Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Another block printed! Dance, anyone?

Baile del Sol

In my quest to get five prints and blocks ready for the upcoming exhibit at the OXS Gallery, Nevada Arts Council, I am now on image number three with two more to go.  This print was a bit more difficult than the last two and so it decided it would take up two days of my precious time. So be it, after all, I am the one who chose the finicky paper.

The dirty block, after printing

Joined Cherrywood

Revisiting an older image is always interesting. I designed this particular image, to the tunes of Flamenco that I often listen to while working. In those days, I would join two pieces of cherrywood together when I needed a larger board than plank cherry, which has a maximum width of about 12-14 inches.
Nearly all the blocks that I joined have aged and unfortunately many of them print with a seam down the middle. So first I needed to fix that problem, with masking tape along the back to raise the seam and force it to take ink. After a few prints, the seam was unnoticeable.
Another problem, the block was not carved very deeply so, rather than stop at every inking and wipe the raised areas, I instead took an hour or more to re-carve the low areas so they would not pick up ink. So much for a quick edition...

Banana Bark Paper

Then there is the paper! In them days I would pick up papers from all over the world, often at a bargain price from some little papermaking operation tucked in some tiny town. This particular batch of Banana Bark paper from Thailand (I think) was nicely made, the sheets are huge and have some interesting inclusions of bark and tree fiber.

Baile del Sol
These inclusions cause problems, however, and I had forgotten how finicky this paper prints. It is cotton based and slightly stiff and tends to "shed" inclusions and cotton fibers all over the block when submitted to pressure. Sigh. This means the printmaker has to stop and clean off the entire block every 4-5 prints, making for a very long, very dirty day at the press.
Wouldn't trade it for anything else, though, the paper is delicious! The texture and inclusions make every print totally unique and the variations within the paper sheet is perfectly suited to the wild flamenco dance. Ole!

Persistence, a strong back and a high tolerance for dirty fingernails eventually wins the day and I am now finished with this block and on to the next two. 

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