Sunday, March 27, 2011

City of the World is in your hands!

Each block shape was recorded before mailing just in case

And off they went! Happy travels, little blocks...

The happy City of the World is now in your hands!
I will make a last blog post with the following answers to Frequently Asked Questions but never hesitate to email me directly if you have any comments, questions, funny jokes or whatever.
In addition to the instructions sent with the blocks, they are online, reachable from the project's main page:
Don't forget to keep an eye on the blog, I may comment on the experience. For example, it occurred to me that what we are doing is not just a printmaking exercise but probably qualifies as a cultural outreach and exchange, don't you think? More on that later but, on that note, when you mail the block back to me why don't you wrap it in a couple of pages of your very own local newspaper? Then I can share the headlines from all over the world and anything else that occurs to me as I get them back. Not a requirement, of course, just a request.
Here are some FAQs:
-Which side do I carve again?
-Carve the blank side, the side without the arrow and letters/numbers
-What IS that arrow, anyway?
-That arrow indicates the top of the block, sky over the city; either carve side up or purposely don't but your block will be aligned with the arrow pointing UP
-There's a border line on my block, do I carve a border?
-Up to you, the "border" is there for me to cut the block, after that you can carve a border or not, does not matter
-Where are the instructions again? I lost my piece of paper...
-My block has a nick, stain, line, mosquito, scratch...what do I do?
-Please ignore all the above and forgive my jig-saw and ink brush, they both seemed to get overly excited when drawing and cutting on the wood but hopefully I kept all those mishaps to a minimum
-What was that about a newspaper?
-If you wish and remember, please wrap the block in a couple of pages of your own newspaper; the cultural exchange will be more exciting that way!
That's it for now, I'm taking a few days off but feel free to email me anytime.
Happy carving, my dear citizens!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

How the puzzle was conquered

Here are the rest of the process pictures. Second day I decided to work on the grass on the other side of the house. Two reasons: one, I now bother the OTHER neighbor with my incessant jig-saw noise; and two, the wind was blowing and I didn't want to get cherry dust on my front porch.

Here we go...

More holy blocks, they look so empty!

That's kind of cool on the grass!

Several hours later...these are the last blocks!

Now THAT is really cool!
"Jig Doodle" 4 x 3.5 feet x 2"
Saw lines on styrofoam by Maria Arango
 That last picture is the styrofoam board I used for support. Really made cutting the puzzle pieces a lot easier than last project. Before I had to clamp down the big blocks while cutting out every piece and had to be careful not to cut my bench support.

With the styrofoam, I just laid the big block on top and the jig-saw blade goes right through the foam while the block is completely supported. This lets me jig-saw very quickly and the block doesn't chatter at all even when most of the pieces are removed. What a time saver!

The final piece of styrofoam looks kind of like a quirky giant line drawing. Let's call it "Jig Doodle" and sell it! Kidding, kidding...
Mailing pictures tomorrow. That part was really boring, by the way, after all the excitement and stress of cutting pieces in the great outdoors the mailing was a tedious and long task.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blocks being mailed!

Quick update to let everyone know that the blocks are being mailed.
Keep an eye on the blog for "updates without words":

When someone asked me how I planned to cut 113 blocks for this print, I quickly replied: "one at a time"
Well, one at a time and a few days later all 113 were in a box awaiting to be sent off.
I finished the cutting task yesterday and started packing the freshly cut blocks.
Today I managed to mail out about half, phew!

I will have some last minute instructions but they are currently in my "mailing room" and I just don't have the strength to get over there to get my notes. But I thought I'd let everyone know to expect the blocks very quickly now.
General instructions are now in html so that our foreign friends can translate if they wish:

Please let me know as you receive your block, just a quick "got it" so that I know they all arrived safely.

The future City of the World is now in your hands...or will be very soon, anyway.

Your tired and happy instigator,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A project-obsessive personality

I confess I'm "project-obsessive". Once I start something, especially a large project, I just put my head down and work until it is done. I think that's the only way I stay motivated enough to finish. Starting and stopping is just not the way I work.

Anyhow, here is my latest obsession:
I'm planning on finishing the first stage this week. Should be a cool humongous print!

Chopping day! Spring is here...

