The open studios were over very quickly and I had just under a week to prepare to fly out to Chicago as guest artist to the Wood Engraver's Network at their annual workshop. I had a pleasantly uneventful journey to Chicago O'Hare International Airport, where I was met by our wonderfully attentive hosts Sharen and Don Linder who took me to my hotel. I tried to ignore the fact that everything electronic that I owned reminded me that it was about 4am back home.
I awoke 4:30am local time Sunday morning and enjoyed a swim before a leisurely breakfast at six o'clock and a walk around the neighbourhood. There was a lovely lakeside park opposite the hotel.
After my walk I was ready for a nap and then, getting hungry, I wandered round to Tacos El Norte, a Mexican diner next to the hotel for a burrito. It was good to be back in the US again.
... and some drawing - working out the design for the block that I planned to engrave during the week - a view of part of our garden. It was a detail from the steps that already feature towards the left of the centre of this print.
Other engravers arrived during the afternoon so it was back to the diner for a beer and then we drove to Sharen and Don's lovely house where we set up our gear in the basement and enjoyed a very pleasant supper with the assembled engravers before heading back - very tired - to the hotel.
The next morning, we started work in earnest in the basement. There was so much space and the light was great to work with. I squared down my image and transferred it to the block so that I was ready to engrave. It was a real pleasure to get to meet and work with the engravers. I had known many of them for years through their work.
In the afternoon, we were the guests of Graphic Chemical & Ink Co. The lobby and offices were hung with a wonderful variety of original prints. We had a tour "behind the scenes" and watched the process of making printmaking inks from the selection on the medium...
... to the pigment grinder...
... and then the machines that use heavy rollers to make the ink smooth...
... before the cooled and thickened ink is transferred to the tins that we are familiar with:
Elsewhere, in the warehouse, there were gravers galore...
... and piles of paper to peruse:
We returned to WEN HQ for more engraving. I enjoyed the exotic elements of this lovely suburb of Chicago; hummingbirds and, later, fireflies.
We ended the day with a shared meal. The week had made an excellent start.