Thursday, August 19, 2010

A new block...and a challenge!

A couple of blog posts ago, I showed a sketch of my next proposed engraving; the old lifeboathouse at Lizard Point.

The block I have decided to use is the last uncut block of my vintage early 1980's stock. I bought several good size pear and boxwood blocks back then (when I had more disposable income!). But my first attempts at engraving at this time were unsatisfactory and my interest and patience waned. Working in isolation didn't help and I went back to painting.

Blocks, burin tools, roller and sandbag all ended up in a box in the loft, surviving 3 house moves, until 2008 when the engraving bug bit me again. Harder. Out of the loft came my engraving equipment. The roller had melted, not unsurprisingly, but the new durathene roller refill fitted my brass frame and was even better. I had several of my smaller old blocks that had been engraved (with toecurlingly bad results!) resurfaced by Chris Daunt, who recreated a fine surface for my newer work.

This particular block is 7" x 5 1/2" , one of the largest I've got. It's pearwood, I think and has never been touched by a tool. The challenge lies in the fact that the block was made using three pieces, jointed and glued. One of the joints has over the 29 years in storage, opened out a little.

To see how much of a problem it might create, I inked the block up and ran it through the press.

 Granted, it's a relatively light impression, but the split is still clearly visible. The question is: can I work around it and obscure it when I cut the design? I think probably, the human eye being what it is, it will be slightly noticeable, even if I position the design so that much of the split is cut away or textured. I'm not overly bothered by it really.... to me it speaks of the wood the design is cut into. It's not a perfect, inert plastic surface, impervious to changes of temperature and humidity. 

What do you think?



Magpie Magic said...

I agree, it adds character and as long as it isn't in a part of the design where it may divert the eye, it should be fine. You could always use some wood filler if it does become a problem.

Chris.P said...

I'm a reformed perfectionist so I'd probably use it. It certainly wouldn't look like a slip of a gouge:)

Andy English said...

Firstly, I love pearwood and think you will enjoy this very much.

As for the crack: its a personal thing. These days, I tend to saw along the lines to make smallwer blocks but a big block is a wondrous thing. When I have used a "split" block, it has been more successful with a lighter design, rather than one that has a lot of dark around the cracks.

Sue said...

Interesting comments.....thank you.

Sybille: I don't think I can use woodfiller without making it worse. The engraving surface is so smooth and takes the lightest cut. If it was a woodcut it would probably be ok.(Putting polyfiller away again!)

Chris: Yes, I'm afraid perfectionists would hate it! LOL!

Andy: I thought about cutting the block down but the thought of losing my only nice big block....! I'm looking at adjusting elements of the composition to see if I can disguise it. Trouble is, I'm itching to get tool to wood!

d. moll, said...

What yummy looking wood! I vote for trying to disguise it in the composition, your work is so fine and delicate ignoring it would look like a mistake as opposed to an imperfection....

Caroline B said...

I think the only part that might cause you problems is where the join will be in the sea as that is plain whilst the rest of the design has plenty going on to draw the eye. But on the other hand, it will add character, like those little scratches and lines on lovely old films.