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'Hyakunin Issho'
Newsletter for fans of David Bull's printmaking activities
Issue #85 - Autumn 2011
Contents of this Issue:

Like the previous issue, this is another 'newsy' newsletter. There is just so much going on around here these days, it'll take all my space just to report it all!

Look at the photo! Yes, can you believe it ... we're finally moving ahead with some workshop construction! As you will read in the story inside, I have been prodded into another round of work on the insulation of the studio. (It's purely coincidence, I'm sure, that this is happening in November ...) Who knows, this room might actually be finished before I retire!

It has been a very busy and mixed up autumn, with some projects moving forward smoothly, others less so. Hopefully there will continue to be more of the former than the latter ...

Thanks for reading, and I hope you can find some of our activities to be worth supporting!

Studio Construction - At Last!

Many of the stories in this newsletter are recurring - they are part of an ongoing series that keep you up-to-date on a particular topic. So it is with this particular story, but I suspect there will be a great many readers who can't remember the previous episode in the series, it was so long ago!

Yes, it's time for another update on the construction of our workroom. (Although I suppose in the last episode, I said 'my workroom'!)

Over the past years I have begun to sound like a real broken record: "... it'll be so nice to get this room well insulated before the winter arrives." But life just kept getting in the way, and construction was always the last thing on my to-do list.

This year though, the situation is very different; I am no longer working here alone. I can be very careless about the way I take care of myself, but I cannot be like that with other people. So a short time ago, I buckled down a bit, ordered some of the supplies we needed, and told my helpers one morning, "OK, no printing today; here are your tools, let's get to work!"

The two ladies - Tsushima-san and Ishigami-san - have no particular experience at construction, so I myself did the carpentry work (the photo above shows the new 'box' in which the staircase will be built). But there was plenty that they could do: in this next photo you can see Tsushima-san painting some new shelves, and in the photo on the intro page of this newsletter, Ishigami-san and I are stapling insulation up onto an exposed concrete beam.

We kept at it until the basic 'envelope' of the insulation was in place, before downing tools and returning to our barens. That first evening I worked at my printing bench, and the outside temperature was around 13 degrees, but the thermometer beside me was a quite comfortable 20. Once we get into deep winter and the outside temperature drops drastically, we plan to use a small electric panel heater, expecting that this will be adequate to keep our workroom snug and warm.

So what's still left to do? Plenty! As you saw, the staircase has yet to be built, and the stairwell will remain closed off at least until the spring (we are using the outside stairs for access to the room). Another very large job waiting for attention is that of getting all the communication cables into order. Wires for internet, telephone, intercom, electric power, and audio are still hanging down from the ceiling, and these need to be sorted out and put into proper conduits.

And all that insulation - as wonderful as it is to see it in place - is still bare and exposed. I need to decide what sort of wall coverings I want, and then get that material ordered too.

But those are just 'details' - we've now got ourselves a basically comfortable workspace, and it's time to get to work on making some stacks of beautiful woodblock prints!

Senshafuda series

You know the old expression - I have some good news, and I have some bad news ... Well, that's how it is with the Senshafuda project at the moment. The good news is easy: the next set of prints is ready and now included in the online shop (at the standard price of $35 + postage). The bad news is that it is November, and this is a set of summer designs!

Yes, as you can see, I have had a great deal of trouble keeping that project on the rails. I am learning that it is sometimes difficult to control the schedule when working with 'outside' people. I myself will happily spend Sunday evening down in the workshop printing, but for some reason, other people don't wish to do that! :-)

So we're going to have a bit of a pause in this series. There will be more later - that I promise - but only when I am able to manage the work flow with a bit more control.

Dave is now ... 60!


Sadako's Corner

Yet again this time, my story takes as its launching point the 'saving electricity' theme!

This summer people all over Japan were encouraged to save electricity and it occurred to me while watching TV, "Why don't they suggest that we watch TV as little as possible?" I well understand why they don't, but they could have at least said, "Let's not keep wide-screen TVs turned on all day long in the background," in the same way that we were encouraged to turn off lights in rooms when no one is there.

Even thought we learned during the recent disasters that radio serves as a much better source of useful information than television, I haven't heard that the numbers of radio listeners has increased at all.

Honestly speaking, I find myself turning on the TV or radio without much thought at least partly because I live alone, and the sounds create a feeling of other people being present. I also utilize TV when I am very tired and reluctant to do any special activity. I forget my age sometimes, and move around too intensely; after such occasions a couple of hours passes quickly while parked in front of the tube.

But recently I am wondering about such behaviour. If I rely too much on TV, which admittedly appeals intensely to our eyes, the ability to use my own imagination might continue to degenerate.

David, who just became 60, doesn't have a TV set. He insists, "I don't want to waste precious time staring at that thing!" But I would rather live a bit more dangerously. Although only a slight touch of a single finger is enough to turn on the TV, I tell my hands to pick up a book instead! A bottle of delicious wine may be close at hand, but I am firm enough to say, "Not tonight!"

If I told you that I was always successful in avoiding those temptations it would not be totally accurate; I am sometimes easily lured in, but do have to admit that when I am indeed successful in resisting the enticements, it certainly does feel wonderful!

Family Time!

Last time I mentioned a family get-together it was in the spring issue of this newsletter, and at that time we were missing one member - my brother wasn't able to join us. But in early October he managed to sneak a week away from his 'double life' (working in Germany, and living in Thailand), so I couldn't miss it either!

I didn't get many photos - and none at all of the two grand-sons! - but here are a couple of casual shots. I hadn't realized just how much taller Simon is compared to his two nieces!

And one evening younger daughter Fumi and her partner Craig put on a very nice dinner for some of us. That's not Craig in the photo with her - it's her brother-in-law Ioan ... yet another 'big man'!

So that's twice this year that I've managed to sneak over to Canada! (I knew there had to be some benefit to the incredible high yen/dollar situation we are experiencing recently ...)