Last week I wrote about getting my tools ready for the printing work, but now reading back over what I wrote, I realize that I forgot to mention one of the most important tools in my 'kit'. I usually tell people who visit my workshop that my tools are just the same as those used by craftsmen in the Edo period, but there is one particular tool that certainly wasn't to be found in an Edo era workshop - my 'remocon', the remote control unit for my music system!
Are you laughing that I consider this to be one of my 'tools'? But I'm serious! Without this tool, the amount of work I get done each day would be greatly decreased. My friend Terry works as a computer designer, and when I asked him one day if he enjoyed listening to music while he worked, he looked at me as if I was crazy! "How could I possibly concentrate on my work, if I was listening to music?" But woodblock printmaking is a very different kind of work from computer programming. Terry of course uses his head for his work, but I use only my body. Like most workers in manual fields, after many years of training, my hands 'know' what to do by themselves. Indeed, if I concentrate too much on the work, my prints become too 'rigid' and 'cold'.
If however, I let my mind drift off somewhere, and leave my hands and body to get on with the job by themselves, the resulting prints have a feeling of naturalness ... and life. So where does my mind usually go? Well, I have two good-sized loudspeakers hanging on the walls pointing right at my zabuton, and with that remote control unit placed on my workbench close at hand, I have a lot of options: perhaps a CD of music by XTC ... a cassette tape of Honda Ritsuko ... the BBC World Service from London ... a program on JWave radio ... or much more!
There's only one small problem with this. Yesterday I was speaking to a friend, and he asked me where I had been the day before, as he had been unable to get me on the telephone. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I had been home all day! Do you think I should perhaps turn it down a little?