Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Two Exhibits

Geographical Divides: Finding Common Ground October 24th, 2012 - January 5th, 2013 The Art Institute of Las Vegas Gallery
2350 Corporate Circle, Henderson, NV 89074
702.369.9944 school main number
Gallery Hours:
M-Th 8:00AM-8:00PM
Fri-Sat 9AM-5PM, closed Sundays
Thursday November 15th

Friday, October 5, 2012

Merrily merrily into the season

So here we are, the best sales month of the year for those of you who sell, get your listings out there in the world wide web (www)!!!

Value sets, great trick for the holiday bargain shoppers!
This year I have three shops open and so far the sales in September are up, well in two of them. Listed below with a tiny review of each in case you're thinking of taking the ecommerce plunge. No reason not to, really, good way to empty out those flat file drawers.

A couple of tips or three:
  1. Research the online hand-pulled prints world, search for woodcuts, see prices, see how others list, study the store's policies, etc.
  2. Branding is important so make sure your shop's name is same/similar across the web.
  3. Take decent photos, describe well, have good store policies, give great customer service.
  4. Promoting is key, the minute you take your foot off the accelerator, sales stop. Tend to your shops, promote items, have sales, change things around, chat in forums, post in social networks, blog, as much as you can stomach.
  5. Be ready for ups, downs and below downs, such is the world of sales. And while you're at it, develop a tolerance for scammers, unscrupulous fellow sellers, and other web trolls.
  6. Have fun, nothing in art life is doing if it isn't at least a little fun. Find your fit, it's different for everyone.

EBay, the selling place everyone loves to hate:
By far my best seller, the worst customers, most stressful, easiest to post items, easiest to maintain, most features, did I mention worst customers? Anyhow, eBay is definitely not for the faint of heart but my art sells consistently, who knew? And they have a great free little listing tool that I use as a database for all my other shops, shhhh...

Engravings are great sellers, priced right!
Etsy, the selling place everyone loves to love:
Really much improved over the years, still 1 to 10 the sales to the 'bay but geez, nice people there, huh? Not exactly efficient listing but easy enough, features improving all the time as is traffic. Sales solid this year.
If you chat, feature, build treasuries, send convos and socialize more you sell more. Love that Etsy jargon! Sigh.

ArtFire, the new kid:
http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/studio/1000Woodcuts Just reopened, had zero sales last time but it's an easy import from Etsy items so what the hey! Kind of quirky but they all are really. Good looking studio, more features than last time I was there. Connect to a Facebook Kiosk, good feature. We'll see...

Others I have tried:
RubyLane, much pricier to own a piece of the lane, but higher quality items so if you sell on the high end, go wild there. No sales in a year so I dumped it but maybe I wasn't a good fit. The cheaper sister RubyPlaza did so poorly that it closed.

Bonanza, easy enough, friendly enough, no sales in a year but lots of featuring and all that stuff. Eventually overtaken by cheap repros so I dumped it too.

Anyhow, 'tis the season!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mirror mirror...

For the first block of the Marauding Metaphors exhibit print, I worked out the metamorphosis of book into web into book in Photoshop. I almost never completely finish the sketching in PS because my hand and carving tools demand their "say" in the final print. Once I was semi-satisfied with the sketch, I transferred to the first block. The sketch, again, looked like this:
The transfer method I used this time involved this waxy paper called "studio paper" available at www.imcclains.com Worked like a charm! I have used wax paper and laser transparencies (on an ink jet printer) before and this Studio Paper gives about the best results.
I simply sized half the sketch to the block size, then split into 8.5" x 11" chunks to properly print on the wax paper. Since it is translucent, it is very easy to line up the pieces to transfer the whole image. No press needed, baren pressure is enough to achieve a crisp, detailed transfer.

So today I transferred my first carved block onto the second. I am using Shina Plywood, which is fairly soft and thought maybe I could get a pretty good transfer with one light pass of the press. But just in case, I first printed a couple of good prints onto tracing paper. If my block-to-block mirror transfer failed, I could always paste the tracing paper on the mirror block and proceed.

