Mokuhanga Fundamentals

Mokuhanga Fundamentals

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Fundamentals of Mokuhanga - a Comprehensive Online Workshop

Coming Very Soon! We've been planning and working on this since last September and are almost ready!

In this online workshop you will follow the process through from designing, transferring your design, carving, printing and editioning your first print. Whether you have created your own design or followed the one I’ve provided in this workshop, you will grasp the fundamentals of Japanese woodblock printing. This workshop is suitable for complete beginners through to experienced printmakers wanting to learn mokuhanga.
If you have already some experience, either through attending one of our workshops or our Japan residencies, you can use chapters as you like to refresh your memory or answer some lingering questions.

We are teaching and practicing “Sosaku hanga”, that is “Creative Print”. Although we share many of the same tools and techniques with Ukiyo-e practitioners, our focus is on the artist completing every stage themselves. There are some differences of technique that will be explained as we progress.

 

To take part in the workshop there are a number of membership options:

One Year Subscription - 

¥10,000

 Enrol

Three Month Subscription -

¥6,000

 Enrol

Individual Unit – price per unit -

¥2,000

 Enrol


   
  

Some discounts or special access is available for existing students who've attended our Residencies or workshops. Paypment for the online workshop is through Paypal and you can enrol by subscription through the module on this page.

 

We believe this is the first online workshop in mokuhanga available in the world and have made every effort to make it a valuable learning resource for printmakers and creative people from all over the world. We understand that it’s difficult for most people to find the time and resources to visit Japan to learn, and we’ve been asked many times to teach workshops in places where people cannot access mokuhanga teachers or resources. This online resource is for you!

We hope to extend the resources available here to more advanced techniques and processes that build your skills and knowledge, adding additional units and workshops. This workshop however covers the fundamental techniques in some detail which will be your starting point.

 

Workshop Units

The workshop has the following units, and each unit has a range of learning resources. Instruction videos of varying length give you instruction and guidance. You can watch an experienced practitioner on each step of the process. Comprehensive notes with photographs and diagams are also available, as well as links to appropriate resources.

 

Mokuhanga Fundamentals Unit Descriptions

1 - Introduction

dampening paper

Unit 1- Introduction to Mokuhanga Fundamentals

Welcome to our online workshop – Mokuhanga Fundamentals!

We’ve put this workshop together to allow people from anywhere in the world to be able to study and learn mokuhanga, without having to travel to Japan, or to find workshops or teachers, which often are far away…

The whole process of making a woodblock print using traditional Japanese water-based printmaking technique had been broken down into step by step units. Each unit has a number of resources intended to suit a range of learning approaches. Although it is a technologically simple technique, there are a lot of small details to learn to achieve truly satisfying results.

In the introduction we will explain a little about the context of mokuhanga, both as a historic technique and as a contemporary practice, in Japan and elsewhere. This will give you a new understanding of mokuhanga, of Ukiyo-e when you see it, and a realistic expectation of what you might be able to achieve as a beginner.

We will also have a brief look at some contemporary practice, and talk about what materials and resources you will need to complete the workshop.

Resources

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Video Resources

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Welcome and workshop explanation

Welcome and short explanation of how the workshop has been structured, and how to progress.

 
 

Ukiyo-e

Explaining the traditional process and giving you a realistic expectation as a beginner.

 
 

Some Inspirational Mokuhanga

Slide show of some inspiring work from Japan and elsewhere

 
 

Other Resources

 
 

What you will need to complete the workshop

Explanation of the basic requirements to complete the workshop.

 
 

Written Notes

Notes covering the resources

 PDF
 

Materials Sources

List of suppliers and links to their websites

 PDF
 

YouTube videos of interest

Links to a variety of videos that you mat find interesting.

 PDF

When you are ready to begin, you should have your materials and tools ready, a better understanding of mokuhanga and how it was traditionally made, and what is taught in this workshop.

2 - Design and Transfer

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Unit 2- Design and Transfer of Your Image

Your design is the most important part of the whole process, after all you have been inspired to bring your image to life in the medium of mokuhanga. It is the art part of the process, where your idea is developed into a form that can them be turned into a woodblock print.

Aim

In this unit you will either use the design I’ve created for this workshop and follow along step by step, or create your own design using the instructions provided. You will then transfer the image to your woodblocks.

