Friday, December 16, 2011

The Poop on Pigeons

On to the next project.  No rest for the over-extended.

I've been mulling over my block for the City of the World Puzzle Block Project:, Maria Arango's latest massively collective project (talk about over-extended!).  ;- j

Check out this blog and see all the amazing blocks that have come in already:

I thought I might do something with my animals, or my back yard, but nothing suitably city-y occured to me (the fact that I live in a suburb might have something to do with it).

So recently I've been thinking about pigeons.  They're ubiquitous in a city -- even a suburb.  (On good days we call them doves; when they're fat and waddly from eating other birds' feed we call them pigeons.)

I've got a couple ideas I'm cogitating on, and soon I'll be carving on.  The deadline approaches and tempus threatens to frangle.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Xmas Card 2011

Cards ordered thru Vista Print.  *whew* 

What a project.  One complication after another, but it's done now.

I'm calling it Denizens until something better occurs to me.  I can't give in to my other title:  Not Even a Mouse.  That'd be the 3rd xmas print titled that.  ;->  I really am a creature of habit.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Xmas Card - Second Block

Second block printed (all at once, as the rainy weather kept the ink from drying out).  8-]

I think the project was an overall success (altho at this point all I see are the glaring errors).  ;- j

Now I wait for them to dry and then scan them into the computer and start making the xmas cards with Vista Print.  I am so behind on this project.  I think the xmas cards are going to be new year's cards this year.  ;- y

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Xmas Card - First Block

First block printed.  8-]  Waiting for it to dry now so I can print the second block.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Carving Around Ornaments

Carved around the ornaments.  They'll be less fiddly to ink now.

Because we're so dry right now (Santa Ana dry) I'm having trouble with ink drying out, especially when I ink up both the window and all the ornaments.  So I'm thinking of printing them separately.

That'll be three printings with two blocks.  What a complicated process this xmas card is turning into.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Test Print - Window Block

Test print of the window block went about as expected.  The window area prints fine, but the ornaments are giving me troubles yet.  For one thing I need to carve out the areas around the ornaments more so I don't get ink on the tree.

At least the two blocks line up -- I tested the window print and the tree print up against the patio door and they matched up.  *whew*

The window was coming alive nicely, but the ornaments are still resisting ink.  But rather than fight with the difficult little things I've decided to carve some more first.  Next time will be better.

It does look kinda kewl overlaid with the green tree print. 

Another thing I noticed tho was how paranoid I am about the two "blocks" being two sides of the same block.  I'm just sure I'm going to mess one up somehow.  I don't think I like being so frugal -- next time I'll use two separate blocks.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Block Two

Still on block two.  Ornaments isolated.  Now working on the window and the mice. 

Then I can make a test print for placement.  Still have to carve ornament holes in the first block.

This part's going a lot faster.

I'm finding my erganomically designed carving tools are best for this part.  I'd forgotten how comfortable they are in the hand since I've been using the finer Japanese tools.  It's a trade-off; ease of use vs. smaller mm.

Ok, ready to do some test printing.  Tomorrow.  8 hours is plenty of time for one day.

Monday, December 05, 2011

2-Block Xmas Card

Short cuts always take longer.  *sigh*  Because I'd carved the original block differently than my cartoon I've had to trace and transfer the image with wax paper (the only thing I could see well enough thru on the block) and chalk onto the back of the block.

Now I'm carving away around the ornaments; next the window scene.  Ugly, ugly work.  I hate how the block looks.

Also need to carve a hole for the ornaments on the first block.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

White Line - Tree

Less than pleased with the white line approach to this print.  I inked the tree and powedered the ornaments and stray splotches but the job is labor and time consuming and less than satisfactory.  Short cuts always take longer.

I'll go ahead and carve a second block of ornaments and the window scene and just carve away all the ornaments on the tree.  Less time and labor in the long run.

I can use the back of the block tho that's a new concept as well.  Learn something new with every project.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

White Line - More Carving

Almost done with the tree.  Just a few ornaments left at the top.  Then I can test print the tree and see how much trouble it'll be to clean up the ornaments each time.

Time for a test print.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

White Line - Carving Continues

Another couple hours of work this morning.  I'll get back to it this afternoon.

BTW, I'm battling my way thru my supply of baltic birch.  It's rather chippy.  I'd gotten used to shina, which I much prefer and will go back to when these blocks are used up.

chip between ribbon and gingerbread cookie

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

White Line - Carving

Cartoon transfered to block

Starting to carve

Slow going, but I'll be able to start printing the tree as soon as it's carved.  Then I'll finish carving the window area.

