Monday, November 3, 2014

Linocut in Progress: In which the blooper finally happens

I can just imagine the creative rubberneckers, craning to see the train wreck... Bwah ha ha ha!

Sparrow linocut, Step 11

But first... that "just one more" pass in the background. I was more or less satisfied at this point... although you know there was a little voice that campaigned for yet another pass. But time to move on. Really.

Now it was time to take out all the background and get the fence and bird finished up. It took me a while to decide whether I should go for the mid-tone of the fence or the dark of the bird and fence first, mostly because I was afraid of getting yet another color layered on to the bird. This turned out to be a valid concern because:

Sparrow linocut: Step 12. First attempt.

Yikes. This mid-tone blue-gray was mixed with the new-to-me Handschy white instead of my tried-and-true-but-no-longer-available Daniel Smith white. Definitely a different attitude to this ink... and the first print was WAY over-inked. Bleah.

Thankfully this was one of two prints already relegated to the "tester" pile for registration and color issues. But how to remedy the situation? Clearly the subsequent prints would be inked more thinly, but what about that bird?

I could ink the entire block and then wipe off the bird before printing. Somewhat tedious, and the chance of the un-inked areas of the block sticking to the print is high. This might be avoided by hand-rubbing, but I'm using Rives BFK paper here. Not a good candidate for hand-rubbing especially with 11 layers already in place.

So I decided to try a sort of modified mask: Ink the entire block, but place a mask over the bird before printing so ink won't contact the paper in that area. Not sure why I thought I'd try mylar, other than the idea that I'd only need to cut one mask and could use it multiple times. The result? Disaster!

Sparrow linocut: Step 12. Failure #2

D'oh! The blue-gray was masked from the bird, but the mylar lifted all of the previous two ink layers! This was a major dope-slap moment, because of COURSE that happened. Offsetting to non-absorbent mylar is how I would transfer an image from one block to a second if I were doing multi-block prints. Serious head-shaking ensued. What WAS I thinking?

So it was back to the wipe-out the bird theory. Well... AND the mask theory. Because there was still the problem of the "dry" areas of the block sticking to the previous ink layers and pulling them up.

In the end I did this:

That's an inked block placed in the registration jig. The sparrow has been wiped clear of ink and a newsprint mask placed over it.

Sparrow linocut. Step 12. This time I'm serious.

Yep. That's the ticket. One dark (I think) and two little bits of spot color in the head and feet to to go. Presston's first print (with me) is almost finished!


  1. oops at the mylar :/ but at least you found a solution in the end, if a little tedious

  2. Wonderful work! Thanks for sharing your process!