Relief Printing on Washi

Relief printing, which today includes woodcut, linocut, hand set type (letterpress), rubber stamps etc., is the oldest printing method and is extremely well-suited to using washi, especially when hand printing as the image can easily be seen through the back without lifting.


Tips and Things to Consider

· if you dampen your paper do so by misting or placing between layers of dampened newsprint in a damp pack (should be done several hours ahead)

· a carrier sheet can be useful when working with dampened washi, esp. larger sheets

· many papers print well without dampening, especially gampi

· ink can go right through thinner papers when printing – consider printing with a layer of newsprint behind to protect baren or press

· thinner papers dry out quickly – print with first layer of newsprint dampened as well as impression paper and an additional dry newsprint layer will allow baren to glide more easily

· when choosing inks be aware of the method of drying for that brand: inks that rely on absorption are best avoided when printing on thinner papers. The use of drying additives may be advised

Paper Suggestions

Most types of washi will work – though kozo is strongest when printing with a press –  slightly heavier papers are often preferred including those with some wood pulp content

Excellent mid-grade papers
Kozuke White
Kozuke Ivory  (sized)
Risoh (unsized) for proofing
Kiraku Kozo
Iwami Natural
Iwami White
Uwa Senka

Best quality papers
Inshu Kozo

Don't discount using thin papers – great results can be achieved with some extra care.

Artist Precedents

Brian Kelley (contemporary)

Shiko Munakata
Japanese woodblock artist who coloured his prints from the back

Walter J Phillips (1884 - 1963) Canadian woodblock artist


Image provided by The Japanese Paper Place  ·  Artist Brian Kelly  ·  Title Game  ·  Woodcut

All information courtesy of The Japanese Paper Place
Reproduction by permission only