Monday, September 19, 2016


The world needs more art-owls.

I'm back! (Sort of  - stitches come out tomorrow  (yay!!)) It will still be a while before I'm at 100%, but I felt well enough to try to start carving again. Working on this owl was a good place to start because they're some of my favorite creatures (off the top of my head, I think this is my 6th owl block, and I still love carving them :) .)  Also, seeing the documentary on Bosch last week was inspirational (Bosch had a thing for owls too - they show up everywhere in his work).    

This is the new replacement block material for my favorite, sadly-now-discontinued blocks (which, at this point, I should try to start thinking of as the new "default block" material, but I'm still clinging to the last dregs of hope that maybe I'll still find a new distributor for the old material, or maybe the company will change their mind about discontinuing them, or a box will show up in a warehouse somewhere...) 

It's different - it's more expensive (about 2X the price - sadness), and significantly harder, about halfway between the old block material and a hard synthetic plate like resingrave. This means it takes more force to carve, which is going to be a bit of an adjustment for me, because I like curved cuts, and the harder materials prefer straight cuts (it always take more force to turn the tool than it does to push it forward in a straight line). I may be able to warm the blocks to help with that a little. The surface being harder also meant that carving was slower, though this might change as I get used to the new material. Also, I'll need to refine my ink viscosity - some of the detail filled in in the prints (next round, I can try adding more magnesium carbonate to the ink to stiffen it.) Getting a nice even print was more difficult (softer blocks are easier to print because the surface has more "give"), but I think I have the right pressure now (and the press pressure would always have needed to be calibrated for any new block material, so we'll give it a "pass" on that). 

Ultimately, it was a little frustrating, whether because I'm still recovering or because I don't yet have the same facility with these that I did with the other blocks or because I still have a some residual sadness/anger about my favorite blocks being discontinued (or (d) all of the above :p ).  But (But!) in the end, we have a new owl(!) and I do think that in a few months, I'll have worked out the details on how best to work with this material, and it will be a good addition to the arsenal.    

After printing the new block, I scanned it, and it's the central character in a new digital collage ....
Still in process, but worth a little frustration, no? O:) 

Creature Update:
My little bear continues to heal and, though she doesn't know it, the much-hated cone comes off tomorrow. (thumbs up.)

After an unfortunate puppy encounter, I had to replace the grassy carving pillow - it seems my Princess approves of the new round pillow (I got up to go to the bathroom and by the time I got back, she'd completely settled in - glad to see that my feline assistants continue to be willing to keep the carving pillow warm for me ).