Tech Info

Star techy Info

I get a lot of questions about my process and I am happy to share the basic techniques of my pseudo-Mishima process. A special hats off to Molly Hatch for first inspiring me to figure out my own adaptation. It took me about a year and a half to hammer it all out so don’t get frustrated if learning to handling the calligraphy pen is awkward at first. That will come in time…promise. Practice make perfect ;)

In the mean time you can follow along with these simple step-by-step photos and breakdown of instructions to get on your way to Mishima success! Of course, feel free to adapt and all techniques and you see fit!

Feel free to share these images and instruction with your friends, colleagues and students, but just remember to give me a little high five. And if you have questions fee free to find me through the Contact section of this website or through my Instagram account @foragestudios

Bonne Chance as they say in these parts!

1. Tracing your image. Choose an image...any image. It can be on paper or, if you are lazy like I am, you can pull up an image on your computer and work right from the screen! Cover your image or drape your computer screen with a light, clear plastic. I find Mylar or acetate too stiff and plastic painting drop cloth too thin, but clear plastic garbage bags are juuuuuust right. Take a fine point permanent marker and then trace the image. As you can see you can get pretty detailed, but when you transfer the image you can edit out details here and there if you like. A word about images and copyright. Whenever possible, hunt for "public domain" images on the internet that are truly free of licensing rules and regulations. These can come back to haunt you if you are not careful. One of my fave graphic sites is The Graphics Fairy, but there are so many other out there.

1. Tracing your image. Choose an image...any image. It can be on paper or, if you are lazy like I am, you can pull up an image on your computer and work right from the screen! Cover your image or drape your computer screen with a light, clear plastic. I find Mylar or acetate too stiff and plastic painting drop cloth too thin, but clear plastic garbage bags are juuuuuust right. Take a fine point permanent marker and then trace the image. As you can see you can get pretty detailed, but when you transfer the image you can edit out details here and there if you like. A word about images and copyright. Whenever possible, hunt for "public domain" images on the internet that are truly free of licensing rules and regulations. These can come back to haunt you if you are not careful. One of my fave graphic sites is The Graphics Fairy, but there are so many other out there.

2. Transferring the Image. Now that you have your image transferred onto plastic you can now endeavor to get it onto the clay surface. I like to work with a ceramic surface that is a little beyond leather hard. In fact, I like to call it cheddar cheese hard. It is somewhere between too late to add a handle, but not too late to make a mark with your finger nail. Capisce? Now take a dampened, not drenched, sponge and give the area a quick swipe to create a slightly tacky surface for the plastic to stick to. This will make it easier to keep in place while tracing. I then take a wooden trimming tool that isn't too sharp at the point and then trace the image. Go light with your touch though! There is no need to dig the tool in as a) you will drag and rip the plastic rendering it useless for future use and b) you only need to transfer a faint line as it will be traced with the altered calligraphy pen. A side note: I use some of my traced images many times over on many different forms so I often add and drop lines to make each piece somewhat different than the next. And of course you can always flip the plastic sheet around to get a reverse/mirror image for something different. Easy peasy, one, two, threesy!

2. Transferring the Image. Now that you have your image transferred onto plastic you can now endeavor to get it onto the clay surface. I like to work with a ceramic surface that is a little beyond leather hard. In fact, I like to call it cheddar cheese hard. It is somewhere between too late to add a handle, but not too late to make a mark with your finger nail. Capisce? Now take a dampened, not drenched, sponge and give the area a quick swipe to create a slightly tacky surface for the plastic to stick to. This will make it easier to keep in place while tracing. I then take a wooden trimming tool that isn't too sharp at the point and then trace the image. Go light with your touch though! There is no need to dig the tool in as a) you will drag and rip the plastic rendering it useless for future use and b) you only need to transfer a faint line as it will be traced with the altered calligraphy pen. A side note: I use some of my traced images many times over on many different forms so I often add and drop lines to make each piece somewhat different than the next. And of course you can always flip the plastic sheet around to get a reverse/mirror image for something different. Easy peasy, one, two, threesy!

3. Altering the calligraphy nib.

3. Altering the calligraphy nib.

2. Mariko- Grinding the Nib Edges.jpg
3. Drawing the Image.

3. Drawing the Image.

5. Stain Off. After letting the piece set up overnight, you are ready to "wipe off!" Fill up a bucket of water and find yourself a sponge first. You are going to want to dunk the sponge and wring it out of most of its water so that is more damp than wet. The key to sponging off the stain is to use each side of the sponge only once as repeated use of the stain-soaked sides will just result in smearing. So this is your mantra... "Dunk, Squeeze, Swipe, Swipe" and then repeat. If you can let them sit for a couple more hours and then give the pieces a last, quick once-over it will help to cut down on the sanding you will have to do.  

5. Stain Off. After letting the piece set up overnight, you are ready to "wipe off!" Fill up a bucket of water and find yourself a sponge first. You are going to want to dunk the sponge and wring it out of most of its water so that is more damp than wet. The key to sponging off the stain is to use each side of the sponge only once as repeated use of the stain-soaked sides will just result in smearing. So this is your mantra... "Dunk, Squeeze, Swipe, Swipe" and then repeat. If you can let them sit for a couple more hours and then give the pieces a last, quick once-over it will help to cut down on the sanding you will have to do.