Monday, February 26, 2007

Spring Cleaning and Ebaying

A lovely day - bulbs bloom, frogs head for the pond and the cherry plum trees are bursting into blossom - can spring be nearly here? In the studio, it was getting to the point where I couldn't easily get to things that I needed and so it was time for a spring clean. I had been given some shelving by neighbours but there was no room so the type cabinet had to find another home. I have moved it into the next room where it will find a permanent home near the Arab press The shelves are great and give a sense of space as well as housing all kinds of bits and pieces.

A popped it to take some photograhs for me and got artistic - the engraver framed with his own Albion:

Last week, I drove down to London with O to visit the film school he hopes to attend. On the way back we stopped off at Ikea where I saw this kitchen block:

It is very sturdy, yet easy to move around. On the top is an old perforating machine fro my stamp project. Underneath are two of my small Adana presses.

I'm still organising the shelves. The engraving is a superb Gwen Raverat view of Vence in France:

While I was tidying up, I gathered together a group of early engravings - mostly numbered examples from the editions. They are available here.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

More About Those Clouds

I just finished a thirteen hour day of cutting, recutting, proofing and printing. The illustration job is done, delivered and approved.

The textures of the clouds were made by engraving serpentine lines at about a forty-five degree angle and then making a series of horizontal cuts on top. I was pleased with the finished result but it was hard work on eyes, hands, neck and shoulders. As promised, here is a small section (actual size) :

The ink is cleaned off the slab and my aching neck and shoulders are headed for a hot bath. I'll take a break from engraving tomorrow and work on a design.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Another very cold day but the sun is streaming down and my morning walk was glorious.

Its day two of my illustration and I am spending the day engraving clouds. I started with a pencil study and then sketched the main shapes onto the block. These divide the "sky" into different tones. The marks I have made will guide me but I will be free to modify the areas as I engrave. This makes todays work a pleasing contrast to yesterday's architectural subject. Here is the block ready to start:

My first session of engraving went well. The studio was pleasantly warm and I was pleased withmy progress. My client wants me to pay particular attention to the clouds in this piece. I am using a technique perfected by Victorian engravers. Instead of straight lines, I am engraving a series of curvy, serpentine cuts. They give a very different texture.

I have started with the middle tones and then - probably late afternoon - I will tackle the darker and then the lighter areas. I plan to proof the block first thing tomorrow morning with a view to making any last modifications before lunchtime. I engraved while listening to a "soundscape" by Robert Fripp that suited my mood perfectly. I'm off now for another session while J cooks up some mushroom soup.

When the work is done, I will scan a small area of cloud to show how it appears on the finished impression.

Finally, greetings to my new reader; we both enjoyed hearing from you again.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Prevarication and Perspective

Its warm in the studio and cold here in the house yet I linger here; why? Two answers- preevarication and perspective.

I need to make a start on the engraving of a block that needs to be finished and delivered on Thursday. Once I get going, things will be fine but I'm holding back from making that first cut. Once started, this project - an illustration - will just fly.

I am engraving an architectural subject. This need precision and what is causing the delay is that the perspective needs to be perfect. With a drawing, one can go back and adjust the angles taken by lines. Once you engrave, that it that.

Actually, I rather enjoy perspective. I have set the block in the corner of a sheet of paper, marked my "vanishing point" and use a ruler to check and modify the lines on my sketch. Its a good way to start a day because little thought is required. Here is the setup:

This is a rare glimpse of a piece of my commercial work. No more details.

Well the drawing is finished and its time to engrave. No more delays! Except that I need to take tea out to the studio. Must decide which tea. Better think carefully about which mug.