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.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Open Studio 2017

I can't believe thats its a year since I moved back into my extended studio. It has been a pleasure to use it and it was getting so "lived in" that I have had to give it a good clean and tidy to be ready for this year's Open Studios. I have made a few changes to the layout from last year and feel that there will be a little more room for people to see what there is on show.

Firstly, the details. I will be open the following weekends between 11am and 6pm:

Weekend 1: 1 - 2 July
Weekend 3: 15 - 16 July
Weekend 4: 22 - 23 July

Full details can be found from the Cambridge Open Studios Website.

So what will you find here?

I will be showing a wide range of wood engravings, including new work such as A Breckland Story:

I will also be showing my most recent work, "Flying Kites Over Pakefield". Only twenty of these original prints will be available:

In addition to pretty much my full range of available printsd, there will be hand printed greetings cards. These are all printed from the original engraved blocks and signed, making each one an original print. Here is an example; the first appearance of  the second of three versions of "Tending Young" that I engraved for my Royal Mail honeybee stamps:

I have placed the card (which is blank and comes with an envelope) on Red, the 1902 Albioon handpress. Here is a view of the empty studio taken yesterday:

In addition,  you will be able to see a number of handmade books made in this studio, often involving letterpress, and published in small editions. I also make miniature books where everything is engraved, such as my tiny "A View Of Avebury":

As usual, I will be demonstrating how wood engraving works and "Red", the larger Albion, will be in use.

Here is a video of last year's Open Studio, to give you a taster:

Feel free to just come and browse and ask questions. If you want to buy, I will accept cash, cheques and can also take credit cards. Come and say Hi!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Cafe Creative. Engraving at Babylon Arts, Ely on Saturday 13th May 12 - 4pm

Babylon Arts in Ely are holding Cafe Creative - a live art week at the gallery space beside the river. You can read about the events here.

I will be working in the space on Saturday, 13th May between 12 noon and 4pm. I will be engraving and also printing from a block by hand burnishing.

In addition, I will be bringing a selection of  finished work - engravings (framed and unframed) , hand printed engraved cards and some hand printed books. These will be available to examine - and to purchase if  you see anything you like.

I will be sharing the space with Alison Hullyer' another printmaker,who will also be demonstrating, showing and selling her wonderful work.

Come along and see this rare pop-up experience. Tell your friends, say "Hi" and see how we do what we do!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Spring Sale

Spring is my favourite season; the first warm days after Winter are so cheering.

Spring flowers are making the garden a more cheerful place:

The pond is teeming with tadpoles and has its own Spring flowers emerging:

I am holding a Spring sale of engravings. These are not work in my current exhibitions and I am offering big discounts and including some prints not on my website. You can see this work in my Etsy store, which you can find here:

I have new work on my desk, an Easter card and some bookplate projects. Time to get back to work!