Saturday, June 5, 2010

Calculating the Unknown

When I am experimenting with printmaking methods, I need to calculate what is going to take place prior to printing anything. I want to use the key block to create several different types of prints using different woodcutting techniques. My goal is to print the key block with chine colle, and again with the 2nd block, and once more as a reduction print. Because this key block will be used in all the prints I have intended on doing, It is important to note the proper order of printing to not get ahead of onself by getting to a point where you can no longer turn back. My goal still follows my primary printmaking focus, where I am printing 4 basic color schemes; day, night, gold, and silver for final prints. I am not concerning myself with creating any kind of editions, every print will be unique and hand printed.

Calculating the finished results is sometimes impossible without printing, but I did a few basic sketches so I do not get lost when applying color. The second block was designed from the key block, but i intend on using the white line method. Here inlies the registration problems that I am challenged with. the Key block will be printed with a brayer, and the second plate will be printed while the paper is dry. I don't have a press large enough to print these blocks, so they must be printed by hand, and since I am using the blocks to produce a wide variety of prints, registration will be key in the end to producing good work.

To the right is the "white line" 2nd block design which I transferred and cut. I had several problems cutting the second block, because I used construction grade plywood. I know many people who would never attempt to use this wood, and I am joining with them. Here is why. Each time I made a cut into the plywood, the texture was different and the depth of cutting was hard to control. The piece of wood I used had several knots in it, which I thought would be a good look if they printed all the grain. The knots were very difficult to carve throough since the wood was extremely hard, and unforgiving especially on turn cuts. The rest of the carving was love and hate. I was loving the soft bits cutting with the grain, but when cutting against the grain, the soft wood was like mush. The wood alternated between hard and soft grain, which made the worst possible mark,...a skip. So while this was not the best wood, i am still trying to get out everythign I can to make a finished print. I have finished preparing the blocks by adding a thin layer of gesso to each board. It is best to apply the gesso with a "drybrush" stroke. This is done so the cut lines do not fill in with any gesso material.