Today's postings

  1. [Baren 25096] Re: In memory of Aiko Nakane (Bette Norcross Wappner)
  2. [Baren 25097] Re: Colour contamination (Mike Lyon)
  3. [Baren 25098] newbietude, webcams, tools... (rmorris #
  4. [Baren 25099] Re: Colour contamination ("marilynn smih")
  5. [Baren 25100] Re: Colour contamination ("marilynn smih")
  6. [Baren 25101] Re: Colour contamination ("Jason DeFontes")
  7. [Baren 25102] Re: Colour contamination ("Jason DeFontes")
  8. [Baren 25104] Re: Trip to Toronto (Myron Turner)
  9. [Baren 25103] Trip to Toronto (Daniel Dew)
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Message 1
From: Bette Norcross Wappner
Date: Sun, 23 May 2004 10:24:08 -0400
Subject: [Baren 25096] Re: In memory of Aiko Nakane
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Thank you Sharen for sharing this information on the passing of Aiko
Nakane. After learning about her here, I now wish I had only met this
wonderful soul.

This leads me to an idea for a future exchange - to tribute one or
leading people who have been instrumental in the printmaking arts. With
the conversation here about colleges debating keeping printmaking in
their curriculum, it is only due to the passion of those who keep this
art alive.

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Message 2
From: Mike Lyon
Date: Sun, 23 May 2004 09:47:44 -0500
Subject: [Baren 25097] Re: Colour contamination
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Jason wrote:
> > But honestly, my hon-baren is better... much better!
>Anyone care to quantify, for a pre-beginner, how one little flat disk that
>you rub on the back of a piece of paper could be say, 100 times better
>than another. (I'm comparing "starting at $640" to $8 here:
> ). When I first saw that I chalked
>it up to the same kind of Japanese materials fetishism that results in
>things like multi-thousand-dollar Go boards, but I figure there must be
>something to it or you'all wouldn't be buying them.

My hon-baren is an 8-strand 'medium' and was made by Gosho-san and
purchased from the Baren Mall here: lead-time for
delivery of Gosho-san's barens became incredibly long and unpredictable, so
Baren now offers the equivalent Kikuhide-san baren which ship much faster
-- only three to six months and only $750 to $1,000 !!! It is such a
reliable and sensitive tool compared to any other I've used -- alive in my
hand and wonderful to use...

David Bull was right-on when he wrote, "They are absolutely beautiful tools
... not for everybody, but if you have built up a fair amount of experience
in woodblock printmaking, then once you have a chance to try one of these
tools, you will never be willing to go back to a cheaper option!"

The Murasaki baren is the next-best, and although it is only 1/2 or 2/3 as
great as my hon-baren, it's only 1/10th the price... The Murasaki medium
13cm is an excellent tool, beautifully made (by the same Kikuhide as the
hon-barens and available from both McClains and Baren Mall -- I recommend
this one as the tool to get if you're on a budget -- it feels much 'harder'
and less sensitive than the hon-baren, but prints very well, nonetheless:

$116.50 Murasaki 13cm Medium baren from Baren Mall: (McClains only carry
the 12cm model which, in my opinion, is a bit too small a tool. Baren
Mall's price for the 12cm medium is $92.23 compared to McClains at $130).

If you're really on a tight budget, the $36.89 Sosaku Baren (Sumi-fine or
Beta-medium) 12 or 13cm
is a decent tool -- if you can only get one, you'll probably be happier
with the "beta" model after a break-in period.

The designations, "fine", "medium", and "strong" are related to the surface
area which actually contacts the block -- the working surface of a baren is
not smooth (like a wooden spoon or something) but bumpy -- the more bumps
which contact the block (and the 'softer' or flatter they are) the 'finer'
the baren, and the fewer bumps which contact the block (and the 'harder' or
pointier they are) the 'stronger' the baren. 'fine' baren are better for
printing delicate lines and details where not much surface area of the
block is printing and 'strong' baren are better for printing big flat areas
where the block is all printing and not carved -- 'coarse' or 'strong'
baren have more of a tendency to leave baren-suji (darker marks left by
those 'bumps'), and 'fine' baren won't print large flat areas of color very
well no matter how hard you try to press...

One caution: All baren when they are new seem to have some of the 'bumps'
which stick out more than others, so new baren leave pronounced marks in
the print which record the movement of the baren for posterity... The more
you use the baren (and maybe try to smash the largest of these (using your
finger nail or something) each time you re-cover the tool), the less
pronounced these become until the tool is well 'broken in' after several
thousand impressions.