Lo and behold, perfect transfer on the block! A few low spots, expected since I didn't want to use high pressure. But it is all visible, details intact, no indents, lined up perfectly and ready for the knife.

This is what the final image will look like:
yummy! but I still need to name it! suggestions?
mirror mirror...
it's all good
the more you know...
(those are all lame)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Marauding Metaphors

That is the title of a show I have been invited to make a piece for. The show runs during a book fair here in Vegas and when you get invited to be in a show, you show up. I had to interrupt my drunken bee print but I will get to it soon enough.

Meantime, here is my contribution, well, half my contribution!

 The plan (I know I know...) is to print this onto another block, then make prints of each of the mirrored blocks. The blocks then become the book "inside covers" and the prints are bound between.
When seen together, the web becomes a whole web and the books meld into the web both going and coming. People will actually be able to turn the pages, always getting a dual mirror image.

This image came to me because lately, images about books and technology that I have seen are all negative. Negative negative negative, sigh.
Well, I love books, and I love the web.

IMHO, technology, the web in particular, have made books more accessible, not less. Isn't the whole point acquiring vast amounts of knowledge until our heads explode? Well, that's my goal in life anyway, one of them!

And don't get me wrong, I LOVE real bound and printed books as four rooms of books in my house can attest. I have bookshelves against the ceiling, floor to ceiling shelves, books in my studio up high, down low...real books. I also collect and cherish old printmaking books, real gems.

But recently I've read about WordPress, wills and trusts, non-profit law, and caring for geriatric dogs all on my Kindle, or my Kindle app on my iPad. Because "those" books I just recycle after a couple of readings anyway. So now they live forever in my e-library.

Back to my image, I wanted it to be a positive marriage between books and the web and the web and books. There is some quirky symbolism there, using a spider web (reminiscent of the dusty and forgotten) as the symbol for technology. But then I'm kind of a quirky person.

Anyhow, here is the plan as laid out in a quick Photoshop sketch, except the middle "book" is a "web."
Now, what shall I name it? Anyone?
Tomorrow, I print and carve the other block. It's Shina ply so the carving goes pretty quick. Each block is 16" x 20". I can't wait to print and "bind" my book.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Playing with colors on the drunken bee print

After the key block is pasted and the design cut (which it isn't!), I transfer the cut design with registration marks included to the color blocks. Again, I don't always work this way and often times prefer to work with a registration jig.
Search for registration jig on this blog or my website to see how to make one.
or check my website's Studio Notes section for two notes on registration at the bottom of the page:

But the traditional Japanese method "calls" for carving the registration kento right on the block. My preference is to carve the marks first and then transfer key block, kento and all, to the color blocks. I will post later on how to carve a perfect kento every time!

Back to the color decisions, I tend to print too "primary" most of the time and envy off-color combinations of other artists. To a point, moku-hanga takes care of the too-primary issue due to the delicacy of the resulting color applications.
But it doesn't hurt to "play" first, again in Photoshop, and see the mood change as I darken, lighten, raise or lower color channels, desaturate...

One filter that I have found invaluable in converting a retouched photograph into something "woodcut-able" is the Artistic>Poster Edges filter. Play with it!

In that composite of four versions, from RIGHT to left:

-After cutting out one flower from the original photo, enhancing the main flower with brushes and eliminating most of the background noise. I enhanced the contrast and ran through a magenta photo filter.

-A desaturated, sharpened and lightened version, probably the one that will be closer to the final version.

-Blue and cyan enhanced, brilliance and contrast enhanced. Selected flowers and gave them a magenta filter without including the background.

-Yellow variation, green enhanced, lighter.

