Woodblock Printing Process
Moku hanga is a Japanese method of woodblock printmaking. It is water based, and brushes are used to apply pigment to the woodblock, making it quite different from the Western printmaking technique of thicker, oil based inks applied with a roller. In moku hanga a starch paste, traditionally made from rice, is also used to manipulate the pigment texture. The technique allows for subtle transparent layers of color.
This photo shows the eight carved blocks used for my print "Mountain Valley Road". Each layer of color adds a different dimension to the image. The interaction of paper, wood, and water in moku hanga lends itself to printing by hand. This is what I do with all my prints, using a baren, which is a Japanese rubbing tool designed specifically for woodblock printing.
More photos of this printing process are shown here.
Many of my prints are made using a reduction technique, which involves printing the woodblock in one color, then carving areas of the block away, and printing over top of the first layer in a new color, revealing the carved areas as I go. This continues until I have the final image, often a process of fifteen or more colors and carving stages.
With this reduction technique, my edition size (generally between ten and thirty prints) must be decided in advance, because the block is carved away in the process and the design can not be reprinted.