Page:Japanese Wood Engravings.djvu/82

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JAPANESE WOOD ENGRAVINGS

titution, with a learned introduction and notes by Mr. S. R. Koehler.[1] It is chiefly from these sources that the following facts have been collated.

The Wood ordinarily employed is that of a variety of cherry, but Tsugi, a variety of Buxus Japonicus; or Adsusa, the Katalpa Kæmpferi, var. Japonica, may be used instead. The planks, when planed, are about three-quarters of an inch thick, and in order to prevent them from warping or cracking they are sometimes strengthened by cross pieces attached to each end, unless the wood is thoroughly seasoned.

The Tools.—(1) A single knife, with which the engraver executes all kinds of work, with a blade of an inch to an inch and a half in length, and in shape not unlike a penknife, but more deeply cut near the point. The blade is fixed in a round wooden handle about three inches long.

(2) Chisels and gouges of various shapes, some to supplement the knife and used in the same manner, others to remove unsatisfactory parts for plugging. Five chisels and eight gouges form the usual outfit (Fig. 35.).

(3) A ruler for cutting straight lines and for fixing the registering marks in the planks used in colour-printing (Fig. 35, No. 1).

(4) A brush for clearing away the chips detached by the cutting tools, shaped somewhat like a nailbrush (Fig. 35, No. 17).

(5) Wooden mallets for driving the chisels.

(6) Grind stones for the cutting tools.

Oil of Sesamum Orientale is used to rub into the plank to be engraved, and so to make the cutting easier and cleaner.

In his manipulation the woodcutter holds the knife in his right hand, and pushing the back of it with the middle finger of his left hand, first cuts around all the lines of the design, following the direction of the original brush strokes. He next removes the wood between the lines by the chisels, so as to leave the lines themselves in relief. The surface is then cleaned and washed by a small brush, and a proof is taken. Mr. Koehler points out that the method of holding the tool represented in Jost Amman's Beschreibung aller Stände, published in Frankfort in 1568, corresponds closely to that of the Japanese engraver, except that the European does not seem to have used his left hand in guiding the tool.

  1. Japanese Wood Cutting and Woodcut Printing, by T. Tokuno, edited by S. R Kochler. Washington, 1894.