Monday, April 21, 2008

Temporary studio space

Here's my new 'home' for about a week. while the studio upstairs is skimmed, floored and generally sorted out. It's the dining room table, so we'll be eating off our laps in the sitting room for a bit.

This afternoon my Farley press will be carried into our bedroom by hunky hubbie and son and the existing manky carpet will be taken up. The builder comes tomorrow.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Studio renovation

I'm still carving away at my block but will have about a week of disruption from about tomorrow. We're 'refreshing' various bits of the house in order to sell and move (hopefully I'll be able to have a bigger studio in the new place!) and it's the turn of the spare bedroom, aka my studio. So tomorrow the Mac and my work stuff will go to it's temporary home on the dining room table (I have a fair bit of educational work to do just now) and my press will have to bunk up on our bedroom floor. (We really don't want to carry it downstairs more often than necessary!)

Then Neil the builder will come in and skim the walls, paper the ceiling and put some new flooring in with new skirting boards too. After that I'll quickly throw some paint at the walls and move everything back. So I will concentrate on finishing the block ready to print. (If it comes to it, I may print while the press is on the floor! If my creaky knees will allow!) I'll still post block progress as I go so you can still 'watch this space'.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Taking it slowly......

I'm cutting cautiously, I know how quickly I can get carried away with the scorper! This time I'm making more use of a little practise block , just a boxwood scrap, that I keep near to try out tool textures and work out how to tackle certain passages on the block. To make my cut marks clearer I'm rubbing a little talc into the lines. It all brushes out in the end, and my block smells nice as well!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

A quick update...I'm being brave and have got out one of my few very old (28 years old!) unused pear wood blocks to use. I've decided to re-cut the 'home' design at a larger size so I can play with texture and detail a bit more, so instead of the print being 2"x3" it will now be 5" x 4". The pear is cutting nicely. You can see it here, alongside the sketch.

I took the opportunity to re-jig the design a little, too. I made the foreground larger in frame and added a nice patterned rug on the floor for more texture.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

On blocks and things...

I'd been thinking about the way the maple block cut that I printed yesterday. I do remember when I rubbed india ink over the block to darken it the smoothness seemed to go a little rough. I'm not sure why; it's not happened before but then this is the first time I used maple. I wonder if that was why it was a bit harder to cut?

So I thought I'd do a little test on the backside of this maple block. (It's a double-sided block, but this side has a light score mark across it that I didn't notice till it was too late to send back.)

So: On the one side I wiped a little india ink across as I did the cut block. The surface became a little rougher. On the other side of the face I darkened it with a waterproof marker pen, which dried very quickly and retained the smoothness and sheen on the surface. Then I made cuts on each portion and wiped a little talc into the lines to make them clearer. I think the side darkened with marker pen is a little crisper, even through a magnifier. I also did the a test on a small practice piece of box as a control; the lines are cleaner and easier to cut, but that would always be the case as maple isn't as hard or close-grained. Box is also very expensive, so I need to find out which woods (choice of box, lemonwood, pear and maple, generally) work best for me, at the most economical price. Interesting exercise.

Now...looking at the print I made yesterday, I'm twitching over doing another version , maybe not so much 'white line' drawing, more tonal depth. As an experiment in technique. On maple, just to show it who's boss!

If there are any experienced wood engravers reading, in your opinion am I trying to get too much fiddly detail out of a 2"x3" block?

This morning I spent time perusing the web site of one of my favourite engravers; George Tute. I can only stand in awe at his strength of composition and his textures and pure technique. Many years ago I went down to the city to see the annual exhibition of the Society of Wood Engravers. This must have been the late 70's. I saw a print by Mr Tute, I think it was called 'Dandelion Storm'...I was entranced. Stood in front of it for ages. I really wanted to buy it, but it was just too far out of reach for my budget. I did buy a Kenneth Lindley (Downland Monuments) and I have that still and am very proud of it.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Well, here it is so far....I noticed a black line by the hearth that needs sorting out and one or two other things. The maple is relatively crumbly to carve in places and it's an interesting comparison with box.