Traditional Japanese papermaking and blood drop prints


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Body on the Page
     All of my recent writing and art projects over the last year have explored themes of illness and medicine. My drawings include anatomical imagery, but I have also been interested in microscopic and macroscopic textures. I recently produced a series of silkscreen prints of microbes: bacteria, mold, yeasts, and viruses, contained within a circle to evoke petri dishes or a microscope lens. I interspersed a few macroscopic textures within this series, such as the lunar surface, and some intermediary zoomed textures such as mycelium and capillaries.
     In this Japanese papermaking class, especially while we were learning about natural dye techniques, I was struck by the way that a drop of pigment or dye spread across the fibers. This spreading ink conjured a handful of images– mostly unpleasant– from my medical history: drops of my grandmother’s blood on a napkin after her diabetic pinprick tests, and blood drops collected on filter paper, I can’t recall for what purpose. In researching this a bit I have come across something called DBS sampling (dried blood spot sampling). In these tests, the blood spot’s edge is fuzzy and each spot has a unique shape on the paper, much in the same way that ink spreads unpredictably on handmade paper. I am interested in making an of “blood drop” papers. I used a mix of kozo and gompi for a balance between strength (kozo) and short-fiber delicacy (gompi). I have concocted a specific pigment ink to imitate the color of blood from sumi ink (crimson), logwood dye, burnt umber pigment, and cochineal dye– which is made from insects.
I carved a few circular linoleum blocks with anatomical imagery of capillaries morphing into hands. I printed these with black, oil-based ink.

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