Below are some photos of work in progress. First off on the left the original image and drawing on the block.
The DIY woodblock I'm using is willow (raita in finnish). I was on pins and needles before digging in, hoping that all my work would not have been in vain. It was not disappointing. The wood was fairly soft to carve, but strong enough to hold pretty small details. The only bad thing about the block, that I found out, was that the very heart of it was soft. Thank goodness it was in a spot where it could be carved out and you can't notice. I need to make sure successive prints are designed around it.
Below are two states of the block being carved out. I mostly use a medium sized spitsticker engraving tool for carving the hairs and a wide blade to carve out the areas around the animal. This wood was soft enough for me to come in with a Flexcut u-shaped carver and clear out the large areas.
Below is a picture of two proofs side by side. The changes from 1-2-3 proofs were pretty minimal, but those changes are what makes or breaks the print for me.
Here's the final print. They will be printed on Rives lightweight paper by means of hand burnishing. Well- at least that's the plan. The wood is too thick to run through the proofing press, and instead of running it through the etching press, its so small that I think it'll just be easier to hand burnish it.
I'm thinking about adding some color to the eyes after printing. Opinions? I'm hoping to finish this edition before we head out for a month at the end of November. This little piece was so fun to work on, and I hope to make some more soon. I have horses on my mind... and birds. You'll just have to wait and see.