Friday, September 25, 2009

Save the Dates-October 3,4 and 10, 11 2009 Open Studios

Open Studios starts next week.
October 3,4 and 10, 11 2009
Noon - 6 pm

Please stop by to see my studio to see my new work!
2810 Wilderness Place Suite C Boulder

Ink Control

In classes, when students are inking up their wood blocks, they have a tendency to roll out their ink much further than they need to. They have so much fun rolling the brayer, that they end up spreading out the ink too much. It's somewhat wasteful, but also isn't necessary to roll out the ink so far.  The diameter of typical classroom brayers isn't very large, so to get an even coat of ink, the brayer only has to be rolled ten inches or so at the most.

One of my students, "Simone" is an art teacher, and said she put down tape on the glass to keep her students from rolling the brayer too far. I thought it was a great idea, and put it to use as you can see below. 

The yellow ink is getting a little too spread out, but the peach ink is nicely contained within the tape boundaries

Woodcut Class Number Four

The Wednesday night woodcut class is getting well under way. Some students started, or finished up their first colors, and a few printed their second color.

Sabyl's first color

Liddy's first color

Debby's second color, a double rainbow roll of two shades of green, over the first yellow color

Simone's second color, pink; inked through a stencil, over the first blue color

I'm excited to see the prints coming together in class, and look forward to next week to see what they print next.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Woodcut Class Number Three

My woodcut class at the Art Students League that I am teaching was busy Thursday night printing the first colors of their reduction woodcut prints.  They were all very ambitious, printing around twenty sheets of paper to make sure they would get enough prints by the end.  Here are some of the prints they have made so far;
Sarah's first color-blue (Correction, Simone)

Larry's first color-light tan

Debby's first color-yellow

Jessica's prints of her first color-blue

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I Cut Myself!

I get asked every once in a while if I have ever cut myself carving a wood block. Until yesterday,my answer was no, I hadn't really cut myself. When I teach classes, the first thing I say about carving is to never place your hand in the path of the tool. If the tool slips, you will most likely cut yourself. Thankfully, I've had only a few students cut themselves, and nothing so bad that an adhesive bandage couldn't fix. I've met several people who have shown me little "C" shaped scars on their left hand from a slipped tool cutting them. One story was from a guy that said he was in the back of math class carving his block when he cut himself, and had to go see the school nurse.

Yesterday I started carving the wood block for my 2010 calendar. My tools were a little dull - Which by the way, dull tools are more dangerous than sharp ones, because they slip, and need more force to cut through the wood. I also teach students to constantly turn the block, rather than twist your body into a contorted position to cut. Well, I broke all of my own rules, and was cutting sideways with a dull tool, and it slipped into my left middle finger. I didn't really even bleed, but it was a good reminder to be safe, and use the tools properly. So now when people ask me if I've cut myself, I can say, only once.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Registration Guide for Woodcut Printmaking

My student Debby's wood block in the registration guide

In college, I didn't learn how to register paper properly when printing wood cuts, so over the years, I've tried various methods I saw in books, and modified them for my own use. Through trial and error, my registration system has evolved to this current version. I hope this will be of help to other printmakers looking for a way to register their prints.

  • A piece of thin but sturdy drawing paper is used as a base for the guide. It should be slightly larger than your wood block to accommodate the guide.
  • Build the guide on the upper right hand corner. The woodblock is 1/4 inch thick, the same thickness as foam core. If your wood is thicker, build up layers of foam core or mat board to reach the same height as the wood.
  • Place the wood block on the base paper, and draw a mechanical pencil line around it. Glue down strips of foam core as stops for the wood block outside of this line. Make sure they are placed at a perfect ninety degree angle, and fit snug against the wood block. If there is any wiggle room between the guide and the block, the registration will most likely be off when printing.
  • Next determine how much margin you would like between the image to be printed and the edge of the paper. In this photo, it was 2 1/2 inches at the top, and 1 1/2 inches on the side. The dimensions were a little strange in order to maximize one large sheet of paper cut down for four prints.
  • To make the paper stop, glue down foam core strips overlapping your margin line. Draw the margin line on the foam core strip, making sure it is a perfect ninety degree angle, and is lined up with the corner of the wood block stop. On the outside of this line, glue a strip of mat board. When printing, the edge of the printing paper will push up against these stops to keep it in place.
  • This system requires the paper to be cut with a straight edge at a ninety degree angle. If a torn edge on the paper is desired, make the paper margin much larger than needed, and tear it down to size after the print is dry. A torn or deckled edge would not work well with this system since it has such an irregular edge.
  • To use the guide, place it on the press bed, place the inked block in the corner of the wood block stop, and then gently place the paper against the paper stop, carefully lower down on the block, and run it through the press.

Reduction Woodcut Printmaking Workshop Number Two

Last night was session number two of my woodcut reduction workshop. Most of the students were still working on their images, and hadn't started carving yet except for Larry. He had a funny story of how he prepared his wood block at home. Before going to bed, he drew the image on to the block with marker and sealed it with some old polycrylic he had. It was thick, and blobby, but he used it anyway. In the morning, the marker drawing had bled, and the polycrylic had run and pooled into one corner which was still wet. Little air bubbles were all over the surface of his block from the sealant. I thought it looked like a collagraph surface, and that he should go with it instead of starting over. In the process of making art, instead of calling it a mistake, it's called a happy accident. Larry wasn't so sure if he was that happy about it, but went ahead and started carving the block, bubbles and all.
Larry and his wood block

Larry's bubbly surfaced wood block that he began to carve

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Reduction Woodcut Workshop is Filled!

My reduction woodcut workshop quickly filled since last week at the Art Students League in Denver. Last night I had eleven students interested in learning this printmaking technique. A few people said they had wanted to take a class from me for years, and were finally able to. It feels good to have people interested in what I do, and want to learn from me.

The first class is a lot of lecture and demonstration, and not much hands on. There is so much information to cover. Reduction woodcut is a printmaking technique that utilizes one woodblock which is carved, and printed repeatedly to print multiple colors. It requires careful planning since previous steps cannot be repeated.

My demo for class

This was a quick demo I put together for the class to demonstrate the steps in a reduction print. From left to right are the stages of this print. First the block was carved to reveal the white of the paper, and printed a light blue. Second, the same block was carved again to preserve the blue areas, and inked a tan color. The tan print by itself is above the two color, blue and tan print. Next, the block is carved a third time, preserving the tan areas, and printed a darker brown. Lastly, the block is carved again, and inked on the inside a dark green, and on the outside edge, a red color. On the right is the block, and the reference photograph.

Next Thursday I will post what the students are working on, and what they've learned so far.