Guest Teacher April Vollmer



Japanese woodcut

5 days workshop

19 to 23  June 2017

8-10 participants

Price 800 €

Accommodation in the residency


April Vollmer Japanese Wood Block from Dempsey Rice on Vimeo.


Mokuhanga means woodcut printing in Japanese, hanga is printmaking and moku is wood. The Japanese term ukiyo-e can be roughly translated as ‘pictures of the floating world’ and refers to prints, paintings, books and other images from the Edo period (1603-1868). Ukiyo-e woodcut prints, such as Hiroshige’s series Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road, were initiated by a publisher who hired the artist, carvers and printers from separate small shops and coordinated their work to make popular prints for sale.

The unique characteristics of mokuhanga are the use of water-based colors, the hand-held baren disk printing tool, and the kento registration system, cut directly in the block, providing accurate registration for multiple colors. A fourth distinctive characteristic might be considered the use of washi, Japanese handmade paper. Overall, the use of mokuhanga requires close attention to materials and sensitivity to the sharpness of the cutting tools, the pressure of the baren and the moisture of the paper.

When I visited Japan I was surprised to find that mokuhanga was held in relatively low esteem. It had fallen out of favor in the twentieth century and was considered old-fashioned. The international renaissance of the technique has been of huge importance to the remaining master printers, tool makers and papermakers. Artist-printmakers within and outside Japan are beginning to appreciate the benefits of this ecologically sensible water-based technique, which uses mainly natural materials and does not require a press or the use of harmful solvents.

Cours description

This workshop is an introduction to traditional Japanese woodblock printing for contemporary artists. Each person will cut and print an edition of color prints to learn about this non-toxic technique.

Mokuhanga provides precise registration and great control over color as well as a connection to an important chapter in the history of printmaking. We will cut blocks during the first half of class and print during the second half. Each class will begin with a discussion of a different aspect of Japanese woodblock.

Historical Background – Types of wood – Planning a Color Print – Kento Registration – Cutting Tools  – Sharpening stones / Demonstration – Block Cutting – Japanese Handmade Papers – Printing with the Baren – Application brushes – Color – Special Printing Techniques

With the collaboration of


What’s Included

  • 2 woodblocks 8 x 10 inches (20 x 25 cm) Shina plywood, both sides are usable.
  • Japanese Kozo paper – 2 large sheets to tear down (each sheet makes 8 prints). Additional Kozo lightly sized fiber paper will be available for purchase.
  • Color, paste, miscellaneous supplies
  • Drawing tools, pens, pencils, erasers
  • Indian ink, pigments and watercolors
  • Tracing paper
  • Drawing acetates
  • Rulers
  • Power Grip 5-tool set
  • Professional cutting tools
  • Stone for sharpening
  • Barens
  • Brushes
  • Ink
  • Modifiers
  • Ink knifes
  • Sumi ink
  • Starch glue
  • Squirt bottles
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Paper towels, newsprint and rags
  • Tarlatan

What to Bring

  • Images, either drawings or photocopies approximately dinA4



Mokuhanga, Japanese Waterbased Woodcut

19 to 23  June 2017


mokuhanga-av-art-print-residenceAPRIL VOLLMER is a New York artist and printmaker who specializes in mokuhanga, Japanese woodcut. She earned her M.F.A. from Hunter College, New York, in1983. Awards include a stay in Japan with the Nagasawa Art Park Program in 2004, residency fellowships at the Banff Art Centre, the MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Women’s Studio Workshop, St. Mary’s College, Sicevo Art Colony, Serbia, and the Fine Arts Assembly, Visegrad, Bosnia.

Vollmer’s work has been exhibited in New York City, nationally and internationally. In 2008 she traveled to Belgrade, Serbia, for an exhibition of her woodcuts at the Faculty of Fine Arts. Each year she demonstrates Japanese woodblock printing at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Cherry Blossom Festival. In 2007 she had a major exhibition at the Steinhardt Gallery there. Her prints have been exhibited at the Phillips Museum of Art, Silicon Gallery, AIR Gallery, the Islip Art Museum, Henry Street Settlement, and can be seen at Kentler International Drawing Center in Brooklyn, NY.

Her work is known for its creative use of the traditional Japanese technique. She has developed unconventional approaches, reusing her blocks in various combinations as a library of autobiographical records, often rotating or repeating blocks to generate unexpected patterns. She uses computer imaging to construct her compositions and sometimes combines digital printing with handmade printing. However, hand cut blocks and handmade paper remain essential elements in all her work.

She has taught classes in mokuhanga at the Japan Society and the Lower East Side Printshop in New York; Cabrillo College, California; MakingArtSafely, New Mexico; The Morgan Conservatory, Ohio, and many other locations. She has given lecture demonstrations at SUNY Purchase, the School of Visual Arts, Hunter College and Montclair State University. She has assisted in the organization of several exhibitions of contemporary mokuhanga. Her work has been published in journals including Science, Printmaking Today and Contemporary Impressions. She has given many lectures on the history and contemporary use of mokuhanga since the release of her book, Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop by Watson-Guptill August 4, 2015.

April Vollmer Book



April Vollmer

Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop

“practical and inspirational”