Resources

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Videos

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Introduction

What you will be doing and the items you will need.

3.43

 

Creating your design

How to develop your inspiration into a design suitable for your first woodblock print project

11.00

 

Making a Tracing

The procedure for tracing your design onto a suitable material.

7.29

 

About Wood

An introduction to the types and characteristics of wood that you can use

4.40

 

Transfer onto woodblocks

How to separate the colour areas onto different blocks of wood, in readiness to carve.

10.22

 

Other Resources

 
 

Starting Points

A note about 3 different points to begin your own design process from

PDF

 

Notes

Process, Materials and Sources

PDF

 

Links

Useful resources that you can view / access

 

 

Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

Created and refined your design, made an accurate tracing of the design and transferred the design to your woodblocks. The colours will be split onto different blocks and be ready for carving.

3 - First Stage of Carving

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Unit 3 – The first Stage of Carving

This first stage of carving defines the printing areas for each block, so accuracy is important. Of all the carving, this is the most important as it defines what you will see in your print.

Aim

In this unit you will learn to use the knife tool in the Sosaku-hanga technique to outline and define each of the printing areas. You will learn to work accurately and efficiently to achieve a good result that will produce a clear and defined print.

Resources

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Videos

Size & link

 

Introduction

What you will be doing and the items you will need.

2.17

 

Introduction to Tools

A brief introduction to carving tools specific to woodblock printmaking, covering quality and variety

3.45

 

Carving Outlines Demonstration

Showing the procedure for carving outlines accurately with the knife tool.

19.32

 

About the 45-degree cut

A whiteboard style video about the reason and importance of the 45-degree cut.

4.50

 

About small areas and lines

A whiteboard style video about technique cutting around small details or lines

2.07

 

Other Resources

 
 

Tools

Notes and information about tools

PDF

 

Carving Outlines

Notes about the procedure of carving outlines

PDF

 

Notes

Materials and Sources

PDF

     

Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

Carved a small “v” by knife around each of your colour areas, so the boards will be ready for the next stage of carving.

4 - Second Stage of Carving

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Unit 4- Clearing Channels

The purpose of carving the blocks is to make them good for printing and this stage is important in that clearance is created around the printing areas.

Aim

In this unit each colour area will have a clear area carved around it to provide clearance between the paper and pigment. This ensures a clean and crisp print without unwanted marks. The shape of the channel around each colour is different for every colour and block, however a consistent width and depth is achieved without excess work.

Resources

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Description

Size & link

 

Introduction

What you will be doing and the items you will need.

2.35

 

Gouges

An introduction to gouges, the main tool we will be using for this stage.

5.51

 

Clearing – How to do this stage

An instruction video covering the techniques used, the width and depth of the channels needed and other tips.

14.20

 

Fast Motion of the process

See the whole process of one of the blocks in a fast motion video only 2 minutes long.

2.08

     
     
 

Notes

Process, Materials and Sources

PDF

     

Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

Created a tidy channel around each colour area with the right depth and width. Each block will have a slightly different shape determined by the shape of the colour area.

5 - Smoothing and Kentou

smoothing

Unit 5 – Smoothing Channels and Kentou

In this final stage of our carving we will prepare the carved block for printing. These are only a few steps but nevertheless important for successful printing. What we do in this stage reduces unwanted embossing marks from the printing process and gives us accurate registration.

Aim

We will smooth off the outer edges of the channels we carved in the previous unit. With the same tool we will also skim ridges in the channel. Then we will cut the kentou (registration notches).

Resources

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Video

Size & link

 

Introduction

What we will be doing and the tools you will need to use

1:58

 

Smoothing

How to use the tools to achieve a good result, and understanding the level of smoothness required for trouble free printing

8:30

 

Kentou

How to cut the kentou accurately

11:44

 

Notes

Notes on the process and tools required

PDF

 

Picture Note

Cutting kentou

PDF

Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

Clean and smooth channels around each of your colour areas and each block will have kentou accurately cut.

6 - Paper

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Unit 6 - Paper

Paper, as the foundation material of the print itself, naturally is quite important. Understanding which paper to use for your project, and how to prepare it properly, is one of the keys to success in mokuhanga.

