Friday, August 19, 2016

Lakelife multiple block linocut

We had a fun trip to Finland this summer. We spent lots of time at our summer house, and outside in general. I did lots of sketching and photographing and ate plenty of ice cream, candy, pickles and peas (all the things I miss while away). 

A pike we caught in a net, smoked and ate. 
As soon as we got home, I needed to start and finish a portfolio print for Shelley Gipson at Arkansas State University. This was a project I had been looking forwards to the whole summer. The theme was to create an edition together with our child. We talked about it with Aila, and decided since we just got back from Finland, to do something to remind us about the fun times we had. Her favorite thing was to be at the pier and catch fish and other lake life that she could get in her net. We kept them in a bucket during the day and investigated how they lived and interacted. She picked out the animals that she wanted and I drew it in a scandinavian design style, that was attractive for her with bright colors. 

I wanted to include in this post lots of photos of the process. We started out with a very rough sketch, just collecting all the animals on it. Below is the second sketch, where I started working on a design to incorporate all the elements. It's a little light, you can click on the image to see it bigger. At one point I scanned the sketch in the computer, to play around with colors, which area would print with which color. Its faster to do on the computer, since I can quickly change colors to get an idea what the finished print would look like.


Since I was doing 4 colors, I needed to have a key plate, that would be where most of the information for the image would be. That was the first one for me to carve, and after it was done, I rolled it up with black ink, printed it on a transparency, which I then rubbed on the other 3 blank linoleum pieces, to transfer the image. Registration would be pretty important, with 4 plates to match.  

Carving the key block (printed in navy for final image)
After the color separation blocks dried a couple days, I carved them all out. The designs were fairly simple, so this didn't take me too long. I use a Speedball carver for most of the detail work, and then larger Flexcut tools for everything beyond that. They are sharper and easier to cut with than the Speedball, but I've found nothing that will give me better details on linoleum than my Speedball tiny v-cutter. 

Printing

I try to print from the lightest color to the darkest. So with this series, I started with the yellow plate. I mixed a small amount of cobalt drier in the ink, so it would dry faster and allow me to print all colors in a short time. 

Since I had already printed the key block on a transparency, I used that to register my yellow plate down on the press. I use a piece of plywood, with a sheet of mylar glued to it, and I attach the linoleum to the mylar with a light coat of spray adhesive on the back of my linoleum. After those prints were pulled, they hung for a day, and the next day I printed the green color. (Drier mixed in ink again.) 

Below are some shots of the green color in process and drying. I use a 3 tiered clothes drying rack to dry prints, because it folds up when not in use, so its just very convenient. I did not wet the paper for this edition, because I didn't want to deal with uneven stretching, and floppy papers while printing. This was printed on 110lb Lettra. 

second color (green) being printed 

Below you can see the keyplate on the press with the print 3/4 way done. The color elements are all there, red, yellow and green, and it is just waiting for the navy layer to complete the gaps. 


Mixing the navy ink.
I did a short video of the process as well. Its always easier to understand how things proceed, with a video. You can see little foam pads on the side of the block during printing. These help that the paper doesn't lay on the plate until the roller rolls over it. This trick helps keep the print clean from smudges and ink shifting while the paper stretches as its being run through the press. 


Ta-daaa! the finished prints. It took a while to get the prints to print dark enough, but not too dark, where the details would be lost. I was so happy with the print, but the edition was only limited to the amount that we were sending to the portfolio. I have a couple proofs left, and did get nice big postcards done, so if you want one, you can have one on your wall too.


Below are the separate plates used to print on the right, and the ink swatches on the bottom left and first sketch on the bottom.

Once the prints were dry, both of us signed them. 

Aila proud of signing the prints. 

Exited to share the finished image together. 

One of the proofs hanging in the dining room. (Hanger from Ikea)
I was so happy to be invited to participate in this portfolio. It will be up at MAPC conference Oct 5-9, so I will try to get some pictures of all of them together and update this posting. If you would like one of the postcards of the image, they will be listed in my Etsy store in October (with several other new prints!).

For the latest updates, you can always sign up for my email list here (you get a 20% discount code for your first order when you sign up). More to come soon, as I have been printing in the studio like crazy for the last month and a half. I'm super excited to be at two big art fairs this fall, and one or two local holiday showcases, and the conference coming in a week and a half. Squee!!! 

All the best!
Mirka

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