Monday, November 28, 2011

White Line

Block is stained and when it's dry I'll transfer the cartoon.  I've decided to do a white line woodcut and ink it up and print it in two passes.  This is pretty much what I do when I tap in colors and print at once, but this will be more like carving two blocks.  I'll still have to take care with alignment.

Tempus fugit.  Sure don't want it to frangit!  ;- j

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Loscon Art Show 2011

I've got a booth in the art show again this year.  Nothing's carved in wood, so to speak, but this is what I'm thinking of taking:

I lay the pictures out on my bed, which happens to be almost exactly the size of a double panel in the art show, to get some idea of what to take.

Some regulars, like the airships, printmaker and paleo-critters, but there are some new-to-Loscon pieces this year:  the Bookkeeper and Anasazi Bobcat (both zinc etchings), Pigasus, Foggy & Umi's Tears.

It gets a little cluttered with all the bid sheets attached to all the pieces, but that's the nature of the beast.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Art Gallery Bio

This is my bio sheet for the Santa Clarita Artists Association Gallery, opening this Black Friday at the Westfield Valencia Town Center.  8-]  It's a store front that's been empty for some while and the town has decided to let the SCAA use it for a gallery until a paying customer comes along.  Now that's a deal!

I've got 3 pieces in the opening show: 

Mid-Winter Night

Tay and the Night Visitor


Here's a link to the SCAA website:

A Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Art Show and Artist's Reception will be celebrated on Monday, December 12th from 4 - 8 p.m. City and Community Representatives will be invited.  The SCAA will also present a “Spirit of the Arts” award to the Westfield Town Center Mall for its support of the Visual Arts. The ceremony and reception are free and open to the public. There will be musical entertainment, along with Wine and Hors D'oeuvres.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Still More Messing

I really must stop messing with the design and start carving.  I'm not sure what I think of the addition of garland around the window.  I think it actually detracts.  Or it might balance the color.  But which?

I think I can get away with carving 2 blocks.  One for the green and one for the black, with the ornaments tapped in.  I'll have to see if that's practical.


Working on composition balance now.  This is what it'll look like on the 9"x12" block.  It looks like crap because I overlay images in PageMaker.  I'm only interested in the placement of image and white space here.  The tree comes a little past the center of the block, but the window is a more dynamic image.

I've decided against the garland.

Huh.  I've just noticed the center of the window is the center of the card. 


Can't forget what's mirror and what's not.  Keep an eye on the castle.  ;- j

Card will be more like 4.25"x7.75", but I'll keep this balance.

Crossroads and Connections

I went to see the opening of a fiber art show last night because I know one of the artists, Lauri Mraz.  Crossroads featured in the notice is her work:

Imagine my delight to find that connected to this gallery was the studio of a fellow printmaker, Sonia Romero from She Rides The Lion on Etsy:

We know each other thru Printsy, a team of printmakers on Etsy, but we had never met in person.  That was a pleasant surprise.  8-]

You can check out Sonia's website here:

And check out the Printsy blog here

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Xmas Card - Colors

Working on colors and motifs.  I may need 3 blocks to do this:  one for the green tree, one for the ornaments, with tapped in colors, and one for the window.

I don't want to go to the trouble of erasing all the ornaments, but there'll be a 3rd block with just the ornaments and the present in the mouse's hands.

Ok, here's the bw version minus the tree:

I can make a stencil mask for the tree when printing the window, then mask the window when printing the ornaments.  A second block can be the tree minus the ornaments.

Working on block size now.  Has to match well with the required card size.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Pastel Sketch

Working on some pastel sketches.  How big can the mice get and how small can the castle get?  I think the castle has to be a tad larger.  Maybe the mice have to be a tad smaller.

Mice don't look too bad size-wise.  Castle might get a little bigger.  (I can really tell I'm playing now.)  ;- j

Monday, November 07, 2011

Tighter Sketch

Christmas card sketch - tighter.

Might even just give a hint of a curve to the window and make it even tighter. Have to see. Currently I'm googling xmas trees and ornaments and cartoony mice for inspiration.

I'd like to use some color, either tapped in or using two blocks.

