Showing posts with label block. Show all posts
Showing posts with label block. Show all posts

Friday, May 11, 2012

First colour

Block's cut for the first colour. The cut away areas will remain white when I print. I've chosen a fairly neutral colour scheme and the first colour will be the lightest. 

My printing press is set up to print colour in registration (it may or may not work, we'll see!) 

This is with the block in position. As my press is a cylinder press optimised for letterpress printing, I have to raise the lino about an inch off the bed so the roller can reach it. So I've improvised with printers furniture (wooden strips used as spacers in letterpress printing)

 With the block out of the way you can see my 'registration jig'. It's a piece of card cut to the exact size of the block so that I can place the block in exactly the same place each time. The paper is positioned using a masking tape guide and the press's paper grippers.

The first print run. I've printed a few more than I want to cover any registration mishaps when printing other colours.

I'm using water soluble lino printing ink, which I don't like much. It dries much too fast and is much wetter than oil based inks that I'm used to. I may have to get some oil based inks for the future, but I'll persevere for now with what I have.
It's dried somewhat pinky, but no matter. The next colour will be greyer and this is just a trial so I'm not too bothered.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bathing Beauties

At long last, (having been delayed by many outside factors), I have managed to complete the block and start an edition run! So here we are.....bathing beauties! Three jolly hardy ladies ride the surf on their ancient wooden belly boards.

And all I can say is 'Roll on, Summer!'. I can't wait to get my belly board wet again.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First proof

Here's the block inked up and locked onto the press bed.

The first proof. I need to do a fair bit of tidying up, removing especially the spots in the sky area and tonal adjusting generally. The edges need to be more irregular so I'll fade off the squareness a bit down that left hand edge. The forgeround lady's cap needs lightening somehow. The shadow under the wave is too regular and needs adjusting.

I'll leave it for the rest of the day and think about it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Watery Rave? (ouch!)

A bigger view of the block this time if you click on it, so you can get a feel for the cuts. I'm loving the swish and foam of the water but having to take the cutting cautiously as I don't want to lose the light and texture.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Give us a wave!

Here's the block as it is so far sitting on it's leather sandbag alongside one of my favourite tools, the spitsticker. I've made a start on the wave and am enjoying depicting the textures and movement of frothing water.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cutting the sky

Coming along now, the worst bit is gouging the larger areas of white. The best bit is 'discovering' nice textures and ways to depict areas like sky and water. I'm enjoying this immensely. :-)

Friday, November 04, 2011

Engrave the wave!

Yesterday's work saw the ladies progress further. I still want to put a pattern on the lady in front's costume and a few other bits but now I'm going to engrave the wave (I like that phrase!). Wish me luck!

By the way, the size of this block is 3" x 5" (75mm x 136mm)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I have ideas circulating for a new engraving. I want to try and depict the speed and thrill of riding a wooden bellyboard in the surf. The sort of wave that you catch and which then carries you pell mell with walls of foam sizzling past your ears and dumps you onto dry sand! Here's a first scribble:

I might paint a watercolour of it too, as a part of the process. Watercolour by it's very nature can create unexpected and pleasing effects, something I might be able to translate into the wood block.

In the meantime, here are some more beach studies:

Is it telling that I'm drawing people facing away from me? Hmmmmm........Will have to rectify that. I'm taking my sketchpad to the World Bellyboard Championships at Chapel Porth, near St Agnes on Sunday 4th. I hope to sketch between and after my heats and to that end I'm taking my special gel handwarmers with me! Seeing as the rules don't  allow you to wear a wetsuit for your dips in the surf, I think I'm going to have to try and keep warm!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

First proof

I hand-burnished the first proof this afternoon. I'm quite pleased with it. It's rare that something prints more or less as you envisaged it, while engraving the block. There will be little tweaks and a tidy up but nothing major. I'll post the finished print next.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ready for a proof

I'm ready for a first proof, to see what needs adjusting. (There's nearly always something!)

Friday, June 10, 2011

A little progress

The other actor has suddenly burst onto the stage....what is going to happen? The audience grip their cups of coffee and glasses of wine, in silent expectation. The seagull looks impassively on, she's seen it all before and knows that if a pod of dolphins pass by, the dramatic moment and the audience will be lost.

Besides, it's way past the gull's bedtime!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Into the light....

