October 15, 2015

Chapter Three [The Technique of the Color Woodcut]


The following mixture (Mr. Urushibara’s recipe) is sufficient to size about fourteen sheets of Torinoko paper (Imperial) on both sides:

Alum 1/8 oz.
Gelatine 1/4 oz.
Water 35 ozs.

Hosho paper should be sized only on one side, with half the quantity of water.

Heat the water but do not let it boil. Add the gelatine and when that is completely dissolved add the alum.

Different papers and different woods require slight modifications of the recipe. So does a change in atmospheric conditions. The necessary amount of modification is slight and is best decided by experience. Mr. Urushibara advises a pinch more of alum for soft woods such as whitewood, or for a soft paper or for a dry climate.


Brushes for Printing and for Sizing

Brushes for Printing and for Sizing

A broad brush is needed, neither thick nor long in the hair. My own is of Japanese manufacture, six inches in width, the hair one and a quarter long and three-eighths of an inch thick.

Lay a sheet of Hosho paper upon a drawing board flat upon the table, smooth side uppermost. With your brush full, but not too full of warm size, cover the paper evenly. It is a delicate process; use the brush as carefully as though you were painting a portrait. Starting at one edge continue until you reach the other with a band the full width of the brush. The second stroke must touch the first but not overlap it. If possible do not go over the same place twice.

Do not flood the paper.

Keep the size warm.

The brush strokes should follow the same direction as the lines which constitute the watermark.

Lay a second sheet over the first, and proceed in the same way.

Creases made during sizing are permanent. Therefore carefully avoid making them.

Leave the pile of sized sheets for a while, so that the size may spread evenly through it, but not too long, say half an hour.

Now lay each sheet to dry upon newspaper spread upon the floor, or suspend it from a line strung across the room as clothes are hung up to dry. Use wooden clips for the latter purpose.

The rate of drying varies of course. Once in my experience in England, notoriously humid, a whole winter’s day and a night failed to harden a sheet, whereas an hour on a Canadian summer’s day will suffice. England’s comparative humidity, however, fills the printer’s heart with joy. It had much to do with the acknowledged pre-eminence of the English School of Water-color Painting. It is early to claim pre-eminence for English chromoxylographists, but the craft flourishes, and many boldly make the claim. In that country one is never bothered unduly by printing paper which dries prematurely, or by wood so dry that much energy must be expended in getting it into proper condition.

Torinoko paper must be sized on both sides with the weaker mixture.

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