Monday, October 26, 2009

How's your Japanese?

I finally decided to buy myself a "nicer" baren and invested in a "Japanese Disk Baren" from Daniel Smith. It arrived while I was in Utah (of course), so was a happy present to myself when I came home.

It is also something of a mystery. There's no denying the authenticity of its origin when the instructions are all in Japanese. But what the heck is the purpose of little red-capped plastic vial of oily liquid? (You know, the one that half leaked out in the package, anyway.) If the instructions refer to it, they do so without a little diagram, so I'm clueless.

Ideas, anyone?


  1. The explanation I got was the oil (camellia oil) is used to "lube" the baren. Sprinkle a few dots on a piece of cloth or felt, wipe the baren across it, and you're good to go.
    If you're too lazy to do that, like I am, the oil is also good for putting on your knives after you've sharpened them.

  2. Wow, this does look exciting. Did it come with bamboo leaves to create the cover? Camellia oil rings a bell but I'd have thought it went on the cover. I will wait for real words of wisdom to find their way to you.

    At the Hiroshige exhibition in Rome earlier this year I sat and watched a video on covering a baren. I think there is a video on the Baren Forum. Good luck. Heck, you have a real Japanese Baren - you've already got good luck!

  3. Thanks, Marissa. It seemed like that was probably the purpose, but I wondered about getting oil from the baren on to the paper. Putting it on a cloth first to be sure it's even and light makes sense, but I'm still going to try it without first.

    Robyn.. no, not a bamboo one to cover. I'm a little too lazy for that. Thankfully Marissa has absolved me of even having to mess with the oil... so it's all good. Until I have to change the disk, of course. Then I'll have to sort out the amusing instruction sheet. :-)

  4. Go to They do a good job of explaining the process. McClain's is a company that specializes in materials for relief printmaking. I am considering order the exact same baren. Looking forward to hearing how it works foor you.

  5. Thanks, Deborah. I know McClain's... I love this baren so far... I'm not using the little vial of oil, so far it's not necessary. I put a sheet of tracing paper between the print and the baren when I burnish, and this seems to be "lubricant" enough.