Thursday, July 24, 2014

Assembled Diptych in Progress

© 2014 Hannah Phelps

This diptych has been a long, drawn out project.

It was supposed to be an ingenious idea that would simplify my printmaking process. Sigh.

 both blocks cut into pieces

My goal was to create a white-line woodcut that was easier to edition consistently than the traditional method of printing one at a time by hand. I thought I could cut a block, roll oil ink on the pieces (instead of painting watercolor with a brush) and use my bottle-jack press to print them (instead of rubbing with a spoon).

rollers - traditional and invented - and ink

I have done this exact thing before using a soft material instead of wood. (Remember Bright Day and Marsh Spring?) That other stuff is a lot easier to cut up than wood, especially into tiny pieces. Knowing that cutting very small bits would be hard, I didn't try. I separated some shapes with just a carved line, as if it was a white-line woodcut. I thought this gap would help ink stay in its proper place while rolling.

It did. But some of the shapes were too small for any commercially available roller that I could find. Maybe I should have taken the hint. But I didn't - I made miniature rollers out of bamboo skewers and mechanical pencil erasers. 

I wouldn't kid about this.

In the end, each print took a solid half hour to load with ink each time. For a print this size, that's just ridiculous, considering a regular jigsaw takes me between 5-10 minutes to roll up.

The bigger disappointment is that I need to add something to these and I really wanted this to be a one layer operation. Well, two when I realized I'd really like purple under everything. Now we are up to three and there will be at least one more. The whites in the foam need work, so I am adding some highlights. 

In the meantime, I thought you'd like to see the process and progress. Especially since I won't be doing this again. Back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Print In Progress - The Other Half of the Untitled Diptych - With Bonus Math

© 2014 Hannah Phelps

If you put this print to the right of the one you saw in the last post, it makes a bigger complete image. When 2 small prints create a larger composition it is called a diptych.

You could do the same thing with more than 2 pieces - there are triptychs (3 parts) and tetraptychs (4 parts). Instead of going too far with this, after 4 you can just say polyptych.

The trick when creating an image out of smaller pieces is that all the pieces need to be able to stand on their own AND work in the whole, finished piece. 

You end up with more art possibilities that way. To put it mathematically (you know, for fun):

Number of complete art ideas from an n-tych, in which n equals the number of component images = n + 1

In our case, n = 2, so we have 3 art ideas:

                    1. both pieces together 
                    2. the left half alone
                    3. the right half alone

Now that I am thinking about it, I suppose when n is greater than 2 you could hang some component images and not others.... Hmmm.

So a more accurate equation would be:

Number of complete art ideas from an n-tych = n! + 1 

Remember from math class that:

 n! = n x (n-1) x (n-2) x ...(n-(n-1))

But that equation assumes that any of the smaller component images would look nice next any of the others.....

Ok, ok, I know I have totally lost some of you and this is not a math blog, it is an art blog, so we will start over in the next post by posting these two prints together in their proper order and talking about how I made them and there won't be any math. 


Friday, July 18, 2014

Print In Progress - One Half of an Untitled Diptych

© 2014 Hannah Phelps

You knew there were multiple prints in progress here, but you have never seen two of them before. Even though they began their lives back in November!

I was trying to make a white-line type print using rollers and a press on a jigsawed block. At first, I wanted just one layer, but I ended up adding a purple-grey background. Two layers - not so bad. 

But I will be adding another layer. Before I claim that is the last one, we'll wait and see how it looks.

This print has a buddy - the other half of the diptych. You'll see that soon along with some pictures of the cut up blocks and the crazy tools I had to make to print these.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Print in Progress - Boothbay Harbor House

© 2014 Hannah Phelps

Because layers of ink don't dry overnight (or even in a week), I like to work on a few things at once. Like the print you saw in the last post, this image is a 12" x 12" jigsaw reduction woodcut with a layer of a pale color (pink this time), under the three bolder hues you can see here. 

To see where I hope to go with this print, you can look at the little study for it here.

During rainy weeks like this, it is great to have some work to do inside!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Print in Progress - Appledore Spray

© 2014 Hannah Phelps

Here is one of the jigsaw reduction prints I am currently working on using the homemade press I showed you yesterday. It has a light yellow under the three colors you can easily see. 

Not too much to say about it now. The next layer goes on next week because I have three other compositions that are sharing press time. Maybe you'll see a photo of one of those tomorrow... 

In the meantime, you might get a kick out of this video showing the construction of a bottle jack press.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Bottle Jack Press

© 2014 Hannah Phelps

You were promised a picture of my little homemade press a month ago. Please accept my apologies for the late delivery, but here it is.

While I built this myself, I did not invent it. Printmaker Charles Morgan designed this handy tool and has published plans online. You can see them here.

I have been using my bottle jack press since November or so. I haven't finished anything except last year's Collector's Card. But I have some good starts. 

I am not going to promise you a photo of one my works-in-progress tomorrow, but I can try really hard to post one. Really.
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