Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why Hello multi-colored linocut- We meet again. (part I)

So earlier this year I took it upon myself to try my hand at linoleum cuts again. I had done one previously for my intro to printmaking course and thoroughly enjoyed it- it was six colors. The one I completed just recently was 36. That's right, 36. It's the toy phone seen on the header to this blog- and also on my website here. I fell in love with the process all over again and, as masochistic as it may seem, wanted to do even more. So early this month I started another one.

The first was an old Fisher Price toy phone I found at a thrift store, and I decided to continue with this theme. I like the idea that something a child had such love and devotion for eventually ends up for sale in a junk store, all love forgotten. This love and abandonment is reflected in the block itself. Such devotion goes into making these multi-colored linocuts, but because of the nature of the process all I end up with (besides some hopefully beautiful prints) is a carved away, useless piece of linoleum, which just gets thrown away. So off to the junk store I went!

What I ended up finding was a beat up, old as sin wooden toy dog. I took some photos, transferred it to my block and began cutting away. When I transfer my image I usually just rub it up with red conte and draw in the lines after with a ballpoint pen. I like using the pen because it doesn't rub off during printing and stays put even after cleaning the plate with mineral spirits. The first image here shows the pen on the block along with a few cut marks where the white of the paper will show through. I always draw in with pen where I'm going to cut just so I don't mess everything up. :)

My first step (after stretching my paper) was to print a light blue for the flecks of paint still clinging to the toy. I'm trying something a little different in that I'm creating a mask for most of my first few colors, just so I don't build up a great deal of grease in the ink that's getting layered. At the time I'm writing this I've found this to be a mistake- the first layer or two should probably be put down over the entire block, just to create a base. I'm afraid I forgot to get any pictures after the first color was printed, but it went down without any hitches, and I kept a lot of the grease out of my ink.

On to color two!
So after the lightest blue was printed again I took my block and marked in with ballpoint pen where to cut out (image 2). Again I created a mask for the blue (which only covered a small section of my block) and printed again. I'm afraid this one had a bit too much grease in it which is repelling some of my later colors. Live and learn though, right? Here's an image of the mask with the second color along with a print showing colors one and two.

I usually make my masks out of contact paper, but find it sometimes peels up with the tackiness of the ink, so I end up having to tape it down in spots. This isn't the brightest thing to do either though, since the tape raises up the roller enough that it becomes difficult to cover it evenly, so I'd recommend taping over areas far enough from where the roller will be hitting!

Anyway, I'm still pretty excited about this project, and following this one would still like to do one more multi-colored lino to create a series of three. There's about six colors on this one now (I'm new to this blogging thing, so I'm not in the habit of taking pictures after every color ;) ) and I'm not even going to count how many there will be but I'll be sure to keep posting my progress over the next few weeks. Check back to see it, hopefully it'll be great when it's finished!


Sherrie Y said...

Hi Kellie! Thanks for stopping by, sorry I just found your earlier comment on the drying rack... I hope it works for you!

36 colors? Tell me you were using a press! I know a printmaker in Holland who does 2 dozen colors on reduction woodcuts (amazing, intricate things), but he's definitely using a press.

Anyway... carry on! Can't wait to see how it turns out!

Kellie Hames said...

Hi Sherrie!
No problem. Nice to hear back from you!
I am indeed using a press. An electric one even- the lazy man's press! I've never used a barren before but I'm curious about them- are they very difficult to get consistent prints or do they take much longer? Do you find any benefits using one over a press? I'm just full of questions. :)

These 2 dozen color reduction woodcuts sound awesome! Does this person have a blog or a site you could direct me to?
A friend of mine is doing large scale reductive woodcuts- usually about 10-12 colors, but I think she may end up with more than that.

I'll be sure to get another post up soon!

Stage Fort Press said...

Hi Kellie,
I just wanted you to know that I landed on your site while looking for a solution to a chronic inking problem I've been having for years with my reductive linos and you literally saved my current print with your informed and concise advice regarding ink modifiers.
Thank you so much! I'm a huge fan now of your work.
I'm so glad you've gotten to study at Tamarind. They are lucky to have you.