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The Unfinished Print

Jun 28, 2022

One's mokuhanga journey takes many twists and turns. One can begin that journey at any age, at any time. For Andrew Stone that journey began at the age of 40, where in the last  fifteen years or so, Andrew has done a deep dive into the nuances of the art form, from technique, to tools. His exploration into what makes mokuhanga, mokuhanga, is fascinating and important. 

On this episode of The Unfinished Print, I speak with mokuhanga printmaker and baren maker Andrew Stone. We speak about his Florence Baren Project, his own mokuhanga, his life in Italy, his meeting with baren maker Hidehiko Gotō. We discuss his philosophies on mokuhanga and baren making, what it takes to make such a beautiful tool like the baren, and how they function and work.  

Please follow The Unfinished Print and my own mokuhanga work on Instagram @andrezadoroznyprints Twitter @unfinishedprint, or email me at

Notes: may contain a hyperlink. Simply click on the highlighted word or phrase.

Andrew Stone - Lacrime di Rospo blog

April Vollmer - is a mokuhanga artist based in New York City. She has been working in the medium for over thirty years. Her book, Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop, is a classic of the genre and a fantastic instructional book to begin mokuhanga.

Andrew's wine label prints - here is one such print Andrew describes in his interview. 

David Bull/Mokuhankan - David Bull is a Canadian mokuhanga printmaker and business owner based in the city and Prefecture of Tōkyō, Japan.  His company, Mokuhankan, has promoted the making of mokuhanga via the hanmoto or collaboration system of making woodblock prints, where the image begins as a black and white copy, evolving into a multi-layered colour woodblock print through a series of designers, carvers, and printmakers.  

etegami - meaning image letter, etegami is a style of calligraphy which was created by Kokei Kunio in the 1960’s, by writing his own distinct style of calligraphy on New Years postcards.  Although, sending postcards on New Years has been a tradition in Japan since the 700’s. By using watercolours on washi, Kunio creates beautiful postcards which lend a hand to the ephemeral nature of the season and the medium. 

lithography - is a printing process which requires a stone or aluminum plate, and was invented in the 18th Century. More info, here from the Tate. 

Shin hanga - is a style of Japanese woodblock printmaking which began during the end of the Ukiyo-e period of Japanese printmaking, in the early 20th Century. Focusing on the foreign demand for “traditional” Japanese imagery and motifs such as castles, bridges, famous landscapes, bamboo forests, to name just a few.  Shin hanga was born in 1915 by Watanabe Shōzaburō (1885-1962) when he found Austrian artist Frtiz Capelari (1884-1950) and commissioned Capelari to design some prints for Watanabe's feldgling printing house . From there shin-hanga evolved into its own distinct “new” style of Japanese woodblock printing. It lasted as this distinct style until its innevitable decline after the Second World War (1939-1945).

Pop art - is a an art movement generally connected to post war America and commodification. Artists such as Andy Warhol (1928-1987), and Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) are well known pop-artists.

Rebecca Salter - is a British artist who focused on mokuhanga early in her career, and painting in later life. She is the President of The Royal Academy of Arts, London. Her book Japanese Woodblock Printing is a classic of the genre. Her interview with The Unfinished Print can be found, here. 

International Mokuhanga Conference - is a conference conducted by the International Mokuhanga Association for Japanese woodblock printing. It is held every two years and is themed. More info can be found, here

Mara Cozzolino - is a mokuhanga artist, based in Turin, Italy. Mara’s subjects tend to be landcapes and trees. Mara is also the IMC Publicity Advisor. Her interview with The Unfinished Print can be found, here. 

Annie Bissett - is a mokuhanga artist and designer based in Rhode Island, USA. Annie’s subjects vary, from landscapes, politics, and even tarot. You can find her interview with the Unfinished Print, here. 

California forest fires - The State of California in the United States, has dry, hot weather. Because of climate change, this has been exacerbated by a higher population, deforestation, and heavy use. Forest fires have become common yearly events.

Impressionism - is a 19th Century art movement where the art is defined by visible brushstrokes, pastel colour, and the depiction of natural light. Artists associated with his movement are, Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Claude Monet (1840-1926). 

Fauvists - a group of artists and an art movement of the early 20th Century who focused on the painterly and lasted only a short time, 1904-1908. It is influenced by the Impressionists and is also considered a break from that. A few artists of this short movement are Henri Matisse (1869-1953), André Derain (1880-1954), Jean Puy (1876-1960), amongst others. 

Secessionists  - is an independent art movement, and historical break of the avante garde from the conservative ideals of European art. This period was from the late 19th to the early 20th Century. Started in Germany (Munich Secession) and then onto Vienna led by Gustav Klimt  (1862-1918). The several secessionist movements of the late 19th century (Munich, Vienna, Berlin) was grouped as one movement in the 1970’s by art scholars. 

hanshita - is a thin sheet of gampi paper that is pasted, reverse side, on a piece of wood. This is a guide, carved onto the block and is generally used for the key block and subsequent colour blocks. Methods such as acetate with water based pigment, can also be used rather than the thin gampi paper, which can cause misregistration if not pasted correctly.

