Thursday, October 14, 2010

Is it January already?

Well, no, it's not January yet...but I did finish my contribution for the Wood Engraver's Network 2011 Calendar. This is an exchange of sorts, where volunteers print up 100 copies of their assigned month and receive a bunch of hand-bound calendars in return. I can't wait!
I must be getting picky in my old age because I stopped "production" to clean the block four times before I was satisfied that it was as clean a print as it would be. By cleaning the block I mean stopping, removing all ink, and recarving spots that were picking up ink without my explicit consent, the rascals!
Didn't help that I just knew that wood engravers carry around a magnifying glass everywhere they go just so they can hone in on the details. I know I do.
In any case, here is the final image. Two blocks, a standard background woodcut block and the engraved foreground in all its gory detail on end-grain maple. I used Daniel Smith inks, Traditional Black oil-based and a black/white/transparent mix for the background.
See? It is snow, it HAD to be clean! The image is from my garden, a quirky Mojave yucca that has the funniest looking seed pods. There was snow two years ago right here in the city, so I'm not completely inventing the composition. I imagine those strange looking pods dumping their seeds in the snow so that they can regenerate during the perfect spring.

I will leave you with a couple of details:

Hmmm...still see a speck or two...drat!


  1. I think your missing an 'l' in the word "glory".

    " all its gory detail on end-grain maple,"

    should be:

    " all its glory detail on end-grain maple."

    IMHO... :-)
    Mark Vosmeier

  2. Thanks Mark! Perhaps it was a gory glory! One of the things that I enjoy most is engraving through my big magnifying lamp. Makes the block look like a tiny world with deep "canyons" and "trails" and "mesas". I really feel sometimes that I could shrink myself and go "down there" and walk around my carving.

  3. I love it! So beautiful. And clean. ;-] It pays to stop and clean the block as you print.

    A calendar is such a great idea. 8-]

  4. This is beautiful! Completely adore the design, and I agree with the cleaning of the block (although I generally do not have the patience, I often wish I had at the end!).

  5. Very nice, the black and white work combined with the gray background give it a lot of depth for just two blocks.

    How big is the block/print?

  6. Thanks everyone!
    The print is only 5" x 8" or roughly 13 x 20 cm. Quite small. I had to transfer the numbers from a computer printout as I didn't trust myself to draw them evenly. For the rest, I started out with a pencil drawing and played a bit in Photoshop before coming up with the "right" composition. I was surprised at the perceived depth too.
    Fun project, quite tedious; keeps me at the bench for hours at a time.

  7. Beautiful! And now that you've said it's 5 x 8, I'm even more impressed with your fine carving (engraving). Those specks you're worrying about must be very very small!

  8. Thanks Annie! BIG magnifying lamp makes it not so difficult but you have to be patient and careful. The specks are small...tiny...very very minute...wee