Hello and welcome to my blog. In this installment I will be building a frame to house the art of Utagawa Kunisada, Ukiyo-e artist of 19th century Japan. Ukiyo-e are compositions consisting of a series of woodblocks, one for each color, which when applied to paper form a complete image.
This print is one of a series entitled Modern Mirror Reflections, the mirror in this case is a sake cup and the image reflecting toward us is that of a Kabuki actor playing the part of Nuregami Chogoro. Nuregami Chogoro is one of the main characters in Futatsu Chocho Kuruwa Nikki, or “Two Butterflies of the Pleasure Quarter”. The title of the play pokes fun at the subjects, sumo wrestlers, whose last names both begin with “cho” a word which sounds similar to butterfly in Japanese. What could be further from a butterfly than a sumo wrestler?
Courtesans and their patrons were often the subject of Ukiyo-e, which played a large part in the popular culture of Edo period Japan.
As a woodworker I find a special attraction to Ukiyo-e and especially the woodblock carvings required to print it. In this image in particular details stand out such as the hair line, which is represented by individually carved lines, each less than .010″ thick and less than .020″ apart. The carvings also include detailed patterns on the large color sections of the subject’s kimono.
Recently I created a frame to house two other Ukiyo-e prints, and I found the result enjoyable enough to do a second time. This time around I will be changing the scale of the frame, enlarging it to allow a larger white space between the frame and the image. The reason behind this change is that the photo will be hung by itself, rather than as a pair.
The print that will be framed;
To begin the process of creating a frame, I select the material I will be working with. I have the material precut for these types of frames from stock that I select. The stock I start with is 6/4 and 8/4 hard maple sawn to 3/8″. This leaves with me straight grained stock of high quality. Finish planing is required to bring the stock to a nice sheen and fully prepare it for joinery.
Next I’m cutting the stock down to approx length, then fine tune that length with a plane, all done on the shooting board.
After the stock is cut to length, it is jointed along the sides and cut to consistent width, then finish planed along those sides. After the joinery is completed the inside edges will have already been finish planed.
I’m left with a good pile of stock, ready for joinery to be cut.
This frame is created by way of an inner frame and outer frame. The inner frame provides support for the art work and for the outer frame which holds everything in place.
The inner frame is constructed with a series of half laps, I begin these joints by marking out with a knife and kibiki gauge.
The first cut on these is a crosscut, beginning with a crosscut removes the possibility of creating a step on the inside of the joint which will require chisel work to remove.
I follow up the crosscutting by ripping the half laps with a tenon saw. This is thin stock, but the actual cut is about 1.5″ x 1.5″ which is a heavy cut in hard maple, a big tooth saw helps this work go quickly.
After finishing my saw work, I chamfer the inside edges of the frame, then clamp up the frame on my bench to keep it flat while the glue cures.
After the glue cures I return with a chisel to mirror the chamfers into the opposing side of the joint.
The frame is removed from its makeshift jig and planed at the joints to bring them flush to the sides.
Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have enjoyed. In the follow up post I will begin creating the outside frame.