Stencil-Makers by Mortimer Menpes. 1901. Watercolor. Source: Japan: A Record in Colour, facing p. 174. Menpes had ordered "several pieces of cotton crêpe of a certain design" that he had drawn up himself, and the execution of the designs brought him into contact with Japanese stencil-makers as well as dyers. As with other work that he commissioned, this was a revelation to him. "Stencil-cutting is one of the most beautiful arts imaginable. To see the stencil-workers cutting fantastic designs from the hard polished cardboard beneath their instruments — so delicate that it is like the tracery of a spider’s web in its tenuity — is a sight that one never forgets. Some of the designs are so cobweb-like that single human hairs are used in parts to keep them from breaking to pieces" (175-76). As with other work that he commissioned in Japan, the process itself was an education for him. He brings out painfully well the close concentration of the craftsmen, who include a very young boy, his eyes only a few inches away from his work

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Menpes, Dorothy. Japan: A Record in Colour. London: Adam & Charles Black, 1901. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of California Libraries. Web. 6 July 2019.

Created 6 July 2019