How about that, something for every taste? I suppose if I was making an oil based print or a painting I would choose the bluer version, maybe! Now, back to the studio to put my hands to "real" work carving the cherrywood.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cooking up a new print

High time for something new!
Seems the routine is always the same: first an idea "gels" after much mulling and thinking, sometimes the perfect image just pops up but sometimes they hide until seemingly all of a sudden, there it was the entire time, hidden behind the obvious...like that pollen-drunken bee inside the top cactus flower.

I've done a print called Me in a Tree but now I want to be that bee and do me as a drunken bee...except I like willow blooms so if I were to be a drunken bee, I'd get drunk on the delicate pollen inside a willow bloom. So that's the plan, my next print, In a Willow Bloom.

Routines are perfect for getting going and, after the blocks are cut and the references are chosen, I have come to play with my buddy Photoshop quite a bit. I find it immensely liberating to just play (remember to save often) with imagery and cut and paste, put that petal over there, change the color scheme, darken, distort, transform, lighten, enlarge, miniaturize (a great tool for examining composition without interference) and pretty much sit on my arse for a day or two wielding my graphic tablet pen and making a mess...a virtual mess. Simplifying the image is a must and I do that by discarding much of the photo's information and drawing on top of the photograph with the brush tool.
Those there are perfect willow blooms and I'm going to get drunk inside them.

Since this is for a print exchange (http://barenforum.org) there is a pre-determined paper size so this image will be long and skinny.
Carving guide on left and outline drawing printed on tracing paper,
 on right, ready to be pasted on the block
Finalizing the composition, I simply discard all color information and apply a couple of filters to make the outline sketch that will be pasted on the first block. I also like to print a reference "carving guide" already reversed as it will be on the block.

I will add me as a bee inside the welcoming "cave" of the top bloom, the old fashioned way: with a pencil.
Usually, after pasting, I reinforce the outlines for carving with a permanent marker, which also serves to make the drawing a bit more loose and closer to what I would have drawn by hand. By the time I get done with the virtual brush tracing, re-drawing and carving, the design becomes more and more "mine".
I don't usually do all this planning for many of my prints and often prefer to draw straight on the block with sumi ink and a brush. But this is a moku-hanga, Japanese style print, and they require more careful planning.
Next I will need a color guide to determine how many color blocks I will need to complete the image. Next post!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Updated Website Pages

Here is my very latest, Tahoe Sketch, a little tiny print for another Barenforum.org exchange.
For those that like woodcuts and woodblock prints, there is no place like our Baren. Here is the link if you wish to join us http://barenforum.org
But the title of this blog is updated website pages, so here is the link to the latest in the 1000 Woodcuts Project.

Life has slowed down since I started but I remain completely convinced that I will one day print the 1000th woodcut.

Meantime, plans for a website streamlining are finalized and I'm beginning to move some things, transfer some things, eliminate some things...
-The website is just too big so I will be axing some areas
-Galleries will move exclusively to my online shops, where detailed views and print details are easier to upload and prints can be purchased.
-The Printmaking Studio and the Studio Notes will move slowly but surely to this blog, easier to search that way. I'm also upgrading photos as I go along and hope to add some videos.

For now that's about it. Studio notes will begin appearing here and the printmakingstudio.com domain will get redirected here. Back to work...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Some loose ends!

Things just keep on coming up and of course I have to communicate all the little updates!

First and foremost, keep sending and publishing those print pictures, they are just a delight to see. Many of you have shared on Facebook or your own blogs and asked me if that's okay...OF COURSE!!!

Some of you have mentioned that you may exhibit the City of the World print. That's great! Please do keep us informed of any and all exhibits so I can keep the blog updated.

And to that end, I have a few extra sets of the print so if for some reason putting your own print "up there" scares you, I can send an exhibit print as long as it is either gifted to the exhibit locale or returned to me.

Also to that end, feel free to avail yourself of the high resolution key, suitable for printing and distributing, .pdf downloadable from the website here:

I sent the .pdf to Office Depot and received perfect copies for all of you, rather than print myself. At 8c a page, you can't go wrong!

Next on the agenda is the Colophon, just a reiteration of last communication with an important update.

