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.

 

 

My studio rarely looks like it does during the studio tour, workshops, meetings, or salons. It’s a mess, albeit a coordinated one. Here’s what it looks like a couple weeks before two workshops and a salon are happening. It’ll be nice and clean in a couple weeks, but I’m sure it’ll become far more chaotic before then.

This is what the studio looked like yesterday afternoon. It is an organized disorganization of neat project areas.

This is the area where I’m inking the linoleum blocks on my small etching press.

This is where I cut the linoleum blocks. It is a very safe way for holding the blocks still, which reduces the number of injuries. It is still out because I occasionally need to recut a line or two while I’m inking.

Right after I took this photo, I took these dry prints off the clothesline.

Here is another area, where I am making paper. The brown liquid contains the rest of the hosta pulp from paper I made earlier. I plan to add cotton linters to it, and it will make an entirely other type of paper from what 100% hosta pulp has made, which is a little brittle and hard to work with.

Here is the hosta paper dripping on the studio’s cement floor. Towels come in handy during the paper making process. The intention for this paper is for artworks, not books.

These papers were printed in my toner printer, and then I wrote quotes on them from The Big Burn book. I do not know if this artwork will be finished in time for the Allied Arts show. I have a plan, but we’ll have to see.

This is the newest project. It will be an assemblage when it’s done. It uses wood from old buildings and furniture around Bellingham. So far, I’ve cut, glued and nailed in the framing. The glass piece is just sitting there.

Back to the linoleum blocks, here is how I set up making prints: roller, glass plate for ink, linoleum block, ruler, and paper.

This is what it looks like when the ink has just been rolled on… a little shiny and opposite of the print.

Here are eighteen of the prints hanging near the heater to dry for a day or two. No need to rush, which helps the prints from smudging.


Well, now I better get back to work. Lots to do before I’m done.
—Anita K. Boyle

A few weeks ago, a new paper mould came in the mail. The form is for an 11 by 14 inch page size. As a publisher of poetry, that size is good for two reasons. First, it can be folded into quarters to make eight pages into a hand-built book. That’s exciting to me. Second, it’s a perfect size for making a poetry broadside. This is also exciting.

A couple days ago, I tore up some paper from my recycle box of trimmings generated by the cards and books I make.

This is Egress Studio's recycled paper bin overflowing with paper trimmings.

This is Egress Studio’s recycled paper bin overflowing with trimmings.

As the paper is torn up, it goes into a bucket of water to rest and soak for a day or two.

Bucket of water and torn paper.

Bucket of water and torn paper.

Tearing paper is good exercise for your fingers, hands and wrists. Besides the blue and green papers, I added some white, yellow, and manila-colored papers. Text weight and heavier card stock works without a problem. I also used cotton linters for the first time. That was interesting. I’ll probably write a post about that, too.

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Taking a closer look, you can see torn paper in water. No surprise. But I do like how sunlight comes in through the bucket on the left and spreads over the paper.

After soaking for 24 to 48 hours, I set up to make the paper. I arranged my designated-for-paper blender, two large boards, lots of old towels, a couple buckets to hold the pulp, and a bin large enough to dip the 11″by14″ paper mould. I made a huge watery mess inside the studio yesterday. First, I ran the paper and linter chunks through the blender—a little at a time—with paper sizing added, and put the pulp in two separate buckets: one for the recycled paper and one for the white cotton linters. Water goes all over the cement floor. I make paper outside whenever possible for that very reason. Papermaking requires plenty of water. The bin is filled half-full of water, and then about eight cups of pulp is added. I used about half recycled and half linters at first. When I ran out of the linters, I just used up the recycled paper. I also added some mermaid hair algae (from our pond) and, to one batch, the lint of green-dyed wool yarn. Well, I used scissors, so it was actually fresh-cut-lint, but that sounds ridiculous.

Each time I dipped the mould into the pulp bin, I “rolled” a sheet of soon-to-be paper onto a felt sheet, which was dampened earlier so it would accept the paper off the mould a little easier. I made a stack of the new sheets on one of the large boards, and when the pulp was used up, took the dripping stack outside, put the other board on top and stood on it for a while. Water gushed out everywhere at this point. I put a couple of cement bricks on top, and let it sit until this morning.

This morning, I put the clothes line in front of the furnace, found my clothespins, and began to hang the paper to dry. At first, I messed a few of the papers up, but I can use them anyway. They can be ironed, and I can use them in artworks where flatness and squareness isn’t as important as when the paper might be used in a book or as a broadside.

The old clothes line, umbrella style.

The old clothes line, umbrella style.

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Sunlight and clotheslines go well together.

The paper turned out a beautiful, creamy light green, just as I’d hoped. I’ll make better paper later. The wrinkles, bubbles and tears are all things that can be avoided. This was the first stack of paper I made with the new larger mould, so I got a little carried away this morning when removing the felts from the stack. But I was careful enough with a large percentage of them.

The rest of the photos show the texture and color of the papers. I made an attempt at replicating the color for the internet. It’s close. In these photos, you can see the white felts, which aren’t felt at all, but synthetic. They do their job very well. And you can see some of the textures and incidentals. Papermakers call added flower petals, lint, algae, etc., “incidentals,” which is a good use of the word.

Four papers hanging.

Four papers hanging.

One sheet of paper.

This sheet of paper was fairly uniform.

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This sheet is not in focus, but you can see larger chunks of the white cotton linters and long streaks of mermaid hair algae.

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As the paper dries, it lightens up a bit. Deckle edges.

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Another corner has lots of texture. If I feel like it, I can iron this sheet so it would be much flatter, but I’ll decide that later.

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This is one of the things I’m trying for with the mermaid hair algae. I like it when the individual strand standsBellin out a little. Not too much, not to little. (It’s possible I’ll need new glasses if I’m going to continue taking photos.)

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I also like it when the paper looks sort of like a science project.

The paper is still drying downstairs. It probably has another day or two to go. Then, I’ll put it in high-graded stacks, and see what I can do with it.