...come the details. The pillar, the ivy, the grass. And a hint of audience seated further round the auditorium. I should get an earlier start on the block tomorrow, I wonder how far I'll get?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's evolving......

The sketch is generally only a rough guide to follow and if I'm very lucky, I find the block evolves as I engrave it. Things get altered; a bit lighter here or a texture there and additions or deletions (before they're engraved, of course!).

I think the central stage area will be mostly white with small areas of light texturing (I shall take away some of the texturing I've already done as I like the bold silhouettes of the audience against the white.) I'm seriously considering removing the plant from the bottom right and replacing it with something else Minack-ish. Maybe a portion of the wonderful carved stonework they have there. Or a half-finished cup of cocoa on the grassy ledge perhaps!

It really is a fantastic place. It was created by one determined woman and her grumpy gardener. Below are a couple of photos I took when I went.

A panorama of the auditorium

 And just before the play opened. Note the moon over the distant cliffs. Magical!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thinking time

I do find that engraving a block, given that each cut is irrevocable, lends itself to a certain amount of 'thinking time'. If one has the luxury of course and isn't harnessed to a deadline, in which case it's as best to have decided your approach early on so as not to incur any delay.

I had hoped to be further along with this block but was called away to do something else. But I propped it up so that I could see it and take my time in fixing in my head what was to remain black, what should have a hard edge, what textures, etc. I like to do that. I have enough 'hurry hurry hurry' in my 'day job' and to be able to relax a bit is liberating.

Anyway, I'm on the block again and this is this afternoon's work. More tomorrow......

Friday, April 15, 2011

Block prep and the miracle of technology (barring crashes!)

Receiving a new block from the blockmakers is a tactile experience. I love unwrapping the package to feel the cool, smooth wood and admire the close grain.

This is a resurfaced block, which had been engraved on some 30 years ago. I sent it along with some others to Chris Daunt, (who doubtless had to give himself a steadying moment when he stopped laughing at the toe-curlingly bad engraving) and he shaved away the existing engraving and smoothed the block to a glassy shine on the engraving face.

You can almost make out the old design but the block is smooth and silky to the touch. A new engraving block is a thing of beauty. Contrary to the label on the wrapper, this is not lemonwood, but pearwood. I bought it from TN Lawrence in London in 1980 and it arrived neatly wrapped in a piece of newspaper. Now I hope to engrave on it a second time and I hope the result is more competent.

First I darkened that smooth shiny surface, by rubbing a little dilute writing ink over it, with a cloth. I darken the block so that I can see the engraved lines better, as they will stand out white against the dark. I don't darken it too much though, or I won't see the lines of my design.

 As for the is a rare shot of a drawing in the process of being tweaked and refined on my computer. I use a professional drawing programme, called Corel Painter and use it every working day for illustration work in my 'day' job, so I am very familiar with it. Mostly I draw for publications and educational material. In the days before graphic computers, we worked on paper, with pen and ink and paint. (Sometimes we still do.) Clients were supposed to make any amendments to a drawing at the rough sketch stage, but frequently we got asked to amend a finished piece of work. If it was only something small we could over paint or patch but often it was a big alteration that involved starting the drawing all over again. With the computer all this changed (when we got used to using the dratted things!).

Using a graphics tablet instead of a mouse I can sketch onscreen just as I would in a sketchbook. It's important at this point to realise that the computer DOES NOT DO THE DRAWING. If you aren't good at drawing on paper then you won't be any better using this programme. It's a tool, like a pencil. If the computer did the drawing, I would have left the profession and gone off to do something more interesting. The big difference for an artist is that pretty much everything done this way is editable, so I can change the size of my drawing, erase and redraw, reverse and change colours, you name it, it can be altered with no damage to the drawing. This is a huge advantage when you consider publishers are forever changing their minds about things!

I make no apologies for using the computer to prepare my sketches for engravings. Some purists may argue against it; but then consider that I could easily draw what is on the screen, on a piece of paper and it would look no different. But it would take ten times longer, with all the adjustments and rubbing out and redrawing. Life's too short, engraving time doubly so ; the computer does the donkey work of erase, resize, reverse etc and leaves me to do the creative bit.

So there you have's the preparatory sketch done completely on computer but still drawn by hand. The lettering at the top is useful to be able to drop in but I still have to engrave it by hand with the rest of the composition. Wish me luck!

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.

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. 

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!