1. Purchase the printed book directly from the Publisher, CreateSpace through Amazon.com
Now with ISBN for ordering through any publisher.
The format is softcover, perfect bound, 8.5 x 11 inches or 21.5 x 27 centimeters, black and white, 144 pages of pure delight. I chose options to make the book as inexpensive as possible.

You can purchase from Amazon now, here is the link:
That's all for now!
Many of you have asked when the next project will start, to which I say...soon enough! Let's rest through the summer and enjoy our Great City.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hello my dear dear dear citizens!!!

The full colophon for the City of the World is now published!

Contents include:

Print InformationCredits and PrefaceCitizens of the City of the World in alphabetical order, by last name
First, Last Name, Block Code, City, State or Province, Country
Block Codes ExplainedPanels of the City of the World, starting with I through V, facing each key to the corresponding panelCity blocks by 112 artists, arranged by last name in alphabetical order along with each citizen’s locale and any additional information each wished to shareProcess, briefly with photos, a selected few moments outlining the building of our City

You have three choices for receiving this lovely compilation of images and clever writings:

1. Purchase the printed book directly from the Publisher, Lulu.com

This is a Publish On Demand outfit that will print the book as it is ordered so it will take around 3-5 days to receive your printed book. The format is softcover, perfect bound, 8.5 x 8.5 inches or 21.5 x 21.5 centimeters, black and white, 141 pages of pure delight. I chose options to make the book as inexpensive as possible and it is currently discounted in Lulu.

You can purchase from this page:

2. Purchase the electronic version, PDF Colophon (all 94 MB of it!) from the same publisher, same page. I honestly attempted to make this a free download but in order to store and protect the e-book there is a small charge from the publisher. Still, at $3.00 it is much cheaper than mailing or printing the beast.

3. Send me a postage-paid CD mailer with blank CD included and I will burn the CD for you with the PDF Colophon.
No charge for this option at all except the postage to send and receive. Email me for my address if you want to receive the colophon this way.

That's it! It's really awesome, enjoy the colophon however you get it.

I will post this on the blog as well for those of you who follow.

Mayor no more!!!


Monday, April 30, 2012

The City of the World web pages have been updated.

Final Image is up as well, direct link:

 And we were very close this time on financials! Very impressive.

The Great City Colophon Book is getting printed, soon to be available.

Tell a friend!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

City of the World 2012

Prints are mailed, should be at everyone's doorstep within a few days in the US and maybe a week or two everywhere else. Website updated soon with final pictures and final word.
I have my fingers crossed on the world shipments but have full faith in the Postal system. No tracking available once the happy prints leave this country so please let me know, either here on the blog or by email, when prints start arriving at foreign shores.

The five sheets were tough to roll up so they should snap flat in no time once unrolled. The enclosed key is but a taste of what the real colophon will be like. And speaking of which, I'm nearly done assembling the colophon and ready to send to publishers for a test book, then once I receive and approve I will make available to all.

All participants will be able to download a free copy of the electronic book/colophon for about three months. Once that period is over, I can still make a CD with the electronic book and ship to anyone that has participated.

The e-book and real paper book will be available for purchase from me and from the publisher: Lulu.com. I've used them before and like the way they work. They also make books available in Amazon so we'll all be famous...infamous? Anyhow, hopefully a few book sales here and there will help fund the next project!

What else can I tell you!? It was a pleasure directing this project, a true challenge to get it done, an incredible surprise to see it printed, a real pain in the butt to get it mailed JUST KIDDING!!!
I loved every single minute, every paper cut, every image, every word all of you wrote, every little gift that came with the blocks, I loved everything about it, honestly. You have all made me very happy, I don't really know why but who needs to know why?!

That's all for now, send pictures of your City of the World mounted and framed up on a wall. I will post on the blog.

Until the next one! Be good, make art, make lots of art!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wrapping it up!

The latest few tasks are now completed.
First a re-count of the piles, onced aired out. Amazing what a bit of cobalt drier and 6% humidity will do to ink! Dry as a bone by the time I got home, although the studio windows remained opened for a couple of days.

