A baren is printing tool used to press paper onto a block. The basic technique is to lay paper on a just inked block, grab the baren with one hand and crefully press the paper down onto the block using a circular motion. In many cases a very thin paper, ategami, is used between the print paper and the baren to keep the print paper from scaring. Also, the baren is coated with a special camellia oil for lubrication.
A Hon Baren or Real Baren is a very ancient and rare printing instrument indiginous to Japan. There are few craftmen left in Japan who still make these tools. It is so labor intensive that it is unfeasible and financially impractible to create. Those few people left making these, do it for the love of the ancient art.
If someone wants one of these, they will likly have to wait a year to get one and pay upwards of a thousand dollars.
The hon baren is an incredibly beautiful tool for experienced woodblock printmakers. It has been said that once you try a hon baren, you will never want to use anything else!
Handmade Kikuhide 12-strand Hon Baren