Today I spent some time in my studio printing the blocks I’ve carved over the past few weeks.
Tomorrow I’ll start on some of the larger blocks I’ve got ready.
Today I went to town on a linoblock I recently found at a thrift store. Since it was crazy old I figured it would be brittle or hard, but it cut like butter – definitely the best $1 I’ve spent lately.
I’m not sure how I feel about the dark middle layer in the block though. When you carve a section away it appears black, which makes things difficult since it’s inverted from how the finished piece will look.
When I work with wood I paint a layer of sumi ink over the top so that I can see the lights and darks of the print as I carve. This linoleum, even though it cuts like a dream, definitely takes some getting used to since it works in the opposite way.
What do you guys think, do you prefer wood or lino?
My antique nipping press has been reeeaaal squeaky lately—it squeals every time I turn the handle, and it’s been bugging me for a while. So I decided to take it apart in hopes that I could oil and clean the moving parts.
Turns out it was filled with grime and rust, which isn’t surprising given how old it is. It looks as though it was repainted at least once during its life, but I can’t tell how long ago—luckily the outside paint has held, so the only rust is on the enclosed pieces.
Now to get it cleaned up and reassembled!
I’m a creature of habit. I will use the same product for literally years, even if it doesn’t work particularly well, just because I hate change. (Hello, 9 year old Converse sneakers I wear to work every day!)
So I’ve used the same brands of ink forever. I still use the same two pots of Akua Intaglio ink that I bought before I graduated two years ago. But I’m on the market for something new.
Akua is great stuff, but it doesn’t work very well on the lighter papers I like to print on–my last batch of prints on kitakata and mulberry have turned out all greasy, with oil stains that leach out from the ink onto the paper. Caligo’s safe wash oils have been a little bit better, with the added addition of being easier to clean up than other oils (or even Akua’s soy-based ink). And Speedball, though I do use it occasionally, is just… not what I’m looking for. The colors don’t mix well at all, and half the time it dries before I can get it off the block and onto the paper. It works great for teaching art classes or for when I need a really quick drying ink, but for the most part, it just lacks the richness and depth of color I need.
That said, I’ve been reading a lot about Gamblin lately. I’ve never heard a bad thing about this brand, and they have an oil based relief ink I’ve been curious about for a while.
And oh hey, McClain’s Printmaking Supply, the best printmaking supply company ever, was offering free samples of a Gamblin ink recently! It’s a limited edition grey that they apparently make every year with the Pacific Northwest College of Art, which I secretly still long to get my MFA from someday. Here’s the McClain’s description of their Gamblin Watershed Grey ink:
PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art) in Portland, Oregon worked with Gamblin to create a limited edition recycled ink. The mix of recycled pigments is different every year, so Watershed Grey is always unique and never repeated. When it’s gone, it’s gone until the next year’s batch so order soon. This year’s Watershed Grey is a very dark grey.
Guess who was lucky enough to score a sample of this year’s Watershed Grey.
McClain’s doesn’t skimp on their sample sizes, this is a good 4oz of ink. I couldn’t manage to get a decent picture of the ink color in the pot (it just comes out looking black) but I’ll post a photo once I’ve gotten to print with it. Very excited to try it out.
Though my posting has been sporadic to nonexistent lately, I’ve definitely been hard at work on some new projects. Relearning how to balance full time employment with my more creative pursuits has been difficult, but I think I’m finally getting back in the swing of things, finding a balance that suits my creative side as well as my fiscally responsible side. Gotta pay them bills!
That said: I’ve been invited to take part in a two person embroidery show at the Corvallis Arts Center this winter, so I’ve started on a new embroidery project for the exhibit. I’m borrowing some of the imagery from my Family Photos book, but this new series will be incorporating some new stuff as well, albeit in a similar theme as the original Family Photos project. Here’s a little peek at what I’ve been up to in the past couple weeks:
I’ve got some other exciting things coming up in addition to this Arts Center show, but I’ll post about that tomorrow. Right now I’ve got some more sewing to do!