the means
used to suggest form.

(_To face page 33._)]

The actual cutting proceeds as follows: Starting at some point where the
surface of the key-block design has been oiled and made distinct, a
shallow cut is made along one side of any form in the design, with the
knife held slanting so that the cut slants away from the edge of the
form. A second outer parallel cut is then made with the knife held
slanting in the opposite direction from the first, so that the two cuts
together make a V-shaped trench all along the line of the form. The
little strip of wood cut out should detach itself as the second cut is
made, and should not need any picking out or further cutting if the
first two cuts are cleanly made. This shallow V-shaped trench is
continued all round the masses and along both sides of all the lines of
the design. No clearing of the intervening spaces should be attempted
until this is done. It will be seen at once that the V-shaped cuts give
great strength to the printing lines, so that a quite fine line between
two cuts may have a strong, broad base (fig. 9). The depth of the cut
would be slightly shallower than that shown in this diagram. In cutting
fine line work a cut is first made a little beyond the line, then the
cut is made on the line itself (fig. 10).

[Illustration: FIG. 9.--Knife cuts in section.]

[Illustration: FIG. 10.--Diagram of knife cuts.]

Where a very fine line is to be cut, especially if it is on a curve, the
outer cut of the V trench should be made first, and then that which
touches the line: there is thus less disturbance of the wood, and less
danger of injuring the edge of the line.

When the V cut has been made outside all the lines, one proceeds to
clear the intervening spaces between the lines of the design by taking
tool No. 1 (fig. 5). The large spaces should be cleared first. The
safest and quickest way is to make a small gouge cut with No. 1 round
all the large spaces close up to the first cut, then, with one of the
shallower chisels, Nos. 5, 6, or 7 (fig. 5), and the mallet, clear out
the wood between the gouge cuts.

For all shallow cuts where the mallet is not needed, the Japanese hold
the chisels as shown in fig. 11. With practice this will be found a very
convenient and steady grip for the right hand. It has also the advantage
that the chisel can be held against the centre of the body and exactly
under one's eyes.

In the diagram (fig. 12), if the wood from A to A1 is to be cleared
away, gouge cuts are made at _b_ and _b_1, then the space between _b_
and _b_1 may be quickly cleared without risk to the edge of the form at
A. When this rough work is done the little ridge between A and _b_ may
be cleared with small round or flat tools, as is most convenient. But
this final clearing should not be done until all the large spaces are
roughed out.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.--Method of holding gouge.]

[Illustration: FIG. 12.--Clearing of wood between knife cuts.]

The depth to which the spaces must be cleared will depend on their
width, as, in printing, the paper will sag more deeply in a wide space
than in a narrow one. In spaces of half an inch the depth of the first
V-cuts is sufficient, but the proportionate depth is about that of the
diagram above. The small spaces are cleared by means of small flat or
round chisels without the mallet or the preliminary gouge cut: this is
only needed where a large space has to be cleared.

There remain now only the placing and cutting of the two register marks
or notches for controlling the position of the paper in printing.

These are placed relatively to the design as shown in fig. 13.

The corner of the print fits into the notch at A, and one edge of the
print lies against the straight notch at B.

The register marks may be even closer to the space covered by the
design, but must not actually touch it, as some margin of paper is
necessary in printing: they should also be cut always on the long side
of the printing block. It will be seen from the drawing on page 70 that
these register marks correspond to the position of the thumb of each
hand in laying the paper on the block for printing.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.--Position of register marks.]

[Illustration: FIG. 14.--Register marks.]

The corner mark, ABC, is made by cutting from A to B and B to C, with
the knife held perpendicularly, and its flat side against the line, then
the shaded portion is cut with a flat chisel, sloping from the surface
of the block at AC to a depth of about 1/16 inch along AB and BC. The
straight notch, EF, is similarly cut, first with a perpendicular knife
along EF, and then the shaded portion is chiselled sloping down to the
line EF.

[Illustration: FIG. 15.--Register marks (section of).]

In section the two register marks would be as above.

The register marks must be smoothly and evenly cut so that the paper, in
printing, may slide easily home to its exact place.

When the design of the key-block and the two register marks have been
cut and cleared, the trace of paper and paste on the uncut parts of the
wood should be carefully washed off with a piece of sponge and warm
water. The block is then finished and ready for use. The key-block,
however, is only one of the set of blocks required for a print in
colour, but the colour blocks are simpler and require, as a rule, far
less labour.

The colour blocks are planned and established by means of impressions
taken from the key-block. For this purpose the register marks are
inked[2] for printing as well as the design on the block, and the
impressions must include both. These impressions are taken on thin
Japanese paper, but not necessarily the thinnest tissue. If the thinnest
is used, it should be pasted at the corners to a sheet of stiffer paper
for convenience in handling.

[2] The preparation of the ink for printing is described on p. 54.

It is then a fairly simple matter to take one of these key-block
impressions and to make a plan of the various colour-blocks that will be
required. These should obviously be as few as possible.

It is not necessary to provide an entire block for each patch of
colour, but only the extent of surface required for each coloured
portion of the print, as well as for its pair of register marks. Patches
of different colour that are not adjacent to one another on the design
of the print may be cut on the same block, provided they are not too
close for free colouring of the block in printing. Each block also may
be cut on both sides, so that there is considerable scope for economy in
the arranging and planning of the colour blocks.

When the arrangement of the plan of colour has been simplified as far as
possible, a new block is prepared as described above, and a sheet of
thin Japanese paper (unsized) is cut large enough to cover the print
design and its register marks. The clean surface of the new block is
covered thinly with starch paste well rubbed into the grain, and while
this is still wet an impression on the sheet of thin Japanese paper is
taken of the entire key-block, including its register marks in black,
and laid before it is dry face downward on the pasted surface of the
new block. This should be done as already described on page 25. It
should be rubbed flat with the printing pad and left to dry.

This operation requires careful handling, but it should be done easily
and methodically, without any hurry.

Each side of the set of colour planks should be treated in the same
way--a thin impression of the key-block and its register marks being
laid upon each. It is advisable to paste down a freshly taken
impression, each time, while the ink is still moist, for if these are
allowed to dry, the shrinking of the paper causes errors of register.

When these new blocks are dry, the patch of colour to be cut on each
surface should be clearly indicated by a thin wash of diluted ink or
colour, but not so as to hide the printed key line.

