Friday, September 17, 2010

Oma Koti Onneni

Oma koti onneni-thats Finnish and it means "My house is my happiness". The concept of a print with an aphorism with a border and embellishments comes from a Finnish handcraft tradition that was popular in the early 1900's (see small insert on left). We have several of these huoneentaulu's/wall hangings at our house, and I have been fascinated by them for a long time. I started a project to collect as many images of wall hangings as I can find and see what commonalities I can find in them and what they tell of their times. I want to update the old tradition that is about to disappear, and make contemporary prints that people still would hang on their walls today. You can find more information about the project here. For the main project for the letterpress class at SVC, I decided to try out some ideas gathered from the wall hangings I have been sent so far.

I started by setting a large border of type ornaments and type inside of it as seen above. This process took me hours upon hours to complete just to get all the little spaces filled up so that not even one little piece nudged inside the border. I then proofed the block on a small proofing press. That revealed a bunch more problems, with a couple of the ornaments being shorter than others and one that was very high.

You can see the arrow on the right, the ornament too high creates a halo around it, and some areas on the left and middle where the ornaments did not print at all or very faintly. To correct the shorter ornaments, I had to pull them out carefully and add a little piece of tissue paper under it to lift it up. That worked great.

Here you can see a closeup of the ornaments. Everything is bundled up really tight.
After the block was proofed, I was able to figure out how and where to carve my linoblock. Below is a mockup of the finished print dimensions and with the design drawn on the linoblock.

Here is a picture of the ornament border and type locked up front to back and sideways on the Vandercook press. I was able to get this done the previous weekend to printing, because just transferring everything and locking it up, revealed many more pieces that wiggled, so I had to keep working on it before it was ready to print. Below are some pictures from the middle of printing. You can see the finished print with two colors in the back and the front with only the ornament border and type printed on it.

Here is the linoblock locked up on the press with ink rolled and ready to go. The linoblocks are so much easier to lock up!

For the finished piece, I added a little bit of pink watercolor to highlight the flowers. It is really hard to capture a good image. It is printed on a cream colored Stonehenge paper, with fairly light inks- with the pink watercolor. Light colors dont transfer well on a computer screen. It looks so much better in person. The size of the print is about 9"x12" and the paper is a couple of inches all the way around. The original hand embroidered wall hangings are about 2-4 times bigger so I wish I could have printed larger, but the press that I had to work with limited the size to less than 15x18". This is a nice size though, smaller is always easier to frame and is still big enough to make a statement on the wall. I look forwards to working on this project, and eventually putting it all in a book.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is so cool.
Mary F.