Thursday, May 30, 2013

The World of the Woodblock Printer

 (Mr David Stones: from his website)

I made a trip with a group of my friends to the city of Okazaki in Aichi Prefecture by train and  then minibus to visit Mr. David Stones, an English woodblock printer, who first came to Japan 40 years ago and now lives in a very nice Japanese farm house with his Japanese wife on the outskirts of Okazaki.
Their house once had been abandoned. It has been renovated but still retains an abundant atmosphere of Japanese traditional style. 

Mr. Stones'swood-print works are very fine and delicate picturing mostly Japanese local views. 
He introduced us to the wonderful Japanese art of wood block prints and his wife invited us to a tranquil  moment with " Cha no Yu",  a Japanese tea ceremony  in her authentic tea house. Oh I loved the fascinating harp sound from the water basin near the entrance.

He pointed out the serious situation that Japanese people are losing craftsmanship to hand down to the next generation. In fact he has a problem in getting the  blocks of wood used for carving.
Wood block printers use thick woodblocks, called "han-gi" 版木 in Japanese,  of several kinds, depending on the purposes and  printing results. 

The Japanese art of wood prints, like ukiyo-e,  is unique in the way that artists carve many woodblocks for applying different pigments until they complete just one piece of art. 

 (image from Google)

Two sides of a woodblock should be framed tightly with supporting wood to prevent it from warping or shrinking over the years.  Otherwise  the artist can't  get  the exact result by way of  overlapping different woodblock onto just one sheet of Japanese paper called "washi".  If just one block should ever warp or shrink, it will mean the resulting artwork is imperfect. The quality of woodblocks is so important for a woodblock printer. 

It is so disappointing to know we are losing this craftsmanship. It seems that this is true of many other traditional art and crafts in Japan.  We should take this reality very seriously and figure out how to encourage young generations to keep our traditions alive.

Being blessed with the murmuring of the streams, birds singing and surrounding green hills, we had definitely a great time which we failed to enjoy in the every day hustle and bustle in the city.

Please go to his website to know more about his work from here

No comments: