After taking the rubber fish class from Fred Mullet at ArtFest (it was our third day and I didn’t post any of the results from the class) Carol really wanted to have us come over for fish printing with the real thing. Lauren and I met at Carol & Harry’s place for the Gyotaku experience. After consuming a wonderful lunch, complete w/ homemade soup, savory pastry and cookies from Gathering Together Farm, we were issued our basic bamboo pole, fishing line and a hook. Carol had gathered the bait (worms from her compost pile) and her fishing gear and we headed to the pond.
Felt a bit like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer “goin’ fishin”. All we needed was a kerchief tied to our poles.
We couldn’t have asked for a better day. Sunny and warm. Very much like our lamb visit.
We would have been very satisfied just hanging out at the pond fishing all afternoon and not catching a single thing.
Lauren discovered more fish in the shaded area. Carol was across the pond trying out her luck there.
Lauren and I were giving up on the idea of actually catching anything when it happened. A fish took my scrummy worm bait and I set the hook. Not much of a struggle out of the little guy.
It was a small blue gill, but it would work!
With in 5 minutes Carol caught her fish.
And after that, Lauren caught hers.
I just loved this photo.
So now we have our catch. As artists, we have to do a little design arrangement of the freshly killed fish.
The red brick was wonderful for arrangement purposes. This is Carol’s arrangement.
And finally… stacked fish with brick
Ok so you get the fishy point. Now we move on to preping our slimy friends.
Fish have a fabulously slimy surface that aids with quite a few fishy needs. Unfortunately this slimy surface is not conducive towards printing. So scrubbing them down with detergent and a wash cloth is necessary.
Blue Gill w/ a soapy mullet!
One thing to note is “you can over wash the fish!” The whole point of gyotaku is to show the fish scales and it is possible to rub the scales right off the little guys. So becareful with this process.
Once you sufficiently clean off the slime and gently dry with a paper towel, get your printing area ready. Carol had butcher paper to lay the fish on for the next procedure.-another rub down using alcohol.
The alcohol both dries the surface and cuts through excess slime. You might also decide to put a little paper inside the gill covers to prevent blood from leaking out onto your paper. Once you’ve done this, now you can ink up your fish. We used Sumi ink and applied it with a Hake brush. This brush proved to distribute too much ink. Blotting off the excess really helped. We also used our fingers to apply the ink. This method was what Lauren and I prefered. Make sure you transfer the inky fish to a clean sheet of paper prior to printing or you might end up with a lot of extra ink blots on your page.
Now to printing. Carol provided Sumi paper. It has both a smooth and rough side. We chose to use the smooth to avoide over absorbtion of ink. We laid paper over the fish and gently pressed starting from the middle and worked out. One could possibly pin the fins out to gather greater information but we didn’t.
Pull off the paper and Voila! Le Poisson!
We are so gratful that Carol’s workshop is large and has plenty of table space.
Success! A happy Carol!
There were a few other distractions during the day…. named Dot and Rose the puppy.
Here are my results. Not professional but a great memory of a fun day.
The lower fish was inked using basic water colors. Carol brought out other permanent inks that we tried. None of my attempts came through because the ink dried too quickly. The nice thing about Sumi ink is that you can use other water based mediums over the top and it won’t bleed.
Thanks to Carol for providing such a great afternoon of fun. Looking forward to trying it again at OurFest in August!