The blocks may then be cut. A V-shaped cut is made round each form, as
in the case of the key-block, and the clearing proceeds in the same way,
but it is only necessary to clear a space of about an inch round each
form: the rest of the wood should be left standing. A section of the
printing surface of a colour block would be as follows:

[Illustration: FIG. 16.--Section of colour-block. A. Colour
mass. B. Depression. C. Surface of Plank.]

When the register marks corresponding to these colour forms have also
been cut, and the paper washed off the blocks, the clear spaces may be
used for pasting down new key impressions for the smaller colour patches
and their corresponding register marks. In this way one side of a colour
plank may contain several different colour forms and sets of register
marks. As a rule the different colour patches would be printed
separately, though in some cases two colours may be printed at one
impression if they are small and have the same register marks.

When the blocks have been cut and cleared it is advisable to smooth
with sand-paper the edge of the depression where it meets the uncut
surface of the wood, otherwise this edge, if at all sharp, will mark the
print.

For any particulars about which one may be in doubt, the sets of blocks
at South Kensington Museum or in the Print Room at the British Museum
are available for examination. In one of the sets at the British Museum
it is interesting to see the temporary corrections that have been made
in the register marks during printing by means of little wooden plugs
stuck into the register notches.

In nearly all cases the Japanese blocks were made of cherry wood, but
planks of box are said to have been occasionally used for very fine
work.


ERRORS OF REGISTER

However exactly the register marks may be cut in a new set of blocks,
very puzzling errors occasionally arise while printing, especially if
the planks are of thin wood.

Some of the blocks are necessarily printed drier than others. For
instance, the key-block is printed with a very small amount of ink and
paste. Other blocks may be even drier, such as the blocks which print
small forms or details in a design. The blocks, however, which are used
for large masses of colour, or for gradated tones, are moistened over
the whole or a large part of the surface of the block, and if the wood
is thin, and not well mounted across the ends, the block soon expands
sufficiently to throw the register out. If the block is not mounted
across the ends there will also be a tendency to warp, and this will add
to the errors of register. But if the blocks are of fairly thick wood,
and well mounted, the register will remain very exact indeed.

Usually the key-block is printed first. If the subsequent blocks are not
in exact register the error is noticeable at once, and slight
adjustments may be made for its correction. But in cases where the
key-block is printed last (as sometimes is necessary) each colour block
must be tested before a batch of prints is passed over it. For this
purpose the first few prints of every batch should receive a faint
impression of the key-block, so that the register of the colour
impression may be verified before proceeding with the whole batch.

If these precautions are taken, and the entire set of blocks kept as
nearly as possible in the same conditions of dryness or moisture, all
difficulties of register in printing will be easily overcome.

When cutting a new set of blocks there is another possible source of
error which needs to be carefully guarded against. Most of the work in
designing a new print is necessarily spent in planning and cutting the
key-block, which may occupy a considerable time, especially if other
work has to be carried on as well. If new wood is used, or wood that has
not been seasoned long indoors, it will dry and contract considerably
across the grain before the work is finished. Then, if newer planks are
prepared and cut up for the colour blocks, and impressions from the
key-block are pasted down on them for cutting, it will be found that, as
the newer wood of the colour-blocks goes on drying, it will shrink out
of register, and the colour impressions will not fit the line perfectly.
It is easy to fall into this difficulty, but there is no danger of it if
the planks from which the key-block and the colour-blocks are cut are
all equally seasoned and are in the same condition.



CHAPTER V


     Preparation of Paper, Ink, Colour, and Paste for Printing


PAPER

The paper made by the Japanese from the inner bark of young shoots of
the mulberry and certain other plants of similar fibre is beyond all
others the best for wood-block printing. It is in itself a very
remarkable material, and is used in Japan for a great variety of
purposes, on account of the strength and toughness due to its long silky
fibre.

Paper of good quality for printing may be obtained directly from Japan,
or through trading agents dealing with Japan. A case of five reams would
be the smallest quantity obtainable directly, but it is by far the
cheapest and most satisfactory way of buying it. In smaller quantities
the paper is obtainable through many of the dealers in artists'
materials. Several kinds of this paper are made, but unsized sheets of a
quality similar to the print on page 95, and a thin Japanese tissue
paper are the two kinds required for printing in colour.

In its unsized state the paper is too absorbent for use, and it should
be sized freshly as needed for work. This is done by brushing a thin
solution of gelatine over the smooth surface of the sheets of paper.

A drawing-board rather larger than the sheets of paper, placed as shown
in fig. 17, with its lower edge resting on a basin of warm size, will be
found a convenient arrangement.

[Illustration: Plate VII. Impression of a portion of detail from a
Japanese woodblock (very nearly actual size).

(_To face page 48._)]

The sheet gelatine sold by grocers for cooking makes an excellent size.
Six of the thin sheets to a pint of water is a good strength.[3] The
gelatine is dissolved in hot water, but should not be boiled, as that
partially destroys the size. When dissolved, a little powdered alum
is also stirred in, about as much as will lie on a shilling to a pint of
water. The addition of the alum is important, as it acts as a mordant
and helps to make a better colour impression.

[3] See also p. 75.

[Illustration: FIG. 17.--Drawing of sizing of paper.]

In applying the size to the paper a four-inch broad flat paste brush is
used. The paper is laid on the slanting board and the size brushed
backward and forward across the paper from the upper end downward. Care
must be taken not to make creases in the paper, as these become
permanent. To avoid this the lower end of the sheet may be held with the
left hand and raised when necessary as the brush passes downwards. The
waste size will run down to the basin, but the paper need not be
flooded, nor should its surface be brushed unnecessarily, but it must be
fully and evenly charged with size. The sheet is then picked up by the
two upper corners (which may conveniently be kept unsized) and pinned at
each corner over a cord stretched across the workroom. The sheets are
left hanging until they are dry. The Japanese lay the paper on the
cord, letting the two halves of the sheet hang down equally on either
side.

The process of sizing and drying the sheets of paper is illustrated in a
print shown in the collection at the South Kensington Museum.

When the paper is quite dry it is taken down, and if required at once
for printing should be cut up into sheets of the size required, with
sufficient margin allowed to reach the register marks. It is best to cut
a gauge or pattern in cardboard for use in cutting the sheets to a
uniform size.

