Sunday, April 10, 2011

Who moved my trail markers?

I've often said that I'm the sort of person for whom loop trails were invented. Without them I might never make it back home.

I'm the person on an out-and-back trail who says, "Let's just see what's around the next corner, and then I'll be ready to turn back." But of course around the next corner is another intriguing corner, and another, and another... and I always feel like I missed something when I'm obliged to turn around and cover my own footprints to get back where I started.

It might be why I've worked with reduction prints for so long. At least I know when I start that I will follow a path to its end, after which I'll be able to start again on a new path.

I think if you embiggen this one you'll be able to see the white-on-white.
Sort of.

But with this piece I keep finding another corner to turn, and I keep wandering farther and farther from the trailhead. From home base. From completion. And from the sort of simple "essence" that is the point of a collaboration based on haiku, for goodness sake.

The idea started as two blocks: one printed white and the other printed over it in black. A short loop trail. But a few steps down that trail I saw another corner to turn: "What if I added mica to the white?" And another: "What if I embossed a footprint there?" And then, "What if I made a third block and printed color?" Which, of course, led to many more "what if" corners: dozens of iterations of color. Which lead to the next corner: "What if I made a FOURTH block?"

"Ever So A Round," the final chapter. For now.

It's not a problem, really, except that it could go on indefinitely and I have a very finite amount of time for this project. Yesterday I realized that the whole idea would be better if I a) printed everything in a different order and b) carved yet another block. Or if all the steps after the white were done as a reduction block. (ahem)

But I really do have to get back to the trailhead and plunge down a different path this week, so I think this is the finished piece. Unless I pick one of the others that's also hanging on the rack, since they're all a bit different. (Can you say "Edition Variable"?)

It's been a great learning process, and it may represent the first staggering steps toward a new body of work. But don't be surprised if the next print you see is a nice, straightforward reduction block. There's still lots to see on a loop trail, and one usually arrives home in time for supper.


  1. I was reading your website and you say that you do all your prints by hand with a baren and western printmaking inks. I have not had very good experience printing by hand and have been using a press for years. I thought you might be using the Japanese style inks but they look like western ink to me. But I would really like to get a handle on hand-printing so that I could print and travel and not be weighted down by a huge press. Any advice?

  2. This is a delicious piece, Sherrie.

    I've never used the reduction process (which fascinates me), and it's even been a very long time since I have cut a block. But I've done enough to really appreciate the beauty of what you do. Oh, plus hanging out in Kyoto looking at prints a few decades ago.

    What flavors you pull from the blocks. It would be interesting if you could play with the experiments you enumerate.

  3. What a beautiful print! I particularly like the unusual format of the colour area and the idea of mixing the mica into the white. Have a great day.

  4. Oooh, that is sooo pretty! I wish I could see it in person - I use a lot of mica & white in my prints too, and nobody on the internet can ever tell how much more exciting these things are in reality.

  5. Hannah, I do typically print by hand (although I did just buy a "baby" press and I'm having fun experimenting with it). I'm using the Daniel Smith oil-base relief inks and a baren, and I use a homemade jig for registration. (There's a link in the sidebar under "Popular Posts") It's fairly portable.. although for long distance travel I've built a jig on site and not planned on doing too many colors.

    Hi Deb! I intend more experiments, of course... and now that I know how much I wander around when I do so I'll be sure to pack meals! ;-)

    Thanks, Lisa... It's that odd format that I wanted to play more with... and may yet do so in a new series of work.

    You're right, Marissa... it's impossible to get the full effect in a photo... at least for me!

  6. Sherrie!
    finally getting caught up on my blog roll...
    wonderful new-ish direction sprinkled in with the Sherrie I know and love. Beauteous.

  7. I'm glad to see others continuing the art of printmaking. That is what my graduate school education involved. I decided to move in other artistic directions, but have warm feelings about printmaking.