Thursday, November 02, 2006

So little time; so much to do!

Well, I thought that I had this blogging thing down to a science. I don't. Geez. It has taken me almost 20 minutes to figure out how to get to this blogspot posting page, to create this post. I'm already tired.

Before I begin, let me say "thanks" to all who have offered a comment and a word or two of encouragement.

Okay, I thought that I was going to walk you thru my lino block cutting process but it has just hit me that I don't have any visuals. Hmmmmmm, maybe I'll start by mentioning a few of the supplies that I use. Lots of folks have helped me along the way, so I'm really happy to share this info with 'yall. I think that all creative individuals should make every attempt to take the mystery out of a procedure or technique, as much as possible. Each one; teach one.

Currently, I buy all of my blocks already mounted. I'm partial to the 8'' x 10'' golden-cut blocks, not the gray. I usually purchase them from the local art store, but I'm starting to realize that I might save a few dollars by ordering in bulk, on-line, especially since I buy a half dozen each time. The down side is that if I purchase on-line I will not have the ability to run my hand over the surface of each block. I've had to learn the hard way about small nicks and/or indentations. The least little bump or scratch on a fresh block can cause you a lot of angst when you have completed your cutting and discover that the one place on the block that you want inked. . .is below the surface of the block. . .and you end up with six fingers on an image or a third eye. Not a good feeling.

Last March, I invested in a wonderful table top press manufactered by the Conrad Machine Company. It's heavy...and perfect. Solid steel with a diamond star wheel handle and a 12''W x 24"L x 1/2'' thick bed plate. No more spoon rubbings for me (although I must admit that I miss the physical component of hand printing)! When I placed my order for the press, thru Dick Blick, I was extremely disappointed when I was told that it would take up to nine weeks for delivery. Nine weeks?!! That seemed like an eternity to me. However, the best thing about the long wait was that it forced me to start cutting the blocks. I didn't need a press to cut blocks and, hey, it was going to put me way ahead of the game, right? Wrong. Little did I realize that I had been away from cutting lino blocks for so long, I had lost my feel for the material. When I wanted to cut a curve in my design, the blade slipped. When I needed to cut an angle, the blade slipped. Major dilemma. I ended up taking a couple of blocks and practiced cutting until I found my "hand" again. It was the best thing that I could have done for myself. Practice makes perfect, right?

Before I bought my press, I used black Speedball water soluble block printing ink and, occasionally, used a bamboo baren instead of the back of a spoon for the burnishing. The wash-up was fairly simple. While still waiting for the press to arrive, I had the good fortune of talking with a printer/artist at a local art festival who used oil based ink for all of his prints. The coverage on his prints was soooo rich! So I switched. I now use Daniel Smith Traditional Relief Black #79. Nothing else. I love this stuff! Oh, and I no longer clean my blocks. After printing my edition, I'll usually run the block thru the press several times covered with newspaper and will continue to pull prints (on the newspaper) until I can no longer see an impression. Then I'll let the block air dry for a couple of days before I print again or cut away more of the surface.

My tools are basic Speedball linoleum cutters that I use with a Speedball handle. I apply my ink with a hard rubber roller. I have several rollers of varying widths but I'm partial to a 4"W roller that I've owned since I was an undergrad student...a lifetime ago. So little time; so much to do!


Blogger Indeterminacy said...

My ability to create art is at a 4th grade level - but I will share this with my dear dear wife, who is experimenting with different techniques. I thought this was a useful and detailed description - though I'm no judge.

5:28 AM  
Blogger Sydney said...

It's been years since I've done linoleum block prints. Thanks for reminding me how much fun it is.

7:53 AM  

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