SO WHAT IS GYOTAKU?
Gyotaku (gyo = fish and taku = rubbing) is the ancient Japanese method of illustrating objects. Traditionally this would be fish, however, today, artists use it for all sort of things.
The oldest recorded Gyotaku is from 1862. It is of fish caught by Lord Sakai of Yamagata Prefecture. Like many, he used the method to make a record of his catch. In a time before the camera, it was a great way to record how big the fish you caught was. Gyotaku were often seen on the walls of Japanese homes.
In order to make a Gyotaku print, you first need a specimen, some ink, paper and patience. It's not as easy as it sounds.
The first step is to clean the specimen. This often also includes packing gills and other orifices with wadding or paper to stop leakage during printing. Ink is then applied to the surface of the specimen taking particular care around eyes, lips, fins and tails (when printing fish).
Finally a fine paper or indeed fabric is pressed over the surface taking care to not smudge and paying particular attention to fins, tails etc. Once removed from the specimen, you should have a clear print that is a complete reverse image.
Many artists then leave it at this point. Some like myself, prefer to mount the print. As part of the process the paper becomes cockled so will not lie flat in a frame. Mounting it allows it to be framed and looks more attractive.
I am now exclusively using the traditional method of wet mounting called Uruachi. Here a glue is made using flour, alum and water. This is liberally applied to the reverse of the print forcing out wrinkles and air bubbles as you go. A second layer of paper is then applied and once fixed together they are left on a board to dry. This process takes around 24 hours.
Like many modern Gyotaku artists, I like to print a variety of subjects and I like to compose prints with multiples on them. In my shop you will find everything I currently have available for sale.
If you don't see what you are looking for, just drop me a line, I may have just what you are looking for in my studio.