A few sheets of unsized paper are needed as damping sheets, one being
used to every three printing sheets. The damping sheets should be cut at
least an inch wider and longer than the printing sheets. Two wooden
boards are also required. The sheets of printing paper are kept between
these while damping before work.

To prepare for work, a damping sheet is taken and brushed over evenly
with water with a broad brush (like that used for sizing). The sheet
must not be soaked, but made thoroughly moist, evenly all over. It is
then laid on one of the two boards, and on it, with the printing side
(the smoother side) downward, are laid three of the sized sheets of
printing paper. On these another moist damping sheet is laid, and again
three dry sheets of printing paper, face downwards, and so on
alternately to the number of sheets of the batch to be printed. A board
is placed on the top of the pile.

The number of prints to be attempted at one printing will vary with the
kind of work and with the printer's experience. The printing may be
continued during three days, but if the paper is kept damp longer, there
is danger of mould and spotting. With work requiring delicate gradation
of colour and many separate block impressions twenty or thirty sheets
will be found sufficient for three days' hard work. The professional
printers of Japan, however, print batches of two hundred and three
hundred prints at a time, but in that case the work must become largely
mechanical.[4]

[4] See Chapter XIII for further experience on this point.

The batch of paper and damping sheets should remain between the boards
for at least half an hour when new sheets are being damped for the first
time. The damping sheets, all but the top and bottom ones, should then
be removed and the printing sheets left together between the boards for
some time before printing. An hour improves their condition very much,
the moisture spreading equally throughout the batch of sheets. Before
printing they should be quite flat and soft, but scarcely moist to the
touch. If the sheets are new, they may even be left standing all night
after the first damping, and will be in perfect condition for printing
in the morning without further damping. No weight should be placed on
the boards.

Although no paper has hitherto been found that will take so perfect an
impression from colour-blocks as the long-fibred Japanese paper, yet it
should be the aim of all craftsmen to become independent of foreign
materials as far as possible. There is no doubt that our paper-makers
should be able to produce a paper of good quality sufficiently absorbent
to take colour from the wet block and yet tough enough to bear handling
when slightly damp.

If a short-fibred paper is made without size, it comes to pieces when it
is damped for printing. But the amount of absorbency required is not so
great as to preclude the use of size altogether. It is a problem which
our paper-makers could surely solve. A soft, slightly absorbent, white
paper is required. At present nothing has been produced to take the
place of the long mulberry fibre of the Japanese, which prints
perfectly, but it is far from being pure white in colour. A white paper
would have a great advantage in printing high and delicate colour
schemes.


INK

Next in importance is the preparation of the ink for printing the
key-block or any black or grey parts of a design. As a rule the
key-block is printed black, more or less diluted with paste; indeed the
key-block is often printed very faintly by means of paste only just
tinged with a trace of black.

The use of colour for the key-block is treated in Chapter VII. The ink
is prepared as follows. Take a stick of solid Chinese ink of good
quality, and break it with a hammer into fragments; put these to soak in
a pot with water for three or four days. (The quality of the sticks of
Chinese ink varies greatly. The cheap sticks make a coarse and gritty
ink which does not print well.) Day by day pour off the water, adding
fresh, so that the glue that soaks out of the softened black fragments
is removed. Three days is usually long enough for this. If left too long
the whole mass goes bad and is spoiled. When the black mass is soft and
clean drain off the water and rub the ink smooth in a dish with a bone
palette knife. It is then ready for use, but would rapidly go bad if not
used up at once, so that a preservative is necessary to keep a stock of
ink in good condition. An effective method is to put the ink at once
into a well-corked, wide-mouthed bottle. To the under side of the cork
is nailed a little wad of unsized paper soaked with creosote. By this
means ink can be kept in perfect condition for weeks or months. A drop
of fresh creosote should occasionally be put on the wad fixed to the
cork.

[Illustration: FIG. 18.--Cork of ink-bottle with wad for
preservative.]

Fresh ink may at any time be obtained rapidly in small quantities by
rubbing down a stick of Chinese ink on a slab in the ordinary way, but
this is very laborious, and is only worth while if one needs a small
quantity of a glossy black, for which the rubbed-down ink containing all
its glue is the best.


COLOUR

Any colour that can be obtained in a fine dry powder may be used in
wood-block printing. Some artists have succeeded in using ordinary
water colours sold in tubes, by mixing the colour with the rice paste
before printing; but the best results are obtained by the use of pure,
finely ground dry colour mixed only with water, the rice paste being
added actually on the block.

Most of the artists' colour merchants supply colour by weight in the
form of dry powder: any colour that is commonly used in oil or
water-colour painting may be obtained in this state. A stock of useful
colours should be kept in wide-necked bottles.

A few shallow plates or small dishes are needed to hold colour and a
bone or horn palette knife for mixing and rubbing the colour into a
smooth paste in the dishes. Small bone paper knives are useful for
taking colour from the bottles.

When the colour scheme of a print is made certain--and this is best done
by printing small experimental batches--it is a good plan to have a
number of covered pots equal to the number of the different colour
impressions, and to fill these with a quantity of each tint, the colour
or colours being mixed smoothly with water to the consistency of stiff
cream.

Some colours will be found to print more smoothly and easily than
others. Yellow ochre, for instance, prints with perfect smoothness and
ease, while heavier or more gritty colours tend to separate and are more
difficult. In the case of a very heavy colour such as vermilion, a drop
of glue solution will keep the colour smooth for printing, and less
paste is necessary. But most colours will give good impressions by means
of rice paste alone. It is essential, however, that only very finely
ground colours of good quality should be used.


PASTE

A paste must be used with the colour in order to hold it on to the
surface of the paper and to give brilliancy. The colour, if printed
without paste, would dry to powder again. The paste also preserves the
matt quality which is characteristic of the Japanese prints.

Finely ground rice flour may be obtained from grocery dealers. An
excellent French preparation of rice sold in packets as _Crême de Riz_
is perfect for the purpose of making paste for printing. It should be
carefully made as follows: While half a pint of water is put to boil in
a saucepan over a small spirit lamp or gas burner, mix in a cup about
two teaspoonfuls of rice flour with water, added little by little until
a smooth cream is made with no lumps in it. A bone spoon is good for
this purpose. Pour this mixture into the boiling water in the saucepan
all at once, and stir well till it boils again, after which it should be
left simmering over a small flame for five minutes.

