Make Your Own
Supplies included in Kit:
- Fish Printing Guide
- 3 - 1" Soft Paintbrushes
- 1 Small Paintbrush
- 10 Sheets of Printing Paper
- 4 - 1 ounce Containers of Water Clean-up Non-Toxic Permanent
- Note: If printing on fabric, allow 72 hours drying time
before washing fabric.
- Note: Inks are not opaque and should be used on white
or light colored papers and fabrics only.
Other Supplies Needed:
- Old Clothes or an Apron- These inks will not come out of fabric.
- Paper Towels
- Old Newspaper
- 3 foot by 3 foot piece of cardboard or rigid foam
- 6-10 inch fish
- Mild Detergent, Lemons, or Vinegar
- Straight Pins (Not Absolutely Necessary)
Please read all of these directions before attempting your fish
Select A Fish
- Catch a 6-10" fish or buy one at your local market.
- The easiest fish to print is one that is flat with large rough
scales and hard spines in the fins. Flounder, perch, and bass
are all good beginner choices; but odd shaped fish can make very
interesting prints! Try to select a fish that has no broken fins
and all of its scales intact.
- You can freeze your fish but thaw it out before printing.
Cleaning Your Fish
- Scrub your fish gently with some detergent, lemons, or vinegar;
to remove all of the dirt and slime from the fish. Be careful
not to damage any of the scales or fins. Avoid letting the fish
soak in water or it may take a long time to dry.
- Blot dry the fish with some paper towels.
- Place the fish on a table covered with old newspaper or cardboard.
- Gently stuff the gills, mouth, and vent of the fish with small
pieces of paper towel to prevent leaks. If the fish's insides
have been removed, gently stuff the belly with paper towel until
it is firm.
Pinning (This step is not absolutely necessary)
- Place your fish on a piece of cardboard or rigid foam board.
- Spread each fin out as far as it will go and pin it to the board.
- Gently brush the fish from tail to head with a paintbrush to
help raise the scales, but try not to remove any.
- Allow the fish to dry for 1 to 2 hours. This process can be
sped up by placing the pinned fish in a refrigerator. (Do not
put the fish in the freezer!) You can tell when the fish is dry
enough to print by removing a few pins. If the fins don't move
you're ready! If the fins move, replace the pins and wait another
15 minutes or so.
- After the fish is dry, carefully remove all of the pins.
- You can usually make at least 6-10 rubbings from a fresh fish.
You can use 1 color or many colors to make a print. It is best
to start off printing in 1 color and then progressing to many.
- Place the fish on a clean paper towel.
- Open your paint containers and have your brushes ready. Paint
the fish with a thin layer of ink, brushing from tail to head.
Paint the body of the fish first and the fins last because they
dry faster. Try not to apply too little or too much ink to the
fish. Applying too little ink will result in a very weak print.
Applying too much ink will result in an unsightly blob. Do not
paint the eye of the fish, it does not print well.
Pre-Print Clean Up
- Transfer your inked fish to a clean paper towel. Wash and dry
your hands. Look for blotches of ink on the paper towel and board
surrounding your fish. Cover the ink blotches with pieces of clean
paper towels. You don't want ink smudges on your print!
- A clean table is a must before printing!
- Take out a sheet of printing paper. The paper included in the
kit is newsprint. Rice paper is the nicest when you get really
good. A flexible absorbent paper is best for fish rubbing.
- Hold the paper a few inches above the fish and adjust the paper
to the angle you want your fish to appear on the paper. Carefully
lay the paper on the fish. Leave the paper wherever it falls;
do not move it or your print will get smudged.
- Place 1 hand on the fish's belly to hold the paper still. Gently
rub the rest of the fish with the palm of and fingers of your
free hand. Try to "see" the fish with your fingers.
Rub everywhere on the fish's body but try not to rub the same
place twice to avoid smudges. The paper will wrinkle some but
that is how you can tell a real fish rubbing!
- When you feel you have finished rubbing; gently pull the paper
away from the fish. You've made a Gyotaku!
- Study your rubbing. If you see a blank spot you probably didn't
rub the fish in that spot; if you see a smudge you probably moved
the paper a little. Don't worry! Be happy! You can master these
points on your next rubbing.
- If you are going to make another print with the same color re-ink
the fish now. If not, wash your fish and wipe it clean before
- Set your rubbings in a safe place to dry. Paint in an eye with
the small paintbrush and sign your name.
Good Luck in All of Your Fish