Ma’arui Hiroba: Meet the Artists IV

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As an artist who used to do mainly printmaking, this post is all about the prints! It is too bad that I do not have photos of the printmakers, but I do have many photos of their prints.

etching by Yamada Hiroko
Etching by Hiroko Yamada

I met Hiroko Yamada earlier in the week but I sadly did not take her picture then. I had not yet had the idea to take a picture of people with their art. Too bad! She generously gave us time and talked about her etchings.

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Etching by Hiroko Yamada

If you have ever tried to print an etching, you know that you wet the paper to help it fit into the grooves and valleys of lines that you have etched into the copperplate. This paper was handmade of bits and pieces of recycled paper and it had no sizing to hold the pieces together if wet. Oriental papers, like Japanese washi, can sometimes be too delicate to print on, but even they are usually stronger than this paper was. It disintegrated into pieces if it got wet. Yamada found that out the hard way.

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Etching by Hiroko Yamada

Her solution resembled what a printmaker might do with a woodblock printed in the traditional Japanese way. She dabbed it with a sponge and then printed it. She did not seem to find her method as unorthodox as I did. My training is different and perhaps more Western in style. I would have soaked a sheet of regular paper and placed it behind the delicate sheet. Both methods have pros and cons. With the sponge, you have to worry that the paper is too dry and too brittle to fit into the grooves. With my method, you have to worry that they paper is too thick to press into the grooves for concise lines. her method obviously worked, because those delicate lines are clearly visible in most parts of the prints.

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Etching by Hiroko Yamada

The colour? No, that is not part of the etching plate. She used another technique common to woodblock prints and painted in colour on the back of the print. The paint or ink bleeds through so it can be seen from the front. Shiko Munakata used this technique on many of his relief prints. Because each print is different from the other with the added colour, these are monoprints. This does not affect the pricing or quality of the print in any way. It is just one of many techniques that printmakers use to get the results they want.

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Yukio Kakuta

This relief print by Yukio Kakuta shows the festivities at a special event at Ma’arui Hiroba. Such events are called festivals and serve as open houses at schools, corporations, and other places. Lots of people seem to be coming and going, but I am not sure what they are doing. Is that a chef wearing his tall white hat in the foreground?

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Yukio Kakuta

This is the monorail as you see it downtown in Chiba City. These would make great souvenirs for tourists or presents from residents of Chiba.

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Yukio Kakuta

i do not know much about Chiba and what happens there, but this seems to be a picture of an event held in May.

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Yukio Kakuta

This is another print in Kakuta’s Chiba monorail series. For 1500 yen each (less than $15), you could easily afford to buy two to hang on your wall. Perhaps because of the paper being used, editions did not seem to be available. These were all not numbered. On the other hand, Japanese printmakers do not traditionally print editions. It all gets rather complicated, doesn’t it? Buy it if you like it and think it is a good price. Do not worry about it otherwise.

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Maromi Hiaki’s pieces are also on my shopping list for the future when I get more shelf space. In this close-up, you can see the etched lines in the paper.

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Hiaki used her etchings to make figurines of horses or greyhounds. I am not sure what exactly they are and not knowing does not make them any less appealing. I assume that the paper is the same that everybody else used. If so, this was an amazing amount of work. Do you remember what I wrote about how hard it is to wet this paper for printing? A sewing machine would have been easy to use to stitch the seams, but she would have had to sew the button on herself. Paper is stiff and surprisingly difficult to sew. Even with a sewing machine, it might have been difficult. Did the paper tear easily under the treadle foot?

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Are those the legs of centaurs? Does that mean these are horses?

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These were also a bargain at approximately 2000 yen I think. Japanese houses lack shelving for display though. It is too bad. I can easily imagine how popular these would be at a craft show in North America.

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These have made me more curious about her regular style of artwork. I am eager to see more. What do you think?

Care to come in from the outside for a nice chat?