September 2009

Poppies Triptych – Print I (test)

Originally uploaded by Serendipity Artist

This is a test print for print I of the Poppies Triptych. The test is basically to double-check for alignment issues. The colors are a bit off and I need to make some further tests later on to get the color exactly right and consistent for each print in the triptych.

This week I am carving the blocks for print II of the triptych, but I won’t get as much done as usual because I am off to Milwaukee for a few days to attend the Art Librarians Society of North America – Midstates Chapter meeting. Can’t wait to see the Milwaukee Museum of Art.


Thanks to Annie B. for her tip about putting the straight part of your kento farther about 2/3 of the way down from the “L” cut. That’s great advice for getting accurate registration and I plan to use it for these prints!

I am also using a slightly modified version of a tip that I learned from Graham Scholls DVD: The Art of Coloured Woodblock Printmaking (thanks Graham!). He advocated using a sheet of frosted mylar over a sheet of graphite carbon paper facing toward the mylar. By taping these layers over a carved block, one can use a baren to take a rubbing of the block without all the mess of inking it up. The image will transfer to the transparent mylar which you can then position over your next block to check for accurate registration.

Here are some images where I have actually made a graphite rubbing over a blue transfer paper rubbing to check the alignment.

Poppies Triptych I - Mylar rubbings

Poppies Triptych I - Mylar rubbings

Poppies Triptych I - Mylar rubbings

I take this one step further by actually placing the corner of the mylar sheet into the kento registration cuts of my first block. Before carving the kento into my next block, I line up the second carved block with my transferred image of the first block. Once I get them perfectly aligned, I tape down the mylar. Then I take my kento knife and place the flat edge of it right up against the mylar corner and press down to make the initial corner kento (kagi) cut. I do the same thing 2/3 up the side to make the side kento cut (hikitsuke).

Poppies Triptych I - Marking kento at edge of mylar

I have now finished all four blocks of the first print. I will post a test print soon.

This week I finished carving the first two out of twelve blocks for the Poppies Triptych.
Poppies Triptych I - block 3

Poppies Triptych I - block 4

I am carving this series in a specific order that will aid in alignment of the blocks. For each block the carving order will be:

  1. Medium Green
  2. Dark Green
  3. Yellow
  4. Orange

Because the dark green is printed over the medium green, I find it easier to carve the medium green first and then use it as a guide to align the dark green (for the same reasons I carve yellow before orange). I will go into greater detail about how I align the blocks in my next post.

I will be printing lightest to darkest to take advantage of the transparent qualities of the colors, so the printing order for each block will be:

  1. Yellow
  2. Orange
  3. Medium Green
  4. Dark Green

I’m not sure that any of this orderliness is strictly necessary, but it seems to help my old brain. With so many blocks it’s easy to get lost. You may notice from the photos that I have even labeled each block.

This week I began the process of carving the blocks for the poppies triptych. I enlarged my drawing using a photocopy machine. I then traced the image onto frosted mylar. I like using frosted mylar because it’s transparent and takes the pencil line very well. Once traced, I use a ball baring baren to rub the image onto the wood block – including the kento for registration.

Poppies triptych - print 1

Poppies triptych - print 1, med green block