Monday, February 27, 2017

Tiny print and Phoenix

New Tiny Print :) - 2.5 x 1.5" relief print  
This week was all about the tiny print.  I wanted to take a step back from the larger blocks after proofing the unicorn block last week went so badly, and I had a sample piece of a new material that I've been wanting to test out. The block material is Gomuban - it's a Japanese rubber block distributed in the US by McClain's Printmaking, who very generously sent a sample.  I've been searching for a new relief material for my smaller blocks. I'm looking for something thin enough to be stored vertically in binders, hard enough to hold fine detail, and soft enough to take curved cuts easily and not be as hard on my hands and wrists as wood (so, you know, not much really :P ).  I think this material which has a slightly harder surface layer and softer, dark core fits the bill, and bonus! the two tones make it easier to tell if the cuts are deep enough - awesome! 

A visual timeline:

I printed an earlier block, scanned it, shrunk it. (*I thought about keeping it the same size so it would be a tight comparison, but I didn't really want to push the new material by making it smaller and keep it within the size limitations for an upcoming juried show application. Also, I didn't really want to carve the same thing twice without a little variation.)
One of my earlier relief prints on the discontinued block material.  about 3 x 2.25"
Printed polyester lithography plate onto the block as a template. (*This was a little tricky, since the block is slick, but I sanded the surface first with 1500 sand paper, then hit the print with a hairdryer and dusted it with baby powder, to ensure that it was dry.  It held up just fine without smearing. ((This technique of transferring images using polyester plates as templates is one I've really honed, and it's something I'll be leading a workshop on it at Women's Studio Workshop this summer O:) ). 


Wipe the template off and check the carving - the color difference between the surface material and the core material made it easier to check the depth of the really fine cuts [thumbs up!]


Carve some more.

Final print:
Here's a comparison of prints from the two blocks side by side:  

with quarter for scale 

 I still like the older one (right), and I'm not sure I would take this composition quite this small again - I was having some trouble with the smallest cuts filling in, but then again, this is really, really, really small for a relief block, so I feel like I did push the limits of the new material, and I think I may have prioritized the cuts a little better this go round so that it has more of a sense of a light source. For a first attempt at a new material, I'll take it.

I also reprinted the bunny, one of my favorite tinies from the past year as my entries for a tiny print  exhibition.
lots and lots of proofs.
I find it a little bit funny that it took me about 6 days to make this 2.5" block, and only 4 days longer to carve the unicorn body block, which is more than 100 times larger in area.  (But then again, I did work on the unicorn body 24/7, and with the tiny block, I took it all the way to the finished print with lots and lots (and (lots) of proofs along the way.)  Still, kind of funny.

 I'm not sure if I'm any closer to figuring out what exactly went wrong or how to print the unicorn body.  I know that my paper choice is probably not ideal - I chose a thick paper which makes hand printing very challenging, but since I know I want to cut it out and sew it into a collage, I feel like I really do need the weight in the paper.  I looked at trying to use a barren instead of a spoon to get the prints more even (.... hmmmmmm).

In the meantime, I moved the phoenix print forward, hand coloring it with watercolor and color pencil and cutting it out. I think this is a good one to try some new collage ideas with because it's bigger than the individual element in the first 3 seven deadly sins prints, but still smaller than the unicorn and the fox (, by the time I get the unicorn printed, hopefully I'll have some ideas about how to use it in a whole composition? Maybe? O:) ).
I admit, I really like this one - 18 x 24" woodblock print with watercolor, color pencil, ink and acrylic.
Feline Assistant #1 - supervising