Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Linocut in Progress: No, really. Progress.

Progress on this linocut continues to be slow, but not for lack of effort! At the end of last week I was able to finally move away from blue ink and tone some things down with a transparent gray.

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 5

That subtle little change was exciting, because it started to pull the trees away from the ground. And, hey! It's just one color, applied over fairly dry prints. I should be able to print again in a day or two, right?

Hm. Wrong. For reasons I can't quite fathom, this color pass just didn't want to dry. On Sunday the gray still felt tacky, but since I was just going to be spot inking a light green and using a newprint paper mask I thought I could go ahead.

Disaster! Some of the prints were drier than others (why this should be, I have no idea)... and although I printed the first three without mishap... on the fourth one the mask stuck to the print, and even though I did my best to peel it back slowly and carefully I had to spend the next 30 minutes picking little bits of newsprint out of wet ink. I never did get it all... so that print gets rotated to the front of the line as a sacrificial color tester from here on out. (sigh) Not wanting to risk more prints, I cleaned up... and then hauled the entire drying rack out in front of the wood stove.

Unconventional print drying methods

Now, one would think that a wood stove would make short work of stubborn ink, but one would be mistaken. That rack has been there for two days! And I even went through and hand-stripped some of the tacky ink! I really don't understand it, BUT... onward.

This evening I crossed my fingers and tried it again.

Transparent green rollup

Since I only need this lighter green in a few areas of the trees that are hit by sunlight I only inked half the block and then put in place the newsprint mask.

Mask in place on the inked block, on the press

Whew! There were two or three prints that tried to grab onto the mask a bit, but not so much that it couldn't be easily pulled free. The rest of them printed just fine.

Linocut in progress, Step 6

This is always a bit of a stressful moment... when the previously-harmonious-looking image moves in to the ugly duckling stage. Not a lot of this lighter green will remain, and my next question will be whether the next few color passes will address the tree trunks (grays and browns) or the darker green of the trees... or whether I will be working back and forth between the two. (Most likely.)

So... it's back to carving (and waiting for ink to dry). Such is the glamorous life of the printmaker!


  1. I have been known to add drier to every layer when I had a schedule to meet. And I am surprised putting the prints closer to the heater didn't work. So glad I live in AZ. :)

    1. I thought about it, but I hate the smell and effect it has on the ink (everything gets so shiny!). Judging by how irregular the drying was... I dunno. Maybe I just didn't do a good job of consistent rollup. Funny thing is, the green is already just about dry. Weird.

  2. maybe the difference is due to airflow in the room? different areas get different air flow and it can be small space that are different *shrugs*

    1. It's a good thought. I did rotate the prints on the bottom row up to the top with that idea in mind, plus I changed which end faced the stove from time to time. I have three possible theories, all pilot error: inconsistent application of ink... too heavy in some areas on some prints OR I made the color from scraps of previous colors and maybe there was something super-slow-drying (like Daniel Smith black) in the mix that I forgot about OR the studio just gets too cold overnight this time of year. (Primary heat for the whole house is the wood stove, and it goes cold overnight.) The just-printed green is already dry, though... so maybe it was a combination of all three. Ooph.


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