January 27, 2008

Tree Spirit: Five Down

There's something to be said for being inside a warm and cozy home watching the world outside turn white. Huge snow flakes this morning, quickly accumulating to way more than the 4 cm predicted yesterday. We got at least twice that and for a while it looked like it was going to be another one of those all day "shoveling & clearing the cars off" projects but fortunately it let up around lunchtime and I could still get to my printing.

The registration is still holding and the image is starting to come together:

And here's the gray just by itself:

Three more colours to go? Maybe four. And, typically, I'm already getting ideas for another print (thank God for those ideas) after this one. I guess I've got a month to think about it some more.

January 20, 2008

Tree Spirit:: 4th Run

Week 4.
It occurred to me today that by the time I finish this print, it might almost be spring. There's good and bad to that thought for sure.

This is the next stage in the Tree Spirit. It's interesting to see the difference in the ink hue as printed on it's own and then over the other colours.

I'm almost afraid do verbalize that even now, fourth inking down, there have been no mishaps, no registration problems, no ghosts of the uncleared parts of the block, in short nothing to make me want to give it all up in despair. It makes me approach each new printing with more confidence on the one hand and terror at screwing up on the other. But maybe some of the past lessons and all the reading I've done are paying off a bit and there won't be screw ups.

Also got some new toys: leather & honing compound for sharpening my chisels and a nail set and hammer for trying out the idea I had for texturing. I've wanted the leather for a while now, and even nearly ordered it from McClain's, but shipping was going to cost more than the product was worth. Sometimes ordering from the States really sucks. Luckily, they had the leather and compound at Lee Valley. The leather came as a set of 5 small strips and one 1 larger one, all unmounted. No big deal; it took R literally 20 minutes to cut me the bases and glue the leather on.

January 13, 2008

Tree Spirit: week 3

These are today's results from printing; still going well and without major hassle.

These are the prints, the new colour separately and added over the previous two.

I also tried an idea from my new book this week and used R's carpenter's punch to make holes in the block for effect. I wasn't sure if they'd fill up with ink but they didn't. A good day today.

Here's a close-up of the block showing the holes made by the punch. I'll have to experiment with this technique some more for sure.

Chop, chop.

Always intrigued by Japanese chops, I finally got around to making one of my own, occidental style. It turned out pretty well, as most of the stamps I carve from the Mastercarve type stuff they sell at Opus do, and now I'll just have to decide how I'll actually incorporate it into my images.

The pictures aren't great, I couldn't focus the camera in closely enough and the chop is small .

I finally got my chance to use the lovely Gnarly Head cork I had sitting around waiting for a purpose. (Now each time I use the chop I'll be reminded of the great wine that contributed toward it). I thought I was being so clever in using it as a base for the stamp and then had to laugh when I read on WetCanvas that M. Lee uses corks as stamp bases too. Go figure. I guess none of us are as unique as we believe ourselves to be.

January 06, 2008

Back to routine

I'm back to my routine of Sunday printing now that the holidays are past us. Last night, jazz music in the background for company, I finished carving away the areas I want to keep yellow in the Tree Spirit block.

Today I printed the second colour, still using the DS transparent medium and keeping to a mix of significantly less pigment than medium. Printing went very well. I actually used less medium and more pigment than for last last week's printing; I'd like to try for an increasingly opaque ink as I go along. I'm also applying the ink to the block in a much thinner layer than ever before and I'm liking the results.

This is the second printing, both separately and as added to the first colour.

January 01, 2008


There's so much potential dormant in the start of each new year. I love the idea of closing the door on the past year and going forward with a clean slate. According to the Tarot reading I did for myself this afternoon, new creative opportunities and energies are moving into influence. I hope to do my best not to squander them. This year, we got an Emily Carr calendar in the kitchen for added inspiration.

This last week's been a contrary one. Faced with a chunk of time I planned to spend in chasing my muse I instead succumbed, unwillingly, to the cold R dragged home from work two days before Christmas. Blah! All that free time and almost no energy to even read the fantastic book I got for Christmas from my parents.

More info here: http://www.imcclains.com/catalog/books/artandcraft.html

The authors are Finnish and the book was first published in Finland in 1999. It's probably the most comprehensive book on the technique of woodcuts I've read and certainly a fantastic complement to the ones I already own. I only wish I'd discovered it two years ago, before I had to figure so much out for myself. This book not only gave me new insights, it actually validated some of the techniques and processes I arrived at pretty much on my own. It's a huge boost to know I'm on the right track with some of the things I'm doing and, as a result, I'm approaching my printing with much more confidence.

On Saturday, I managed to finish clearing the Tree Spirit block for a first printing and then printed the first colour on Sunday, happily wearing my new McClain's apron that came free with the book and feeling like a real pro.
There isn't much to see yet, not until the other colours come into play, but the really exciting thing was that I actually got a handle on using the DS transparent medium I have. I tried the ratio recommended by my new book, 5% pigment to 95% medium (way less than I was experimenting with before at 40%-60%) and succeeded to get exactly the result I wanted: a lovely wash-like quality to the print. It doesn't really show up all that well here but I'm most pleased:

I can't wait until the weekend to print my second colour.