Friday 25 February 2011

Prints on their way to Tennessee

My new mantra must be 'Don't put it off!' 

These prints have been in my head for at least a couple of months, and it's such a relief to get them finished and into the post - where right now they are winging their way across the deep blue sea, heading for Knoxville, Tennessee.

I decided to keep a log of the time spent making the work, mainly because I was beginning to feel that I'm working too slowly and I need to get a clearer picture of the time I will need to complete various projects for my degree show - in just 13 weeks time!!

So, no time for woolgathering.
I had to wait 3 days for the paper to dry after embossing it - it does take longer when it's being kept flat between boards, but this was longer than I'd anticipated.
Forty prints took me 3.5 hours to print, this is only five (ish) minutes per print - so considering each run through the press needs the block to be inked up, the plate and paper registered and then impressed that's not bad, and I now wonder why I deemed it such a long time.
Of course ink requires drying time - so only one colour per day. I could run a second colour but with so much 'white' space it would be all too easy to smudge something so I think it's worth the extra time. At least I know now to plan for that time.
The press in action, note my high tech registration technique . . . .
The second colour goes on. This is something I always feel hesitant about, especially if I like the first run through.
Third run through with the text and then a slow and careful session with the guillotine.

And after six days, forty prints signed and editioned ready for the post.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Phew 40 blind embossed prints = blisters!

At last, I've made a proper start on the Unicorn print exchange. The 1st state of 40 prints is now done. And not before time really, I should finish them by the weekend so as to get them off to Tennessee before the 1st of March.

Now I'm sitting down, it feels like I've had a work-out on the press today. It's pretty stiff going when the pressure is increased to make the embossing as crisp as possible on Boadicea. I'm sure my biceps will soon look like the Michelin man's plus, I'm now the proud owner of two blisters!

Anyhow, it beats going to the gym.

This means at least I've finished the blind emboss stage, and only have three stages to go.
the press in action
1st stage, this is a corner detail of the embossing
The view from the 'Shed'. 

The new girls keep me amused when I'm working and I need to keep an eye on them while they settle in because the old girls aren't too sure about these two, and keep on having a dig.

We haven't given either of them a name (yet), somehow naming them acts as a kind of sympathetic magic, which may alert Foxy to their existence. And we'd rather he didn't pay us another visit. . . . .

although of course, if he does, he'll be in for a shock - electric fencing is now in place.
Our two new hens. 
The hens are so funny, I do find watching them quite addictive.

Side by side they'll be quite happily pecking the ground. Then out of the blue, BAM a sudden and ferocious peck. These old girls are pretty dam speedy.

Monday 14 February 2011

Hard back bookbinding workshop

Don't you just love it when things fall into place.

Yesterday was like that for me. Up uncharacteristically early for a Sunday and driving through heavy rain to Bristol to attend a one day 'Introduction to adhesive hard back bookbinding' workshop at the Bristol Drawing School.

For so long now I've deliberately chosen book styles that do not require more than some folding and a dab of glue, I imagined it would be a) difficult and b) time consuming to make hard back books - how wrong! 

Of course it goes without saying a good teacher helps, and Tortie Rye was that person. In six hours she helped us pack in so much, with each of us participants taking home four finished hard bound books - not bad eh. 

I was reminded once again, not to put something off just because I think it may be a little tricky - get on with it and find out what it's really like, after all I may be in for a very pleasant surprise.

Here are my very first hard back books, simple I know, but now I've breached the hurdles of uncertainty and procrastination - well who knows what's next.

Monday 7 February 2011

False Unicorn

I've been working on ideas for a print for a portfolio exchange, organised by Guen Montgomery and Emmy Lingscheit (both studying at the University of Tennessee) titled Unicorn. 

But it feels as if I've been going around in circles and getting nowhere fast, and I'm unhappy with anything I've made so far . . . . . not a good place to be.

 Drawing and re-drawing, printing and re-printing arrrrgh . . . .
However, yesterday I popped up to the V&A to see the Birgit Skiold exhibition 
Zen and the arts of print: Birgit Skiold and Japan. 

The exhibition doesn't give us a lot, but what it does show is very telling of her work, which is so beautifully pared back. She was a pioneer, both in furthering the status of printmaking as art and for the experimentalism of her work and (more importantly for me) her use of blind embossing mixed with other techniques. 


Over the past couple of years I've experimented more with blind embossing and de-bossing, and using it with other techniques at the same time, so it's useful to see examples where other artists have tried this too. 

And it prompted me to return to some ideas I'd started this print with.

So! back to the drawing board - or in this case the lino block.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Gong Xi Fa Cai

or Gong Hey Fat Choy if you prefer
Chinese New Year Print Workshop

I haven't made it in to uni so far this year, what with driving around New Zealand and inter-semester weeks, and I was beginning to feel slightly cut adrift. 

So, to help me get back into the rhythms of work I spent the day on Friday (28 January) attending a lecture and workshop being run to celebrate the launch of an exhibition of rare woodblock Chinese New Year prints, on the Frenchay campus, at UWE.

Run by two delegates, Professor Fung Ho-yin from Hong Kong Polytechnic University and artist, Yung Sau-mui from the Hong Kong Print Workshop, in order to celebrate the traditional Chinese custom of posting New Year prints to chase away evil spirits and bring good fortune to families. Don't you just love the idea that a big, bold, colourful image on your door post could exert so much influence, so much could be achieved with a few carefully placed prints - bringing peace and love to all . . . .

Mass produced on cheap paper, old prints were not kept or treasured in any way they adorned doorways until they faded or disintegrated, to be replaced for new ones each year. I do know (and I'm sorry) that the quality of these photos isn't good, however, I did take them without a flash in a dimly lit room!

We looked at the origins, traditions, visual styles, tools, materials and techniques used in traditional Chinese woodblock printing.
Looking at the way he holds the knife I find it amazing that such fine lines can be cut, or that he can apply the control required to cut hardwood blocks.

And then we spent some time printmaking (with laser cut blocks!) for ourselves.

My very simple print to bring peace
 and one for prosperity!