So here we have the third set of 'exchange' prints from members of [Baren] - the Internet Forum for Woodblock Printmaking. Although these exchanges have hardly become 'routine' yet, their production has become smoother - this time we almost made it to the creation of a full set of the planned thirty prints ... you will find twenty-nine prints gathered in this folio ...
I spoke in my introduction to the previous exchange about the tendency of the exchanges to be 'All-American' affairs ... I am happy to report that we have a wider geographical representation this time, with participation from members in Ireland, Bulgaria, Mexico, Brazil and Australia. May I recommend though, that you look at the prints before you peruse the list of participants' names - it should provide an interesting challenge for you to identify just which prints come from which country ...
One day a few weeks before the deadline for this exchange, I received an email (privately) from one of the participants. This person was deep in the middle of printing the edition (which in the case of relatively large prints like these, can be very hard work indeed).My arm hurts and my mind is numb. ... I remember saying to myself: "20 impressions ... I can do that." Now, it's: "I think I can ... I think I can ..."
I replied with whatever encouraging advice I could think of, and some time later, in a follow-up email, I was pleased to read:I confess, I've really learned a lot.
Now if that isn't what these exchanges are all about, then I'll eat my bamboo baren skin (suitably cooked first, of course)! The members of [Baren] are not 'finished' artists - every one of us is a 'learner'. And what better stimulus for learning how to make good prints than participation in these exchanges? It is actually very easy indeed to sign up for a [Baren] exchange - just a few taps on the computer keyboard will do it; but as the deadline starts to draw closer, and the blank block sits on the workbench waiting for the knives, the realization starts to grow that making a woodblock print - a good woodblock print - requires more than a few 'taps' ...
We sometimes bite off more than we can chew, and this is perhaps what my email correspondent was thinking while typing that first message to me. But the knowledge that one's work will be standing side-by-side with the others in the finished collection provides a powerful motivation. These [Baren] exchanges thus have the important function of inspiring the participants to make better prints than they have ever made before - to make prints that they are proud to have included in the folio. Here you have the result of twenty-nine people rising to that challenge!
At the risk of becoming tiresome, I will again end this introduction with the same words as before - words that have become a watchword on the [Baren] discussion forum. Whenever the 'talking' gets out of hand somebody inevitably brings us back to the basics by posting - sometimes in capital letters - the message:
I hope you enjoy viewing our collection as much as we enjoyed making it!
Tokyo, November 1999
[Baren] forum list-owner
(Special thanks to members Wanda Robertson and Barbara Mason for coordinating this exchange)