December 2008

Bittersweet Test Block 2

I’m half way there and so far I’m pretty pleased with the way this print is coming along. The yellow block will be next and the final block will be orange. I just hope everything keeps lining up.


Because my Bittersweet print will be very small, I spent a lot of time converting my earlier sketch into a digital drawing with flat areas of color. It’s like creating a jigsaw puzzle or a quilt – each piece has to fit together perfectly. I started with an outline drawing, but the lines were too thick to be precise enough for carving out the different color areas.
Bittersweet line drawing
So I scanned the drawing and filled each area with the corresponding color. I then painstakingly filled each line in the drawing so that only color butted up to color – no lines.

Bittersweet Photoshop sketch

This drawing gave me the precise edge between colors that I needed to carve with the knife.

I flipped the drawing horizontally to compensate for the reversal that will happen when printing. I then printed out this drawing onto a very thin japanese paper by taping it to a regular sheet of paper and running it through my printer. Instead of gluing down the image with rice paste or methyl celluslose (which caused the inks in my drawing to bleed), I spray mounted my drawing to the wood. this worked really well and I will do this again. The only drawback is that I had to use paint thinner to remove the spray mount glue from the wood.

Here is a test print of the first block, printed twice, first with blue and then with a grey-brown gradation.

Bittersweet test of first block

The final print will be on a whiter paper than this test paper.

This is an idea for my next print, sketched in colored pencil. I tweaked the color a bit in Photoshop by graying down the blues in the sky. I will need to make this print rather small because berries don’t look right if they are too big. I’m hoping I will be able to carve such small detail. A very clearly rendered outline drawing will be critical in getting good carving detail and proper registration between the colors, as well as good sharp knives.

Bittersweet sketch

Poppies by Moonlight

My apologies for not posting in such a long time. I’ve been trying to balance family life (read busy teenager) with work life (sometimes even a librarian’s life can get hectic). I have continued working on my printmaking, but at a slower pace. The blog was necessarily put on the back burner for a while. 

Here is the latest print that I just finished last weekend. This is a four-color print done in Moku Hanga style using 3 blocks. The upper flowers were done on one block with the yellow carved first. I then reduced the block  for the orange. The lower red flower was done on a smaller separate block. I did this so I could use two smaller blocks for the flowers instead of one larger block, but I don’t think it was worth the hassle of trying to get the registration correct. The light green background was carved on a new block and printed next. This light green block was then reduced for the dark green foliage. 

The print measures 8.5 x 11.25 inches on 12 x 14.5 inch Nishinouchi paper using hand-ground Japanese pigments. I had not ground my own pigments before and found it to be very satisfying.I used a mortar and pestle to grind the colors that I purchased from the Baren Mall. I wore a mask so as not to breathe in any of the pigment particles. I also wore gloves. The colors are non-toxic, but I would rather take precautions anyway. The colors came out quite brilliant.