Saturday, August 18, 2018

Summer 2018

Summers always start very busily here in the studio and then, thankfully, things ease off and I can take things just a little bit more easily for a few weeks before the Autumn and Christmas events begin.

The season began with a first visit to an occasional event: the craft tent at The Ely Cathedral Flower Festival. This involved several long sessions at the table but, with all the fellow stallholders around, it was great fun and a great success. The weather was lovely and there was Pimms on tap just round the corner from us:

The 2018 July Open Studios were very successful. Competition from Wimbledon, The World Cup and the effect of the heatwave were all threats but, as it happened, I often very busy and sales were very pleasing. Thank you to all who came and I hope that you enjoyed seeing the work and how it is made. My studio was open for three weekends and it was a pleasure to show the presses and work that often does not get an airing:

 Here was one unexpected visitor who came in, posed for this photo and then allowed itself to be carried outisde to a nearby rose bush:

In recent years, I have been pleased to have been asked to exhibit at the Old Fire Engine House,in Ely. This normally happens every other year and this year's show opened in early July and carries on until the end of August so there is still time to visit and see how my work looks when framed and grouped on the walls of a pleasant domestic setting. The food here is also very good!

Sales have been very good and unframed examples are available to take away with you, or framed work can be collected at the end of the exhibition.

The exhibition continues until the end of August.

Another place where you can see my work at the moment is in the wonderful Craft Centre and Design Gallery in Leeds. Fifty of my engravings are on display there until 27th October as part of "The Wonder Of Woodcuts". I still have to visit and I will write more when I return. I am looking forwards to going there very much as the range of work that they show is remarkable. In the meantime, here is a link:

and here are some photos from their website:

As at Ely, unframed examples are available. The work will be on display until 27th October 2018.

Finally, I was very pleased to hear that "Garden Plants For Bees" is not only one of my engravings accepted for the forthcoming SWE touring exhibition, but it is also the winner of the Sheila Honigsberg Book Illustration Prize. I remember Sheila well and it is an honour to win an award in her name:

Monday, April 09, 2018

Feed The Bees - a new miniature engraved book.

I have made handmade books since 1991, publishing them under the name "The Isle Handpress".
My miniature books are engraved completely, including the text. This makes them a lengthy but pleasurable undertaking. I normally have a couple of  ideas for future tiny volumes.

I have wanted to make another bee related project since my stamps for Royal Mail. This time I decided to concentrate on plants which we might grow in our gardens to encourage bees to visit.
I started with a list of plants from our own garden and it seemed sensible to divide them into seasonal groups, paring each one down to a list of four or five favourites. These lists became four little sketches, whcih I then redrew, more carefully, into a line of images.

I had already decided to engrave these designs on two woodblocks, each one was divided by a careful saw cut. I darkened the surface slightly, outlined the design in ink and started to engrave:

It is a sensible idea to take the first proof before the cutting is completed as it is easier to see how the marks look once they are printed. Here are the first and second states of the first block - you can see how the right hand print has developed with an extra day of engraving:

Once I was happy with the first block, I made a start on the second. You will notice that some plants cross over between the blocks, in the same way that they might spread over more than one season.

When I was happy with the four seasonal gatherings of plants, I started to design and engrave the texts. I kept the title page simple but added a couple of bees which I based on one from the postage stamp artwork, keeping a link between the two projects:

The colophon involved more text but the boxwood block was large enough to include another bee and to make a floral flourish, based on the sunflowers from the Autumn engraving:

The four blocks had slightly different thicknesses so it took a morning to set them up on the larger albion and use paper makeready to adjust the height of each one until I was happy with how they printed:

I have a stock of Mohawk superfine paper in the studio which I used for my first miniature book, "A Prospect Of Ely". I remember this printing well and so I decided to use it again. Here is one of the printed sheets being trimmed on the hand guillotene:

I had already planned to use the top half of the title page as labels. I printed these on a cream Zerkall paper using the small Albion. Here they are before trimming:

The cream label looked good against the cover paper I had chosen, hand marbled by Kate Brett of Payhembury Marbled papers. The small scale of the book led me to choose paper with a small pattern. I liked the blue/green/grey tone of the colour:

I cut grey card to size for the boards and pasted paper over it. Like my previous two, this was to be bound as a concertina book, tied by ribbon laces. After some thought, I decided on an olive green ribbon and glued the ties on the boards, ready to attach the folded engravings:

Here is the finished book. It is small but packed with fine detail. It measures just by 8.2 x 5cm. Each one is numbered and signed in pencil:

 I settled on an edition of 120 copies. Numbers 1 - 20 will be hand coloured and each one will have small differences. Again, this links back to the stamp designs, which were hand coloured:

I usually only sell these books directly at events I attend but I have been asked if I will offer them online so I am putting some in my Etsy store. Here is the link:

Please note that I am making the hand coloured edition in groups and that the first two batches have sold out. I will list five more in a couple of days.

I will also add some of my other two miniature books:

Friday, October 27, 2017

Art Unequalled. November 4th and 5th in Ely.

I am gathering work together for the first of my pre-Christmas events, Art Unequalled.
This takes places at the Maltings in Ely, Cambridgeshire on 4th-5th November 2017 and I am looking forwards to returning to this event. Its good to meet people and show my engravings but I also use this event to kick off my Christmas shopping!

As usual, I will be demonstrating how I engrave, developing a new owl block. On my table, I will display editioned engravings (including some framed), hand-printed cards, handmade books and my box of £10 engravings - I try to bring something along to suit all pockets.

This will be the first time I show my new work: "Apple Blossom Wren"

Here are the details (see also the Art Unequalled Website) :

I hope to see you there.

I will also be showing work at two other November events -  the Ely Cathedral Christmas Gift & Food Fair and Clare Christmas Fair. Details will follow.

Just a reminder that I now have a mailing list to keep you up to date with Work in progress, news, offers and events. You can sign up at my website - just click the "Mailing List" button and leave your email address (see also my previous blog post).

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Finally - A Mailing List

For the last few years, I have relied on Social Media to keep people up to date with work in progress, forthcoming events and special offers. I am no longer confident that this is the best method, especially with rumoured further changes to the way that Facebook will deliver information.

I have signed up to MailChimp and finally have a way to offer an occasional email that I hope will interest you. The good people at The Internet Marketing Company have added a button to my website that links to a simple sign up form:

I will not bombard you with emails. I imagine that they will be sent monthly at the most.

Out of all  Social Media I engage with, I enjoy Instagram the most. You can follow me  as @andyengraver  where you will find images of my work or whatever else has caught my eye.
Here is a little taster:

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Apple Blossom Wren

We are lucky enough to have a garden which is busy with wrens and they have become one of my favourite birds. This is not the first wren I have engraved but this one has taken the longest.

It is a project that has been done simply for my own pleasure. In addition, it has been a demonstration piece that I could take with me to a selling event. If you have seen me working away at a block in public during the last couple of years, it was probably this one. Here are some views that have been added to my Instagram feed ( @andyengraver ) during that time::

The last of this group of photographs shows the last few adjustments to be made, pencilled onto a proof. I finally finished engraving during my open studios this summer and then set the block aside to move on with other projects.

The large Albion was free for a few days this week so I set up the block and tried some different papers. I was particularly pleased with a very smooth, very slightly creamy, Zerkall paper and made a start on printing the edition.

Here is the print. It is called "Apple Blossom Wren" and the image measures approximately 75 x 60mm. I am publishing it in an edition of 100. You can buy it now at a pre-publication price from my ETSY store and I will have it with me at my November selling events (more details about them very soon). It will then be available from my website.