Friday, October 11, 2019

Linocut in Progress: A fix and a re-think

Three cheers for my fabulous neighbor, who saw my grumpy face when he stopped by to bring my mail and promptly dropped everything to help me try to fix my press bed. Again.

Since the bubble was right in the middle of the bed and the rest of the adhesive we applied last year seemed to be holding (for now), it would have been a complete pain in the neck to try to pull up the laminate without breaking it.

We opted instead to pull the entire bed out from between the rollers and flip it over. We had only fixed the "top" side last year, and I knew that the original 20-year-old adhesive had also failed on the bottom.  Flipping the bed and dealing with the easier-to-peel-up side saved us a lot of time, elbow grease, and anxiety.

Laminate lifted up to clean the bed and prepare it for new adhesive.

It took the entire afternoon, and the wretched contact cement surely killed a few of our brain cells, but we got 'er done. The next morning I got back to work... which involved a little blue-to-gray blend on the lower third of the block, to get the horizon between sky and water sorted out.

Linocut in Progress, Step 4.5

Finally it was time to get away from the blues. I mixed a sort of olive-y, ochre-y, semi-transparent color and... voila!

Reduction linocut in progress: Step 5.

Except, hmmmm. There's a problem. The sky bugs me. To be honest, it has bugged me from the beginning, but now that there is a color printed that contrasts with the blues, it REALLY bugs me. I'm not satisfied with the shapes of the clouds. I tried to make them billowy, but they just look clunky. Argh. What to do?

Yesterday I considered bagging the entire thing and starting over... something I haven't done in ages. But it has also occurred to me that I might be able to do something interesting with a second block overlapping some transparent shapes in the sky. It's worth a try, anyway! I'll let the prints dry for a day or two and then sacrifice a couple in the name of experimentation.

In the meantime there are plenty of other things to do. In fact the list is overwhelmingly long... so maybe I'll just go take a nap instead!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Linocut in Progress: Well, SOME progress... and a set-back

With just one more workshop on the horizon before year's end, I have really been looking forward to some concentrated time in the studio.

So it was with much excitement that I set out to put the next color pass on the linocut that's been languishing for a couple of weeks. I mixed up another transparent blue, checked the press pressure, stacked the dry prints and got started.

And had problems. My matboard registration jig didn't seem to want to lay flat on the press bed, and I was having some minor registration issues. I kept fussing with it all, and then, with a sinking feeling, realized what the problem might be. I pulled the stack of padding paper and jig off the press, and sure enough, there in the middle of the bed, was a bubble.

You might recall that about a year and a half ago, when I finally found a place to live in Maine and got my studio set up, I discovered my press bed had become delaminated while in storage. After much anxiety, and a few false starts, my neighbor and I were able to pull up the laminate and re-adhere it to the bed and I was back to work.

Things have been moving along well since then, but the busy summer workshop and exhibition schedule kept me away from the press most of the summer. I did have a couple little black-and-white projects, but they didn't require precise registration and if there were problems with the bed at that time I didn't notice them.

I notice them now. It's hard to miss a big bubble smack in the middle of the bed.

Luckily the piece I'm working on right now is small enough that I can continue to use a portion of the bed that isn't warped, so I should be able to finish it. The pressure settings might need a little tweaking, but I did finish pulling this color today. I've got a message in to the manufacturer again, and I'll be making a call to my neighbor this afternoon.

In the meantime....at least we're this far:

Linocut in progress, Step 4