The Japanese Woodblock Print:
The process of creating a traditional Japanese woodblock print begins with the artist’s sketch, usually made with pencil, Sumi ink, and watercolor. The sketch is then glued onto a wooden block upside down so that when the block is printed, the image will have the same orientation as the original sketch. Specialized cutting tools are used to cut away wood, leaving areas that will not hold color; the uncut areas are inked with a dense, horsehair brush to produce the image. Using a circular hand-held pad called a baren, the artist creates a print by rubbing the back of a piece of dampened paper that has been placed over the inked block. The ink is transferred to the paper, and the print is complete. Most Japanese woodblock prints are multicolored, and each color requires another wooden block to be carved, inked, and layered onto the initial key image.