Join us for our annual Tacoma open studio!
October 12 - 13
11am - 5pm
2515 B South Tacoma Way
Tacoma, WA 98409
Come carve your own linoleum block, enjoy sale items, and participate in printing demos!
We're part of the Tacoma Open Studio Tour. Our studio is Stop #9 on the studio tour map.
As I board the plane to attend the 32nd Arts & Crafts Conference at Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC, I’m in disbelief that I’ve been exhibiting at this event for over twenty years!?!? But no surprise there when I see my ever-increasing gray hair.
Some of you asked me recently whether I get tired of making a blockprint. It’s really a good question and so I’ve been giving it a thought or two.
And I have to say I do NOT get tired of this art and craft. Technically I’m about half way from where I want to be. I still want to master more skills in carving and printing. Artistically I have many more subjects I want to work on.
The new “Waterlilies” triptych is a perfect example of my continuing exploration. I did make a Koi Pond print over ten years ago based on my memories from my childhood in northern Japan. I liked the Koi print then. Yet I still wanted to work on it again, this time with more fish, with waterlilies, with more mysterious dark ripples where these brilliantly-colored fish hide.
Like Claude Monet‘s obsession with his lily ponds I’m fascinated by the interplay between the light and the dark, — the seen and the unseen. In the dark murky water, the memories remain in my subconscious. But occasionally an image or two comes to the surface with such clarity and light. Where there’s darkness, a shadow, we cherish life’s fleeting brilliance.
And that’s why I still make prints, trying to capture this sense of living, after twenty-some years.
Celebrate the holidays & join us for our annual Holiday Sale and Open House for last minute holiday gifts and extra sale items and a print your own Holiday Coaster / Ornament printing demo!
11am - 5pm
(Please note that the date has changed from what was previously advertised!)
The Arts & Crafts Press
2515 B South Tacoma Way
Tacoma, WA 98406
My planning for the Molokai illustration project for Patagonia Press is shaping up as I write this. The assignment is to create a dozen woodblock print illustrations for the book Paddling My Own Canoe, written by Audrey Sutherland decades ago.
I really like the book personally. Each page comes alive with her amazing adventure stories, her unbelievable stamina and resolve, her keen observations, and her yearnings as one woman to make these dangerous swimming and canoeing voyages to hula'ana (a Hawaiian term for a place where it is necessary to swim past a cliff that blocks passage along the coast, a sheer cliff where the sea beats), all alone in the 1960s.
This morning I finished re-reading and highlighting all the locations where she traveled and the keywords in her book. I've been making notes of the Hawaiian names of trees, flowers, and birds that I've never heard before I started working on this book project.
Putting the book down, I called up and talked with Mr. Walter Naki, the native local fisherman who is said to be the only person that can take me to the impenetrable northeast coast of Molokai. I've been staring at his name for a few weeks now.
"I realize that the ocean is really rough and wind fierce, it's not safe to go there in winter, but the deadline for the illustration project is March or April, so I need to ask you if you can take me to the northeast coast in January," I asked Mr. Naki over the phone in one breath. Most of the charter boats and fishermen won't take you to the north coast during winter month.
All my hope was in this man saying yes this morning.
I quickly added, "I'll be in Molokai for a week and won't schedule anything else with the hope that one of the days will be sunny or the ocean calmer. . ."
"Yes we can do that," Mr. Naki answered simply. “You have a week? From 12th through 18th. . .that's really 6 days. But yes, I think so. We can do that." He was matter of fact and reassuring.
Then I started worrying. I love to swim, but I'm more of an urban swimmer. . . And Molokai's north coast is no tropical paradise that one might expect from all other Hawaian islands with sunny sandy beaches, turquoise ocean, and palm trees. I'm nothing like Audrey Sutherland or Mr. Naki who is comfortable swimming in the rough ocean like the north coast of Molokai. I love the ocean, but at the same time the idea of the infinite depth of dark Molokai ocean scares me.
In just a few weeks with Mr. Naki at the stern on his boat, I'll be witnessing and seeing what Audrey saw over 50 years ago. It's an assignment of rare opportunity.
But let's rewind and face the reality. I might get seasick on Mr. Naki's boat. My sketch book might get wet and ruined by the sea sprays. I might drop my cellphone (my camera devise) into the deep ocean. . . We may not get a clear calm day and may not be able to venture out to the sea while I’m in Molokai. Many unspoken fears are circling in my head.
Then there’s excitement I'm craving to be there, to feel the breeze of the trade winds from the north. I want to feel the water and the mist from the legendary tall waterfalls. I want to see the tallest sea cliffs in Hawaii and figure out the best ways to convey its grandeur. I want to smell the sweet fragrance of wild ginger flowers, to see the colors of the sunset and examine the intense ultramarine blue of the ocean in Molokai.
After all it has to start with the experiences. My woodblock printing is a very slow, measured work process, unlike the fast-paced adventures on Molokai. From sketching, carving blocks, to printing with inks, it's simply slow and laborious. But all this slow studio work has to start with a real experience - sometimes short, ephemeral and fleeting - whether it be the warm sunlight over the sycamore trees or the milky fog over a canyon.
As Audrey Sutherland sought for the authentic experiences in Molokai half a century ago, I'll be searching for "the authentic" as artist and block printer. I know that the challenges are ahead and so the excitement and worries are whirling in my head.
It's December 10th, 2017 today, one month until I fly to Molokai. I am sitting here at my cozy house in Tacoma, Washington, with Molokai on my mind.
We love to work local and support local! As a proud member of the Tacoma's artisanal businesses, I'll be setting up a small pop-up display of our letterpress cards, blockprints, and our brand-new tea towels at Stocklist (1730 Pacific Avenue Downtown Tacoma, Wa 98402). There will be over 20 local makers and vendors packed in this wonderful store. Here is the details of the event. Come by & say hi!
As you might know, we use various antique letterpress printing presses made between the 1890s and the 1960s for making our note cards and prints. We pamper them daily, cleaning and oiling to ensure smooth and long-term operation.
"Baren-making" session with Mr. Goto in Tokyo today. The traditional Japanese burnishing tool for ukiyo-e prints is called "baren" and Mr. Goto is the only professional baren-maker alive today in Japan who makes the authentic baren. I learned to replace the outer bamboo covering from Mr. Goto who owns his own mountain to cultivate this particular type of bamboo used for this tool. Now I know how to replace the tattered bamboo coverings on my "baren"!!! I also enjoyed my visit with Mr. Matsumura at Woodlike Matsumura shop and learned more about various woodblock printing tools. . . So much to learn as always!!!