24 November 2007

Linocut madness!

I just ate Thanksgiving dinner for the third time tonight. Yes, you read that right, the third time (my family still has not learned to cook for less then a thousand people when it comes to the holidays). Granted, these are leftovers so they are no where near the fanfare of the actual Thanksgiving feast, but I'm gettin' sick of the turkey. At any rate, I hope you all had a good one this year!

Yesterday evening I carved three more linoleum blocks. My mother took Leann's place in the cringing you-better-not-chop-off-a-finger department. I'm happy to report that I still have ten fingers and no gouges so we are good. I carved a luna moth, a bird sitting on a branch and The Hanged Man from tarot cards (which is for a chunky book trade due in January for the ATC Exchange).

Today I spent the day printing them. And what an adventure it turned out to be. And no, it wasn't all grand. I did some surfing last night looking for advice on how to go about getting good prints.

Here was my brilliant plan to lino print grandness:

1.) put the paper on top of the inked block and rub like hell (I did this at Leann's house and it worked real well for the ginko leaf block)

2.) put the paper on the floor, the block on top and then stand on it. (I will not tell you how many pounds I am but it is many and I figure that would put a lot of pressure on it)

3.) I would also try printing with acryllic paint because I wanted to do work on fabric.

I was pumped, I was ready, I woke up all excited to be spending the day making art. I came downstairs, had my morning coffee, cuddled the Dooley dog and went to work.

Let's just say that after two hours of various attempts (putting too much ink on the block, not enough, different papers, my ingenious ideas on getting even pressure), I will only show you these two prints.

Why only these two you ask? Because....the rest of them sucked.

Even when the paper prints were not working out as well as I would have liked, I was still optimistic about the fabric prints. I had the hairbrained idea that acrylic paint would be better then ink. So I loaded up the block with the paint and put the fabric on top of the block and rubbed it.

I got this.

And before you start saying "That's not so bad", let me assure you, it is. Its not crisp and kind of smeary looking. Oh, and acrylic paint doesn't wash off lino blocks so easily...ask me how I know. I need at least 25 fabric prints for the fabric postcard exchange I'm in and this clearly wasn't going to work.

I was having serious issues getting even pressure for the print. (If you click on the pictures above they will get bigger and you can see all the gaps in the printing in really glaring detail.) I sat and stared at the floor littered with all these not-so-grand sucky prints and started thinking unlady-like thoughts about the whole thing. I also examined my metal trash can and contemplated using it to burn them all.

Needless to say I was frustrated. I had gone through quite a bit of ink and paper and hadn't found my groove. And I knew how to remedy it but had woken up this morning determined to find an alternative.

For those of you who don't know me, when I become interested in something new I will research it to death. During my internet travels about linocuts I came across this mini press. By the time I started thinking about it again today, I had pretty much come close to running out of ink which meant I was going to have to visit the art store to get more. And I wanted to print on fabric and was becoming generally pissy about the whole thing. It became personal, I was going to make this work. I called Utrecht's, they had the press and would hold it for me and since I have one of their cards, I had a coupon for an extra 20% off.

So one 60 mile round trip later, I was back in my studio with this set up. (That's the press there on the right. I realize the black trash bag covering the work table, black printing ink and black press make for a brilliantly interesting photo but work with me here, I was on a mission and had no time for such concerns as color contrast in photos.)

And I made this.

So then I made these.

Are they all perfect? Of course not, but they are all way better then what I was getting before and I consider all of them usable.

The mini press is pretty nifty. Here's a better picture of it.

Its really little and has a padded lower surface that the upper metal surface pushes against. This seemed to really work well for the fabric prints. I did discover pretty quickly that to do the prints on fabric you have to much heavier handed with the ink. But that was okay because I was getting consistently good prints and not wanting to chuck the blocks out the window.

I want to do some prints on paper, I have some ideas on ways to display them. But I really wanted to get a move on with those postcards. Tomorrow I will heat set the ink with an iron, cut out the timtex and start assembling them. I'm going to keep the stitching simple since I don't want to take away from the design but there is still a long way to go on them.

This evening I'm going to chill on the sofa with the Dooley dog and start crocheting a scarf out of this yarn and this pattern.

This is from Vogue's latest Stitchionary series. I have a love/hate relationship with crochet. On the one hand, I love the patterns like the one above, I think they are quite pretty. On the other hand, some of the tackiest items in crafting history have been produced by crochet. I guess it all depends on the evil intentions of the creator. Don't worry, this yarn is too pretty to make anything tacky with, I'll be nice to it.


Pattie said...

Hey Lynn, what a difference the "press" made! You DID it! Your linocuts are great! Congratulations! What diligence you have!

sion said...

I'm really loving your linocuts. Especially your non-cute (!!!) little booby goddess (I'd have known exactly who you meant!). Glad you finally got a printing solution that satisfies ... I'm wondering if I can get my dad to knock up something similar.