This is always a busy time of year for me and I have several engraving jobs in hand, as well as preparing for my Open Studio events and Art in Action in July. I photographed the various stages in the engraving of an image for the invitation to the wedding of our niece and her fiancee. Here they are.
Starting with a lovely piece of boxwood prepared by blockmaker Chris Daunt:
As always, I darkened the block slightly with diluted fountain pen ink so that I can see both drawing and cut marks:
The design was transferred to the block - making sure that I reversed the drawing:
Once happy with the drawing, I went over it with a fine ink pen and, straight away, made the first cuts - using a medium spitsticker for the lines and a round scorper to clear the sky. It is a good idea to move between two tools like this to add a bit of variety to a day of relentless engraving.
Next, I cleared more clouds, started to cut a tone for the sky and made a start on some very detailed work on the walls and windows of the Scottish castle where the wedding will take place:
I Carried on with the sky and then switched to clearing the corners with a wide square scorper. It is important to lower this wood considerably to make sure that it doesn't pick up any ink to leave nasty inky marks around the final image:
Back to working on the stone face of the building:
A fine tint tool was used to lay down close lines to suggest the trees in the background:
I worked on the foreground, stippling to suggest gravel on the drive. The corners are now quite a bit lower than the face of the block. Finally, I added diagonal lines and horizontal lines to the face of the building.
The block is not finished, but this is a good stage to take the first proof. If I take too much out, I cannot put it back. The block is fixed to the bed of the smaller (1865) Albion press.
The first proof form the block shows the first state; this often shows lots of work to be done. I lightened the sky and the trees in the background and added horizontal lines to lighten the drive in the foreground. the building was pretty much there - I just needed to tidy up some small details. The various states dried on the rack above the press:
When I printed the fourth state, I knew that I had finished:
Here is a scan of the finished engraving. The image of 75 x 50 mm (about 3 x 2 inches):
And here is an enlargement to show some of the details.
It took about four days to complete the work. It's not unusual to spend a day on a square inch of detailed engraving. Between bouts of engraving, there was time for drawing, designing and even a spot of gardening.