Friday, July 25, 2008

Give me a hand?


After engraving feet in my last block, I've found myself doing hands...or a hand anyway. I wonder if my future blocks will incorporate knees and boompsiedaisy?

Back to the block. I recently bought Simon Brett's wonderful book 'Wood Engraving, how to do it' and if you're interested in engraving at all, it's highly recommended. The publishers have gone out of business, sadly, but Simon has a stock of his books which he will sell to anyone interested. This book showed me how to sharpen my tools better and a new way to hold my burins, which gives me more control and that was just for starters. He goes through the engraving process, both practically and also dealing with the 'thought processes' that go with the craft.

So, I resharpened all my burins, cut a couple of little off cut blocks as samplers to get used to my new grip, then it was time to reach for another small offcut and have a play. I wondered briefly what to do as the block was an irregular rectangle then saw my hand there on the end of my wrist and thought...'That'll do'. I have always had very lined hands so can go a bit mad with texture and creases, which sounds like fun. I decided to try Simon's method of cutting the block starting from the dark tones and working up to the lightest, without touching the 'outline' till last.


I darkened the block (not sure what wood it is but it'll be either box or lemonwood) and copied my pencil sketch onto the block. (The old paperweight in the top photo is to raise my hand to almost the same height as the block as I sketch.) To make sure I didn't go too awry I made use of my late father-in-law's calipers but kept the sketch loose. Then I shaded in pencil and sprayed the block with fixative (Tesco's hairspray) to keep the pencil marks from smudging.

Next job was to begin pecking at the darker tones with my small spitsticker. And that's as far as I've got today.

Just a little grouch...why aren't engraving tools standard sizes? My set is twentyeight years old, from Lawrences, but the numbers on their shanks defy logic. If I wanted to buy any more sizes I'd have to make sure I wasn't getting a size I already have. I do have enough for my needs now though, fortunately.

6 comments:

Diane Cutter said...

So lovely, Sue... You make me want to attempt engraving! I love all that fine detail and the 'smallness', the 'precious' quality of this little piece.

Sue said...

Thanks, Diane. That fine detail's hard on the eyes at the end of the day, but I love it.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Like the hand so far. I think one of the great things about prints is how they make you think differently, sort of holographically instead of in a more linear fashion. Don't know if it is true with wood engraving, but I found you can't judge a print until it has dried completely, stuff happens.

Daniel L. Dew said...

So Cool. I like the way you did the hand. Hands and feet are the hardest to render, let alone create a print from. Nice job well done!

Sarah and Jon said...

Your hand looks great - we're looking forward to seeing it progress!

Magpie Magic said...

The hand looks great today. I really think your prints would work well as greeting card designs. Where's your Etsy shop?!!!