hosho paper

Paper Gifts - Awagami Washi

Last month I registered and posted my mini woodblock prints to Awagami International Miniature Print Exhibition in Japan. This morning I receive an email from AIMPE to let me know they have arrived safely. 

Not long after receiving the email from Awagami, the postman knocks on the door and presents a beautiful envelope made from Awagami’s washi paper. Inside is a pack of Awagami Editioning Papers - a gift from Awagami paper factory as one of first 500 hundred artists to register to AIMPE. These gorgeous washi papers include a selection of Kitakata, Hosho, Bamboo, Kozo, Shiramine, Okawara, Hakuho and Bunkoshi. 

"Awagami Editioning Papers are crafted at our mill with the artistry and knowledge of 300 years of wash paper-making. The papers are made using traditional Japanese fibers such as kozo and gampi as well as other non-tree fibers; bamboo and cotton. Fibers are often skillfully combined yielding washi with highly unique textures amd expressive characteristics.” Awagami Factory

Call for Entries - AIMPE 2017

Two years ago when I was searching barens at Intaglio Printmakers in London, I stumbled across a leaflet with a call out for entries for Awagami International Miniature Print Exhibition held in Japan. I was in the early stages of my woodblock project focusing on mini woodblock prints of Japanese netsuke. AIMPE sounded like the perfect place to submit my prints but I wasn’t ready. And the following year I still wasn't ready.

This year I'm ready! : ))

In the last few weeks I have been working on ideas for a new woodblock print for the exhibition. Last week I submitted my application and this morning I posted two mini woodblock prints to Japan! 

The mini prints will be revealed once the exhibition launches in October. 

"Awagami Factory is a brand of Japanese washi papers produced solely in Tokushima, Japan. Awagami operates on 8 generations of family knowledge and skill focusing on quality and refinement within this world-heritage craft.” Awagami

Netsuke - The Foxes Carve & Print


I'm back in the studio carving the foxes. As I carve the block I realise I am not focused. The lens in my brain turns slowly anticlockwise and my mind can't catch up with what's in front of me. My hands are restless and eager to carve but too quickly and impatiently. I'm not present and take a chunk out of a tail, then another tail, then a hip, then a toe but I keep going and finish carving until I have something to print. I dampen a few small squares of Hosho paper for some test prints and print off a few to check the image. It's not as bad as I imagined and even with the mistakes I like the feel of the print.

Like the vastness of space, like a universe unlimited, untold, unattainable, and inscrutable- that is the woodcut.
— Shiko Munakata

Netsuke - Man with a Fan

This is the first experiment printing a netsuke wood block on dampened Hosho paper. I sketched the image from the photograph of the Man with a Fan from Ammy's netsuke photo album.


I first learnt about Hosho paper from illustrator and printmaker Peter Brown when I joined his Japanese woodblock printing course at Spike Island in March 2012. I was hooked but spent the next three years resisting the actual doing of it. Instead, I was thinking about it and spending time looking at Japanese woodblock prints, researching print makers and sourcing books on Japanese woodblock printing. I didn't know it would take another three years for me to start making my own woodblock prints.

I have been printing on off-white Somerset satin and Japon simile for test prints. I love the contrast of the watery blackness of the ink on the dampened white hosho paper.

"I was fumbling with colour prints," he continues, "until one day I saw a woodcut by Sumio Kawakami. It was black and white, a small work showing a woman walking in the wind, with a poem about the wind of early summer. Suddenly I knew I had found what I was looking for. Kawakami had shown me the way. I threw myself into prints." Shiko Munakata - On Woodblock Prints - Southbank Centre London 1991

Transferring and carving Man with a Fan


Inking up Man with a Fan

Netsuke - Hare & Rat

Edmund's Hare with the Amber Eyes

I have been looking forward to making a print of Edmund's Hare, who along with 264 other netsuke has had many adventures, travelling great distances and been on display in many spectacular places. I wonder where Edmund has placed this hare which by now is probably reaching celebrity status. It's photograph published in books, magazines, newspapers and in centre of Edmund's writing page on his website the hare looks out from behind the words 'Gallery' with its paw lifted up and ready to shake your hand. Here you meet Ambassador for Edmund's netsuke collection.

I draw the hare directly on to the tracing paper and rub the tracing onto the plywood. My new tools haven't arrived yet so I continue with blunt tools and rough plywood and begin to carve. I then print the finished carving on some Japon Simile paper and some on Somerset Satin 300gms. It's quite a challenge to get the right mix of nori paste with ink. I've read that you don't need to mix nori with the ink for the key block but I quite like the effect even though, again, it's quite a crude image.


Piebald Rat Gnawing on its Tail

This little rat in Edmund's gallery has a has mischievous nature - holding it's tail up to his mouth nibbling between its paws as if it was an old rope from a sailing ship. I imagine this rat rocking back and forth on the curve of its tail like a see-saw following the carved lines of its own body. Its beady eyes look jet black. In Edmund's description these dark little circles were originally made from Buffalo horn. I print this piebald rat on Japon Simile and Somerset Satin paper. So far I have only printed on dry paper and at some point it will be good to see how these woodblocks print on dampened paper.


Last November I bought Japanese woodblock printing materials from Intaglio Printmakers to get ready for my My New Years Revolution 2015


  • Japanese Side Grain Woodblocks 100x150mm

  • Japanese Paper Brush 3"

  • Japanese Inking Brush 24mm

  • Japanese Inking Brush 15mm

  • Japanese Inking Brush 60mm

  • 5×Gampi Tissue

  • 1×Bench Hook 200x300mm

  • Japanese Rice Paste (Nori)

  • Japanese Carbon Ink 150ml

  • Chinese Sumi Ink 250g

  • and 1 Hosho Pad.

I remember using dampened paper on the Japanese Woodblock Printing course back in March 2012 with Peter Brown.

I am looking back through some old folders and find the print I made of a tree. I remember the time and effort we put into the registration for this two colour print. I liked my first print of the green tree but lost all sense of understanding two colour printing by the time I came to making the second print. The registration was fine but the image just didn't work. I knew what I wanted to achieve in my head but the result was nothing like it. I can't remember the name of this paper but it's a lovely texture. I contact Peter Brown to find out what paper we used for to print on the course. He's happy to hear I have found my way back to the wood and reminds me the paper we were using was Japanese Hosho paper. This paper is tough but smooth and is very popular. Intaglio sell it by the pad. I add it to the list.