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The Unfinished Print

Nov 9, 2022

When making mokuhanga there are many way to get to the final product. However you get there, you need to enjoy every single moment you have with it. So many twists and turns, indulging your passions with your work, anything can happen.

On this episode of The Unfinished Print I speak with printmaker Karen Pittman. With her varied CV, Karen has explored many ways of making, of creating. Her influences come from the traditional, working from the ground up. Karen's mokuhanga exudes that tradition, the patience and serenity of a seasoned mokuhanga artist. 

I speak with Karen Pittman about how she got involved with mokuhanga, her time at Mokuhankan and David Bull, her blog; Vivid Laboratories, he own work and what she learned from her mother as an artist. 

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

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

Artists works follow after the note. Pieces are mokuhanga unless otherwise noted.

Karen Pittmanblog, Instagram 

星空に - By Starlight (2019)

Balcones Canyonlands (2020)

Annie Bissett - is an American mokuhanga printmaker and graphic designer based in Rhode Island, USA. Her work touches on politics, and beauty. Her interview with The Unfinished Print cane be found, here. Annie's work can be found, here.

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 on mokuhanga. Her interview with The Unfinished Print can be found, here

Zea Mays Workshop  - is a printmaking workshop located in Florence, Massachusetts, USA. They conduct in person and online workshops, as well as tutorials and private lessons for many types of printmaking. More info, here
temari - (手まり) is a Japanese folk art where balls are embroidered with different types of decorations. They are used as toys, gifts, games, or for collection. More info can be found about this delightful craft, here. For Karen Pittman’s temari balls, you can find them here
two point perspective - also known as linear perspective, is a drawing style which creates a 3D perspective on a two dimensional surface. It is one point of the three points of perspective. One point perspective is where the vanishing point is on the horizon line, and three point perspective is where three points are on the horizon line. The above information is found on The Virtual Instructor, by Matt Fussell, where all points are discussed in detail. 
Naoshima (直島) - is a an island and part of an archipelago of islands located between Shikoku and Honshu islands in Japan. It is known for its comteporary art galleries, fishing, and nature tourism. More info, here
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).
Emil Orlick (1870-1932) - 日本の刷り師 (1901)
Yoshida Family of Artists - The Yoshida’s are one of the most famous family of artists from Japan. Begun with painter Yoshida Kasaburō (1861-1894), made famous by Yoshida Hiroshi (1876-1950) and his work with woodblock printing. The Yoshida family has helped shape many artists around the world. More info from the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, here.
Tōshi Yoshida (1911-1995) - 白塀 (Shirobei)
Studio Ghibli - (株式会社スタジオジブリ)  is an animation production house based in Tōkyō, Japan. The studio was founded in 1985 by Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata (1935-2018), and Toshio Suzuki. It has a long line of animated films which have influenced artists, and animators around the world. One such film is Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫) an historical fantasy taking place during the Muromachi Period (1336-1573 CE) of Japan. It is a fantasy story based on the relationship between nature, gods, and man. More info can be found here for Ghibli. 
David Bull - is a Canadian woodblock printmaker, and educator who lives and works in Japan. His love of mokuhanga has almost singlehandedly promoted the art form around the world. His company, Mokuhankan, has a brick and mortar store in Asakusa, Tōkyō, and online, here
The Seacoast in Autumn from the My Solitudes Series (2007-2009)
Mokuhankan  - is a brick and mortar woodblock print shop located in Asakusa, Tōkyō. It is a learning and working space, where it sells the works of artist Jed Henry, master carvers of the past, and various print series. All are printed and carved by Mokuhankan printmakers and carvers. Started by printmaker David Bull as a way to sell his own series and reprints of old carvers of the past, Mokuhankan has grown exponentially over the years and is a must visit when coming to Tōkyō. More info, here
