You don't need to be a professional Artist to learn and enjoy mokuhanga. Anyone can learn and enjoy the fulfilling experience of producing their own original woodblock print.
In Japan people from all walks of life have learnt and still make mokuhanga for their own enjoyment, from schoolchildren, to hobbyists, to professional artists.
The traditional Japanese woodblock printing technique is highly versatile, environmentally friendly and inherently beautiful. In our courses you will learn to create your own multi-colour, multi-block print using the traditional registration system and carving and printing techniques.
Mokuhanga is also a diverse and flexible medium for professional artists to add to their skills or even to focus on as a professional printmaker. We believe it should be the medium of choice for eco-conscious printmakers throughout the world and we want to share our knowledge with Australia's creative people through our school and courses.
Find out about courses near you where you can enrol and join the thousands of creative people throughout the world discovering and using these environmentally friendly techniques to create beautiful art.
Courses are listed below, or click the menu link to go to the Courses page.
Detail of traditional print "Haru Nano Higashi Genji" by Kunichika Toyohara
Mokuhanga is the traditional water based printing technique, originating in China and perfected in Japan.
A print is created through design, carving blocks for each colour, then printing each colour successively until the print edition is completed.
Mokuhanga is the Japanese word for wood block print. The Japanese characters 木版画 are 木 wood, 版 block and 画 picture.
In Japan its meaning is the print itself, but in general contemporary use it means both the print and the technique. Mokuhanga is growing in popularity worldwide as learning becomes more accessible to people outside of Japan.
Mokuhanga is chemical free, non-toxic, environmentally friendly, uses relatively simple hand tools and equipment and requires little space to produce beautiful work. The natural beauty of the materials - wood, pigment and hand-made paper are all retained and enhance each other. A great choice for Artists or any creative person!
Yes! Our aim is to make Mokuhanga popular and accessible in Australia, so we would like to run as many courses as we can. This means repeating workshops and weekly courses. If you can't make an already scheduled weekend or weekly time, keep in touch by email, or keep watch on the website for upcoming courses as they are announced.
No - you can make any style of image you prefer! Although the technique is "Traditional Japanese", your image can be anything you like, from realistic to abstract, single colour to multi colour..
The technique and medium lends itself to certain kinds of images - simplified imagery with clear blocks of colour is easiest to achieve for the beginner and fine lines and complicated combinations is better for the more experienced mokuhanga artist.
For your first print we will stress the importance of starting simply, as it is easy to become frustrated with a complicated piece in the beginning as you are just coming to terms with carving and printing.
Yes and er... no, it depends on the quality of the tools. You can carve with any tools that are sharp enough, and the Shina plywood we supply is relatively soft and easy to carve. With the cheapest tools it is not possible to get a sharp edge and you will soon become frustrated with these. It is better to use tools of higher quality - you will get better results, carving will be easier and more enjoyable, and you will progress quicker.
By all means bring the tools you have to a course and we can look at them and give our opinion. In course you can trial the student sets we sell and see if they are suitable for you.
Some older people with weak hands or people with physical problems (such as RSI) find the intensive carving work difficult. If you are not used to using your hands, a weekend workshop can leave your hands tired / sore from holding and pushing the chisels.
If you think it is a problem you will need more time and less pressure to complete the carving and a weekly workshop might be more suited for you. The Shina plywood is relatively soft and with care you can carve a simple project. In the workshop we also have some time to assist your carving.
In the end it is your decision if you would like to try.
How long... well it depends how much you practice like every kind of skill. You could do one course to get the basics and then practice on your own, continuing to make your own mokuhanga, or you could do several courses and move on to more advanced levels. In reality it will take some time to fully grasp the fundamentals, become competent and consistent. Also you may have an existing skill set that you can apply - printmaking skills, art skills with other media, woodworking skills..
So, sorry there is no easy answer.
If you have never printed before it is realistic to aim for a simple, finished print from one course, but you will then need further practice or courses to develop the skills you need to make multi-colour prints with quality printing and registration and few or no errors.