09 June 2015

Making Big Art In Small Spaces

I'm starting a new series of print works on themes from colonial American almanacs and they're going to be big, at 26 x 38 inches (97 x 67 cm). My studio, which is a bedroom in my small house, is 12 x 13 feet, and I also use it as my "office" for computer work, so I'm using every inch of the space right now. I have a folding table that I keep behind the door for just such occasions. It's been opened up and sitting in the room with three big pieces of plywood on it for 10 days until today, when I finally finished some contract work and got started on this project.

These prints are going to be very small editions. I plan to make only two of each. My moku hanga friends sometimes get on my case about making small editions, but it's just the way I like to do it. I get bored making more than about 15 and, frankly, unless I think I can sell a whole bunch of something I'm just creating a storage problem! So, two of each and hopefully a lot of different designs. I've decided that since I'm only making two of each I'm going to do them as reduction prints so I only use one piece of wood per print. Also, because of the size and my lack of space, I'm going to try printing with dry paper. And, just to keep things interesting, I'm also trying out a new registration method, because I don't trust the usual Japanese kento method at this size..

I'm using registration pins and plastic stripping tabs from a company called Ternes-Burton in Minnesota. This blog post by Maurice Fykes explains the method in detail, but here are some shots of how I'm using it. It's a pretty tight system with dry paper.

The registration pin is taped to the wood block with clear tape; the tab is taped to the back of the paper with masking tape.

Two pins seems to be enough to register the paper and keep it stable.

Next, I moved a small wheeled taboret that usually hides under one of my desks to use as a table for my printing supplies.

I marked the border where the paper falls on the board so I would know where to ink, and I dampened the area I'd be printing. This is grade A1 birch plywood, and the grain is really pretty when the wood is wet.

I inked the uncarved block with hansa yellow and printed, just to tone the paper. Here's a shot of one sheet of washi toned (sloppily) with yellow and one not printed yet.

And below is a shot of the whole studio in full use. An edition of two is really enough! Now it's time to start carving.


Sandra said...

Your studio work space is so well laid out. I noticed no drafting table or angled surface. Do you always work and carve on a flat surface?

Annie B said...

Hi Sandra. One of those tables is adjustable and can be tilted. I also have a tabletop easel that I use for fine carving.