I have been catching and eating blue crab for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until 2009 that I created my first blue crab Gyotaku. Shell fish are much more challenging because the paint is slippery on the shell. Even so, blue crab are one of my most popular subjects. I hope to add other types of crab to my portfolio when we begin to travel.
This crab rubbing is on natural Mango Leaf paper. I think it looks like that crab is slightly camouflaged. Mango Leaf paper from Thailand is made with Kozo fibers and leaves from the Mango plant embedded into it. This beautiful paper has a variety of uses besides Gyotaku including wedding invitations, scrapbooking, collage and gift-wraping.
What In the World is Gyotaku? Gyotkau (pronounced GEE-OH-TAH_KOO) literally translated means Fish Rubbing. Here is a basic description of how I do it. I paint directly on the fish (or other sea creature), and then carefully place the paper over him, gently rubbing the length of the fish. When the paper is lifted there is a mirror image of the fish imprinted onto the paper. After the rubbings dry I add the eyes, backgrounds, sign them using my "chop" (mine is my name in Japanese) and add my signature. I can usually get 4 to 16 rubbings from each fish (depending on the type of fish) and they truly are very different with each rubbing. Once dry, they are mounted on acid free backing OR rolled and kept in a tube. I use handmade papers, usually mulberry or rice paper, but I do like to experiment with other types. Each painting has the type of paper used in the description. I also try to keep my sizes standard to fit most frames, but the size of the fish can determine the size of the paper. Since the papers are shipped to me rolled in a tube or box, shipping a finished Gyotaku this way is perfectly safe. Your Gyotaku can be stored this way until you are ready to have it framed. I ship all of my Gyotaku rolled in shipping tubes or boxes.
A real blue crab, handmade Mango leaf paper, acrylic paints