When the paste has cooled it should be smooth and almost fluid enough to
pour: not stiff like a pudding.

While printing, a little paste is put out in a saucer and replenished
from time to time.

Fresh paste should be made every day.



CHAPTER VI


     Detailed Method of Printing


Success in printing depends very much on care and orderliness. It is
necessary to keep to a fixed arrangement of the position of everything
on the work-table and to have all kept as clean as possible. To see the
deft and unhurried work of a Japanese craftsman at printing is a great
lesson, and a reproach to Western clumsiness.

The positions indicated by the diagram on page 11 will be found to be
practical and convenient.

The special tools used in printing are the "baren" or printing pad,
which is the only instrument of pressure used, and the printing
brushes.


THE BAREN OR PRINTING PAD

As made by the Japanese, the baren is about five inches in diameter, and
consists of a circular board upon which a flat coil of cord or twisted
fibre is laid. This is held in place by a covering made of a strip of
bamboo-sheath, the two ends of which are twisted and brought together at
the back of the board so as to form a handle. The flat surface of the
bamboo-sheath is on the under side of the pad when the handle is
uppermost. The ribbed bamboo-sheath is impervious to the dampness of the
paper in printing, and the pad may be used to rub and press directly on
the back of the damp paper as it lies on the block without any
protective backing sheet. The collotype reproduction facing page 12
shows the shape and character of the baren.

Japanese printing pads may be obtained from some of the artists'
colour-men, or from Japan through various agencies. They are by far the
best instrument for the purpose. A pad lasts a considerable time, and
when the bamboo sheath wears through may be re-covered as described
below. If the new bamboo sheath is unobtainable, the baren may be
re-covered by a sheet of vegetable parchment (of the kind used for
covering pots of jam), laid on when wet, and twisted and bound at the
end like the original bamboo covering. A baren used and re-covered when
worn will last for an indefinite time in this way.


TO RE-COVER A WORN BAREN WITH BAMBOO SHEATH

Damp the new leaf in water with a brush on both sides thoroughly.

Wipe dry both sides. Lay it on a flat surface and stretch wider with the
fingers on the inside, keeping the leaf flat with the palm of the hand.

Rub the inside of the leaf with something hard and smooth across the
width on both sides.

1. Cut AG, BG with leaf folded.

2. Place the round pad in position on the flat leaf.

3. Stretch the leaf to lap at sides EF.

4. Turn in EA and BF fold by fold, first one side and then the other.

5. Pull hard before beginning the other end.

[Illustration: FIG. 19.--Method of re-covering baren.]

6. Cut away CH, DH, holding down firmly the end done.

7. Twist up the ends tightly, pull over to the centre, and tie tightly
together; cut off ends.

8. Polish on board and oil slightly.

Twist the inside part of the baren occasionally to save wear by changing
its position within the sheath.

Several substitutes have been tried in place of the Japanese baren,
with coverings of leather, shark's skin, celluloid, and various other
materials, but these necessitate the use of a backing sheet to protect
the paper from their harsh surfaces.

An ingenious rubber of ribbed glass which works directly on the paper
has been devised by Mr. William Giles, who has produced beautiful
results by its means.

If one is using the Japanese baren, its surface needs to be kept very
slightly oiled to enable it to run freely over the damp paper. A pad of
paper with a drop of sweet oil suffices for this, and may lie on the
right of the printing block where the baren is put after each impression
is taken.

An even simpler method is that of the Japanese craftsman who rubs the
baren from time to time on the back of his head.


BRUSHES

Japanese printing brushes are sold by some artists' colour dealers, but
these are not essential, nor have they any practical superiority over
well-made Western brushes.

[Illustration: FIG. 20.--Drawing of brushes.]

An excellent type of brush is that made of black Siberian bear hair for
fine varnishing. These can be had from good brush-makers with the hair
fixed so that it will stand soaking in water. Drawings of the type of
brush are given above.

Three or four are sufficient; one broad brush, about three inches, for
large spaces, one two-inch, and two one-inch, will do nearly all that is
needed. Occasionally a smaller brush may be of use.


PRINTING

To begin printing, one takes first the key-block, laying it upon a wet
sheet of unsized paper, or upon wads of wet paper under each corner of
the block, which will keep it quite steady on the work-table. A batch
of sheets of printing paper, prepared and damped as described in Chapter
V, lies between boards just beyond the block. The pad lies close to the
block at the right on oily paper pinned to the table. To the right also
are a dish or plate on which a little ink is spread, the printing brush
(broad for the key-block), a saucer containing fresh paste, a bowl of
water, a small sponge, and a cloth. Nothing else is needed, and it is
best to keep the table clear of unnecessary pots or colour bottles.

When these things are ready one should see that the paper is in a good
state. It should be rather drier for a key-block than for other blocks,
as a fine line will print thickly if the paper is too damp and soft. In
fact, it can scarcely be too dry for the key-block, provided that it has
become perfectly smooth, and is still flexible enough for complete
contact with the block. But it must not be either dry or damp in
patches.

If the paper is all right, one lifts off the upper board and top damping
sheet, placing them on the left, ready to receive the sheets when
printed.

The key-block, if quite dry, must be moistened with a damp sponge and
then brushed over with the broad printing brush and ink. If a grey line
is wanted the brush should be dipped in a little of the paste and
scarcely touched with ink. For a pale grey line the key-block also must
be well washed before printing. Even if the line is to be black a little
paste should be used. This is best added after one has brushed the black
ink on to the block, not mixed with it beforehand. The ink and paste
are then broken together smoothly and completely over the whole surface
of the block. The last few brush strokes should be of the full length or
breadth of the block and be given lightly with the brush held upright.
The inking of the block must be thoroughly done, but with no more
brushing than is necessary to spread the colour equally. When properly
charged with ink the block should not be at all wet, but just covered
with a very thin and nearly dry film of ink and paste.

No time should be wasted in lifting the top sheet of printing paper on
to the block, placing first its right corner in the register notch, and
holding it there with the thumb, then the edge of the paper to the other
notch, to be held with the left thumb while the right hand is released
to take up the baren (fig. 21). Beginning at the left, the baren is
rubbed backwards and forwards, a full stroke each time, to the outside
limits of the block, with a moderate, even pressure, moving the stroke
in a zigzag towards the right end of the block (fig. 22). Once over
should be enough. A second rub makes heavy printing of the finer lines.
Then the paper is lifted from the block and placed on the board to the
left.

