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Exploring vast spaces through small stamp designs

17 September 2020

At our first regular 篆刻 tenkoku (seal engraving) group on zoom we had fun pioneering Japanese and Chinese stamp making online! This time we mainly worked on designs for our in 印 stamps.

Exploring vast spaces through small stamp designs

After a short intro by Blair to the practice, his experience of it in Japan, and the history of it in China, we learned how to take our initial ideas and then work with kanji characters, and combine in certain ways using the old styles.

He showed some of his stamps he has made over the years, ones with his name in Katakana, Bu-re-a, others with artist name or his zen dharma name.

The designing is such an enjoyable and fascinating part of the process when you can engage with kanji Chinese characters that are thousands of years old, and discover their varied styles and choose which ones, adjusting the sizes and shapes to suit your personal design. And some stamps can use simpler Japanese script, or English, or images, so the options are really boundless.

Exploring vast spaces through small stamp designs

It was fascinating to see how different each person’s designs were – with characters for mountain, sky/ emptiness, fish, crow, and hand there was a lot of images coming through the tensho style of characters and the other stamp styles.

So we swam together through deep waters and soared over peaceful fields towards distant hills 🙂

Towards the end Blair gave a short demo about how to use traditional materials – stones and cutter – as well as the alternative and popular ‘Keshigomu hanko’ method cutting an eraser with craft knife.

Exploring vast spaces through small stamp designs

At this group participants work at their own pace and Blair guides them, so each person will design or carve or press their stamps – the ‘try not to hold your breath’ moment 🙂 –  at different times. It is an easygoing and supportive group.

Exploring vast spaces through small stamp designs
Exploring vast spaces through small stamp designs
Exploring vast spaces through small stamp designs
Exploring vast spaces through small stamp designs

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