Friday, December 27, 2013

Going Bananas with Printing

Woo hoo!  Christmas holidays, time for some creative play in the studio.....

Today's fun has been printing with the trunk of a banana tree.

Floss (my ever reliable garden fairy) has given me a wonderful Christmas present in the form of a banana tree trunk, which I have sliced up.  I use the cross sections of the trunk to do hand printing using a roller and block printing ink.  It has the most wonderful pattern that gives me goose-bumps every time, a beautiful natural design.

I'm going to create a solar etchng plate from one of the prints, so that I can reproduce the print multiple times for book covers and other goodies that I create. 

The slices of banana trunk
My roller and black Block Printing ink
One of the beautiful prints, its
like the inside of a shell

A close up of the banana trunk cross section,
fleshy and fibrous - no wonder it makes
great paper and material for baskets!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Creative Experiences in Japan

This week I've just returned from my 5th trip to Japan.  My partner Craig and I share a passion for all things Japanese, though after 2 weeks in a concrete jungle I'm very grateful for my beautiful house and garden!

This time we spent most of our holiday in Kyoto.  We first visited Kyoto for a couple of days back on our first trip in 2001.  This time I wanted to fully explore Kyoto's reputation as the creative centre of Japan.

I wasn't disappointed.  Prior to the trip, I had organised several guides to act as interpreters to help us to connect with the Japanese culture and arts.

With the assistance of  our guide Takano-san, we participated in a number of art 'experiences' - paper lantern making, woodblock printing, shibori dyeing and basket making. 

Mitsuhara took us to a popular temple area with beautiful autumn leaves. 

Chizuko took us through the Nishiki markets and gave us a cooking lesson in her apartment.

Such personal 'hands-on' experiences with English-speaking guides enriched our holiday, although we still had plenty of time to indulge in our favourite activites in Japan - hot onsens, eating Japanese food, and filling my suitcase (and Craig's) with washi paper!

Autumn Leaf reflections

Fallen autumn leaves carpet the temple gardens

Saiundo Fujimoto's shop caters for traditional
Japanese brush painting

Basket making with Takano-san (our guide), and

The finshed basket made from bamboo
Shibori dyeing - the director of the Shibori museum
likes to personally help you reveal your dyed scarf!

Paper Lantern making

Finished lanterns at the Akari Design Workshop

Trying traditional woodblock printing
with artist Ichimura - awesome!

Ichimura is printing labels for sushi products.
Amazing that its done by hand, several blocks & colours
rather than printed by machine.

Getting refreshments at a vending machine
during one of our cycling adventures around Kyoto

Not too sure about these sandwiches - strawberry and banana!

My new favourite store - Bumpodo Art Supplies in Tokyo

Woodblock carving tools, only part of the range available

Etching Inks, Bumpodo's own brand.  Great value and
quality.  I bought some of these last year in Osaka and
am very happy with them, so I stocked up this time,
20% off as well!

2nd hand bookstore. 
I bought some vintage books with
beautiful papers and text.