Will have to remember next time to take a click counter, seems we were off on every block! But no fear, plenty for everyone. Make a mental note that there are (thank goodness!) 101 sheets of paper in each 100-pack of Stonehenge...or else someone at the paper shop also needs a counter!

And last but not least, today I assembled, tweaked, played with and otherwise messed around with imagery to come up with a "key" that will be mailed out to everyone. I will also upload to the website soon enough. I left the key pages unassembled so that participants could spread them out as they explore the imagery in the "real" prints.

Now to await the print-shop output, to be delivered in a day or so. Then I can begin to mail out the sets. At the very latest, all sets will be mailed by end of next week. Can you feel the anticipation?

Here's a low-resolution peek at the cover for the key.
Neato! Huh?

Next task, update the website with the final images...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Live! From Portland Oregon! It'ssssss the Print Party!!! (and the audience goes wild...)

Alrighty then YouTube fans just forced me to make a video and upload the ugly truth about the recent Print Party in the Atelier Meridian in Portland Oregon USA.

Just go here and watch and weep:
Obviously named, PrintParty1 and PrintParty2

We simply repeated 600 times over the course of 3 days and we were finished. Prints are happily sitting in my studio airing out.

Next tasks are to take a photo of each panel, repeat the Key-making process backwards (easier now that I have all the names in Photoshop) and then upload the result to the website. After that I will send everyone of you a copy of the Key with your prints; mailing party photos and videos to come soon enough.

The Colophon with the expanded information for each print will be published as a .pdf file distributed to all participants for free and as a bound book soon after. I will make the .pdf file available online as as a download. Once I finish the book and proof it, I will publish on demand as a bound book for those who prefer to caress the beauty of a real book. 

The Amazing City of the World Colophon Book will be available at publisher's price to all participants and at retail for anyone else. Any proceeds from the "real" book will go to the bank account of the next project, of course!

There is still time to add to the colophon information if you have not yet sent it. Also, those with blogs, websites, or other web-spaces, feel free to send me via email the link to your web-place and I will add that to your print information. I will send an email to all participants with that request for those who don't follow the blog, or for those who do follow but distractedly so.

Send info here:

Email me at 1000woodcuts at gmail dot com to send me links to your respective web places if you want that added to the colophon.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lordie! 600 prints 1200 miles (x2) Happy at Home!!!

I have done a lot of crazy things in my life but this one has to be around the top 10...maybe top 5!!! Drive 1200 miles with 5 blocks and 600 sheets of paper with the plan of getting blocks on print in 3 days. What a fantastic and totally undoable plan!!!
But wait...

Day one seemed very long and I confess after it had passed I wondered how far we could get. We were working about as far as our bodies could withstand and yet still a big chunk of prints to print.
Well, we ate so I thought maybe if we don't eat tomorrow...nah, we didn't go that far.

Day One we probably put in around almost 8 good hours but we were bound and determined to top that on Day Two. We met for breakfast nearby, loaded up with fuel (calories, I mean) and headed off to the Atelier Meridian, in the midst of downtown Portland, Oregon. At the end of the day we had collectively printed around (exactly) 144 prints.

Day One also entailed setting up the presses, getting the "system" tweaked so that three printmakers could work on each press, pressure just right, packing material just so, ink about there, and so on. All fell into place and we went into production mode.

Day Two we had decided (ordered with no exceptions and no whining) to meet for a hearty breakfast early. We began printing around 8:30 AM and I believed we washed our hands for the last time at around 7:00 PM. By the end of the day, we had 266 prints pulled, a true marathon of a day!!! Our grand total was now 410 and in my mind, no way in you-know-where that we would be able to finish the next day. Bodies were sore and bruises appeared but our resolved and good humor never left us.
A well earned full plate of blackened salmon was the highlight of the day. I can still taste it...

