Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kit Eastman / Annie Bissett

Two American artists who, working separately, have each adapted traditional Japanese techniques for use in their work.

First, Kit Eastman of Silver Minnow, who uses the stencil-printing method known as katazome, as in this splendid egret, who seems to be taking an avid interest in the minnows swimming in the margins:

Below is the original stencil:

As I understand it, the katazome technique (see my earlier post) makes use of a paste that resists pigment. As Eastman explains the process, "the open areas of the stencil allow the rice paste to flow through. The brown paper masks the fabric, so these areas will eventually be dyed with a variety of pigments."

The method can be applied to a variety of surfaces, usually cloth or paper. Of her adoption of katazome she writes:
I feel I have at last come home — this technique suits my sensibilities in so many ways. With textile art and craft, there are often periods of waiting due to the requirements of the materials. This rhythm draws me deeper into the work. I find myself contemplating the idea of time, as measured in natural cycles, including my own experience.
The woodblock print below, by Annie Bissett, depicts Dorothy Bradford, a Mayflower pilgrim who fell -- or leaped -- to her death in Provincetown Harbor in 1620, and is part of a group of works entitled We Are Pilgrims.

Click through to read the inscription, which seems to be based on the original account of the incident as recorded by Cotton Mather.

(I'm afraid the colors of this image are not coming through very faithfully here; try this link to the original.)

Bissett describes the technique she employs:
I use the traditional Japanese method, called moku hanga or ukiyo-e, where a block is carved for each color and then the blocks are printed successively with water-based pigments using a hand-held burnishing tool. This time-consuming and somewhat arduous process (a single print edition can take two to three months to complete) has become a welcome counterbalance to the fast-paced, deadline-driven digital work I've done for 20+ years as a commercial artist.
There is a fuller explanation of moku hanga on Bissett's blog, Woodblock Dreams.


Kit said...

Hello again, Chris! I'm touched that you wrote a post featuring my work along with Annie Bissett! I'm nuts about her work! Many thanks!

Chris said...

You're welcome, Kit. My pleasure.