The Geisha Series: “The Process” Photos

This is the second reduction woodcut in my series of (hopefully) 13 pieces. Each piece I hope to capture some symbolic aspect of either traditional Japanese or Geisha culture. This first piece since starting this adventure was the one I got inspired by a blanket.

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With woodcuts you have to design your piece with care. Each color you add must be thought through and placed in the correct order. Think about this, every time you add a color, you add  a layer of ink on top of the previous layer. So, if you have a light pink color and a medium green color, the pink must be placed first so you get the brightest pink possible. Start light then go dark. Don’t go too dark too fast.

There are many “rules” that must be followed when doing reduction woodcuts and sometimes it is difficult to figure everything out. But, with practice, it gets easier.

My first layer, being the lightest in my design, was yellow.

Yellow Layer PrintedYellow Wood Block

My next lightest color: Orange, Layer 2

Printed Layer 2Orange Wood Block

Layer 3: Light Blue

Light BlueLight Blue Wood Block

Layer 4: Light Green

Unfortunately, in my excitement, I forgot to photograph my green layer 😦

Light Green Wood Block

Layer 5: Red (The layer in which the print turns from playful and child-like to mature and striking…)

Red Layer PrintRed Layer Wood Block

Layer 6: Purple

The process explained =

Purple Ink Rolled Up

Ink gets rolled out on a giant slab of glass, the rubber roller is about 20 inches long and 5 or 6 inches in diameter (it’s freaking heavy)

The block gets inked up, a few runs each direction (up, down, across, diagonal)

The block gets inked up, a few runs each direction (up, down, across, diagonal)

The press I use to print

The press I use to print

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I started with 132014-02-11 19.11.08

Purple Layer


Ready for the next color

Ready for the next color

Maroon would be my 7th layer:

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Details in the pattern, notice the lines are maroon as well

A dark navy would serve as my second to last color, but once again I jumped the gun and forgot to take a photo of the print once it was navy-fied…here’s the block, ready to be printed, before I added the ink…

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Closer details (kept for the black “key”)

Even though I was unable to get the actual print, you can see the color from this photo as I carve out for my final layer…

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Black key is ready

When it’s all said and done, I can say that I am very satisfied on how it turned out 🙂

I started with 13 prints, my final edition size is now at 10. This is due to the fact that as I printed, I had a few prints that didn’t come out the way I wanted them to, mostly it was because there was not enough ink in places…but I can’t go back and fix these mistakes because it is a reduction print. In a way though, that’s what makes this process so fun.

I think I enjoy this medium the most because I am able to see my progress every single time I run it through the press and carve a new layer. In other mediums there isn’t so much of that instant satisfaction. And at the same time, as the layers keep adding up, the more detail you are able to accomplish. Not only that, but even if you mess up a layer with uneven inking (but it can still be covered up for the most part), it gives the whole image an interesting effect (for example, look at the red layer in the kimono (on the left), it’s super grainy and didn’t have enough ink so you can see a little of the blue showing through. I think that’s pretty cool. It proves that it was a print, and not a painting or photo.).

Final product

Final product

This is the process of a reduction wood cut in a nutshell…! I thoroughly enjoy doing my art and I love when others can enjoy it too ^__^

One thought on “The Geisha Series: “The Process” Photos

  1. Hey Alyssa! What meticulous work you must’ve put into these prints! Very cool, completely different from painting, even though they look like paintings to undiscerning eyes like mine :p Keep up the good work!

    Evil twin Jun

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