[Illustration: FIG. 21.--Manner of holding the paper.]

Particular attention must be given to the careful placing of the paper
home in the register notches, and to holding it there until the rubber
has gripped the paper on the block.

Sheet by sheet all the printing paper is passed in this way over the
key-block, and piled together. There is no fear of the ink offsetting or
marking the print placed above it. As the work proceeds the block will
give better and better impressions. Spoiled or defective impressions
should be put together at the top of the pile when it lies ready for the
next printing, for the first few impressions are always uncertain, and
it is well to use the defective prints as pioneers, so as not to spoil
good ones.

[Illustration: FIG. 22.--Manner of using the baren.]

When the block has been printed on the whole batch, the sheets should
be replaced at once between the boards before one prepares for the
colour impressions. Usually the paper will be too dry for colour by this
time: if this is so, the damping sheets should be moistened and put in
again as before; one to each three printing sheets. In a minute or two
they will have damped the paper sufficiently and must be taken out,
leaving the printing sheets to stand, between the boards, ready for the
first colour-block.


PRINTING FROM COLOUR-BLOCKS

In printing colour the paper may be slightly damper than it should be
for key-block impressions, and a heavier pressure is necessary on the
baren if the colour masses are large. If the baren is pressed lightly
the colour will not completely cover the paper, but will leave a dry,
granular texture. Occasionally this quality may be useful, but as a rule
a smooth, evenly printed surface is best. It will be found that smooth,
even printing is not obtained by loading the block with colour or paste,
but by using the least possible quantity of both, and nearly dry paper.

In beginning to print from a colour-block, care should be taken to
moisten the block fully before printing, or it will not yield the colour
from its surface; but the block must be wiped, and not used while
actually wet.

The printing proceeds exactly as in the case of the key-block, except
for the heavier use of the baren. The paste should be added after the
colour has been roughly brushed on to the block, and then the two are
smoothly brushed together. The Japanese printers put the paste on to the
block by means of a little stick kept in the dish of paste. Experience
will soon show the amount of paste needed. It is important neither to
add too much nor to stint the paste, as the colour when dry depends on
the paste for its quality. Too little paste gives a dead effect.

Some of the colours print more easily than others. With a sticky colour
it is well to wipe the block with a nearly dry sponge between each
impression, so that the wood gives up its colour more readily. In the
case of a very heavy colour such as vermilion a drop of glue and water
may help; but with practically all the colours that are generally used
the rice paste and careful printing are enough.

The amount of size in the paper is another important factor in the
printing of colour. If the paper is too lightly sized the fibres will
detach themselves and stick to the damp block. Or if too heavily sized
the paper will not take up the colour cleanly from the block, and will
look hard when dry. One very soon feels instinctively the right quality
and condition of the block, colour, and paper which are essential to
good printing; and to print well one must become sensitive to them.


PRINTING OF GRADATIONS

Beside the printing of flat masses of colour, one of the great resources
of block printing is in the power of delicate gradation in printing.
The simplest way of making a gradation from strong to pale colour is to
dip one corner of a broad brush into the colour and the other corner
into water so that the water just runs into the colour: then, by
squeezing the whole width of the brush broadly between the thumb and
forefinger so that most of the water is squeezed out, the brush is left
charged with a tint gradated from side to side. The brush is then dipped
lightly into paste along its whole edge, and brushed a few times to and
fro across the block where the gradation is needed. It is easy in this
way to print a very delicately gradated tint from full colour to white.
If the pale edge of the tint is to disappear, the block should be
moistened along the surface with a sponge where the colour is to cease.

A soft edge may be given to a tint with a brush ordinarily charged if
the block is moistened with a clean sponge at the part where the tint is
to cease. This effect is often seen at the top of the sky in a Japanese
landscape print where a dark blue band of colour is printed with a soft
edge suddenly gradated to white, or sometimes the plumage of birds is
printed with sudden gradations. In fact, the method may be developed in
all kinds of ways. Often it is an advantage to print a gradation and
then a flat tone over the gradation in a second printing.


OFFSETTING

No care need be taken to prevent "offsetting" of the colour while
printing. The prints may be piled on the top of each other immediately
as they are lifted from the block, without fear of offsetting or marking
each other. Only an excessive use of colour, or the leaving of heavy
ridges of colour at the edges of the block by careless brushing, will
sometimes mark the next print on the pile. As in printing the key-block,
it is well to hold the brush quite upright for the last strokes across
the block, and always to give a full stroke across the whole length or
width of the form to be coloured.

As soon as one colour-block has been printed, the next may be taken and
printed at once, without fear of the colour running, even though the
fresh colour touches the parts already printed.

One by one each colour-block is printed in this way until the batch of
paper has been passed over the whole set of blocks composing the design
of the print. There may sometimes be an advantage in not printing the
key-block first, though as a rule it should come first for the sake of
keeping the later blocks in proper register. If the key-block is not
printed one cannot see how the colour-blocks are fitting. But in the
case of a sky with perhaps two or even three printings--a gradation and
a flat tone or two gradations--there is danger of blurring the lines of
the key-block, so that in such a case the sky should be printed first,
and then the key-block followed by the remaining colour-blocks.

At the end of a day's printing the prints may quite safely be left
standing together between the boards until the next day. For three days
the damp paper comes to no harm, except in hot weather, but on the
fourth day little red spots of mould begin to show and spread. It should
be remembered that freshly boiled paste is to be used each day.


DRYING OF PRINTS

When the prints are finished they should be put to dry as soon as
possible. If they are spread out and left exposed to the air they will
soon dry, but in drying will cockle, and cannot then be easily pressed
flat. It is better to have a number of mill-boards or absorbent "pulp"
boards rather larger than the prints, and to pile the prints and boards
alternately one by one, placing a weight on the top of the pile. The
absorbent boards will rapidly dry the prints and keep them quite flat.

Finished prints should be numbered for reference, and should, if printed
by the artist himself, also bear his signature --or some printed sign
to that effect. The number of prints obtainable from a set of blocks is
difficult to estimate. The Japanese printers are said to have made
editions of several thousands from single sets of blocks. The actual
wear in printing even of a fine line block is imperceptible, for the
pressure is very slight. Certainly hundreds of prints can be made
without any deterioration. But an artist who is both designing and
producing his own work will not be inclined to print large editions.[5]

[5] Further experience on this point is given in Chapter VIII on
Co-operative Printing.