Aim

In this unit we will gain an understanding of washi (Japanese paper), why it is suprior for this technique, what types are available and what to look for when you are choosing and buying paper.

Resources

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Description

Size & link

 

Introduction

About this unit and what we will cover.

1:43

 

Paper

Understanding washi – Japanese paper, the differences to Western papers, and what paper is suitable

9:58

 

Cutting Paper

How to measure and cut your paper in preparation for your project

11:43

 

Dampening Paper

The procedure for dampening paper in preparation for printing

8:25

 

Notes

About paper and where to buy it

PDF

 

Getting the best use of full sheets

Note about measuring and using sheets economically

PDF

 

Other resources

Links to some useful videos, books

PDF

 

Where to buy Washi

Information on where to buy washi, either online or when you are visiting Japan

PDF

Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

An understanding of what paper is suitable to use for your project, have it cut to size and ready to print with

7 - Preparation for Printing

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Unit 7- Preparation for Printing

In this unit we will explain the different tools and materials used for mokuhanga printing. Each type of tool and material has its own video, which allows you to quickly revise. We will spend some time mixing colours and nori, the two ingredients for printing. We will also set up the table ready for printing.

Aim

You will gain a working understanding of the tools and materials for mokuhanga printing and how to set up your printing area for working efficiently.

Resources

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Description

Size & link

 

Introduction

Introduction to this unit and what you will need.

1:07

 

Brushes

Explanation of brushes, the different types available and how to select what you need.

4:03

 

Baren

Explanation of baren, different types available and which is suitable for the work you are doing.

7:44

 

Colours

Brief explanation of the types of pigment / colours to use in mokuhanga

2:35

 

Nori

About nori (starch paste) and how to prepare it.

3:36

 

Mixing Colours

Guide to mixing colours, ready for printing.

10:39

 

Set up your Printing Area

How to set up your printing area with the items you will need.

4:15

 

Other resources

 
 

Notes

Notes covering the content of this unit.

PDF

 

Care of Baren

Note about caring for traditional baren.

PDF

 

Make your own nori

Instructions for making your own nori.

PDF

     

Before progressing to the next step, you should have...

Mixed your colours, be well set up and have your baren and brushes selected. Before printing you should have already dampened your paper.

8 - Basic Printing

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Unit 8- Basic Printing

Finally, we will actually start printing! It’s exciting to see some result for all the hard work we’ve done so far. This unit will introduce the printing process and how to overcome some common problems. In reality, consistent high-quality printing takes a lot of practice to master. This proof print is an essential step on the way to produce a final edition.

Aim

In this unit we will go through the process of producing a series of proof prints, making improvements and adjustments in order to have everything right to produce an edition of our print. While doing this you will learn the printing process including how to make bokashi.

Resources

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Description

Size & link

 

Introduction

About this unit, what you will need and what we will do.

1:26

 

Getting Ready

Making sure you have everything ready to go.

3:48

 

Printing your First Proof

Taking you through the printing process, colour by colour to make your first proof print.

14:01

 

Simple Bokashi

Introduce the bokashi printing effect (graduation or fade) and learning a simple way to add it to our proof.

6:09

 

Printing Problems

Looking at some of the problems you will have encountered in printing and how to overcome them.

7:42

 

Improvements

Making improvements to our blocks to reduce some typical problems.

6:52

 

Adjusting Colours & Second Proof

Making adjustments to improve the colours then producing a second proof print.

7:07

 

Washing Brushes

How to wash your brushes to extend their working life.

2:05

 

Other Resources

 
 

Notes

Notes covering the content of this unit.

PDF

 

Print Cycle

Picture note explaining the print cycle.

PDF

 

Top Tips for Beginners

Picture note with some tips.

PDF

 

Balance in Printing

Note about balancing the different aspects of printing.

PDF

 

Clean your Brushes

How to clean your brushes.

PDF

Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

Made your proof print, corrected mistakes and weaknesses and then produced a second proof print. With these corrections you will be able to now produce your edition in the next unit.

9 - Printing Your Edition

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Unit 9 – Printing Your Edition

Printing an edition of your work is the final stage of production. You have solved the various problems with carving and printing and are now ready to make a valuable edition of your mokuhanga.

Aim

In this unit we will go through the process of printing your edition. The printing procedure is the same and there are some extra considerations, especially around managing the moister level in your paper. This time we will be using washi, which is a lot more responsive and beautiful.

