Friday, 29 December 2006

Christmas time, resingrave and wine...

Merry Christmas! A busy one for us, flitting between Devon and Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. Much fun and good cheer had by all, though we never did get those rollerskates... We ventured out to Wicken Fen on Boxing Day for a tramp around in the mud which provided much food for thought. Watch this space for fen related prints.

Back in Norwich now to enjoy a few last nights sat by the tree before it gets sawn up and thrown on the fire. New additions to the house include a pristine 1950s Singer sewing machine that's sure to be pressed into service soon, a Nikon EM to add to the camera arsenal and our first piece of boxwood courtesy of the incredibly fine craftsmanship of Chris Daunt.

It'll be a while before we're brave enough to make a mark on the boxwood, so in the meantime we'll stick with Resingrave. Our first bit of Resingrave has been put to good use, it was interesting to work with, holds fine lines quite well, though does chip if you attack it too vigorously with the large scorpers. The house design I chose was for a present and is coming along nicely. We pulled some test prints on Christmas Eve, using a mixture of Speedball acrylic inks as we'd run out of black, save for some thick oil based stuff which wouldn't have dried until somewhere next February.

Currently listening to: Low, Christmas

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

The Printing of the Cards

Sunday was christmas card printing day, having finished engraving the block (see below) on Saturday evening. It was our first time printing from engraving plastic and we learned quickly from our mistakes: 1, don't print with the ink too wet as it fills in all the fine lines; 2, Stay off the sherry. Don't drink and print kids, you know it makes sense.

Once we'd realised that allowing the ink to dry on the inking slab a bit before rolling it on the block was the way forward, things progressed very smoothly. Seeing as we don't have (and can't yet afford) a press, everything is done by hand. In the case of the Christmas cards the block was inked, placed face down on the card, rolled over quickly with a rolling pin, then flipped over and burnished with the back of a teaspoon. Crude, but fairly effective. Using acrylic rather than oil based inks made cleaning up after each colour a lot quicker. Forty cards later and it was time for a rest.

We also started printing our Christmas gift tags, a scroll design cut from a small offcut of Japanese plywood:

All the cards were written and sent yesterday, and we've even been organised enough to start wrapping presents and writing tags. After a trip into the city yesterday, ostensibly for Christmas shopping, we managed to find our way to the art shop and buy our first block of Resingrave, so look out for updates on how that progresses... A busy week ahead, buying a christmas tree today, driving to Cambridgeshire this afternoon and getting a train to Devon tomorrow. Still, 'tis the season!

J and S

Currently listening to: The Decemberists, The Crane Wife

Saturday, 9 December 2006

Hello and welcome

We've started this blog mainly as a way of recording our printmaking experiments, and probably anything else that happens to be in our heads when we get round to writing posts! We started playing around with linocuts last year ago after buying 2 big H.J. Jackson prints to go on the wall in our then new house, and thinking it might be fun to have a go (on a much less ambitious scale). You can see some of our earlier prints on our website. Hottest off the press is the "Squash" print, our first multi-coloured one-block reduction print:

The above picture shows the four stages of printing building up to the final image. Its based on a sketch of a 'harlequin' squash that was 90p from the grocer but never got eaten...

More recently we've branched out into woodcuts and wood engravings. Woodcuts are done on Japanese plywood, which is amazingly easy to cut and gives much crisper edges than lino. Look out for prints coming soon. At the moment the "wood" engraving is being done on engraver's plastic and resingrave, cheap alternatives to the frighteningly expensive real wood end-grain blocks, which will have to wait until we're a bit more technically proficient!

Having hand-sewn a nice brown leather sandbag (filled with lentils rather than sand...) to rest the block on, and thrown caution to the wind by investing in some lovely EC Lyons tools, the first engraving will end up on the front of our christmas cards. (Sneak peak below).

Lovely and sunny here in Norwich today so we'll be off to frolic, take photos and eye up future print material.

J and S.