Awagami Mini Print Exhibtion - is a an exhibiton sponsored by the Awagami Factory. Awagami is a company which produces washi in Tokushima, Shikoku, Japan. This exhibtion, focuses on small size prints. More info can be found, here.
Cameron Hilker - was an employee at Mokuhankan from 2017-2022. Cameron worked at Mokuhankan as the Businnes Operations and Social Media Marketing Manager. His interview with The Unfinished Print, can be found, here
Asakusa, Tōkyō - is a vibrant and exciting part of the metropolis of Tōkyō. It is rich with history, and rich in the tradition of entertainment, theatre, and religion. Today, Asakusa is known for it’s temple system, with Sensō-ji as its centrepiece. Shopping, within the Nakamise, leading you from Kaminarimon to Sensō-ji, you are surrounded by so many opportunities to spend your money, it’s quite the experience. You can also go to Kappa-bashi, where you can shop for kitchen-ware and random tchochke’s. More information can be found at 
Don Quijote - (株式会社ドン・キホーテ)  founded in 1989, Don Quijote is a chain of department stores located throughout Japan, parts of Asia and The United States. As a discount realtor, Don Quijote caters to tourists and locals who want a good price. More info can be found on their website, here
Daiso - (株式会社大創産業)  founded in 1977, Daiso is a discount realtor based in Japan but with outlets throughout the world. While known for being “the 100 Yen shop", Daiso sells a variety of items at different price points.  More info, here
Fabiola Gil Alares - is a mokuhanga artist and business person who lives and works in Spain. Her book on mokuhanga, Mokuhanga: Manual Ilustrado de Xilografia Japonesa, has become one of the go to books about mokuhanga, in any language. Her interview with The Unfinished Print can be found, here. Her website can be found, here
Print which Karen helped to print when working at Mokuhankan.
Owl In Moonlight (みみずくのうたた寝)printed by Mokuhankan. Based on a print by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858)
Shin-Torinoko paper - is a mass produced, machine made Japanese paper that is relatively inexpensive. It comes in various weights and colours. More info can be found, here
Kitaro Japanese Paper Company -  founded in 1872, Kitaro focuses on making high quality Japanese washi in Fukui Prefecture.  More info, 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. 
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. The interview with the Unfinished Print with Daniel Jasa of McClain’s can be found, here.
mudabori - "waste carving" is a technique in mokuhanga which involves the artist carving away any unwanted wood deemed unecessary for their finished print. These can be guides, as to where the colour blocks will be carved, and then carved away later after it has served its purpose.  More info can be found over at Mokuhankan, here.
Edo Period (1603-1868 CE) pigments for mokuhanga - during the Edo Period, mixing four or five colours was common as they were mineral and vegetal pigments, which could last a long time. According to Japanese Print-Making by Tōshi Yoshida, the best colours to use for their steadfastness was sumi (black ink), gofun (shell powder), shu (Chinese vermillion), kuchinashi (jasmine/gardenia yellow), ai (indigo), and taisha (red ochre).
John Amoss of Tanuki Prints in Georgia, has written and produced a video of some of his work with Mokuhankan, and his experience grinding traditional pigments with their team. You can find that, here. From David Bull’s there is a posting about preparing powdered pigments in the traditional method, here. My interview with John Amoss can be found, here
Morning Tree by John Amoss (2022)
Winsor & Newton - is a British artist supply company, started in 1832,  which sells artist materials such as pigments, brushes, paper, etc. More info can be found, here
Print Austin -  is an annual printmaking expo in Austin, Texas where artists of all different types of printmaking come and show their work. As Karen says in her interview, there are workshops, classes and interactive modules. More info can be found, here
New Leaf Gallery - is a relief print focused gallery located in Wybridge, Vermont, USA. More info can be found, here
Cormark International - is an international supplier of exotic woods, and are based in South Africa. More info, here
Ocooch Hardwoods - is a wood supplier based in Wisconsin. More info can be found, here
© Popular Wheat Productions

opening and closing musical credit - One Love (LG Main remix) from From Illmatic to Stillmatic: The Remixes (2002)

logo designed and produced by Douglas Batchelor and André Zadorozny 

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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.***