bird

Netsuke - Wood Bird II

Re-carving the wood bird

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Today I make sure to take my time and carve closer to the original lines of the bird sketch.

Inking up the wood bird

 

The L shape sits up next to the woodblock to line up the paper. Paul Furneaux had given me some little markers to use for registration which I tape onto the wood. I place mine completely the opposite way round and slanting on the block and feel the frown of the ukiyo-e printers. But for me it's perfect as I want to bird to be at a slight angle and didn't accommodate for this in the initial carving.

The L shape sits up next to the woodblock to line up the paper. Paul Furneaux had given me some little markers to use for registration which I tape onto the wood. I place mine completely the opposite way round and slanting on the block and feel the frown of the ukiyo-e printers. But for me it's perfect as I want to bird to be at a slight angle and didn't accommodate for this in the initial carving.

Printing the wood bird

 

The slanted markers on a separate L Shape enable me to change the position of the printed bird. This experiment might go against the tradition of the ukiyo-e printers but exploring different methods of registration became quite common among the Sōsaku-hanga artists during the Creative Print movement.

The slanted markers on a separate L Shape enable me to change the position of the printed bird. This experiment might go against the tradition of the ukiyo-e printers but exploring different methods of registration became quite common among the Sōsaku-hanga artists during the Creative Print movement.

Many artists - Munakata, Morozumi, Kidokoro, Maki, Sasajima, to name a few - do not use registration per se because they work with monochrome prints, or they print all the colours at once, or they use colouring techniques such as resist dying after the basic monochrome image has been printed. For them it is only necessary to center the image on the paper - though the use of kentō still survives, contemporary Japanese print artists have steadily been developing their own individual approaches to to meet their particular needs.
— Evolving Techniques in Japanese Woodblock Prints by Gaston Petit
 
The technique...in modern prints became creative rather than technical.
— Japanese print-making: A handbook of traditional & modern techniques - Toshi Yoshida & Rei Yuki
 
Sōsaku-hanga (創作版画 “creative prints”?) was an art movement in early 20th-century Japan. It stressed the artist as the sole creator motivated by a desire for self-expression, and advocated principles of art that is “self-drawn” (自画 jiga), “self-carved” (自刻 jikoku) and “self-printed” (自刷 jizuri). As opposed to the shin-hanga (“new prints”) movement that maintained the traditional ukiyo-e collaborative system where the artist, carver, printer, and publisher engaged in division of labor, creative print artists distinguished themselves as artists creating art for art’s sake.
— Wikipedia - Sōsaku-hanga

Netsuke - Wood Bird with Inlaid Eyes

Sketching & Transferring Bird Image to Woodblock

 

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Carving Bird

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Dampening Paper & Printing Bird

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Journey or Destination?

I constantly remind myself that the journey is more important than the destination but I still haven't learnt the lesson to slow down and really be in the present, with each moment. A distraction and a slip of the knife changes the direction of a cut resulting in a mis-shaped ridge on the body of the bird. The more simple the shape, the harder it is to hide the mistakes. To understand the contours of the bird, I need to focus, slow down, breathe and stop rushing to get to my destination.

 

Original netsuke 'Bird' from the V&A museum. Unsigned. Made 18th or 19th century - Japan.   

Original netsuke 'Bird' from the V&A museum. Unsigned. Made 18th or 19th century - Japan.

 

A craftsperson’s job is half meditation, half creation. It takes creativity to design whatever you are working on, but it takes meditation to do it right.
— Andy Couturier - A Different Kind of Luxury: Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance
According to Democritus, we have learned many of our abilities from animals: the spider to weave and sew, the swallow bird to build, the swan and the nightingale to sing (one genuinely wonders if birds had not existed, man would never imagined that he could fly.)
— Saul Frampton - When I am Playing with my Cat, how do I know she is not Playing with me? Montaigne And Being in Touch with Life.

An Introduction to Netsuke - V&A

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Thank you to my friend Jo for this wonderful gift, 'An Introduction to Netsuke,' which belonged to her father. I will treasure it.

This book of Netsuke from the Victoria & Albert Museum by Joe Earle, takes me back to a trip I made to the V&A in February 2015. Many of the plates in the book are ones I made prints from last year including Tigress and Young - Signed Tomotada and Tiger - Signed Tomotada. Lovely to see the underside and detail of the Tiger's paws with Tomotada's signature carved into his hind leg.

Little is known of the lives or origins of the netsuke carvers but we do know that during the seventeenth century miniature Buddhist shrines for domestic use were coming into widespread use and it is reasonable to assume that the makers of the images for these shrines would have been among the first to turn their hand to netsuke - we can learn something about the relations between netsuke carvers from their special art-names, which often share common elements. For example, among Kyoto artists mentioned by Inaba we find Tomotada, Tomotane and Okatomo. Tomatane and Okatomo were pupils of Tomotada, while Okatori was the brother of Okatomo. The strong master-pupil relationship implied by these closely related professional names has been a characteristic of Japanese arts of all periods.
— An Introduction to Netsuke (V & A Museum Introductions to the Decorative Arts).

I have been meaning to make a print of the little wooden bird too, so maybe now it is time...