Real Master Printers
Recently we had the joy of handling some 19th century japanese prints. A friend had been gifted them as a bequest.
These prints are made off carved wooden blocks, with a "Baren" (a pad of bamboo Leaves). Ink is made from soot (black) and various pigment sources, often vegetable. It is amazing to see and to hold closely such beautiful prints. They are printed on handmade paper and these ones obviously had been in albums and suchlike as the mounts were still attached lightly in the top corners. They are printed in register from successive blocks of colour and were made in hundreds. Often very good copies were made and printers did forge each others work too as famous prints garnered better prices. These guys could really print!
Our job was to encapsulate them in acid free archival mounts that effectively sealed them from hazards in the future. A good friend who practices these skills taught us how this is done. Core-flute backing board, Mylar, and museum quality materials are used throughout the process. The prints were then stored in a purpose made box. I have a feeling that these sort opportunities happen only once in a lifetime!