Friday, May 29, 2015

On Top of the Yellow

This print started out as a yellow rectangle. I cut the block and added blue, green and orange-y.

The image is really a horizontal, but I took the photo as two verticals because sometimes it is instructive to see work in progress in a different way. And it fit better in the camera view.

Let's hope I can keep the friendly relationship of these colors as we go along. So far, the movement in the green area is nice too.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Green Monster Layer 3

Real quick - this the latest layer of a print you've seen here and here. The block is on the right, all assembled and inky in its little mat form and the print is on the left.

One layer to go, but it will be a very complicated one. Maybe five or six rollers going at once. Before you see that, you need to see layer 2 of another print. Tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Printers with too much Type and Time

As promised yesterday, here are some little things left in the retired newspaper press shop. Printing type seems labor intensive to me, but apparently creating these silly scraps was worth it to someone.

This message feels very appropriate for a pre-presidential election year in NH. Some of our visitors are going to be admitting this in the near future:

In 1972, a postcard cost 6 cents to mail, so someone was feeling nostalgic. (In case you are curious, this website says that postcard stamps were one cent in 1898.)

There is more to share from this as yet undisclosed location. It will be doled out slowly. Hopefully with some exciting news.....?

Photos of seascape prints tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Printers Are Just My Type

A rare opportunity came my way last week - I went back in time!

At least it felt that way. In reality, I got an informal tour of a newspaper press room that had printed its last page in 1972. Instead of getting rid of anything, all the presses, linotype machines, photo plates, type, ink, notes, cigarette packets, empty beer bottles, and thousands of other miscellaneous items were kept by whoever closed the door behind them for the last time.

There was even an open can of ink with a knife in it next to a dirty roller:

For now, the location of this treasure must remain a secret. You will be informed of all the important details on a need to know basis. Later.

But tomorrow, you will see more photos of funny little things these people printed 40 or more years ago, because I got so much enjoyment out of it.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Color Test

After months of online searches and real book investigations about oil-based inks, it is time to get my hands dirty again.

I need to know how lightfast my inks are and few companies seem to publish that information. The one I tried to contact about it hasn't responded to my query.

Not that I am worried that my prints will fade - most pigments today are very fade resistant. I might want to change brands, though, which makes this a perfect time to experiment.

I had access to a brand of ink that is highly regarded by many block printers, so I created some swatches. Some of these irregular shapes will go into direct sunlight for 60 days, while the others will hide away in the dark. When the time is up, we will either see a difference, or we won't. We hope we don't....
For 60 days, we'll talk about ink and some other things. Then we'll do the big reveal. And then test some more, most likely.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Not Impressed

The other day I visited the Boston Public Library. They often exhibit pieces from their extensive print collection, so it is always worth a look. This time, there weren't any prints, but the BPL does keep two presses in one of their hallways. Pictured above is an etching press. Who knows when it was last used to create a print - sad really.

I keep threatening to go in with a stack of dampened paper and an inky plate and use the damn thing. If anyone questioned me I would just say "I am using the resources at the library!" in an authoritative voice.

There is also a lithography press. I have seen it before, but this week I noticed something that made me even more upset about these rarely (if ever) utilized machines:

This press has a giant lithography stone on it! It is the thick ochre and black speckled layer. Two unused presses AND a relatively rare, giant stone!! Bordering on criminal! (Sorry for the blurry image - my emotions got the better of me while photographing.)

Maybe I am overreacting. If I had a large press of my own, I would probably just enjoy seeing these beautiful relics instead of lamenting their retirement.

A good goal, but for now, I will just keep the bottlejack press busy.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Something Smaller, Something New

Layer one for yet another new print. Usually, you see the first layer as a rectangle of color. Last time, it was the light yellow that ripped my paper. Not necessarily due to that drama, this layer one has no unifying color under all the pieces. The block was cut first and three colors (light purple-y grey, light green and bright blue) made their way from wood to paper, leaving a lot of white.

Since the pallette of this print is going to stay in the “cool” range – mostly greens and blues, the absence of a “tone” layer isn’t too risky.

I borrow the “tone” layer concept from painting. Many painters brush one color over their entire canvas before painting in different hues – often a warm brown or yellow. There are so many reasons artists do this that we can’t talk about all of them today, but one thing it helps with is ensuring that the final picture has a cohesive feel to it.

But it does add a whole layer of ink that might never dry, might not play nice with later colors, or…. rip your paper. So far, it looks fine. Only layers will tell.
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