This series of prints came about with a request one year from the local community centre for me to put on some kind of printmaking activity for the 'Bunkasai' (Culture Festival). These festivals are held every fall in every community across Japan, and are a mix of events and activities put on by local drama, art and music groups.

But a woodblock print takes quite a long time to make, from planning through carving and printing, so I really didn't see just what I would be able to do for the event. How could kids make their own print in the short time that they would be there?

What I came up with though, was the idea of cutting a series of blocks myself before the event began, and then on the day itself, laying them out on a table with printing implements arranged beside each block. The kids would start at one end of the table, grab a piece of paper, and then print each colour in turn as they worked their way down the length of the table. I would stand on the other side, and guide them along where necessary. When they got to the end, they would have a finished multi-colour print.

It worked very well, and since then has became an annual part of the festival, with kids coming back year after year to see what kind of picture they will be able to make 'this year' ...

(click image for a larger version in a 'popup' window)

Here is the print from the first year. It is based on a 'character' I created for my two little daughters, to try and wean them away from the 'Kitty Chan' that they were starting to get excited about. I made a series of wooden puzzles with our character in different poses and involved with different activities, and they enjoyed him very much. (They still felt plenty of affection for Kitty Chan though ...) So when it came time to create the print for the culture festival, this seemed like a good choice.