Technology and techniques of Edo woodblock prints
The following is what craftsperson are doing to make Edo woodblock prints.
Craftsperson who draws Shitae (preliminary drawing) is called Eshi. Utamaro Kitagawa, Sharaku Toshusai, Hokusai Katsushika, and Hiroshige Utagawa are the famous Ukiyo-e Eshi of Edo.
Currently, there are no craftsperson who make a living as a Eshi (painters), but we are reproducting painting of new artists and animations or comtenporary artworks with using the traditional techniques of Edo woodblock prints ambitiously.
The primary drawing which is painted by Eshi (painters) is passed to Horishi (carvers) who carves woodblocks for each color with using Kogatana (knife) and Nomi (chisel). Since one woodblock will need for each color, Horishi (carvers) might carve 5 to 20 woodblocks.
After carving all the woodblocks, these are entrusted to the printer for the next process.
Surishi (printers) print colors in order, starting with the woodblock of smallest colored area and lightest color.
Put the pigment on the woodblock, spread this pigment with Hake (brush), place the paper according to Kento (carved marks in woodblock) which will prevent the pattern from shifting, and print. Complete the work by printing colors from a dozen to 30 times.
Depending on the finish effect, there are various techniques that make full use of Baren (rubbing pad).
“Bokashi (blur)”that creates a gradation on the woodblock with water, paint, and glue, and expresses shades accurately only with the sense of a Surishi (printers).
“Karazuri” and “Kimedashi” that makes the paper uneven, with rubbing the paper which placed directly on the woodblock without pigment.
These unique techniques of Edo woodblock prints are the opportunity for Surishi (printers) to show their skills.