From my trip to London I have come home with some new woodblock printing materials. The outer layer of bamboo leaf on my baren had shredded and on reflection, if I had known about keeping it well oiled I am sure it would have lasted a lot longer. I made a special trip to Intaglio Printmakers, about 15 minutes walk south from the Tate Modern.
Intagio Printmakers sits at the bottom of wooden staircase. In this basement full of art materials filling shelves to the ceiling it feels more like a warehouse than a shop.
Choosing a Baren
I have found the Barens. There's more than one kind of Baren in the cabinet. The natural bamboo one like the one I've managed to shred, a black plastic one, a makeshift DIY looking one with a big handle and a large sleek cream disk Baren. I like the materials to be as natural as possible so I am not sure about the plastic ones. They are 4 times the price but I am swayed by the shop assistant's enthusiasm for the cream baren which is made from hard wearing plastic. The bamboo barens wear out much more quickly and I'm told the black ones tend to warp out of shape for some unknown reason and the DIY one doesn't create even pressure. The cream disk baren is by far the best design, being stronger than the others, has a larger flat surface area with with raised circular bumps to distribute the weight evenly when pressure is applied. It's the most popular with printmakers today. I guess it will probably be more economical to buy this one as it sounds like it's going to last a long time. I also add a some 'Flexicut SlipStrop' to my purchase. This will help maintain my new wood carving tools to keep them in good condition. The SlipStrop is recommended for new tools rather than a sharpening stone which would be best if the tool is chipped or worn out of shape.
Awagami Call for Entries
On my way back up the wooden staircase is a board full of leaflets, adverts for all kinds of printmaking courses and events. On the window sill is a an A4 'Call for Entries.
I like the sound of this and check out the suggested url address for Awagami's submissions.