Tuesday, 10 July 2018

5 in 5 - July 2018 - Printing, traditional Japanese style

Welcome to '5 in 5' where on the 5th of
each month I post 5 photos that I have 
taken in 5 minutes.

Thank you if you have been celebrating 5in5's 
5th anniversary with me and visited over the past 5 days. 

This is your last chance to win one of my handmade books and here's how to enter: like my page, leave a comment, or link. Each one counts. 

And to finish the celebrations, here is this month's 5in5 collection:

Do you have Art Trails where you live? 
At this time of year here in UK, lots of artists open their studios, or display their work as part of art trails.  I love to visit when I can and last week I was especially pleased to visit the studio of Japanese print maker Akiko Fujikawa. Akiko uses traditional woodblock printing methods and tools, and cutting the designs is a skill in itself.  Most designs have several colours, each one requiring a separate woodblock and printing process. Registration is the term used to position the paper so that the different colours print in the right place, without overlapping or leaving gaps. There is skill in creating the design, the woodblocks and the printing process. 

The tool below is a 'baren'. It is used to burnish the back of paper when transferring ink from the woodblock. This baren was handmade in Japan by a master craftsman, and apparently cost £600! I had to ask Akiko to repeat this as I thought I misheard.  But no. It seems baren making is a dying art, and you can wait 3 years to have one made by traditional methods.   

Excuse the poor quality of photo below, but it shows some of the stages of making a baren. Akiko explained that you take a dried bamboo leaf and gently peel away individual fibres to make long threads. These are carefully twisted to make strong but fine lengths (see photo), then woven into mats. These form the underside of the baren, then layers of rice paper are added, one sheet every day. In total it takes 53 days to make one baren and the final layer is a bamboo leaf, twisted and tied into place.  It is very strong and a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. 
Who would believe this simple tool involves so much time and skill in it's making?

Bamboo leaves have many uses. Akiko makes brushes from the fibres, they are very fine and beautifully made. 

I learnt so much from visiting Akiko and will never look at print making in the same way again. It was a privilege to see these traditional methods being used and honoured.  Maybe one day I will go to one of Akiko's workshops and learn even more. 

Thank you for visiting.  If you would like to join in this month's challenge you have until 25th to take your photos and post a link to your blog. Here's how it works:

1.  Choose a location.

2.  Have your camera ready.

3.  Set a mobile timer for 5 minutes.

4.  Take as many photos you can until the time is up.

5.  Choose 5 photos to download and share by using the link tool (for this month only please go HERE to link)

   You have until the 25th of the month to add your photos.  

If you want to know more about 5in5 there are details here.

And one more thing - when you use the link tool, please click on your post title.  This will show the web address. Please right click, copy and paste this as your link.  This will take readers directly to your '5 in 5' blog page and be easier for them to find.

I'll be back tomorrow, Wednesday 11th, to announce the winner of the handmade book and it's not too late to enter! Just like my page, leave a comment on any post from 5th July 2018, and/or join in the challenge and add a link. Each participation equals an entry. Good luck and thank you for visiting!!   


  1. Yes, we're lucky enough to have some seriously good art trails in this area. I haven't seen anything as interesting as the subject of this post though - I find Japanese art and the traditions surrounding it incredibly fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

    1. You never know what you will see, do you Eileen? Glad that you have some good art trails in your area too.

  2. I have really enjoyed looking back with you over the last 5 years. Some posts I enjoyed for the second time, others were before my time so enjoyed for the first time.
    I too enjoy local art trails and I agree that visiting their studios is always rewarding. These Japanese techniques are interesting and you can see that although simple take a long time to complete.
    I don't see any link for other people's links so will leave mine here. https://farmerswifedaybyday.blogspot.com/2018/07/5-in-5-walled-garden.html

    1. Thank you Maggie. The links were on the first post, on the 5th, but I will add it so no problem. Thank you for taking part this month and I'm pleased you enjoyed looking back over some of the past posts.

  3. I've always been in awe of print makers. We saw an amazing show of M.C. Escher a few years ago. Early in his career he created gorgeous woodblock prints of scenes in Italy. They displayed the carvings along side the prints. It was fascinating. I've also enjoyed looking back at some of your favorite 5 in 5 posts. I especially enjoyed the Paycock's House and A Walk in the Park. Thanks again for hosting the meme!

  4. I imagine that was an amazing exhibition of M.C Escher's work, Karen. It really is to be admired and I would loved to have seen his wood blocks along side the carvings. Recently I went to the home of William Morris and saw his sketches, woodblocks and wall paper examples. It was wonderful!


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