Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Epic printmaking

Lookit my new-today taller work surface! Sawhorses and a door.

Little by little I get more organized in Studio V. It's a slower process than I expected (or hoped), but it's getting there.

Yesterday was the big test of what the priorities are for the space. (Read: I had to get a lot of printing done.) You might recall that I decided to participate in the Barenforum 50th print exchange, which requires the delivery of 101 tiny prints by the end of the month. You may also recall that I decided to experiment with woodcuts. And that I did so right before moving in to a new space. Just call me the Queen of Too Much at Once.

Last week I thought I had an image sorted out. Something simple and single color.

Four discarded blocks and one winner!
It was a disaster. I carved four different blocks, and worked each of those multiple times. I even switched to back to the comfort zone of lino instead of wood. Nope. All I got was a pile of black and white prints that I didn't like.

A small portion of last week's Epic Fail. Magpies everywhere.
After several frustrating days my frantic brain finally conjured up Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens talking about a beloved scene that they couldn't fit into the edit of "The Lord of the Rings." They tried it in the front of the film, in the middle, in the end. Couldn't make it work. Ultimately it was abandoned because Philippa said, "If you're having that much trouble it probably means the scene isn't right for the film as a whole."

If I was having that much trouble making the print work, then apparently it wasn't right for the project. On to the cutting room floor with it! Do. Over.

A scramble through my sketchbooks and photos brought me a new idea.. simpler design, but slightly more complex printing because it needed color. I printed the "rainbow" roll last week... and yesterday I spent eight straight hours printing the second color... 134 times!

100+ tiny prints on the new workbench! Phew!
Now if they'll only dry in time.
I printed lots of overage because the rainbow rolls were pretty variable. Not the end of the world, but I'd like the latitude to cull the extremes from the edition.

After eight back-tweaking hours yesterday it was VERY clear that a taller work surface was in order, so today I went down the street to the lumber yard and visited with "my" shop carpenter. Ves is a fabulous fellow who has helped me more times than I can count... cutting blocks and sifting through scrap wood to find me parts for building jigs and all sorts of things. Today he scored an old solid-core door and cut some 2x4s so I could make this (inexpensive!) workbench. The DM helped me haul everything up to the studio and put it together, and tonight it's a drying rack for all those little prints. Later this week it will be a printing surface! Hooray!


  1. That's great~ glad you found something to suit your needs by repurposing something else. Awesome to have a local expert willing to go above and beyond to help out.

  2. Very clever way to save your back. 134 prints in one day is truly epic!

  3. Gotta love a man with a saw!
    My Man cut the rotting portion off an ex-door, added some sides and a hinged lid, some wheels and presto! A roll-away paper storage box.
    Now the tricky part...turning that paper into prints.

  4. The first print idea didn't work out, but it sounds like you learned things during the process. That's a success in my book! The final print is a peach. Your hard work motivates me.

  5. 134! Respect! Hope your back is feeling better soon.

  6. Good job getting this far...I did 150 and am on the 4th color...I don't even want to think of how long it took

  7. Sherrie, Magpies are tricksters...
    The wax wing is lovely, all aligned the print series look like film stills for an animated dawn cartoon! Don't go down that road.

  8. Hi everyone! Yes, Caitlin, I feel good about my repurposed door... and Ves suggested that if I ultimately put a masonite "top" on it I'll be able to get decades of use out of it. He has something similar in the shop that he knows has been in hard use for 50 years. When the masonite gets beat up, replace it, not the table.

    Men With Saws... what would we do without them? Not that I can't work my own... but a guy down the street with a shop full of power tools can't be beat, eh Dinah?

    Karen... yes, I learned a LOT, actually, and I'm quite happy with that part of it.

    Thanks Lisa, a good night's sleep and a fistful of ibuprofen did the trick. No lasting damage. ;-)

    Barbara... FOUR colors? You are a crazy woman. Darned overachievers everywhere. No time for 4 colors for me. Two passes is all they're getting.

    Patrick.. have you seen animations done with woodcuts? They are really cool, but every time I see one my eyes glaze over with the thought of all the (tedious) work required. No worries, I won't be going there!

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