Printing techniques and effects

In general, prints progress from light colours to dark. Along the way many different effects can be produced. Here is a list of some of these effects and how they are achieved.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means and as with everything I am doing here, new information, demonstrations and so on will be added as I learn, observe and film them.

Bokashi 暈し

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Other styles of "bokashi" include; 

"Ate-nashi-bokashi" (borderless gradient): here rather than mixing the colour on the block, a small wooden board is used to integrate pigment and "nori" on before creating the gradient by rubbing in circles or side to side motion. 

There are many different kinds of "bokashi" (gradients) that can be achieved through a number of techniques.

In this print from Hokusai's 36 views of Mt. Fuji, we can see 2 common types.

The the dark band across the top is referred to as "ichimonji bokashi". 

The lower gradient is often referred to simply as "bokashi" but would represent what is knows as "o-bokashi".

Both are produced in a similar way, by first applying water to the block with a damp cloth at the point where you wish the gradation to start. "Nori" is placed along the top portion of the water line and pigment above that. The gradient is achieved by rubbing the brush in a side to side motion so that the ink creeps down the dampened part. 

"Futa-iro-bokashi" is used to fade two colours together. This is done with a large brush with colours at both ends. However, this is not such a common technique and usually such gradients are produced on two separate impressions in the "o-bokashi" style.

Kara-zuri 空摺り 

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"Kara-zuri" means empty printing, also referred to in English as embossing, is produced by printing on a an un-inked block. Often times a baren alone isn't sufficient so a printer will use a finger or their elbow to press into the grooves to produce a deeper, more embossed image. The embossing can recede backwards or protrude forward but, for this effect, unlike most blocks these ones are not carved in reverse and the paper is placed on the block image right side up. (Note: if the image is flipped then the kento must also be flipped for registration).

Shomen-zuri  書面摺り

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"Shomen-zuri"  is applying a glossy finish to your print. This technique is performed once the print is already dry for best results, but it is possible to do before hand. (Point to remember, if your print has dried, you must allow for paper shrinkage when carving). This technique requires your block to be carved right side up, unflipped/un-mirrored. The paper is laid ink side up on the block. This can be done without, but for a more impressive glossy finish, "mitsuro" (beeswax) can be added directly to the baren. "Abura" (oil -specifically, camellia oil is traditionally used) is then added to the baren as usual. Both of these are rubbed into the baren vigorously with a cloth or tissue to smooth it over the whole barren and leave only a small amount of each. Applying too much will leave oily stains on you print.

Kira-zuri  雲母摺り

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"Kira-zuri" or "mica" (ummo) printing is what produces the sparkly backgrounds of many of "utamaro" and "sharaku" prints (sharaku prints normally can be seen with a luscious block mica finish.) A gum, arabic glue is brushed onto the block then the print is placed and gently barened. This a a top coating so only a small about of pressure is used. Alternatively a stencil may be used and the nori paste or arabic glue brushed on the block. Then mica powder is sprinkled on the print, a small bamboo sieve was traditionally used here for an even coat over the print. A dry bush is then used to spread the mica over the paper. This is a final step usually and you must make sure that you paper isn't too wet to prevent the mica from adhering in unwanted  places. The paper can then be twisted gently to create a further affect of crackling in the mica as seen in the picture here.