He first composes and assembles the intaglio plate cut from a zinc sheet to appropriate print size. On the plate he assembles assorted sizes and shapes of zinc or copper plate with details added by etched or scratched lines. Sometimes he adds found objects, such as stamped metal fragments or even old photo-engraved plates… Miyashita moves these pieces around on the plate until he achieves an effective juxtaposition.... [W]hen Miyashita is satisfied with his composition, he solders the pieces to the plate.
The next step is to decide what the colors of the shapes and background areas will be and to plan how many blocks are needed for the color separations. Where color areas are far enough apart to avoid mingling of the different colored inks, he can use one block to print several colors. Otherwise he must use a separate block for each color. The blocks must be the same size as the zinc plate. The image is then transferred from the plate to these woodblocks. To do this, he inks the plate image, wipes off the excess ink, and places the plate on the bed of the etching press. He lays a paper over this and runs both through the press, thereby transferring the inked image onto the paper. Next he places the paper, ink-side down on the woodblock, and rubs the top side with a baren to transfer the ink from the paper to the block. This transfer process is repeated for each block he will need. This method of double-transfer – from plate to paper to block – assures a positive image on the woodblocks in proper registration with the metal plate. If the image were transferred directly from plate to block, the image would be in reverse as seen through a mirror.
The blocks are now ready to be carved. Miyashita cuts away the parts of the block not to be printed; the small shapes to be printed are left as islands on the plywood sheets, while the background areas are left intact except for the smaller shapes which he carves away – the same shapes that are islands on other blocks.
When the blocks are cut, he is ready to ink and print them in the standard Japanese method. Miyashita uses poster-colors directly from the jar, diluting them as needed with water. He does not mix colors before applying them to the block. He does, however, merge one color into another on the block to create bokashi effects… To do this consistently from print to print in an edition, he marks his clothesbrush-shaped brush according to where to load the colors. With the colored inks in the brush he sweeps it across the block precisely along the same course for each print. To build up the pigment on the paper sufficiently in both the bokashi and the flat-color areas, Miyashita may need to brush each color onto the block many times to make repeated printings. By this means, he achieves the velvety rich colors characteristic of his work. All of the color areas must be printed on each paper of an edition before the intaglio image can be printed over them. He then hangs the paper to dry. Before printing the zinc plate he must wet the prints again using a wide brush to lightly spread the water.
Miyashita then inks the zinc plate. He rubs the black oil-based ink over the entire surface, working it into all the crevices. Then he carefully wipes the ink away from the smooth surfaces. If he leaves a thin veil of ink on these surfaces by choosing not to wipe them clean, a subtle patina is added to the whole print, deepening the richness of the underlying block-printed colors. It is the different thicknesses of black ink – form the heavy black around the rough solder contours, to the delicate tones of the etched, and drypointed details – that add the jewel-like quality to the imagery. While the solder-contours may look crude on the plate, these same projecting lines, when inked and printed, make a natural looking soft outline for the shapes of color they encompass.
By combing two techniques of vastly different origin and character, Miyashita has melded his own form of expression: bold, bright, rough-hewn, yet refined and singularly elegant in effect. The viewer’s imagination may bring its own meaning to the work or the visual feast itself may be enough.