Workshop with Annie Bissett


July, 2020

Limited to 12


Why Mokuhanga – the big points: requires very small workspace, small select number of tools, prints with a baren, uses replenishable wood products, needs none of the intense or stationary equipment of western printmaking – including a printing press, can be editioned or printed to create endless interpretations, offers control over color and tones, capable of delicate detail, works equally well for small and large prints, suitable to a wide range of papers, while a historic process it easily adapts to contemporary statement, might just be the most environmentally friendly printmaking process.

The Japanese method of multicolor woodblock printing (mokuhanga), with its use of brushes and watercolors and hand pressure, is both simple and complex. The simplicity lies in the ease with which one can get create an image. A knife, some wood, a few tubes of paint, a stiff brush, some paper, water, and a tool for hand burnishing is all that’s needed to make a mokuhanga print. Complexity comes by way of diverse tonal application of colors and impressionistic printing. It’s low tech, portable, and can be practiced at home or almost anywhere. It’s nontoxic, fume free, easy to clean up, and easy to put down and pick back up.

But these simple tools and practices belie the complexities of the process. The way that waterborne pigments behave on a piece of wood, the intricacies of carving, knowing exactly how much water is needed to create a strong impression, discovering how various papers receive color, and learning myriad special techniques that were developed over many centuries. Like many art forms, these can take years to truly master but can draw you in with your first attempt. This five-day, beautifully paced workshop will allow participants to delve deeply into this rich traditional art form, offering time to begin to develop the sensitivity to materials that is essential to using the technique successfully.

The workshop will touch on all aspects of the process: transferring images to woodblocks, carving with Japanese tools, using the Kento registration system, and printing with brushes and a baren. Participants will also learn a few of the printing techniques particular to the Japanese method, especially how to create a bokashi (gradation) and how to create and control printed textures. Open to beginners as well as people who have already done some mokuhanga and want to refine their practice.

Annie Bissett is a mostly self-taught artist who has been working primarily with mokuhanga since 2005 when she studied briefly with New Hampshire woodblock artist Matt Brown. Annie’s print work builds on her 25+ year career as a freelance digital illustrator, serving a national clientele that has included Time-Life Publications, National Geographic Society, American Express, and the Wall Street Journal. Her woodblock prints have been exhibited throughout the United States and in Japan, Canada, and the U.K.

Gallery of Anne’s prints.

What’s Included

Woodblock supplies included in your studio fee:
  • 2 wood 8 x 10 shina woodblocks, both sides are usable
  • Japanese paper – 2 large sheets of kozuke to tear down (makes 8 print size per full sheet), additional kozuke will be available for purchase.
  • Color, paste, miscellaneous supplies
  • Loan of brushes and barens, some cutting tools
  • Note your General Studio Fee is used to provide an extensive array of relevant shop needs, including: ink, ink knives, modifiers, cleaning supplies, paper towels and rags, tarlatan, newsprint, mat knives, aprons, some drawing acetates, india ink, and a thorough list of other communal creative print shop needs. What is not covered by your fees are additional printing papers and other non-communal printing supplies.

What to Bring

The following additional items will be useful for class:
  • Pencils and good erasers
  • Ruler (clear, if possible)    
  • Drawing tools, pens, brushes, whatever you usually use to draw
  • Tracing paper
  • Images, either drawings or photocopies approximately 7×9”
  • Carving tools, consider the following:
    • Power Grip 5-tool set: about $60 from Japan Woodworker or Rockler
    • Professional Japanese cutting tools such as found at McClain’s Printmaking.
  • Other tools to consider (we will have enough basic versions for course on hand:
    • Barens: $50 white plastic disk baren; $200 murasaki baren from McClain’s
  • Brushes: Surikomi Bake, stencil Brushes from McClain’s. Prices vary depending on size.
  • Feel free to bring your own papers to try if you have them on hand, as well as previously carved blocks that you might want to work with.

That’s it! Any questions about supplies, please feel free to contact us.

Workshop Itinerary

  • Monday morning begins with students arriving at the studio between 9:30-10 AM.
  • Daily instruction is 10 AM to 4 PM with the studio open to students between 9:30 AM and 7 PM. Exception is Friday when the workshop ends at 4 PM.
  • Bring a lunch everyday except Tuesday when we go out Dutch for a late lunch
  • Thursday night we host a dinner in our courtyard. Companion welcome.