Happy halloween! Here are shots of today's printing session.
This last green block adds so much definition. It really makes it a map. More layers still to come.
Today I started to print my Iraq map, titled Locusts In Babylon. I printed brown ink, lots of water and no paste using my palm and fingers to get this texture for the bottom:
There will be a lot of overprinting on top of this layer, so the paper is now sitting in a damp stack to allow the moisture from the last printing to distribute evenly through the stack. I'm working with 20 sheets of Echizen Kozo.
I've found that printmakers are an especially generous breed, helpful and eager to share tips and techniques, and printmaker Meredith Broberg, who taught this weekend's "Printing With Plastic" workshop, was no exception. Since I've been working with map imagery lately in my woodblocks, I tried working with a map in drypoint. The prints below are based on a satellite view of Lhasa, Tibet.
Drypoint: Carborundum: Both plates combined: Although the workshop was conducted using presses, I brought my ball-bearing baren so I could try it out with drypoint and intaglio inks. Here is a portion of a print made on the press:
And here's the same plate printed by hand with the baren:
There's a lot more plate tone and the lines are not as strong and sharp, but the image is certainly readable. I'm very encouraged about the possibility of combining intaglio on plastic with my woodblocks.
The keyblock in a traditonal woodcut is the primary or master block, which contains the main outlines of the image. I think of this as the keyblock for my Babylon print, as it's this block that contains the physical features of the area I'm mapping and identifies the place. I love how these photos look like a view from an airplane.
As you can imagine, this took a long time to carve.
Here I've used a printout of an Islamic mosaic pattern as the basis for my carving. The complex geometric designs often found in Islamic art create the impression of unending repetition, which is believed by some to be an inducement to contemplate the infinite nature of God. In my reinterpretation of the mosaic, I wanted to show the pattern connected and whole, but also breaking up into sectors. To this end, I had fun inverting the pattern, first carving out the lines between the tiles, then moving into carving out the tiles themselves. I plan to do a second block to add a different color for some of the deleted tiles.
Yesterday I traveled to Connecticut to visit the wonderful artist, and equally wonderful person, Lynita Shimizu. We spent the morning in Lynita's light-filled studio where she gave me a much needed lesson in matting and framing (thank you, Lynita!). Then, after a sushi break, we went to nearby University of Connecticut to see Lynita's huge one-person show. I'm here to tell you that a room full of 63 of Lynita's woodblock prints takes one's breath away. If you're anywhere near Storrs, CT, don't miss this show:
"Moku Hanga: Woodcuts by Lynita Shimizu"
(63 woodcuts) Jorgensen Gallery
September 1 - November 16, 2006
The Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
This design is based on a cylinder seal design from the ancient culture of Babylonia. The Babylonian civilization endured from the 18th until the 6th century BC in the same area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers covered by this map. Like cuneiform writing, cylinder seals were printed into clay tablets. The Babylonians studied mathematics and developed the system of measuring time (seconds and hours) that is still in use today. I wanted this design to look rough, so I held the flat to (knife) at a shallow angle and used the whole edge rather than just the point make some of the cuts. I'm hoping that it prints as rough as it looks on the block.