Fish Print


Yesterday a reader responded to the post “Inappropriate.” Here’s what the reader wrote:

I know this is about the romper, but I think the fish print thing is inappropriate. Where did they get these dead fish? Were they goldfish or were they trout? I doubt anyone was going to be eating these fish once they had paint all over them. Were they killed specifically for this project? If so, how? How many dead fish were there? Were they rinsing the fish off so the next person could change the paint color, or were all the fish prints using the same color paint? Was there an adult monitoring the hand washing of children after they’d touched dead fish?

I decided to give my response as a post instead of just adding a comment that might be missed by some readers. My response follows.

I will try to answer your questions about the fish prints and the fish involved. I don’t know the answers to all of your questions.

I don’t know where they got the dead fish. I assume they got the fish from the seafood section of a supermarket. I suppose the fish could have been donated by the person who caught them.

The fish were not goldfish. I don’t know if they were trout. (Are trout the flat ones?) To me, the fish looked like fish one would buy from the seafood department of a large supermarket, then take home to cook and eat. They were rather long (eight inches?) and kind of thin (two or three inches?)

I would not have wanted to eat the fish after the art project was over. Even if the paint were nontoxic and could have been totally washed off of the fish, by the time it was all over, I think the fish would have been off the ice for quite a while. I’d be afraid the fish had gone bad. The fish were being kept on ice between prints, and an adult was squeezing lemon over the fish and ice to help alleviate the rather fishy aroma in the room, but I don’t think eating them at the end of the day would have been a good idea.

Also, the fish would have been touched by a lot of people by the end of the day. Even if the fish weren’t spoiled, I don’t know if the people touching the fish had clean hands, so I don’t think I’d want to eat fish handled with possibly dirty hands. I don’t know if cooking fish eliminates dirty hand germs.

I did not see anyone washing hands before or after handling the fish. I did not notice an adult supervising hand washing. Of course, there could have been hand washing that I didn’t notice. I’m not saying that hands were not washed after fish touching, only that I did not notice hand washing.

I do not know if the fish were killed specifically for this art project. I assume they were killed for eating, but that is speculation.

I also cannot say how the fish were killed. I do not have that answer. Their heads were intact, so I don’t think they were bashed in the head, as some fisherpeople do. (I had a fisher friend who just let the fish she’d caught grow dormant in ice, then “cleaned” them while they were still alive.) I do not know how fish intended for consumption and sold at fish markets are killed.

I am trying to remember how many dead fish there were. I didn’t count them. I would estimate there were six to eight dead fish available for making fish prints.

I think the fish were being rinsed off between prints, but now I am unsure. I also think there were two or three paint colors to choose from, but I’m unsure about that too. Because the fish were going back into a tub of ice between prints, I think they were being rinsed between prints. I don’t remember the ice being mucky or colorful from paint being mixed in, which leads me to think the fish were rinsed between prints.

The theme of the other projects going on in the art room seemed to be of an Asian influence, possibly of a Japanese influence.

I did a Google search for “fish prints,” and found that this is indeed a Japanese technique, and it has a name. According to Wikipedia it is called “gyotaku”. The word is “Japanese 魚拓, from gyo ‘fish’ + taku ‘rubbing’.” This “is the traditional method of Japanese fish printing, dating from the mid-1800s. This form of nature printing may have been used by fishermen to record their catches, but has also become an artform on its own.”

I hope this answers all the reader’s questions. I’ll be happy to try to provide additional answers to additional questions.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now I have a little travel trailer parked in a small RV park in a small desert town. I also have a minivan to travel in. When it gets too hot for me in my desert, I get in my minivan and move up in elevation to find cooler temperatures or I house sit in town in a place with air conditioning I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

I'd love to know what you think. Please leave a comment.