February 2008

I am currently working on a four-block print and having issues getting all four blocks to line up properly. To help guide my carving of the blocks I used the method of pasting down the key block printed on thin paper. This works fairly well, however, I believe that the paper stretched somewhat causing slight misalignment. I had heard about using crayon rubbings to see how blocks lined up, but it never worked that well for me.

I have lots of wax paper laying around because I use it between my printing paper and baren for smooth rubbing and to keep moisture from getting on the baren. I decided to try putting the wax paper directly on the block and rubbing it with the baren. It makes a surprisingly clear image of the block, including the kento, and the best thing about it is that it is somewhat transparent so you can then place it over the corresponding blocks to see how it is lining up. Keep in mind that I did this after I had carved all of the blocks and had already inked them so I could see the wax paper lines distinctly on the darkened block. I’m not sure how well it would work on a fresh, unstained block, but I suppose a fresh block could easily be washed with a color to help see the lines.

Wax paper rubbing demo II

Wax paper rubbing demo I

That said, I am still having issues lining things up. I think it now has to do with carved and re-carved kentos that have gotten messy, plus some of those other random things (see 50 things that can go wrong). I’m looking forward to starting fresh with my next print. I have to say though that I love the way this block looks – maybe even more than the print (that wouldn’t be the first time).

White Paws - background block


To answer Patti Phare-Camp’s question asking if the sun in the Talkative Tortoise print was chine colle, I decided to show you. As you can see from the block, it is not chine colle, but rather printed. I was startled to carve this block and see how un-round the sun actually looks. I’m still amazed to see how the key block completed the circle!


The moral of the fairy tale “The Talkative Tortoise” can be summarize in a quote by Robert Newton Peck:
“Never miss a chance to keep your mouth shut.”
Unbeknownst to me it was perhaps the lesson I was supposed to learn when I opened my big mouth and said, “sure, I’ll join the fairy tale print exchange,” even though I had no experience printing a run anywhere near 30 prints. Thus, the reason I haven’t blogged in so long – not because I haven’t been making prints, but because that’s all I’ve been doing. But don’t be mistaken in thinking that I regret being a part of this exchange. True it was an excruciating and expensive couple of months, with three key blocks and over half of the prints rejected. I felt like I was in graduate school again. And my final prints are still not to my complete satisfaction. That said, however, the experience and confidence that I have gained have been worth the ride. I’ll try to convey some of this here in the coming weeks. For now, here is the print. I still have a few more details to attend to, but this baby is in the mail tomorrow!

Talkative Tortoise (more…)