Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Woodcut Prints

Here is the final result of my contribution to the SNAP calendar.  I had a wonderful time learning more about the letterpress and printmaking.  This is a three-colour image using lovely transparent yellows and oranges.  It's less dramatic than I had in mind but it's effective.  The entire calendar is now complete and will be collated shortly and ready for distribution shortly thereafter.

The month of September was a scorcher in Edmonton which was lovely.  People were walking, riding bikes, golfing, running, and soaking it up.  It was also a hot time in the studio as I got much of my list of goals accomplished.

I decided that the final hand printing I needed to complete were the wooden plates so away I went. 

Here is the set-up - my Dad created the system for me and it works very, very well.

Isn't this gorgeous? I love the way the ink sits on the brayer.

I know, it looks familiar. Trying printing it hundreds of times.  But I now have many, many pages for the artist book(s) to be completed by the end of the year.

I cleaned off each plate by printing them onto a single sheet and overlaying the images.  This, too, was pleasing to me, a very interesting effect to add to the old handbag of ideas.

The plates with their beautiful new patina.

Completing the calendar and the artist book pages were two goals accomplished.  Another major September development was the beginning of the reduction woodcut prints.  I had taken my time getting familiar with mixing ink, inking up plates, getting a system for setting up the layout, and printing images by hand in order to get comfortable in the print studio.  Moving to the press and beginning the project that brought me to SNAP is a big step.

I had mixed a huge amount of ink and was afraid it would be a waste.  It's a lovely, rich, pale yellow that barely shows up on the paper but looks great on the plate.  My goal was subtlety and that was certainly achieved.

And the ink quantity?  It would seem I have maintained my ability to judge the amounts needed as I had exactly enough.  The years of screenprinting and painting and gauging the varying quantities of medium have stayed with me.

The Set-up
Plate No. 1
Plate No. 2

Normally such large pieces would dry on the drying rack rather than hanging like they are in the imagaes below but the flurry of activity around the calendar over the month led to this solution.  As mentioned the colour is subtle and I spent a bit of time worrying that the pieces would collapse onto the floor but it worked out very well.

Just as with the smaller wooden plates I cleaned these off on newsprint.  This was a great effect that has me thinking of alternative processes around the reductions.  I love how the wood grain shows up on the darker paper. 

Once printed the plates now need to be carved into again for the next colour.  Below is Plate No. 2 with the tracing on top ready for transfer.  By the end of September I had transferred both images and was starting to carve.  I had hoped to have these two complete (what was I thinking?!) but that was not to be.  October will be more productive as far as this project is concerned and I will also be completing my bookbinding course as of the end of the month.

Image No. 2 with tracing paper

The image above is of all the printed pages ready for binding as well as the completed 3" x 4" two-colour plates I carve during my lunch hours while listening to audiobooks.  I have nine so far (eighteen plates in total) and, though I'm getting faster at it, I'm also facing the more complex images as I go through the twenty-one.  These little guys are extremely addictive.  When I was at the hospital waiting for my sister to come out of surgery carving these plates kept me occupied and at ease.

And here is the card and envelope I created for my little Seestah. It's a long story and it has to do with chocolate Rosebuds and hurt feelings. Finally, forty years later, I have repaid my debt. More importantly, the surgery went well.

Operation Rosebud

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