Thursday, March 31, 2011


The first proof. You can see the background/white areas need gouging a little lower to get rid of the spottyness where the ink roller has found bits not cut low enough. 

The second proof, after more cutting and tidying up. Just a couple of little blips to shave off on one edge. I'd like to practice my lettering cutting some more, as I'm very picky. Also if I'm honest, I should have raised the composition up on the block so that the swash of the 'L' in Libris wasn't so close to the base, but as a first time it'll pass.

Final tweaks

Just the sky to finish then a trial proof.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Not far off

It's coming on by more good session engraving should finish it to first proof level.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bookplate update

The block so far...............

The lettering's going ok, given that maple isn't quite as good for tiny detail as other woods but the style of lettering is fairly flexible anyway. I'm really enjoying doing this and time has flown this afternoon. I've put my typescale next to the scan to show you how big it is overall. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Feeling peckish

As a change from the relative slash and burn of lino cutting I've gone to pecking at wood again. I've just started a small bookplate engraving on maple wood. I've not done much in the way of lettering in engraving, so this is a bit of a test. I've picked a typeface that's fairly forgiving insofar as it's casual in design and will take a little thickening of line if necessary. The block is 5.2cm x 7.6cm (about 2" x 3")
The rough sketch

 The block in progress

I have cut the 'Ex Libris' lettering at the bottom, but nothing else yet. I'm just refining my name at the top slightly, then I'll cut that. The seagull needs a little tweaking; I'll do that after cutting all the letters.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I smell the smell of burning martyr......

Further to my last posting, where I extolled the virtues of cutting lino blocks with my engraving tools I have just one thing to say...DON'T! The lino seems to take the edge off the cutting surface and I have just spent ages and ages re-sharpening several of my burins. They were as blunt as a blunt thing and useless for engraving on wood. Unfortunately that leaves me halfway through cutting my crowd lino block and only relatively coarse lino tools to use instead. I shall persevere using lino tools, but it may show in the final print.

That said, this was always just going to be merely a 'try-out' and I didn't expect much from the tough old slice of lino I'm using. It's fair to say I shall definitely buy some fresh lino sometime soon and see where that takes me. I shall do my best to finish this first.

Another little trial I'm having to bear is that the lino is easier to work when it's warm and although the radiator's great for that, the heating isn't on all the time, so I've been using a hairdrier. All well and good; but it does make me feel hot, having to heat the lino every ten/fifteen minutes or so, it affects a lady at my time of life who's already a martyr to hot flushes. Suffer for my art......? ;-)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Crumbly carving, seals and a bit of luck

I have carved my lino block some more, as you can see below. As the lino must be about 30 years old it's tough and crumbly, but relents a little and cuts cleaner when warmed up, so I'm persevering. I fully intend to get some fresh lino soon for some other ideas I've had.

However, my great love, wood engraving is still to the fore and I thought I had run out of blocks, hence the quick diversion to lino. But I have just discovered a small 75mm x 53mm maple block hidden in the corner of my block box! So I may try and engrave some seals I saw playing in the shallows at Godrevy, Cornwall, near where I live, alongside the lino block. I have sketches ready:

And the really good news is that over the weekend, I won just over £100 in a draw, enabling me to send a batch of 30-odd year-old, engraved box and pearwood blocks to Chris Daunt, the blockmaker, to be resurfaced, so I can engrave on them again. Recycling at it's best! So I shall have enough wood to keep me busy for some months to come. Hooray!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Exchanging wood for lino

I have lots of ideas brewing for new engravings, but my stock of wood blocks is empty. And so is my piggy-bank at the moment, but I can't wait to get going again. I need to get some more, but in the meantime I have dug out a vintage set (unused!) of lino cutting tools that my mother passed to me and a piece of lino that has, frankly, seen better days. I can't be bothered to trail all the way to the nearest art or DIY shop just for that, so decide to go with the distressed look! What better excuse to freshen my artistic outlook with a 'bit of a play' with unfamiliar materials?

I haven't lino-printed since schooldays and I know that lino doesn't take fine cutting as well as endgrain wood, so no minute detailing then.  The lino tools felt clunky and clumsy, so I got out my engraving tools and they worked just as well and felt more comfortable to use. The lino itself is cutting a little crumblier than I hoped, probably to do with it's advanced years, but when I warm it up with the hairdrier, it's better.

I have had a sketch floating about for years, showing supporters at some unspecified ball game, caught at the point where their team scores a much-needed goal. I wanted to show that moment of sheer exultation (or disappointment for the scored-against).

The print-savvy will have noticed that in my eagerness to start, I failed to reverse the design onto the block, so it'll print the other way around. Sigh....... I don't think it'll really matters though.