Process

Dong Ho paintings are made by brushing paint onto carved wood blocks and then pressing the block onto a special kind of paper. Everything used to make these paintings comes from natural resources from the Dong Ho villiage.  The images are carved into wood. The blocks are then covered in paint and pressed onto the paper. After one coat dries, another color is pressed onto the painting. Lastly, the paintings are covered with a sticky rice paste to preserve the paintings, which last for many years.

WOODBLOCKS:

The woodblocks are made from the thi tree, a soft wood. To produce a single Dong Ho painting, layers of colors are printed  in an precise order (red, green, yellow, white and lastly the black lines)(6).  One painting needs several woodblocks, each of which for printing a different color. The advantage to this technique is that the woodblocks can be reused, as they are made from carefully treated wood. In many Dong Ho families, these blocks have been passed down several generations as a kind of heirloom.

THE PAPER:

The prints are all done on traditional giay gio paper made from the bark fiber of the do tree. The paper is coated with mollusk powder (crushed white shells) to create a slight shimmery glittery background (7)+(12). The size of the paintings are usually small.

THE BRUSH:

The prints are painted with a brush made of spruce. The brushes are made from dried spruce leaves bound together. The leaves are pounded with salt water and a hammer to make the tip of the brush soft enough. They are then bound together and flattened at the top(8).

THE PAINT:

Dong Ho artists use around five colors in their pictures, but the colors are strong and lively. What makes Dong Ho art different from other art is that they use all natural materials.  For example,  blue colored paint  is made from indigo leaves, red paint is from soi son (a soft stone), yellow paint is made from the flowers of the sephora tree, black comes from the bamboo tree, and orange paint is made from the gardenis flower(9).

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