No, I haven’t stuck myself again – this one is muscle strain from a few hours with the carving tools. I’m working on the largest, most complex block so far – katsura, designed to print onto A4 paper.
But still, I’m most of the way through the final pass. It takes more or less four, after the design’s been drawn on – first I cut out the gutter around the edge, and neaten up the outside edge of the printing area. Then I scoop out the white areas with the komasuki (U-shaped gouge – 5mm and 3mm depending on the size of the area) and/or the kentonmi (registration chisel – a standard straight-edged flat chisel. This is very much not what it’s intended for) and after that go around again with the komasuki to deepen the holes and neaten up the edges a little. The final pass is with the sankakuto (ninety-degree V-shaped gouge – an amazingly useful combination of chisel and scoop) to neaten up the edges properly and eliminate as many random splinters and inappropriate angles as possible. It’s also particularly good for steepening the cutouts, which is good for this one because I want clear white areas without cut marks this time.
I have only a rough idea what the final product is going to look like at this stage – well, obviously I know where all the lines are supposed to go on the macro-scale, but on the millimetre scale it could do almost anything, and that’s one of the things I particularly like about printmaking. It almost completely sidelines my natural fussy-perfectionist tendency, and leaves the print with an unpredictable vitality.