Japanese Woodblock Print

Woodblock materials, tools and techniques

The wood chosen for woodblocks was sakura (cherry wood), a fine-textured wood with a straight grain. This is hard enough for intricate carving in high relief and will survive through the production of many copies of the print.
Inks were applied with a brush, directly to the colour blocks, and the dampened paper was placed on the block, aligned with guide marks called kento, which ensured that the colours were all in the correct position. The printer would rub the back of the paper to make it absorb the coloured ink. 

He used a circular rubbing pad called a baren to rub the colours from the woodblock and onto the paper. A baren is made from a core of tightly coiled cord, placed on a backing disk made of layers of pasted paper. The whole thing is wrapped in twisted bamboo fibres.
The paper traditionally used for ukiyo-e prints was handmade from kôzo, the Paper Mulberry plant. It is absorbent, flexible and stable even when moistened for printing.

Explore the features of a Japanese print using this My Learning interactive. The links section below also includes links to useful sites showing the process of woodblock carving.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Cartwright Hall Art Gallery | 
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