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.