Monday, October 17, 2016

All in the Details


Confession! I'm not much of a proofer...when it comes to woodcuts, that is. But wood engravings are a bit more demanding, capriciously so. Wood engravings (not mine in particular) have tiny little lines that fool the viewer into thinking they see shading. Fooling the viewer is what art is all about, by the way.
So I am looking at this Creatures of the Night (or maybe In the Still of the Ni-ight...) with a magnifying lamp and all I see are little hash-marks, squares, lines everywhere...and what I see when I back up is a night scene with a cat and a lamp-post and an iron gate. Funny, that.

First set of proofs

First proofs on newsprint paper,
building up the ink slowly

Proof on clear plastic, I'll tell you why in a sec

Proofs, block and the clear plastic proof by the block

Nifty Secret Trick

Apparently nobody says "nifty" anymore...when proofing woodcuts and wood engravings I have gotten into the habit of printing a proof on clear plastic, any cheap clear plastic will do. I have a bunch of transparencies from the ancient times when people did presentations using projection screens, so I use them. Then I slap the plastic ink-side down on a piece of paper.
What this proof on clear plastic does is provide me an exact copy of the print, reversed so it matches the block. That way I don't have to think "oh that area is too dark, I have to reverse in my head and find it in the block". I just look at the clear plastic pasted onto a paper and I can see exactly how the print looks, reversed. Told you... nifty!

Second Set of Proofs

Slightly more carved, especially in the lighter areas,
around the cat, some bush edges more defined

Proof on better paper, getting there!
Still some tweaking to do
Second set of proofs on the actual paper that the print will be printed on. I am using two sets of paper, a fine printing paper from Daniel Smith (not producing paper anymore), and a paper called Superfine. The Daniel Smith paper is slightly grainier with a very slight tooth, which will give the print a slightly softer look. Superfine is a paper meant for letterpress book printing, very smooth, slightly ivory, really beautiful. The smoother surface shows every tiny detail with a minimum of ink, perfect for wood engravings.

Tomorrow, final tweaks and some press printing. So far I'm liking the results but there are some rough areas to clean up still. A wise man (James Pink) once said that the final details from the time you think you are done until you are actually done, can make all the difference in an artwork. Something like that. 
I'm using a tiny etching press, most appropriate for a tiny wood engraving. Blankets, newsprint, ink, rollers, pressure...I set up everything late this evening so I could get right down to biznezz first thing in the morning. 

Part trois yet to come!

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