Cornish John Dory Rubbing

Finally I am able to show some of my new images that I have had so much fun doing whilst being kept indoors!. These are all rubbings of actual fish etc which gives the image an accurate and unique quality that I am really taken with. The whole process started when late on evening I was browsing through pinterest and saw an image of a fish that caught my eye, it turned out to be a process called Gyotaku (soft g).

This is a traditional Japanese art form  “gyo” means fish, and “taku” means rubbing. Gyotaku originated in Japan in the mid 1800’s as a way for Japanese fishermen to record the fish they caught. Unlike photography, a print can retain specific texture, proportions and details of the fish. Traditionally the fish would be painted on one side with a form of edible ink and then rice paper was laid over it and gently pressed down to reveal a detailed image. The eye of the fish was later hand painted in.

Cornish edible crab.

I decided to have a go at this form of printmaking and looked up you tube videos and googled it and came across loads of other images and help. Not having any rice paper or edible ink I decided to try out using oil paints and an old cotton bed sheet that had some holes in. The first rubbings I did were of scallop shells and was blown away with the lovely unique effect, next came oyster shells, mussel shells and some coral/sponge pieces I had collected from the beach. Limpet shells didn’t work as they weren’t flat enough.

Cornish scallops,oyster,mussel and sponge rubbing

Spurred on with this success I then tried a crab, the claws had to be done separately and once I had scanned in the image joined all the bits back. What I like is the unpredictability of how the image looks and also how it changes on different fabrics. The crab print went into the shop in two different sizes and sold straight away!

Rubbing fish was going to be a harder challenge as I read you had to remove the slime with out dislodging scales ( I used salt ) and remove the eyeball and make sure that there was no moisture any where, and using a hairdryer helped. The paint went on ok but it still took several attempts not to get too many brush strokes on the print, but leaving some looked  pretty good I thought. Then the fish was scanned into my computer and I painted in the eye and cleaned up around the image as it was quite messy. Preparing the fish takes quite a long time and the whole process to print form for one fish takes at least a day.

One mackerel, two squid, change of two prawns.

I was lucky enough to find a lot of the fish from a really helpful Cornish fish supplier near me called Wings despite being very busy delivering fish all over the place they have a fantastic selection and their website for buying fish on line is really good. I am excited as the prints are selling very well in the shop and I am adding to the collection. Some of these can be used on products for coasters, place mats, china and tea towels, they can be recoloured and there are endless of different ways these can be put together.

Cornish prawn rubbings.

The only drawback is that this process is messy and I now have oil paint all over my key board of which there is no point cleaning as there are so many things that can be rubbed it is an on going project and I will add some newer ones soon.


Susie x