Little Guy and Griffin

This is the last entry before my printshop-in-a-show experiment. I’m nervous and excited. I think as long as I don’t leave something critical at home, it should be a lot of fun.

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The final color carved, inked, and ready to go.

I printed the third color on my little test subject. It’s a mixed blue trying to get close to indigo. When I pulled the first clean proof I could not help but smile. There is something entrancing about seeing this image appear for the first time.

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My little dudes lined up. The background isn’t quite as pink as it appears here.

Yes, I drew it and it’s nearly symmetrical, but you never really know what the final image will look like. That, at least for me, is one of the attractions of printmaking.

Griffin Carved

The first step, carving away what will be white.

I have much still to do today; print the first color on the griffin, get more supplies, print new signage, pack things up. But I can’t wait until that moment on Sunday when I pull the first finished griffin.

A Tangent Off the Digression

If you read my previous post you will know that I have temporarily veered away from my all-consuming zodiac project to prep for a show this coming weekend. I will be printing a linoleum block reduction print on site at Oddmall Tacoma. One of the features of a reduction print is the overlay of colors. Unlike multiple block prints where each color has its own block, reduction prints use only one block which is carved away as the printing process progresses. This means you only get one shot at it. So instead of risking a major public face-plant, I decided to test my color ideas.

I could have just cut some simple geometric shapes and run some color tests, but where’s the fun in that? The paper for the Griffin piece is 8×10 and after cutting down the parent sheets, I was left with thirty 4×6’s. I got a 2×3 block when I went to buy more ink and started drawing.

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The image drawn directly onto the block in pencil and then refined in pen.

The image is derived from an ornament on a horse collar from an archeological find in Søllested, Denmark. The Griffin is also inspired by beasts on the horse collars in the same find.

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The areas I want to stay white have been carved out. I lowered the angle of my desk light to hopefully show the carving.

My previous multi-color Norse block prints have had a Naples yellow-like background and I wanted to do something different that would still feel like it was part of the same series. On the mixing glass and on the block, the ink looks way too pink, but the print came out close enough to what I wanted.

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The mixed ink and the ink on the block.

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First impression drying inside the studio.

The second color is lighter than the first and I had no idea how well it would cover. The mix is yellow ochre-ish, but because it’s on top of the rose color it changes to a gold or Raw Sienna.

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The yellow ink on the block and the print ready for the second impression.

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After the second impression.

Next up will be the outline in a dark blue and carving the Griffin.

 

The Digression

I’m going to take a slight break from the Zodiac project this week to prepare for a show I’m doing next weekend. Originally it was not on my schedule, but the date opened up and spaces were still available.

The show, Oddmall, has been in Everett,WA for a few years and I’ve done it since 2014, both in fall and summer. Now the organizer is expanding his reach down to Tacoma and I decided to give the new venue a try. I was able to obtain a second booth space at a discount and wondered “What could I do with the extra space?” My inventory comfortably fills a 6×8 booth so twice the space with the same stock would look sparse. But I’ve been listening to a podcast on art marketing, selling, working conventions, etc. and following their advice, I saw a possibility.

I could set up a print shop.

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A print run from a couple years ago in my studio.

I don’t have a press any more, but all the printing I’ve been doing lately has been by hand, using a barren. The ink I use is water-soluble, so no stinky solvents. The promoter thought it was a great idea and we got the go-ahead from the venue. So here I go!

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The original sketch, about 5×7.

Since my shop name is the Literate Griffin, I decided to do a Norse inspired griffin, done as a reduction print in a very limited run, and available only at the show.

GriffinTransfer

I placed the original sketch face down on a linoleum block and used the side of a medium-soft pencil to to transfer the image.

I’ll post updates and shots from the event. Or better yet, come see me there!

The Reduction Print

The last print is done. It will be delivered to the gallery for framing on Tuesday. This one of Slepnir, Odin’s eight legged horse, was a special challenge because I decided to do a reduction print. For those unfamiliar with this technique, please forgive me if I geek out a bit. It is a way to make a multi color relief print using only one block. But it’s also kind of like working without a net because there is little room for error. First you carve away everything you want to appear as white, then print the first color.

This is a scan of the first color. I only touched up lint spots on the scan. The ink coverage was fabulous, and I was surprised.

This is a scan of the first color. I only touched up lint spots on the scan. The ink coverage was fabulous, and I was surprised.

 

The next step is to carve away everything that you want to appear as the first color. In this case, I wanted only the background to be the Naples Yellow-like color, so I carved away all of the background. Well, almost all. There’s some lettering above the horse’s back that I carved around, but it doesn’t show in the next picture because I didn’t ink it during printing.

The second color was straight Dark Yellow over the pale yellow mix of the first run. If you look closely you can see that the ink coverage is a little spotty, but not too bad.

The second color was straight Dark Yellow over the pale yellow mix of the first run. If you look closely you can see that the ink coverage is a little spotty, but not too bad.

 

Lastly, I carved away everything I wanted to stay as the dark yellow. I then printed the third color, a mixed dark brown. The coverage on the final run was the toughest. There was either not enough ink, or the ink was too stiff, or not enough pressure, or too much ink and it plugged up the small spaces, but no matter what, I couldn’t get a good clean impression. Again, I don’t think it’s too bad and the majority of the prints will be useable, but it was exasperating.

The final print showing the lettering (runes) that I avoided in the second run.

The final print showing the lettering (runes) that I avoided in the second run.

 

And now a bit of a test. I took some video of the printing process and will attempt to post it here. I’m just following directions on how to post this, I really have no idea what I’m doing, so I hope it actually works.

 

All this and Tom Waits on the radio. Yeah. Life is good.