Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Results of Carving

all images © 2016 Hannah Phelps

Here is a lyrical picture of some wood chips from the small seascape jigsaw block. Just a little bit of carving to get ready for layer two.

The blocks went to the press today and will go back tomorrow. Layer one is there at the top. The right middle of the image is going to be some rocks with water pouring all over them. 

Actually, you've seen the reference painting - here is a reminder. The original is a square, so the bottom is missing in this print. 

If you would like to see any of this live - the presses and tools and all that - DM Penny Press will be open April 21 from 5-8 pm as part of the Manchester Open Doors Trolley Tours. 

Is there something you'd like to see specifically? Let me know and I can make sure to have it with me that night.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Jigsaw Woodblock and Some Rollers

 © 2016 Hannah Phelps

Just thought you might like to see some tools and blocks and the inky mess it makes on the glass. The first layer of the this print, a little seascape of Appledore Island, is done and on the drying rack. 

It sits next to the Cutts Island marsh scene you've been following, which is so close to completion that it is getting a bit smug. It isn't done yet - that is known, but what remains a  mystery is exactly what will happen next. 

Who doesn't love a good mystery? 

Serious question, I'd like to know.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Getting Warmer...

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

Here is the marsh scene you've been following. This is layer 6 and it should have been the end, but it isn't. Each color addition reveals more possibilities, which translates to more layers. 

If you look at the drying rack in the background, you can see the first layer of another new print too. Starting a new print takes a little pressure off any that are further along. 

As a print nears completion, there is less wood to carve away and more color relationships to reconcile with any change, no matter how small. Every little decision has a large impact and so much work has gone into the edition that fear of mistakes looms large in the studio.

Conveniently, planning new work is the remedy for any printmaking paralysis. 

Whatever it takes to keep the press rolling.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Background Colors

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

Yesterday, you saw this block naked - its surface untouched by ink. Today, it helped create some layer ones for a new print. 

This will be a horizontal seascape - in the photo, the inside edges of block and print are the top.

The marsh isn't quite finished yet, but starting new things is too exciting to put off for too long, don't you think?

This Saturday, March 19th, you can see me working on this print if you come to the DM Penny Press in Manchester, NH from 10-5. Click here for the best directions, which are on the DM Penny Press site. See you soon!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Creation Means Carnage

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

At least in reduction woodblock printmaking.

For instance, this will be a little seascape print, but right now it is a piece of shina plywood cut into three pieces and unmercifully, though carefully, attacked with sharp objects.

Tomorrow, the torture will continue - the wood will be smothered in ink and squeezed through steel rollers with some paper. 

The things we do for love. Of woodcuts.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

More Printmaking Math

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

Layer 5 is underway. The photo shows some newsprint with the new ink, a print after layer 4 and a print with the newest layer on top.

Even though the colors get extensive testing, you never really know what the colors will do on a real print. And the ink tends to soak into the paper after a few hours, so waiting a few hours before making decisions on the next layers is wise. This photo is very "fresh" - by tomorrow, everything might seem lighter and less dramatic. 

Which might be better or it might not... 

We will all know in a few days. 

Friday, March 4, 2016


© 2016 Hannah Phelps

Two prints are completed from the newest white-line block!

The lovely thing about white-line woodcut prints is that it is nearly impossible to print two that are the same. Each time you print one, you can try new color combinations and value relationships. 

These prints were done only days apart with the same pallette, but they turned out very different.

Which one is your favorite and why?


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Getting Everything Inky

© 2016 Hannah Phelps

Art making is equivalent to mess making. Every printmaking day, this scenario plays itself out - ink on the glass (on top of a countertop  here), ink on some rollers, ink on a few pallette knives, ink on the jigsawed woodblocks and ink escaping from the plastic wrap meant to contain it.

Cleaning up involves scraping, wiping, rolling and bundling. After practice with a proven system and a lot of vegetable oil, it doesn't have to take more than about 20-30 minutes leave the work table spic and span (assuming nothing ends up face down on the floor) and ready for next time.

In case you were wondering about this. Maybe you weren't - is there something you would like to know? I might not know the answer, but you could try asking.

Either right now, here on the blog, on the facebook page or in person at DM Penny Press on March 21 from 10 am - 5 pm where/when I will be printing live all day!


Wednesday, March 2, 2016


© 2016 Hannah Phelps

The embarrassing truth is that when I mixed ink for this, layer 4, I only ended up with two new hues. The violet-y in the background trees and the darker green in the closer trees. 

I was going to add a layer to the grasses, but I completely forgot about it somehow. I had carved the appropriate shapes and planned all along to include that area in this layer. Hours after I had cleaned up the inking glass and put everything away and moved onto a different project, I realized my mistake.

Instead of creating a new mess, I decided I could just print the trees and not worry about the grasses until next time. The grass would a little behind, but so be it.

When it was time to print, I had an idea:  "What happens if I roll the already-mixed yellow from layer 1 back on top of layer 3.... And I liked it! Problem solved, progress made, grasses defined and a wicked cool (as in color temperature) grey in the marsh popping with the yellow.

Yippee for serendipitous "oversights". 

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