CHAPTER VII


     Principles and Main Considerations in designing Wood-block
     Prints--Their Application to Modern Colour Printing

Until one has become quite familiar with the craft of wood-block
printing it is not possible to make a satisfactory design for a print,
or to understand either the full resources that are available or the
limits that are fixed.

In beginning it is well to undertake only a small design, so that no
great amount of material or time need be consumed in gaining the first
experience, but this small piece of work should be carried through to
the end, however defective it may become at any stage. A small key-block
and two or three colour patches may all be cut on the two sides of one
plank for this purpose.

There is great diversity of opinion as to the conventions that are
appropriate to the designing of colour prints. In the work of the
Japanese masters the convention does not vary. A descriptive black or
grey line is used throughout the design, outlining all forms or used as
flat spots or patches. The line is not always uniform, but is developed
with great subtlety to suggest the character of the form expressed, so
that the subsequent flat mass of colour printed within the line appears
to be modelled. This treatment of the line is one of the great resources
of the work, and is special to this kind of design, in which the line
has to be cut with the knife _on both sides_, and is for this reason
capable of unusual development in its power of expressing form. Indeed
the knife is the final instrument in the drawing of the design.

Typical examples of key-block impressions are given on pages 26 and 33:
they show the variety of character and quality possible in the lines and
black masses of key-blocks.

The designing of a print depends most of all upon this development of
line and black mass in the key-block. The colour pattern of the print is
held together by it, and the form suggested. In the Japanese prints the
key-block is invariably printed black or grey. Masses intended to be
dense black in the finished print are printed first a flat grey by the
key-block, and are then printed a full black from a colour-block like
any other patch of colour, the double printing being necessary to give
the intensity of the black.

Although several modern prints have been designed on other principles,
and sometimes a coloured key-block is successfully used, yet the
convention adopted by the Japanese is the simplest and most fundamental
of all. Outside its safe limitations the technical difficulties are
increased, and one is led to make compromises that strain the proper
resources of block printing and are of doubtful advantage.

The temptation to use colour with the key-block comes when one attempts
to use the key-block for rendering light and shadow. Its use by the
Japanese masters was generally for the descriptive expression of the
contours of objects, ignoring entirely their shadows, or any effects of
light and shade, unless a shadow happened occasionally to be an
important part of the pattern of the design. Generally, as in nearly all
the landscape prints by Hiroshigé, the line is descriptive or suggestive
of essential form, not of effects in light and shade.

If the key-block is used for light and shade, the question of relative
tones and values of shadows arises, and these will be falsified unless a
key-block is made for each separate plane or part of the design, and
then there is danger of confusion or of compromises that are beyond the
true scope of the work.

It is generally safest to print the key-block in a tone that blends with
the general tone of the print, and not to use it as a part of the
colour pattern. It serves mainly to control the form, leaving the
colour-blocks to give the colour pattern. There are cases, of course,
where no rule holds good, and sometimes a design may successfully omit
the key-block altogether, using only a few silhouettes of colour, one of
which controls the main form of the print, and serves as key-block.
Frequently, also, the key-block may be used to give the interior form or
character of part of a design, leaving the shape of a colour-block to
express the outside shape or contour; as in the spots suggesting foliage
in the print on page 114. The shapes of the tree forms are partly left
to the colour-block to complete, the key only giving the suggestion of
the general broken character of the foliage, not the outside limits of
the branches. The outer shape of a tree or branch is rarely expressed by
an enclosing line in any of the Japanese prints. The key-block is often
used to describe interior form when a silhouette of colour is all that
is needed for the contour. The expressive rendering of the rough surface
of tree trunks and of forms of rock, or the articulation of plants and
the suggestion of objects in atmospheric distance or mist, should be
studied in good prints by the Japanese masters. In printed work by
modern masters--as, for example, the work of the great French designers
of poster advertisements--much may be learnt in the use and development
of expressive line.

The Japanese system of training is well described in a book by Henry P.
Bowie on "The Laws of Japanese Painting," in which many useful
suggestions are given with reference to graphic brush drawing and the
suggestive use of line and brush marks.

As part of the training of a designer for modern decorative printing,
the experience and sense of economy that are to be gained from the study
of wood-block printing are very great. Perhaps no work goes so directly
to the essentials of the art of decorative designing for printed work
of all kinds. The wood blocks not only compel economy of design, but
also lead one to it.

Even as a means of general training in the elements of decorative
pictorial composition the wood blocks have great possibilities as an
adjunct to the courses of work followed by art students. The same
problems that arise in all decoration may be dealt with by their means
on a small scale, but under conditions that are essentially instructive.
Colour schemes may be studied and worked out with entire freedom by
printing and reprinting until a problem is thoroughly solved. A colour
design may be studied and worked out as fully by means of a small set of
blocks, and with more freedom for experiment and alteration than is
possible by the usual methods of study, such as painting and repainting
on paper or canvas or wall; for the form being once established by the
blocks, the colour may be reconstructed again and again without limit.

The craft has thus not only its special interest as a means of personal
expression, but also a more general use as a means of training and
preparation for the wider scope and almost unlimited resources of modern
printing. The best use of those resources will be made by artists who
have been trained under simpler conditions, and have found their way
gradually to an understanding of the secrets of æsthetic economy in
printing. One of the many paths to that experience is by way of the
craft of the wood-block printer.



CHAPTER VIII


     Co-operative Printing

A print is shown at the end of this book (page 95) as an example of a
first experiment in co-operative printing. An actual print was needed to
illustrate the method of block printing, and the number required was too
great for a single printer to undertake. So the work was divided between
four printers (of whom the writer was one), working together. Each of us
had been accustomed to print our own prints in small batches of a dozen
or two at a time, giving individual care to each print. The printing of
2000 prints to a fixed type was a very different matter, and proved an
instructive and valuable experience. It was found that the printing of a
large number of successive impressions gave one an increasingly
delicate control of a block, and a high percentage of perfect
impressions. After the initial experiments and practice, the failures in
the later batches of the print were reduced to only 4 or 5 per cent. of
the completed prints. The work was done in batches of 250 prints, each
print receiving eight impressions, as shown on pages 98 to 109. Each of
the four printers took charge of a particular series of the blocks,
which were printed in a regular order. It was found most convenient to
print the key-block last of all, as the heavy blacks in it were inclined
to offset under the pressure of the baren and slightly soil the
colour-blocks, if the key-block was printed first, as is usually the
practice.

