Suminagashi is the beautiful Japanese artform of floating inks on a bath of water to create a monoprint. This is normally done in the studio, but whenever possible I love to work in the wild – the great outdoors. The process involves using an ink stick which I grind onto an inkstone with a little water, moving it in a circular motion until I reach the right consistency of ink.
With the brush inked (and with minimal movement) I dip the tip of brush horizontally onto the surface of the water to create concentric circles. Various patterns and shapes – swishes and swirls reminiscent of the knots, grain and ring forms of trees, or the contours of maps and mountain ranges – are created by the breeze. It is a really wonderful process, something quite magical and serendipitous.
You never really know what kind of a print you will make, it is very dependent on the conditions; a sudden breeze, the movement of a dog or just your own breathing can affect the image, changing it in some way. It’s exciting knowing that just as every snowflake is different, so, too, is every print. No matter how many I produce no two will be the same; each one will be unique and special in some way. The prints are used in a number of ways – for book covers, endpapers, framed original prints or wrapping paper – depending on the purpose and the type of paper used. If you love playing with inks and hearing the soothing sound of water you will love this aqueous surface design printing method.”