etegami bibliography of how-to blog posts

This post is a brief bibliography of key blog posts on how to do etegami, from Dosankodebbie’s Etegami Notebook. Her blog has been around since 2009, and in that time Debbie has written a many crucial posts that beginners will want to read.

    • Intro to etegami (April 3, 2009):  “Etegami (e=”picture” tegami=”letter”) are simple drawings accompanied by a few apt words, done on a soft absorbent postcards. They are meant to be mailed off to one’s friends, not hoarded. They often depict some ordinary item from everyday life. Seasonal flowers, vegetables, and fruit are popular themes. There are very few rules on how to draw etegami. The usual tools include two brush pens (one for the black outline, one for the colored paints), small bricks of etegami paints called gansai, and sumi (india ink), but, if that is not possible, you can use whatever is available to you– even crayons. The postcards used for etegami are usually of the washi variety, soft and absorbent (often handmade), so that the ink soaks in and spreads to a certain degree. The brief message accompanying the drawing can be as simple as “Hi, I miss you.” Or it can be a quote from something like a proverb or song.”
    • The “Rules” of Etegami(April 12, 2012): This excellent post summarizes a Japanese article on etegami’s “three rules”, key tools for doing etegami, and proper posture for holding etegami brushes, especially the ink brush. She later translates the ways you would do an etegami from start to finish.
      • The key rules:  1. “It’s fine to be clumsy. It’s good to be clumsy.” 2. “Etegami is a one-shot deal; there is no underdrawing or practicing on another piece of paper before doing the actual painting.” and 3. “Unlike many other forms of traditional Japanese art, there is no “model” etegami painted by a master for you to imitate.”
      • Regarding posture, rather than holding the sumi brush as you would a pen, you hold it from the top to give the results more “you-ness.
    • Etegami tools (April 12, 2012): In the same post on the “rules” of etegami, Debbie translates the key tools:  1. blank washi card called gasenshi; 2. ink stone (same as used in Japanese calligraphy); 3. black sumi ink block, or liquid sumi ink; 4. coloring brush; 5. sumi ink brush; 6. water dish; 7. plum dish, to be used as a palette for the paints; 8. gansai paints; and 9. vermillion paste/ink for inking your stamp.
    • Etegami paper (February 10, 2010):  Debbie notes that it’s rather difficult to get the type of paper she uses even in Japan, let alone abroad. She writes that it’s not crucial you have some special paper; rather, “[t]he main thing is to try many different types of paper and learn how they responds to various inks. When you find something that appeals to you, keep experimenting with it till you are completely familiar with its characteristics and you can produce the kinds of images you want.”
    • Etegami stamp (October 19, 2009): The stamp (aka seal or chop; hanko in Japanese) is used as the artist’s mark on the etegami. In this post, Debbie details how to make your own using an exacto knife and an eraser.
    • Stamp maintenance (May 24, 2012): This post details how to protect your stamp from degradation, including storing it in a paper or cloth container. She does note that all stamps are consumable — they do not last forever.

As I learn about more resources, I’ll add to this page.  Be sure to let me know of any resources you use, so I can update.  Note that the Facebook Etegami Fun Club page has member-maintained lists of some of these same resources.