A few weeks ago, I decided to try making a rather small, two-color wood block print because I wanted to do two things. First thing: see if cheap-o plywood off an old pallet would make a decent print. (I wouldn’t recommend it.) Second thing: see how my daylily-iris-cotton paper would take a print. (Yes!)

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I started by cutting a clean piece of plywood “board” from a pallet into a couple of small, same-size, wood blocks on the table saw. Then I sanded the top, bottom, and all four sides of both blocks so there’d be a nicely flat area to print from, and no slivers for my hands. I was lucky to find a volunteer live ladybug model wandering around the studio. They are such calm and friendly, easy-to-draw insects. To transfer the drawing to the blocks I used graphite transfer paper. I drew the circle of the ladybug’s back onto the red-ink block. The other block would be the black-ink block. The transfer needed both sides of the “lines” drawn and filled in, so I could be sure where to cut, or more importantly, where not to cut.

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There’s something about a roller loaded with ink.

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This is when I just started to roll out the red ink, which needs to be rolled until it is uniform and velvety. I do that on a piece of plate glass, and in this photo, I can see that I have to add a bit more ink before I’m done. I tested the color on the block there. Looks like I kissed it, but you know me, I don’t wear lipstick, so that was the kiss of the roller on plywood.

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This is the small printing press I have in Egress Studio. It can be used for linoleum or wood block, as well as etchings, drypoints, and wood engravings. There are a few of the block prints with red ink only drying quietly in the background. The green paper is a template I made for registering one block’s print with the other block. It is the size of the handmade paper I made, so it would be easy to square up, and then set the block in the correct spot and orientation. Yes, you can actually print the red circle upside down from the black, so one needs to be pay attention to which way goes up. I wrote which side was “up” with an arrow onto the back of each block.

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Here is a red circle print waiting for the template to be lined up to the impression from the red-ink block, so the black-ink block can be placed on top of it before running it through the press. By the way, the table that this press is on was the kitchen worktable that my mom once kneaded bread and rolled out pie dough on. It is still a good table to work from, though I have repurposed it. I hang my rulers from it, and store print materials on the lower shelf.

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A rhythm of red. The handmade paper is uncut, showing its full deckle edges.

As you can imagine, making a wood block print is a lot of fun: the drawing, the cutting, the inking, the printing and the drying—all of it. I listen to music while I work, like Erik Satié and Django Reinhardt. The rhythms don’t necessarily go well with repetitive work, since printmaking is by starts and stops and on to the next, but they do go well with the thinking processes followed for such work.

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With the red circles dry, they are ready for the black ink. I don’t know if you can see this, but the red dot leans to the left, the black-ink block’s circle leans to the right. Upside down inside the carefully placed template, and the black will match the red.

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The black, black ink! Seems I could not wait to print the black, and I had forgotten that I ran out of the wood block ink during my last bunch of prints. I needed ink now! I decided to try the thicker, stickier etching type of ink. Not the best idea. But it worked well enough.

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This block is a black-ink block. Making progress. I must have removed the template before I remembered to take the photo. There is newsprint under and over the block and the handmade paper, which will help to keep the felts clean of ink.

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Black on red, only seven more left to print. The block and the roller are waiting for me to take this photo. The ink tube is there beside the plate glass full of ink. The empty wine glass sitting on the table? I can’t drink wine and print things at the same time, though if I were still a gum-chewer, I could to that. The glass may be empty now, but was once filled with sparkling water. Refreshing.

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This black is so lush and deep. I’m glad I had this ink handy.

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All done but the signing. If I remember and have some spare time, I’ll put a signed and matted photo here.

 

 

Please … Come Sit A While

Enjoy an Evening of Art and Nature
with artist Hannah Viano and poet Anita K. Boyle
Tuesday, April 17
in the Commons Gallery at Sammamish City Hall
and the Sammamish Library.

by Hannah Viano

· Come Look A While at 6:00pm … with artist Hannah Viano touring her exhibit in the Commons Gallery at Sammamish City Hall. Viano offers modern portrayals of locally inspired flora, and landscapes in her exhibition Come Sit A While.
· Come Immerse Yourself A While at 7:00pm … in conversation about nature found around us, extraordinary poetry by Anita K. Boyle and imagine yourself on a Sammamish Walks expedition all in the Sammamish Library. Boyle, author of What the Alder Told Me (MoonPath Press, 2011) will read selected poems.

And Judy Petersen, Sammamish Parks Commission, will share opportunities to come walk a while along the trails.

Notes from Anita K. Boyle:
I am very excited about joining papercut artist Hannah Viano for this event. I love to see the stark and delicate details of papercut art. This event at the gallery is an opportunity for us to hear from an excellent artist who shares her engagement with the natural world through the papercut artform.

by Hannah Viano

I’m looking forward to reading poems at the library as part of this art/poetry event because I’m intrigued with the connections between visual and language art. Knowing that I’m an organizer of a program called “The Poet As Art,” you can easily understand that I enjoy investigating the concepts shared between language and the visual often, including in my own artwork and poetry. The similarities between how an artist renders the world, and how a poet does, can be found in the themes and details they choose to use. How creative people put their works together—using cut paper, watercolor, oil paint, language, or other artistic medium—offers surprising comparisons and contrasts that can build on our understanding of the natural world, as well as each other.

by Hannah Viano

Hannah Viano’s Artist Statement:

In my life art has always been fit in around the edges. It has been a thick roll of paper held open by my bare feet in the sand, with seawater in a dixie cup and the tiny oval watercolors they sell for children. A life filled with boats and islands and oceans left only tidbits of space and time for inks and paper. I was a baby on a cat ketch from block island, and thirty years later had my own son on the water as well. In between I have taught, and rigged, and fished, and lounged, and done science experiments, and felt the lull of the waves on boats of all shapes and sizes from Ketchikan to Cape Horn. I haven’t gotten to art school yet. But, I have tried hard to learn the lessons of how to catch a memory, and save it for another day and another friend to see. Now a mother and sleeping on the land, I have a bit more time and space, and lots of desire to stay a sailor in my heart and in my hands. So I am pouring out those memories old and new .

In this exhibit I took inspiration from voyages and beachcombing done along the shorelines, where waves lap and lash out and leave everything new. To distill these impressions down I use an exacto knife and pieces of black paper. The act of carving out the pictures is a delicious and delicate process that gives itself perfectly to the flowing shapes of wood and water, the way faring a hull feels right in the hands, or a sweetly blossoming bowl on the potters wheel.

Please join Tuesday, April 17 for a journey into our natural and inner landscapes through the perspectives of the artist and poet.

The event is sponsored by the Sammamish Arts Commission, City of Sammamish,
4Culture, the Sammamish Parks Commission and the King County Sammamish Library

by Hannah Viano

For more information:

Hannah Viano – www.devilspursediary.com
Anita Boyle – egressstudiopress.com
Sammamish Walks – www.sammamishwalks.org