The heading on this section is
actually the title of a poem by Robert Frost. I chose it because it best
describes those lucky encounters which viewers have of certain Japanese
prints when they catch a glimpse of the mica ground used to enhance specific
images. This happens only when there is a momentary reflection of
light off the print at just the right angle. It is not unlike the thrill
experienced by the diamond or gold prospector when something suddenly
sparkles and sets itself off from its surroundings .
Purveyors of ukiyo prints
occasionally make references to mica grounds, but rarely if ever bother to
publish illustrations which show them. There are practical reasons for this:
one is the prohibitive costs of high quality publications and another is the
distortion of the image field necessary to capture those mica reflections.
However, the marvels of the Internet combined with an inexpensive but decent
camera now make such images accessible.
The two examples shown below make
it possible for you to see what I am seeing in person. Both photographs were
taken at sharp but different angles which accounts for the variations in the
highlights in the dark charcoal field at the top left.
It is like looking into the night
sky and dreaming. Isn't it?