Here we go! My favorite back-breaking part...
All set up outside in the sunshine on my styrofoam support
I told you it was back-breaking...but I'm so short, the ground is closer than the table top

Poor first piece, looks kind of lonely in there

The block is starting to look puzzled
Holy block!
Spring is here, have to stop and enjoy the first green buds
Ah, here we go, looks like a puzzle now

Work continues: blocks being cut

Here are the last couple of days worth of work, phew!
Sketch being transferred to blocks by my cat

Willow charcoal to strengthen the lines

Lines gone over with sumi ink, final details changed

A nice bath of walnut ink over the sumi lines to make carving visible

And of course, THE KEY to the puzzle pieces while the walnut ink dries.
Cutting proceeds tomorrow, lord willin' and the creeks don't rise...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Where did the winter go?!

Where did the winter go already?
Oh yeah, finished remodeling the kitchen and printed this print and another one for two exchanges (will someone remind me NOT to sign up for anything else?), and coordinated the latest exchange.

I'm also working on a mega-project, another collab puzzle, can be followed here:

But make art we must, lest we go insane.
Meet my latest creation, "Fool on the Hill".
Here are the specs:

Print Title: Fool on the Hill

Paper Dimension: 13" x 6"
Image Dimension: 12" x 5"
Block: 8 Cherry
Pigment or Ink: Akua-Kolor
Paper: Nishinouchi Natural
Edition: 100

I am challenged and humbled by the process once more. More blocks, more chances to goof. In the end I think I ended up with a fairly good success rate on the prints despite my annoying habit of experimenting.

I used Akua-Kolor without rice paste, with rice paste applied separately and with rice paste mixed in. It flows better with paste, although the "without" look is very deserty.

Image: I grew up listening and memorizing Beatles songs even though I never understood the words until I learned English later in life. "The Fool on the Hill" attracted me as a child, which may give some insight into what kind of child I was.

I always liked nature and climbing and being where others could only point to in amazement. Three years ago in the Grand Canyon (South Rim, Colorado USA) I again had a chance to climb and sit on my hill, and watch the sun going down.

On the blocks!

Here we go! Flipped image sketched in charcoal
After sketching in pencil on the blocks, I reinforced and tweaked the image with one of my favorite drawing utensils: a willow charcoal stick. Makes for messy fingers but you can "erase" with the back of the hand, even on wood, and if you touch your nose while you are drawing, you end up looking like quite the (charcoal nosed) artist.

Anyhow, there it is, looking more and more like a true puzzle. Each piece is about 5-6 x 5-8 inches, some are irregular. There are about 106 pieces, ready for all the participants to fill with wonder. Next step is to ink the design with sumi to make the final adjustments, the drawing permanent and the individual blocks defined. Shouldn't take a half-day.

After a good sanding and staining with walnut ink on both sides to make carving easier, the puzzle-piece cutting begins, that all should take about two days at most. I bought a piece of thick styrofoam to support the wood and avoid all that twirling, thank you Doug Haug for reminding me of that jig-saw technique. More pictures as I chop chop.

I finally finished another two projects so my attention is fully on this task until the blocks fly out the door, so to speak.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Progress on the Great City!

The Great City of the World is getting drawn on the blocks this week. I just love doodling in Photoshop!!!
I started out by grabbing a bunch of ideas from clip art mostly, some from my head, some from actual cities. After much MUCH mulling and eliminating some ideas that were too detailed or just not suitable, I settled on about 6 sketches from which I made a composite preliminary sketch.

Now I confess I'm not much of a "pre-sketcher" for my own work, but this "problem" needs some planning. I have five vertical blocks to fill, each is about 22" x 30" (55 x 76 cm). The blue dividing lines in the sketch above indicate more or less the block divisions. And of course the overall sketch has to be divided into smaller puzzle pieces, so detail is not possible and clear composition is a must.

Next is to translate and simplify that messy sketch into the blocks. Now THAT I like! I love drawing directly on the wood. I already reversed the initial sketch because I like the composition above and printed each block a bit bigger for guidance.

Blocks are ready to go and I'm heading for the pencil drawer. I imagine that the final composition will change a bit, especially because as I draw I need to be able to mentally divide each of the five blocks into 20 little pieces (more or less).

So here we go! We have a downtown, suburbia, apartment living, a park, trees, sky, factories, office buildings, a river, boats, cars, trucks and buses...something for everyone.