The colour-blocks were printed in the order in which they are placed in
the Appendix.

The best quality of work was done on nearly dry paper. The damping
sheets were placed among the new paper at the end of the day's work and
removed after ten or fifteen minutes, the printing paper then was left
standing over night between boards, ready for work in the morning, and
was not damped again until after receiving several impressions. Then it
was very slightly damped again by means of a damping sheet to every ten
or twelve prints placed there for a very few minutes.

As one printer finished the impressions from one of his blocks, the
batch of papers was passed on to the others, each in turn. In this way
three batches of 250 were printed without haste in one week, working
eight hours a day for five and a half days.

The chief difficulty experienced was in keeping to the exact colour and
quality of the type print, each printer being inclined to vary according
to individual preferences. To counteract this tendency, it is necessary
for one individual to watch and control the others in these respects.

Otherwise the work proceeded easily and made very clear the
possibilities of the craft for the printing of large numbers of prints
for special purposes where the qualities required are not obtainable by
machine printing. Obviously the best results will always be obtained by
the individual printing of his own work by an artist. This can only be
done, however, in comparatively small numbers, yet the blocks are
capable of printing very large quantities without deterioration. The set
of blocks used for the example given here showed very little
deterioration after 4000 impressions had been taken. The key-block was
less worn than any, the pressure being very slight for this block, and
the ink perfectly smooth. The impression of which a reproduction is
given on page 109 was taken after 4000 had been printed from the
key-block. Block No. 2 was much more worn by the gritty nature of the
burnt sienna used in its printing. It would be an easy matter, however,
to replace any particular colour-block that might show signs of wear in
a long course of printing.

Other examples given in the Appendix show qualities and methods of
treatment that are instructive or suggestive.

No. 6 is the key impression of a Japanese print in which an admirable
variety of resource is shown by its design; the character of each kind
of form being rendered by such simple yet so expressive indications. It
is instructive to study the means by which this is done, and to notice
how interior form is sometimes suggested by groups of spots or black
marks of varied shape while the indication of the external form is left
entirely to the shape of the colour-block subsequently to be printed.

Plate XVI is a reproduction of a print by Hiroshigé and shows the
suggestive use of the key-block in rendering tree forms. Plates XVII and
XVIII show in greater detail this kind of treatment.

Plates XXIII-XXIV are key-blocks of modern print designs.



APPENDIX


An original print in colour, designed and cut by the author and printed
by hand on Japanese paper, followed by collotype reproductions showing
the separate impressions of the colour blocks used for this print, and
other collotype reproductions of various examples of printing and
design.


+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+
|The particulars given in Chapter VIII on co-operative printing refer   |
|specially to the original print included in the first edition. In this |
|edition an entirely new print is shown, and only 1,000 copies of it are|
|being published.                                                       |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+



[Illustration: Plate VIII.--An original Print designed and cut by the
Author, printed by hand on Japanese paper.]


Plates originally printed in collotype are now produced in half-tone

[Illustration: Plate IX.--First printing. Key block. Black.]

[Illustration: Plate X.--Second printing. Dull Red. Printed lightly at
the top.]

[Illustration: Plate XI.--Third printing. Deep Blue. Strong at the
bottom, paler at the top.]

[Illustration: Plate XII.--Fifth printing. Bright Orange.

(The fourth printing, not shown, is a similar small block, printing a
faint tone over the road in the foreground.)]

[Illustration: Plate XIII.--Sixth printing. Indian Red. Gradation.]

[Illustration: Plate XIV.--Seventh printing. Green. Printed flat.]

[Illustration: Plate XV.--Eighth printing. Bluish green. Gradation.]

[Illustration: Plate XVI.--Reproduction of a colour print by
Hiroshigé.]

[Illustration: Plate XVII.--Reproduction of a portion of the print shown
on the preceding page, actual size, showing the treatment of the foliage
and the expressive drawing of the tree trunk and stems.]

[Illustration: Plate XVIII.--Reproduction of another portion of the
print shown on page 111 (actual size), showing the expressive use of
line in the drawing of the distant forms.]

[Illustration: Plate XIX.--Reproduction of a colour print by
Hiroshigé.]

[Illustration: Plate XX.--Reproduction of a portion (actual size) of the
print on the preceding page, showing treatment of tree forms and
distance.]

[Illustration: Plate XXI.--Reproduction of a colour print by
Hiroshigé.]

[Illustration: Plate XXII.--Reproduction of a portion (actual size) of
the print on the preceding page, showing treatment of tree and
blossom.]

[Illustration: Plate XXIII.--The Tiger. Reproduction of a colour print
by J. D. Batten.]

[Illustration: Plate XXIV.--Lapwings. Reproduction of a colour print by
A. W. Seaby.]



BOOKS OF REFERENCE


"Tools and Materials illustrating the Japanese Method of Colour
Printing." A descriptive catalogue of a collection exhibited in the
Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Price Twopence. Victoria and Albert
Museum Catalogues. 1913.

"The Colour Prints of Japan." By Edward F. Strange. The Langham Series
of Art Monographs. London.

"Japanese Colour Prints." By Edward F. Strange. (3rd Edition.) Victoria
and Albert Museum Handbooks. London.

"Japanese Wood Engravings." By William Anderson, F. R. C. S. London,
Seeley & Co., Ltd. New York, Macmillan & Co. 1895.

"Japanese Wood-cutting and Wood-cut Printing." By T. Tokuno. Edited and
annotated by S. R. Kochler. Report of the Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, for the year ending June 30, 1892. Issued in pamphlet form
by the U.S.A. National Museum, Washington. 1893.


Other works containing descriptions and references to the craft of
wood-block printing in the Art Library at the Victoria and Albert
Museum, London, are the following:--

"The Industries of Japan." By J. J. Rein. (Paper, pp. 389.) London.
1889.

"Bungei Ruisan," By Yoshino Sakakibara. Essays on Japanese literature,
with additional chapters describing the manufacture of paper and the
processes of printing and engraving. (The Museum copy has MS.
translations of the portion relating to engraving.) Tokyo. 1878.



