This is a reprinting of some bits from my e-newsletter and Facebook “Notes” page, with a new addition at the end: a slide show of the printing progression. If you’ve already read the story, skip on down to the slides.
While making the slide show, I couldn’t remember the exact chronology of the printing, but it’s pretty close.
Thanks for reading! —Laura
E-News: June 10, 2014
|“Seasons IV” Painting in gouache
Remember back in February when I said the Seasons IV block prints (based on the painting above) were about to be unveiled? Well, a funny thing happened right after that…
…About a week after the prints made a smashing debut at the A & C Conference in Asheville, they came down with a mysterious rash. Little white spots began to appear and gradually spread through some of the black areas. The ink company examined them, but could offer no diagnosis or cure.
|What fresh hell is this?
Printer’s Assistant Bob and I reviewed my process, and settled on some possible causes of this pox: too many layers of ink, too little drying time, and/or the finishing layer of varnish –a new addition–possibly not allowing the ink to breathe. Or could it be my stress, pushing too hard to finish in time for the show, somehow infecting them with bad energy?
Over a month’s worth of work–32 (or was it 33?) carvings and printings, 800 prints and $1000 in paper–into the recycling!
But I couldn’t let go of that image.
So I’m making them over again. From scratch. All new carvings and printings. This time, instead of layering the ink colors, they are more like jigsaw puzzle pieces, just meeting each other at the edges. Oh boy. Here’s a chance to bring the skills up to a new level! Or possibly to lose my mind.
It’s also a chance to enhance the design a little. I have added a snow-covered and flowering dogwood and a wee waterfall.
So far I’ve done 8 carvings and printings (of 230 prints each time). Here’s how the 4 seasons look so far…
See the pale pink dogwood blossoms? Here’s the carving:
Last night I printed the water on the Spring panel. Print Shop Lackey Bob set them carefully in the rack to dry.
I’m making no predictions about how this project will go, except that it will not be rushed. There will be no stress poisoning the process. We’re going all zen.
The prints will be allowed to lay for days, unstacked, caressed by soft breezes, doing yoga breathing in the drying racks.
Carvings will be tweaked to perfection, even done twice if necessary, with joy.
The artist will meditate daily, and practice ferocious gratitude and love for all living things, including mosquitos.
|Stay tuned for updates. Namaste.
Since I last wrote on June 10, I have done 5 more carvings and printings: 1 on the Winter panel, and 4 on the Spring. Prints and artist are doing well with the The Tortoise Not The Hare policy.
I will display the latest version in my booth at this weekend’s Roycroft Summer festival in East Aurora.
Thanks to all of you who wrote to me about this project. Your supportive words keep me going!
E-News: July 17, 2014
The “Seasons IV” block prints are finished and dry, and not a pock mark in sight! This time the process was amazingly trouble-free. I started with about 230 prints of each season, and finished with an edition of 200, my biggest edition of handmade prints to date.
A total of 27 carvings and 28 printings went into their creation (I printed one carving twice, to improve the color), but it was a joy right to the end. Inspired by woodlands I have visited, I must try to re-create that serene, timeless beauty for you.
To give you an idea of the process, here’s a quick run-through of the very last carving and printing:
Here is the “Summer” print, before the last printing of black. First, I tape a sheet of clear plastic to it, then draw the black on the plastic with a Sharpie.
I tape the plastic face down to the linoleum block (because the carving must be backwards), slip transfer paper underneath, and trace over the drawing to transfer the drawing to the block.
Then I carve out the negative space, leaving the shapes that should print black. To save time, I completely remove linoleum where no carving is needed. Behind me in the chair, not visible but valuable, is a large, study cat providing moral and lumbar support.
At the printing center, the block goes on the press, and black ink is applied to the rollers. After about an hour of trial printing and refining the carving (see the linoleum crumbs on press bed), I print the 200+ Summer prints, one at a time.
|The inked block… …and the print
Print Shop Assistant Bob, setting prints in our new drying racks, which our President Of Procurement (Bob) scored really cheap. Racks at far right were fabricated by our Master Artisan In Clever Jerry-Rigging (Bob).
The exquisite new frame specially designed for this print by the amazing Thomas H. Pafk, Roycroft Renaissance Master Artisan. There are other frame choices as well.
For more info, or to order the “Seasons IV” block prints click here
I am SO GRATEFUL to all of you who expressed such enthusiasm, and then practiced such patience, waiting for the birth of this piece! Thank you!
“Lookin’ for your ruler?
Oh, where’s the last place you saw it?”
–Sunny, the lumbar-supporting, ruler-hiding cat
Slide show: “Seasons IV” Print Progression
Every color that appears in the progression was hand-drawn, then carved out of linoleum, then printed on an antique letterpress.
Just click the little arrow at the bottom left and the slide show will automatically run through the end.