Biomass plants in the EU - biomass is a form of energy which uses trees as energy. Large biomass plants can be found and subsidized by federal governments in Europe. They take in biological materials such as wood residue, energy crops and other agricultural residues and convert these items into energy. There are both pros and cons for this type of energy generation. 

shina - is a type of wood used in mokuhanga. It is part of the linden family of trees. This wood is produced in various parts of the world, such as Japan and Russia. Not all shina is created equal so buyer beware.

basswood - is a type of wood from the linden family of trees, soft and generally grainless. Can be used in mokuhanga.  

Florence, Italy   - the capital of the Tuscany region of Italy. Famous for its renaissance architecture, and culture. Large art galleries, such as the Bargello National Museum, and the Uffizi Gallery, are located here.

fabriano artistico - is a machine made Western watercolour paper, which can be purchased in rolls and sheets.

Guerra Pigment - is a family run pigment store located in Brooklyn, New York.

Holbein -  is a pigment company with offices located in Japan, The United States, and Canada. They offer high end gouache, watercolour, and pigment pastes. 

Paul Furneaux - is a Scottish mokuhanga artist based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He makes abstract mokuhanga, mixed with wood and other mediums. 

sizing recipe -  sizing is a term used for a recipe, containing animal glue, alum, and water. It is used to coat your paper, dried, and then remoistened and printed with,  to keep your pigments from bleeding in the paper. Sizing, in the short term, keeps your prints bright and colourful, although over time it has been proven that heavy sizing can deteriorate the print. Some recipes can be found, here, and here.

McClains - is an online, and brick and mortar store located in Portland, Oregon, USA. It sells mokuhanga tools, books, and educational items. McClain's interview with The Unfinished Print can be found, here

takenogawa bamboo skin -  is a bamboo skin, made from a bamboo leaf, which covers the coils on your baren. You can wrap them yourself or have them sent to Japan to be wrapped professionally. Be sure to buy more than a few baren skins as you’ll go through a few when wrapping your own baren.

Gotō baren clinic Ginza - called Baren Juku, and located in the Ginza, Tōkyō. It was started in 2012.

tannin - are a class of molecules which are found in amino acids and alkaloids. They are found in tree bark, wood, leaves, fruits, seeds, plants. They protect the tree from bugs and other infections.

Gotō Huidehiko's book on baren

Mia-0 - is a mokuhanga artist based in Tōkyō, Japan. Her work can be found, here. 

Terry McKenna - is a mokuhanga printmaker based in Karuizawa, Nagano, Japan. He studied under Kyōto-based mokuhanga artist Richard Steiner. Terry also runs his own mokuhanga school in Karuizawa. His interview with The Unfinished Print can be found, here. Richard Steiner's interview with The Unfinished Print can be found, here

John Moss -  is a mokuhanga artist based in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. His work focuses on landscape. His work can be found here. His interview with The Unfinished Print can be found, here. 

murasaki baren - is a mid-range mokuhanga baren. “murasaki” meaning “purple” , come in two types of weight (medium and heavy), and two types of sizes (10cm and 12cm). They are reasonably priced baren. 

gomazuri - is a mokuhanga technique where slight pressure is used with pigments too make a “spotty” image, what look like sesame seeds. It can add depth to your prints. 

baren suji zuri - is a Mokuhanga technique used with the baren and by the baren to create a circular design and can be layered with various colours. Paul Binnie's Black Storm (2016) is a fine example.

Yuki baren -  is a heavy ball bearing baren made in Japan. It is used to print large flat colours. 

Padua, Italy - is a city in the North of Italy, the Veneto region. It is famous for its frescoes and religious heritage. More info can be found, here

bokashi - is a mokuhanga technique, where the pigment fades from a heavy colour to a softer, broad colour. Made famous by prints designed by Hokusai and Hiroshige, this technique is, for me, the most popular technique utilized by  mokuhanga printmakers. There are various types: Ichimoji-bokashi or straight line graduation, used in the above mentioned Hiroshige and Hokusai prints. Ichimoji-mura-bokashi or straight line gradation with uneven edge. Ō-bokashi or wide gradation, Ate-nashi-bokashi or gradation without definition. Futa-iro-bokashi or two tone gradation, and ita-bokashi or softer-edge gradation, where the block is cut in a specific way to achieve this style of gradation. All of these styles of bokashi technique take practice and skill but are very much doable. 

© Popular Wheat Productions

opening and closing credit music - Rob Swift, A Turntable Experience, from trhe album Soulful Fruit (1997)

logo designed and produced by Douglas Batchelor and André Zadorozny 

Disclaimer: Please do not reproduce or use anything from this podcast without shooting me an email and getting my express written or verbal consent. I'm friendly :)

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***The opinions expressed by guests in The Unfinished Print podcast are not necessarily those of André Zadorozny and of Popular Wheat Productions.***