Here are some highlights in photos. I'm still editing the video and will post that next:
Team Barbara, Sharri and son Don

Terry Peart with Sharri LaPierre in background, apparently doing absolutely nothing? whaaaaaaat?

Ah yes, looking like a happy city

Full rack and then some, rack held 36 prints twice, we miscounted at least 6 times

Sir Doug Haug inking da block

Lady Terry Peart pulling a print

CODE 111! At print 111, we finally got Terry to say "perfect!" so every perfect print from then on was "coded" 111

Terry and Barbara miscounting, er, counting I mean, the finished prints.
I have no idea what Sharri is doing...

We took a .057 second break to pull some infamous roller art prints. Soon available on an Etsy store near you!
That's it for today! Day Three blow by blow yet to come. Editing the video so you can see 1/600 prints pulled by each team. Still catching my breath.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Print party!

Here we are in a seemingly peaceful setting...working ourselves silly. Argh! Whose idea was this? Who the heck is Maria?

Seriously, we're working hard to bring everyone presents, much to do yet. Inking as fast as I can and still can't keep up with my speedy elves, Doug and Terry. At the other press, Sharri enslaved her son, Don, and Barbara inking like there's no tomorrow.

Now that I think about it, there's NO tomorrow! Been so busy 3 days have gone by.

Last picture we charmingly named, "printmaker down!" I was just stretching my back, a short-person tactic to work as fast as a tall person...
The fun continues today!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

For everyone's delight, blocks up close with key to the city

Without further introduction, here are the completed blocks with key, all my fellow citizens! You can get the large version of each photo by clicking on it, then print if you want but don't waste too much paper. The real thing will come your way soon enough!

Wow! huh? huh? Wow....I'm in love with these...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A new dance! The paper "jig"

Here's the gist of the problem: the paper is roughly 22 x 30 inches, the blocks are roughly 22 x 30 inches. Printing will require very careful placing of the paper on a rather large inked block, both nearly the same size.
Not wanting to put too much pressure on the printing team or end up with too many mis-printed precious sheets, I decided to build a paper placement jig. This contraption allows one person to handle a larger sheet of paper, place it with confidence on a little shelf perfectly aligned over the block, then lower the paper in perfect position.
The jig can then be retired to run the block through the press, and replaced to position the next sheet of paper.

Basically the paper-placement jig is a simple “kento” (Japanese registration guide) shaped foamboard construction.

Take foamboard strips and glue them together in a corner shaped “L”, checked with a square. I used two strips for the entire length of the contraption, about 22 inches long side and maybe 8 inches short leg.

I next cut enough smaller strips of foamboard to build up the paper-shelf supports in the corner and some distance along the long side.

I built it to the height of the block plus one layer because the block will be inked when the jig is placed next to the block and the paper shelf needs to be above the block.
Next I glue a paper support “shelf” on the corner and a papr support shelf somewhere along the long side of the jig. I made these out of a contrasting blue matt-board to aid in visibility.

The corner shelf is below the square in the picture above, already secured with the paper guide made of foamboard on top. The long-side shelf shows the (blue) shelf before the paper guide goes in place.

Secure with another piece of foamboard, the paper guide, aligned to the exact place you want the paper to be. I offset the long side about a quarter inch because my paper is that much larger than the block (when centered, of course). You can see the pencil marks on the blue shelf above indicating where the paper guide will be.

Next picture is the completed guide placed against the block:

Next picture is paper placement, pretty self explanatory. Just place guide against the block, and place corner of paper against corner guide.

Hold paper in place with two fingers, guide with the thumb or however it works for you; the guide is very lightweight so it has to be held in place while placing the paper or it will shift away from the block.
Lower the long side of paper against the long-side guide, let the paper drop gently. Secure to the block with a caress of the hand and remove the paper guide before running the block through the press.

After a few tries and the invaluable "husband test" I glued a strip of rug-hug to the bottom of the paper-placement-jig so that now it does not slip at all when placing the paper. I hope the print-team is reading this, there will be a quiz before we begin!