April 06, 2008

Firebird: Duet

As I got ready to print the next colour in the bird's body today, I realized that the new colour has only a bit-part; there's only a couple of places where it appears: the bird's head, the moon, and the apple. And, unlike last week's yellow which was here and there throughout the print, today's colour is exclusive to the top half of the print. Suddenly it seemed like a huge waste of printing time to only do one colour. Luckily I figured out that I could, reasonably easily, print another colour beside the one I had planned.

It worked out OK though, again, I had to wipe away some of the blue with a damp rag and hope I didn't wipe too much. One minor disappointment was that I'd carved some detail into the head feathers which didn't print well. Too fine it looks like. Oh well.

After I finished with The Firebird I did a test print of the MDF. One of my biggest problems is that I'm never sure how deeply to carve. I'm beginning to learn that the all-shina will allow for fairly shallow cuts but, not being as familiar with the MDF, I was concerned about it. I've been using my smallest (1mm) curved gouge to carve it and it seemed like my cuts might be too shallow.
I did some sample cuts on the underside of the block I'm currently working on and took a proof. I tested the 1mm curved gouge, a 3mm V-gouge, and a 2mm curved gouge and, surprisingly, all of the cuts showed up.

The cuts on the far left were done with the V-gouge, the cross-hatch next to them and those on the far right were done with the 1mm curved gouge, and the thickest ones in the middle as well as the three horizontals were done with the 2mm curved gouge. One thing I noticed, also visible in the proof, is that the edges are a bit ragged in parts. I hope this can be eliminated with sharper chisels.
The only other issue, and this may be a bigger hurdle, is my inks. I love using my water-soluble inks but I know MDF will swell when wet. Today I wiped the ink away with a damp rag very carefully yet even the slight moisture altered the areas around the cuts and it looks as if, printed again, the lines will be even more ragged now. Can MDF be oiled to reduce water absorption and swelling the way all -shina can? Looks like that'll be the next test.


eraethil said...

Looks like your reduction relief print is coming along rather nicely. It may be frustrating to not see some of the details you've carved, but the print is really looking wonderful so far!

Amie Roman said...

I seem to remember reading that Jason VanDeusen seals his MDF sheets with a spray varnish, but then would the water-soluble inks stick? Dunno; I did some on glass that stuck just fine. Maybe worth a test piece?