Sunday, May 29, 2016

Linocut in Progress: The demo's end

So here we are, back in Salida with an unfinished reduction linocut demo piece that needs resolving.

I decided that the best way to prevent continual mucking about in the background was to carve it all out. So I did. From this point on the only printable surface on the block is bird and wire.

I wanted some highlights in the bird's wings, something a little warmer. I didn't want this color to influence the face, though, so I wiped it out before printing.

Step 8
The next step was a gray to keep those highlights crisp and get the twisted wire in to the proper color range.
Step 9
I was tempted, as I often am, to just leave it at this point. But the bird needs a little more definition to pull it away from the background.

Step 10
Again I thought about stopping here at Step 10, and part of me wishes that I would have done so. But the shadow on the bird's belly is so dark that to make it read "shadow" instead of "blue feathers" I'm going to need one more hit of contrast and oomph.

Step 11
The last color wasn't solid black, although it reads that way in the scan. But overall... okay. I think to be really effective the background on the left of the image should have been lighter to start with, but that color went down at Step 4 and after it was carved away I was stuck with it. If I REALLY wanted to correct it I could cut a second block and overprint something lighter, but that would cause its own problems, and this was supposed to be just a simple demo piece! Time to move on.

One thing I neglected to mention at the beginning of this piece is that it represents my first return to the printing on the thinner Awagami kozo paper since I got my press. Because I would be working by hand at the demo location I wanted something I could manage with a baren and spoon... and the 250# BFK Rives that I have been using was not going to work. The thinner paper was a little trickier to manage in the press at first, but once I got the feel for it I didn't have any problems. And I didn't tear anything, which would sometimes happen with a too-vigorous application of spoon pressure when hand printing.

Overall a satisfying experiment, even if it turned out to be a bigger deal than intended. (And I got a good set of step-by-step prints and an edition of 10 or 12 out of the effort, too!)


  1. good to read the thinner paper survived the press :) always good to have different paper options if needed

    you little bird looks very cute :)

    1. Yep, it worked okay with a small piece. I did do some single-color prints, much larger, on the press with the thinner paper, but they were on inch-high mounted blocks and I had some problems with the paper wrinkling. The unmounted lino seemed to help!

  2. I Love it ... I couldn't comment last night, as I was laughing so much...... I admire your humour and perserverence .

    1. :-) Thanks, Fay... if I couldn't keep a sense of humor about this whole process I think I'd curl up in a ball under the bed and never come out. It ain't for sissies!