Resources

Image

Description

Size & link

 

Introduction

Briefly, what we will be doing in this unit.

1:32

 

Adjusting Paper Moisture

Checking the moisture level in your washi, and making some adjustments if needed.

2:02

 

Printing the Edition

The process of printing the edition, with extra consideration about maintaining balance as we proceed.

13:26

 

Drying your Prints

An effective and simple way to dry your prints flat.

2:22

 

Other Resources

 
 

Notes

The content of this unit.

PDF

 

Managing Moisture in the Paper

Picture note with tips about managing moisture.

PDF

 

Drying

Picture note with two methods about drying your prints.

PDF

Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

Produced your first limited edition of mokuhanga and have them drying.

10 - Key Block

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Unit 10 - Key Block

Carving a key block gives you outlines or fine details that can help define your image. Usually in Ukiyo-e this is the first stage, however for Sosaku hanga it may not even be necessary, and for beginners is certainly difficult and frustrating. We’ve included this at the end to further develop your skills. Most student’s have this in their original idea so it is included here.

Aim

To add a line or detail block to you image, we will use our original tracing and carve a whole new block. This can be printed on our existing print, or on a whole new edition.

Resources

Image

Description

Size & link

 

Introduction

About the key block and what we will cover in this unit.

 
 

Transfer and Carving

Showing the transfer and carving, which demands a more skilful and accurate approach.

 
 

Printing

Printing has a slightly different approach, and this video explains how to progress, either as a new print or on your existing print.

 
 

Repairing a Block

Showing you how to repair a section that has broken away, or been carved away by mistake.

This can be used on colour blocks as well.

 
 

Notes

PDF

     

Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

Transferred, carved and printed your key block.

11 - Gomazuri

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Unit 11 - Gomazuri

Gomazuri is a versatile printing technique that can be used with existing colour blocks or purpose carved blocks. It enhances your image with subtle patterned effects and enriches your image.

Aim

We will learn how to successfully print this technique, which uses the same tools and materials, but in a different way. We will add it to your existing work, or begin a new edition including this technique and understand when and where to use it in your mokuhanga.

Resources

Image

Description

Size & link

 

Introduction

About gomazuri and when to use it

 
 

Printing Technique

How to print existing colour blocks with this technique and get the best result.

 
 

Notes

Content of this unit

PDF

     
     

Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

Successfully printed one or more blocks with gomazuri technique

12 - Next Steps

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Unit 12- Next Steps

This is the conclusion of the Mokuhanga Fundamentals online workshop. You will have gained an understanding of the fundamental tools, materials and processes of producing your own creative work in this medium.

Aim

We hope to encourage you to use what you’ve gained and make new work. Practice and repetition are the key to building your skills and mastering this technique.

Resources

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Description

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Conclusion

Thank you, conclusion and encouragement to keep going with mokuhanga. Some next steps you could take to make progress.

 
 

Notes

Notes of this unit’s content

PDF

Thank you, and we hope you have enjoyed this online workshop.

 

 

Workshop Manual

You can also download the complete set of notes if you would prefer. They give a comprehensive step by step guide of the process. You can find the download in our online shop.

Workshop Manual - ¥5,000

 

Beginner's Kit

We have put together a kit of tools and materials with which you can complete your intiial project.

Membership Plans

Mokuhanga Fundamentals 1 Year

Enjoy full access to all workshop materials for the entire year. Take your time and view resources as many times as you like.

 - Tutorial Videos & Workshop Notes & Resource Links & Updates

If you wish to subscribe for another year, you can.

Duration: 1 year
Price: ¥10,000
Mokuhanga Fundamentals 3 Months

Enjoy full access to all workshop materials for a three month period. Learn how to make mokuhanga as you step though the units.

 - Tutorial Videos & Workshop Notes & Resource Links & Updates

If you wish to subscribe for more, you can upgrade to a one year subcription.

Duration: 3 months
Price: ¥6,000
Mokuhanga Fundamentals Single Unit

Access a single unit to extend your knowledge, or practice what you already have learned..

 - Tutorial Videos & Workshop Notes & Resource Links & Updates for the chosen unit.

 

Duration: 3 months
Price: ¥2,000