I like tradition ornaments, old-fashioned ones like dried fruit and nuts, candy canes, gingerbread cookies. Another possibility is ornaments to highlight people's hobbies, or devices. Not enough room for everyone's tho, so maybe not. Lights, candles. Lots of ideas to consider.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Xmas Card Sketches

Switching gears now and working on the Schuyler House xmas card.  I always do a castle theme, as that's the company logo, and this year I was thinking of doing something with a long, tall castle window.

Something like this:

Or this:

But it seems so static.  So I thought about adding a couple of castle denizens, and maybe a tree just peaking into the picture.  I've wanted to stick a castle ornament on a tree for a couple years now, but I haven't found a look I liked.  This is getting there.

I might move the castle over to the middle of the tree, or add another mouse to the tree, reaching for an ornament, as Steph suggested.  I'll play with it a bit more.

Now back to editing the fighter poem collection.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Signing all these cards is a pain in the...wrist.  ;- ]  Over half way there, then stuff them in a mailer and send them winging on their way.

Fly little dragonflies!  They're on their way!  =8-D 

Such a relief.  I feel like I can turn around and jump right into a new block, but I know that's just the high that comes from a finished project.  But shortly I'll have to dive into the xmas card block.  No rest for the over-extended.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Color Variations

Here's a variety of the colorways for my Paleo-Dragonflies.  They're all basically brown with red wings.  I mixed up the brown from yellow, red and blue, so depending on how I mixed the ink, it got lighter or darker.

I like that frankly because I go mad doing the same thing over and over again (makes you wonder why I'd want to do editions, doesn't it?), and this way I can entertain my brain while I work.  ;-]

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Cutting the cards apart.

A little over 100 prints.  Haven't counted exactly.
The pile is a shade shy of 2" tall.

They should fit in a Priority Mail envelope, all spread out.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

One Block Too Far

I knew I shouldn't've printed that last dragonfly.  The ink was getting gunky, but there was one more place on the strip.  Needless to say it won't see the light of day.

I'm fairly sure I printed enough for the exchange, given the occasional poor print.  I must say there were very few misprints, most of them pushing the ink past its nature.  I need to print 100+ prints more often.  ;- j

I'm glad we decided on 101 prints in this collection.  It's been an interesting and surprising experience printing so many.  I'll count them up tomorrow and make sure I have enough.

Then I'll cut them apart and start the arduous task of signing and numbering them all.  I left room to sign the front, but there really isn't enough room for the title, etc.  So I'll initial the front and sign the back.  Afterall, they are Artist Trading Cards, right?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Today's Production

Another productive morning.  As others have noted, once you cross the 50th print, you're sort of in the groove.  I cranked out another 33 prints today.  I could have continued but we're time-sharing the kitchen table and Bill wanted his breakfast.  ;- j  Tomorrow, Monday for sure, I'll have them all done.  They're drying really fast.

It really was in the groove.  The day wasn't dry like it was yesterday -- I had an idea it might be good printing when we found ourselves in a cloud last night when we took Loki for his walkies.  I only had to clean the block a couple times in all that printing, and the ink wasn't drying out as fast either.

I'm really in the groove now.  No wasted motion anymore.  I love it when the block practically prints itself.  Tore down more paper strips (4 and 5 to a strip, as it turns out) of Arches 88, marked them in pencil where each block should land, recarved the ends of the block to clean up the messy inky bits that were accumulating (plus opened up a couple lines that seemed to have smooshed closed -- technical term).  Also went over the block with a stylus to dig out any leftover ink that didn't clean out the day before (happens often with really fine lines I find).  Mixed my ink, cranked my press to the proper pressure, and away I went.  Color on the wings is tapping in very nicely now too.  Hope tomorrow is as groovy as today has been.  8-]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Half Way There

And then there were 50 -- give or take a couple light prints.  Goes kind of slow when I have to clean the block and refresh the ink every 5 or 6 prints.  I can sure see why there are so many printmakers in the Pacific Northwest!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Printing - Arches 88

I haven't printed on Arches 88 in ages, but I remembered it's crisp treatment of woodcuts, so I ordered some. I really like it, and its perfect for the mini-cards for ex. 50.

It's dry as all get out here today and its sucking the moisture out of the ink. This is the 7th print in a row and it's getting all gunked up.

Cleaning the block and refreshing the ink and getting back to it. ;-]


Printed another set.  Here's the whole thing, 18 prints. 

I've tried printing them separately and in a strip and I prefer the strip of 4 or 5.  It's easier to place the block.  The single card can curl and is harder to register.


Here's a scan of the dragonfly.  I'm happy with the colorway.