birch trees, japanese woodblock print

Japanese woodblock printing uses watercolour washes mixed with rice paste as a printing medium, and I have always want to learn more about it. I was delighted to have the opportunity to spend the day at a workshop led by the very talented printmaker and inspirational teacher, Laura Boswell.

Click on the link to see her website where there’s a gallery of her wonderful work and more about the printing techniques she uses.

using a sketch in my sketchbook as the basis for the print

using one of my sketches as the basis for the printing block*


using Japanese cutting tools on plywood to cut two printing blocks; foreground and background*

cutting detail

cutting detail*

watercolour painted onto the block, ready to print

thin watercolour washes painted onto a block, ready to print


further washes on the birch trees (left), and background (right), ready to print

Repeated registering and printing on dampened paper builds up colour and texture. Although the plate is a lot harder to carve than a linocut, the watercolour and rice paste are slightly adhesive, so printing by hand with a baren onto dampened paper is very straightforward. The results are very subtle.

the finished print

the finished print on lining paper

If you live in the UK, I highly recommend this workshop. Laura took 12 people who have never printed in this way before through designing, transferring, cutting multiple blocks, how to register the blocks accurately and multi-layered printing, all in 6 hours, as well as talking about the cultural context and her own working practice along the way.

AND everyone left the workshop with a finished print, brimful of ideas and inspiration.

*photos from Wolverhampton Embroiders Guild

4 thoughts on “birch trees, japanese woodblock print

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