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The Unfinished Print

Nov 27, 2021

The world of mokuhanga has a lot of moving parts. It’s a machine that needs to be consistently monitored, updated and supervised. This is especially true when most mokuhanga practitioners are the ones working on every step to get their finished product.

Many times we as mokuhanga artists tend to overlook what goes into our tools; the barens, the brushes, pigments and paper, many of us simply wanting to get the work, “done.” Jon Lee, a printmaker, craftsperson and artist based in San Antonio, Texas goes a little deeper where most people don’t. Jon makes barens, and brushes, and paper through his academic work as well as personally. In this episode of The Unfinished Print I speak to Jon Lee about how he approaches his work, how he builds and constructs his tools, his studying under master baren maker Gotō Hidehiko, and how all of this melds with his academic research.

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

Jon Lee  - The Print Center bio and Instagram page 

University of Iowa - founded in 1847 U of I is a public research university. More information can be found here.

Trinity University of San Antonio - founded in 1869, more info can be found, here.

mezzotint -  a print made using copper plate and a “rocker.” Invented in the mid-17th Century. More info can be found, here from The National Portrait Gallery, England.

hanji Korean mulberry paper - is a paper used, amongst other ways, for woodblock printmaking. It’s a very dense and fibrous paper.  More info can be found, here.

Tamarind Institute - dedicated to prints of all types, this institution began in 1960 as a lithography workshop in Los Angeles. More information can be found, here.

Akira Kurosaki (1937-2019) - one of the most influential woodblock print artists of the modern era. His work, while seemingly abstract, moved people with its vibrant colour and powerful composition. He was a teacher and invented the “Disc Baren,” which is a great baren to begin your mokuhanga journey with. At the 2021 Mokuhanga Conference in Nara, Japan there is a tribute exhibit of his life works. Azusa Gallery has a nice selection of his work, here.

McClains Woodblock Print Supply Co.  - based in Portland, Oregon McClains is the go to supplier of woodblock print tools in the United States. Their website can be found, here. My interview with Daniel Jasa of McClain’s can be found, here.

Gotō Hidehiko - is a baren maker and printmaker from Japan. He has conducted workshops at MI Lab, the mokuhanga residence program , for baren making. He has also conducted workshops at the Mokuhanga Conference several times, and will be there in 2021. His prints can be found, here.

Jim  Croft bookbinder - bookbinder based in Idaho. His website can be found, here.

Hon baren - is the traditional Japanese baren used in mokuhanga printmaking. David Bull has a concise description of it, here.

Wood-like Matsumura - a supplier of tools and other necessities for woodblock printmaking based in Tōkyō. Website can be found, here.

Meiji Period (1868-1912) - a period of upheaval and change as the Tokugawa military government toppled with a brand new government replacing it, based on a European model. For a fantastic book on the subject please read, Meiji and His World by Donald Keene (1922-2019).

Taishō Period  (1912-1926) - a short lived period of Japanese modern history but an important one in world history. This is where the militarism of fascist Japan began to take seed, leading to The Pacific War (1931-1945). More info can be found, here.

Hosho paper - a handmade paper from Japan used for printmaking. Some information can be found here.

Yokohama - a port city located in the prefecture of Kanagawa in Japan. Made famous for its Chinatown, historical foreign settlement and ramen museum. Yokohama-e was a series of prints made from around 1850-1870 about the new foreign people coming into Japan. More info can be found, here.

Bracken plant - a fern located throughout the world. More info can be found, here.

mochi - glutinous rice cake made for holidays or simply for everyday enjoyment  

bfk Rives - a cotton mould paper used for printmaking

Hangul - is the written system of the Korean language with 10 consonants and 14 vowels. More info, here.

King Sejong or Sejong The Great (1397-1450) - was the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897), and amongst other contributions to Korean culture, helped create the Hangul language.

Shinjuku City - a ward in the city of Tōkyō famously known for its entertainment district, parks, and shopping.  More info can be found, here.

Shibuya City - a ward in the city of Tōkyō also, famously known for its shopping and heavy tourism. More info can be found, here.

urushi  - is a type of lacquer used  in Japanese lacquerware for hundreds of years especially in maki-e lacquer decoration. A very good blog posting by Woodspirit Handcraft has great information about urushi, here.

David Bull size recipe (s) - can be found here.

tempera - a pigment mixed with binder historically used throughout Europe and the Middle East. More info, here.

gesso - a hard drying white paint used in priming canvas for work. More info can be found, here.

Nakayama stone - a very famous sharpening stone which can fetch to upwards of 7,000 CDN, like here. From a region in Kyōto,  the stone requires little to no soaking in water. Japan Stone has more info, here.

opening and closing credit background music:  By the almighty KRS One. ‘Outta Here’ from the 1993 album Return of the Boom Bap. 

© Popular Wheat Productions

logo designed an 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 :) if you find any issue with something in the show notes please let me know. The opinions expressed in The Unfinished Print podcast are not necessarily those of Andre Zadorozny and of Popular Wheat Productions.