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Monday, July 16, 2018


one of the books that I'm planning around the theme of shields and spears.  I've now carved a couple of lino blocks for that, with a couple left to do....enough for now, I thought, even though one of them was only partially finished. And, just to prove I've learned my lesson, note my (relatively) tidy work surface...

I decided to use acrylic paints this time, combined with a medium that delays the drying time, so that the ink doesn't just dry on the plate.  For once in my life, I followed the instructions; I was a tad alarmed by the idea that too much medium might mean that the paint doesn't dry at all.  It's one thing to get the ink from newspapers on your fingers; entirely another when the visual art comes off on your hands...  \I mixed my own colour, a combination of three paints.  Someone once told me not to use paint straight out of the tube; it was important for an artist to mix their own colours.  And so I have found it.  It's a meditative thing to do, and allows you to really think about the effect you're trying to achieve, and the colour that will do that for you.  It took several tests before I was happy with the colour, somewhat warmer than the dark brown out of the tube.

 The blocks are too small for a double page, and besides, other than the central spread, they aren't seen like that within the structure of the book, so I needed to select elements to print on each individual page.  I started with the partially carved block; here's the test print.

The bit I hadn't thought through was that the whole thing would print, not just the leaf.  Fortunately, I liked that result...if I hadn't, there would have been a lot more carving to do before I could have used it.  I may well cut one of the remaining blocks in half, and carve a block specifically like this, to use in the future. 

I started to print the five pages that make up the signature (the technical word for a combination of pages, if you haven't come across it before).  I wanted a random combination of images, but started with the central motif.

It became obvious quite early on that I couldn't print on both sides of the pages; lutradur is semi transparent, so the print can be seen on the other side, though, as it is printed, not dyed, it hasn't come right through; it's like having a shadow.  And that was okay, because I intended to stitch, so the shadow would be supported by the stitch.  And, without overtly thinking it through, that had been my intention from the start.  What I hadn't realised, though, was that I needed to vary on which side of the lutradur I printed, so that there would be an interesting visual mixture of strong and weak prints.  I only managed to do that once, though... a combination of getting carried away and brain fog...sigh.  I'll be more deliberate about it the next time I make a pamphlet book in this way.

I struggled with deciding what to do with the cover.  In the end, I decided to print the same thing on both front and back covers, and here it is.

I think that works well; the image is a strong one, an eye catching way to present the piece, I hope.  When the ink was dry, I folded the book and combined the pages, mixing up the different images to avoid having the same thing twice.  The joy of working with semi transparent material, is that you get more than you usually would, when you look at the open pages.  Here's a look at that central page again, this time combined with the rest of the pages.

That effect will be something to consider in the future.  And now I'm stuck.  I want to stitch this with the machine, and I still don't have it back (hopefully this week).  Overall, though, I'm pleased with the way it has worked...for once, pretty much as I thought it would.  It needs a poem...I have two of three lines, but one refuses to come.  It'll doubtless arrive in its own sweet time...words are not as biddable as paint.

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