INDEX


  Alum, 50

  Andreani, Andrea, xi


  Baldung, Hans, x

  Bamboo-sheath, 62

  Baren, 11, 61, 62

  Baren, manner of using, 72

  Baren, to re-cover, 63, 64

  Baren, to re-cover (diagram), 64

  Batches, size of, 89

  Batten, J. D., 2

  Block cutting, materials, 17

  Blocks, cutting of, 17, 23

  Blocks, mounting of, 18

  Blocks, planning of, 23

  Books of reference, 129

  Bowie, Henry P., 86

  British Museum Print Room, 43

  Brushes, 65

  Brushes, drawing of, 66


  Carborundum stone, 21

  Cherry wood, 17

  Chiaroscuro, x

  Chinese ink, 55

  Chisel, grip of, 34, 35

  Chisels, 20

  Clearing of spaces, 33

  Clearing of wood between knife cuts, 35

  Colour, 56

  Colour block, diagram of section, 42

  Colour blocks, plan of, 39

  Colour blocks, planning, 40, 41

  Colour blocks, printing from, 73

  Colour design, 87

  Commercial development, 5

  Conventions of design, 82

  Co-operative printing, 89

  Craft in Japan, 61

  Craftsmen, training of, 24

  Cranach, Lucas, x

  Crane, Walter, ix

  Creasote, 56

  Cutting, 25


  Da Carpo, Ugo, x

  Damping, 14

  Damping sheets, 51

  Design, 27

  Design, conventions in, 82

  Designing, 81

  Designing wood-block prints, principles of, 81

  Design of key-block, 26

  Diagram of knife cuts, 33

  Drying of colour, 77

  Drying of prints, 79


  Errors of register, 43

  Eve and the Serpent, print of, 2


  Flat treatment, 26, 27

  Foliage, 85


  Gelatine, 48

  Giles, William, 65

  Glue solution with colour, 58, 75

  Gouge, method of holding, 35

  Gradations, printing of, 75

  Grip of chisel, 34, 35


  Hands, position of, in cutting, 30, 31

  Herkomer, ix

  Hiroshigé, 84


  Impressions, possible number of, 92

  Ink, 54

  Inking of block, 69

  Ink, preservative for, 56

  Italian woodcuts, ix


  Jackson, T. B., xii

  Japan, craft in, 4, 23

  Japanese blocks, 43

  Japanese craftsmen, 61

  Japanese drawing, 27

  Japanese key-block, 33

  "Japanese Painting, The Laws of," 86

  Japanese paper, 54

  Japanese printers, 52, 80

  Japanese prints, 83


  Key-block, 25, 27, 84, 85

  Key-block impressions, 5, 26, 33

  Knife, 19

  Knife, drawing of, 19

  Knife, use of, 24

  Knife cuts, diagram of, 33


  "Laws of Japanese Painting," 86

  Light and shade, 85

  Line block, cutting of, 32

  Line, development of, 32

  Line of key-block, 26


  Mallet, 21

  Mallet, drawing of, 21

  Mantegna, xi

  Millboards for drying, 79

  Modern prints, 83

  Mordant, alum as, 50

  Mould, 79

  Mulberry fibre, 47

  Museums, sets of blocks at, 43


  Number of impressions, 92


  Offsetting, 71, 77

  Oilstones, 21

  Orlik, Prof. Emil, 7

  Outamaro, 24


  Pad, 61

  Paper, 47

  Paper, damping of, 51

  Paper, manner of holding, 70

  Paper, mould in, 79

  Paper, need of white, 54

  Paper, sizing of, 48

  Paper, sizing of (drawing), 49

  Paste, 58

  Paste, amount used in printing, 74

  Paste, preparation of, 59

  Plank, preparation of, 18

  Planning of blocks, 24

  Position of hands, 30, 31

  Posters, 86, 87

  Printing, 67

  Printing, co-operative, 89

  Printing, detailed method of, 61

  Printing from colour blocks, 73

  Printing, general description of, 9

  Printing of gradations, 75, 76, 77

  Printing pad, 62

  Prints, designing, 81

  Prints, drying of, 79


  Register, 71, 78

  Register, errors of, 41, 43

  Register marks, 36, 37, 42

  Register marks, position of, 37

  Register marks, section of, 38

  Rice flour, 59

  Rice paste, 58

  Rubber, glass, 65

  Rubber, printing, 61


  Shadows, treatment of, 85

  Shallow cuts, 34

  Shrinking of paper, 41

  Siberian bear hair brushes, 66

  Size, amount of, in paper, 75

  Size, excess of, 75

  Sizing of paper, 48, 49

  Smithsonian Institution pamphlet, 2

  South Kensington Museum, 43

  Spots in paper, 79


  Table, plan of, 11

  Tokuno, T., 2

  Tools for block-cutting, 19

  Training of designers, 86

  Treatment of form, 93

  Tree-forms, 85, 93


  Variety of line, 82, 83


  Washita oilstone, 22

  Wood, 17

  Woodcuts, Italian, ix.

  Work-table, plan of, 11


       *       *       *       *       *


  ARTISTS INTERESTED IN THE
  :: ::  PERMANENCE OF  :: ::
  THEIR WOOD BLOCK PRINTS

  NOW USE THE CAMBRIDGE COLOURS ONLY, BECAUSE

  (1) Only Pigments of the HIGHEST ORDER OF PERMANENCE are included in
  the Cambridge Palette

  (2) All the Pigments may be SAFELY MIXED TOGETHER without danger of
  their acting injuriously on each other

  (3) All the Pigments are PURE and free from injurious impurities



      SOLE MAKERS
  MADDERTON & CO., LTD., Loughton, Essex
                     (ESTABLISHED 1891)       ENGLAND
          TELEGRAMS              TELEPHONE
  "MADDERTON, LOUGHTON," ESSEX      63 LOUGHTON


       *       *       *       *       *


  All Tools and Materials for
  JAPANESE WOODBLOCK
  CUTTING AND PRINTING
  as described in this book are stocked by

  PENROSE'S

  including several new forms of Tools and Brushes
  approved by F. Morley Fletcher, Esq.

  _LIST FREE ON APPLICATION_

  A. W. PENROSE & CO., LTD.
  109 Farringdon Road, London, E.C.1.


Printed by Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd., Bath, England





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