Tuesday, February 19, 2008

In response to Janice's questions

I did the design work for the copper plates and Owosso Graphic Arts, Inc. made the plates. They can also make plates for intaglio. These plates are relief. When used for letterpress, they are mounted to a block of wood. I don't print letterpress but several of my friends do. We're an informal collective; A Confederacy of Printmakers. Back in the early to mid 1990's we rescued a lot of letterpress equipment and proofing presses from gathering dust in dark corners of commercial print shops. Most of them were given to us or so inexpensive it was impossible not to buy them. I never had room in the garage for a letterpress, what with my hubby's motorcycles and power tools... But I do have a 75 year old challenge proofing press it's great for printing monoprints and woodblocks, not so great for intaglio. The following is a description from a great website about letterpress:


Simple Tabletop Proof Press
(examples: Nolan, Triumph, Morgan LinoScribe, SignPress, Sirio, Atlas)

"Originally developed as "galley" proof presses to let a compositor take a quick check of his hand-set type, these small, lightweight units usually consist of a flat bed and a simple, single roller on a track above it. The galley of type was set on the bed, inked by hand with a small roller (a "brayer"), a sheet of paper laid on top, and the roller pulled across to get an impression. This was an improvement over the "proof planer" method, in which the impression is made by lightly tapping a block of felt-covered wood over the type. In the twentieth century, this sort of press found use, usually with large wood type, as an economical, in-house way of making signs for stores and showcards for theaters. Some printers find these a useful second press, as they are inexpensive, lightweight (although the larger 15 x 24 models can weigh upwards of 150 lbs.), and portable, but they are not at all suited to careful impression, precision registration, or runs of more than a few copies ($50-$250, depending on features and size)."

It is possible to register with it but there is always a danger of plate slippage. I have a plank of wood in my press bed to build it up for monoprint. I layer newspaper on top then lay down the special press blanket (its different from the etching wools, it's thinner and plastic backed). I then reach across the press, grab the roller and pull it toward me. I then lift the blanket pull away the paper and I have my print. You quickly learn with experimentation just how much newspaper padding is needed to build up the right amount of pressure needed for each type of plate. Care needs to be taken when using woodblocks not to over pad as too much pressure can crack the block. Yes I have cracked a block. On my third or 4th impression of the print Brother Whale I tried to print a t-shirt and added another layer of newspaper--and ended up cracking the block.

I could use the challenge proofing press to print these, but it will be easier to use an etching press. I'll simply roll the inks onto the plates with a brayer, center the paper using a magnet frame to line everything up on the etching press bed then print it. I''ll have to pull the first proof tomorrow as I have a few appointments today...also the inks may arrive from McClain's by then too, so I'll be able to proof in the colors I want to use!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bee Plates

I got the plates today for the Backs of the tarot cards. I ordered letterpress plates in copper from Owosso Graphics in Michigan. They are laser cut in relief. I chose relief because the black lines on the bee bodies would be too thick for intaglio. I was told by a local semi-retired printer that this company was the best for these type of plates as local die makers don't do the older letterpress type of plates.

This is a pretend proof I made by layering a semi-transparent jpg of my design over a scan of the paper I will be using.

Remember you can click on any of these images to see them enlarged for better detail. Use your browser's back button to get back to this blog page from the image page.

I'll post again in a couple of days after I've pulled a proof. The first proofs will be off in color as Daniel Smith Supplies back ordered the Akua thalo blue, titanium white and carbon black inks. They sent me the red, yellow and the amending mediums only. I had to cancel that back order and call McClain's Printmaking Supply. They'll send them today but it will be three days before they arrive here. I know, I'll pull some oily proofs after I've straightened up & organized my studio deck (not perfectly clean, that would take tooooooo long). I'm so excited to proof these and totally inspired get my space organized so I can do this work. Better get to it now before I lose the momentum!

Friday, February 15, 2008

IF: Theory - Fool Part II

Illustration Friday

: Theory

Theory: Khaos will do anything and all to prevent and destroy creation...

Murphy Law: Over confident printmakers are bound to make rookie mistakes...

Saturday, February 09, 2008

IF: Choose

This week's Illustration Friday theme is Choose. The first thing I thought of was Baskin Robbin's "37 Flavors."

See how other artists interpreted this week's theme at IllustrationFriday.com: http://www.illustrationfriday.com/linkviewer.html

Monday, February 04, 2008

IF: Blanket

A safety pin and a blanket are all that are needed open a portal to the world of imagination! Imagination the stuff that all the best superheros are formed of.

This week's theme for Illustration Friday is Blanket. http://www.illustrationfriday.com

This illustration was drawn from a digital collage I created. The face of superhero is my grandson Austin; taken from a picture of him smiling at his dad. I sketched it out in pencil then outlined with a tech pen. I then colored with Sakura water color pencils that my son Christopher (Austin's Daddy) brought home from a summer with his grandparents (my folks) in Japan.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Year of the Dog, Boar and Rat: Bareners beware, may ruin the surprise

I have finally finished the Year of cards that I have been grossly behind on for the past couple of years. I wont go into the details of the emotionally crippling life events that interfered with the completion of these works. Suffice it to say that they are now done and last week completed unfinished business. I am now back into an artmaking groove of my own! Remember, as always you may click on an image to see it enlarged. Simply use your browser's back button to get back to this page afterward.

Hand colored un-editioned block print of my golden retriever Keya. 4" x 6"

There was this one summer where each morning as I watered the veggies I,d note which tomatoes would be ready in time for dinner. I'd go to work & return to find all the ripe tomatoes gone. I told hubby I thought someone was stealing my tomatoes so he came home early from work to investigate. As he stepped on the deck he noticed Keya running away and shaking her head violently. Worried he ran over to discover she had a tale tell tomato hooked to her fang, Shewas trying to shake off the evidence before he discovered her thievery! I'd have never suspected as she was arthritic and I didn't think she could cross the two foot fence around the garden. Only goes to show that pain is no barrier to a juicy tomato at the perfect peak of ripeness! Keya left us later that year and I remembered our love for her in our hand printed holiday card.

The Year of the Boar cards were influenced by a Lucite work of art by Brazilian artist Abraham Palatnik, the first Brazilian artist to explore the creative use of technology in art. See more info on the great artist here:


The Year of the Rat Cards for 2008 are influenced by photographs and articles about giant rats in Africa that are being used to sniff out mines. see the Washington Times article here:


For more info see the site of the organization that does this work, they do accept donations: http://www.apopo.org/newsite/content/index.htm

All of these works are available for purchase in my Etsy site: http://www.PhareCamp.etsy.com