The art of Japanese fish rubbings and nature prints


Bellingham, Washington

L or i   H a  t ch

(360) 734-6721

Make a fish print

    Here is a brief overview.  If you would like to invest in this art form, I offer individual “master student” and group workshops.  Please contact me to discuss your interests regarding Workshop offerings.  

Get started!

     How do you go from a real fish to an exquisite work of art?

     What fish are good to print?

     What type of papers work best for the rubbing?

     What other supplies are needed to complete a fish rubbing?

     Good fish to print include Rock fish, Flounder, Perch or Bass.  You can get fish from asking locals to bring you one of their catch, or purchase fish from pet stores or fish markets.  Wash the fish thoroughly to remove all the mucus and then pat dry with paper towels.  Next, remove the eye, and plug any openings (anus, gills, etc.) with cotton or paper towels to prevent moisture from staining the paper.

     Place the fish on clean paper on your work table.  Build up platforms under the fins using cardboard or modeling clay so that you have a hard surface to work on while printing.  The fins may also be pinned open.

     Using block printing ink (both water or oil based work fine), brush a thin layer of ink onto the fish, then smooth out the brush strokes.  After the fish is inked, place clean paper under the fins and elsewhere as needed.

     Place your paper over the fish and firmly rub the paper being careful not to let it shift.  Practice using newsprint, then when you feel ready, move on to a good handmade paper like “Hosho.”

     Carefully separate the paper from the fish and view your first Gyotaku print.  Lay the print out flat or hang it up to dry.  Look to see how you can  improve it, and try again.  Finish it by painting in the eye using water color.