-- Mike

Mike Lyon
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Message 3
From: rmorris #
Date: Sun, 23 May 2004 12:43:58 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [Baren 25098] newbietude, webcams, tools...
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Hello all,

Thanks to Mike Lyon for the interesting ideas re using P'shop for color
blocks. I;ve been thinking a lot about printing and starting to get
into it here- as for David Bull's webcam I am in agreement -it is
fascinating to see such a thorough and careful craftsman at work.
Thanks Dave for your website in general, I tend to read a lot and I've
been absorbing a lot of new knowledge there.

Went to a Japanese tool shop (Hida Tool) in Berkeley the other
day...picked up some
Shina ply and my first Japanese carving tool-...a 6mm aisuki.
Also a plastic baren...hey it should work better than that winebottle cork
I was using.
As an afterthought I asked about paper- they had a thick and a medium Kozo
paper...not cheap but I bought one large slice.
Later in the evening I was interested to read about how it is made from
Mulberry trees in DB's carftsmen series...I was going to trim my mom's
Mulberry this year anyway...may be I should try to make some (rough) Kozo!

Am so immersed in reading up on printmaling and also looking at Ukiyo-e
prints on the web, I'm letting my wrists have a rest as I was trying to
carve some oak blocks last week..ouch!

Speaking of ergonomics, a question for you all...
I have big hands, because I'm tall...(as in can hold a basketball in my
grip, about)
it feels like clutching the small tools is uncomfortable...I'm wondering
if anyone has run across quality tools with fatter handles?

Thats all the print that fits the muse...


Robin Morris
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Message 4
From: "marilynn smih"
Date: Sun, 23 May 2004 20:47:38 -0700
Subject: [Baren 25099] Re: Colour contamination
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>But honestly, my hon-baren is better... much better!

I can not resist saying this, but umm, is this a bit like having a great
AHH the right tool I love it!

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Message 5
From: "marilynn smih"
Date: Sun, 23 May 2004 21:15:21 -0700
Subject: [Baren 25100] Re: Colour contamination
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You sound like my husband, how can that little flat thing cost so much????
You will be amazed at how much better a print is with the right tool. And
how much easier your life is!

Mike I really wanted that ball bearing baren!!! Now you say I could have a
better one for about the same price??? BUT BUT I did not want to tie a baren
ever ever ever again!!!!! I think WD 40 for lubricating is what I want yes
yes yes!!!!! I have not used it yet but when I ran my hand over this i was
in awe, so do not dampen my happiness!!!
Some tools are really worth spending on and some are not. For years I was
told you should have a nice red sable watercolor brush, the finest
instrument. I owned several, many over a hundered bucks. Than I found out
that a really nice synthetic will preform equally well in my hands. As for
a tiny hanga to, well gosh maybe if you learned to use the big one it would
preform everything the little one does and more. I know that is true if a
*10 watercolor brush, I can draw with it and paint an entire picture without
stopping to change tools. It will give me fine lines and small areas and in
a stroke it will fill in a large space, i can just go!!! I am waiting for
the day that that hanga knife feels like my brush. Sorry for the multiple
post, I am celebrating that I , ME , found a virus on my computer and
deleted it even when NORTON did not.

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Message 6
From: "Jason DeFontes"
Date: Mon, 24 May 2004 02:14:31 -0400
Subject: [Baren 25101] Re: Colour contamination
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Thanks Mike! Excellent post! I'll file that away for when I'm ready to go

I think I can forgo the "alive in my hand" bit and keep a few hundred
dollars alive in my pocket, at least until I've got the experience under my
belt to appreciate the difference. It'll give me something to look forward

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Message 7
From: "Jason DeFontes"
Date: Mon, 24 May 2004 02:22:11 -0400
Subject: [Baren 25102] Re: Colour contamination
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I'm more intrigued than put off, really. I WANT to understand how such a
thing could improve my life in measure with its cost, it just isn't crystal
clear to me yet. I'm going to have to do the same thing I do with wine:
start cheap and progressively spend more money until I can't discern the
difference. And I imagine I'll run into the same problem too, that they just
keep getting better...

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Message 8
From: Myron Turner
Date: Mon, 24 May 2004 08:18:12 -0500
Subject: [Baren 25104] Re: Trip to Toronto
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The Art Gallery of Ontario
One of the biggest art museums in North America, currently has a major show
on the inter-relations of Whistler, Monet, and Turner. Has an entire wing
devoted to Henry Moore.

Open Studio
A printmaking facility and gallery

The Harborfront Gallery
Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation

There are many artist run centres and commerical galleries. Check the Google.

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Message 9
From: Daniel Dew
Date: Mon, 24 May 2004 08:56:19 -0400
Subject: [Baren 25103] Trip to Toronto
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My daughter and I are flying into Toronto on June 10th, we will have
some free time, so what or who is recommended?

Daniel L. Dew
CapStar Leasing
800-587-9532, ext: #115