Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Giant Wood Cut

Over the course of the last month I've been designing and carving a wood cut that is 28x38 inches. I had never before produced a plate this large, in any technique, because my press won't accommodate anything larger than 22x30. Recently my printmaking tribe had a date on the calendar designated "steam roller day."  I decided to hop on it since I'm all about playing with different art challenges right now!

My subject is a reaction to our times. The division in our country breeds animosity in our communities and families. My wish is that we reach out kindly to one another and remember our countless connections. The power of listening, the calming quality of touch and the transformative effect of simple kindness can't be underestimated. Let's be nice to one another, we're in this together!  

Brace yourself, I took lots of photos of the long process of carving a large block and the unusual method of printing!

I began by doing a drawing of hands and then scaling it up to the size I wanted. I then attached it to my block. 

I had blackened the surface of the block with India Ink, and because of this I transferred the image by placing white Seral Paper between my drawing and the block and tracing all my lines.

Then the long process of carving began. I started with my areas of pure white. Now you can see the advantage of blackening the surface of the block, you instantly see your image emerging very clearly.  

Here I begin to carve my contour lines in the arms, keeping in mind value transitions. 

Now I move to the hands. 

And then the fingers to complete the subject.

Then I moved to lifting out a whole lot of wood in the background. 

Carving in my studio with my reference drawing at my elbow. 

And 57 podcasts later, the block was complete! 

I selected a block size that would just fit on the largest press in the extraordinarily well equipped Golden West Printmaking studio, so I was able run a number of prints before steam roller day.

I printed on fabric because it's cheap, colorful and I can sew a pocket for a dowel and hang the piece without the staggering expense of framing something this size. 

One day I printed in solid color fabrics, 

and another day I printed on patterned fabric. 

On steam roller day we set up an inking station where we all helped one another ready our blocks.

After placing them on top of sheets of plywood, covering them with our fabric, then 2 layers of padding the steam roller slowly rolled over 2 plates at a time. 

We then lifted the layers of blanket and foam 

then carefully lifted the imprinted fabric 

And we celebrated one another's magnificent images all day long. Smiles, giggles and pats on the back were everywhere.
In the foreground is our fearless leader, Vinita Vgood, who planned and choreographed the day perfectly, including the luxuries of a DJ and lunch!

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