Monday, December 12, 2022

Dusting off the press....

Yes. It has been an unconscionably long time since a post has appeared here at Brush and Baren. I have lots of excuses, and a few of them are even legitimate, but let's skip all that and just get back to work, shall we?

Because, yes, there's finally lino moving about in the studio again. I flailed around for a long time looking for ideas that would translate nicely into small images, because I'm overdue for some fresh work in a small format. But I just couldn't come up with anything that said, "I'm an interesting small design," so I've given up and gone back to something largeish. Just can't help myself. 

18 x 18-inch lino! Here we go...

The first stage of this image was... or at least should have been... super simple. No white in the image, so no carving. Just print a big blue square and be done with it.

New linocut in progress, Step 1!

Nice transparent blue, easy peasy.  Although this time of year the light in my studio is... um... questionable... and I didn't notice right away that there was a spot along the upper right edge that wasn't printing well. (Insert ominous music here.)

Step 1 printed

Twenty-four big blue squares printed, it was time for carving! It seemed to take a very long time, considering how much material was removed, but perhaps I am just out of practice. 

Eventually I decided I was ready for the next color pass. Staying subtle for the moment... but I wanted some variety of hue, so I mixed a blended roll of transparent blue and gray. I used my 8-inch brayer for the blend, so ran the color across the top of the block, then turned the block around and ran it across the bottom. For the final step I used my 4-inch roller to run plain blue through the center.

Step 2 rollup, two-color blend

Which ended up looking like this: 

Step 2 printed

Sort of. The photo is a bit more contrasty than reality. But you get the idea. 

But remember that ominous music? This is when I discovered the printing flaw from the previous color pass. Can you see that it's still there along the upper right edge? Maybe a third of the way down the image and a tad to the left there's a light spot. Argh.

It's been a long time since I've run across this issue. Like, years. I THINK the problem has to do with oils in the block itself... because it's not something that seems to be easily fixed by adding ink or pressure. I did sand the lino a bit before I started, but I don't usually spend much time on this step unless I see obvious flaws in the block. 

It's the sort of problem that grows exponentially... if not addressed early, subsequent ink layers will just get more spotty. 

So I slowed down. Inked those areas carefully. Padded the pressure in that area.  AND... hand rubbed each print after it had gone through the press, just in that area. 

It's not perfect, but it's better, and the good news is that the area in which the problem is happening isn't going to require more than one or two additional layers of ink, and the design will accommodate the light spot just fine. 

But for now it's back to carving! Time to put on The Muppet Christmas Carol and settle in. 

Linocut in Progress: The Third Act

Time to wrap up this linocut ! And we are wrapping at warp speed (see what I did there?)... because there are deadlines. Exhibition deadline...