Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Twenty" - My Best Work?

Autumn flies into winter and no mistake!

Indoors I have finished engraving the block for the Society Of Wood Engravers portfolio.

With a larger block such as this, I use "Red" the 1902 Albion handpress:

Here is the block held firmly in the bed of the press and inked ready to take the first impression.

I am really very pleased with the first print pulled from the block. This is unusual for me as my heart usually sinks. Being pleased is a good thing. It still took five "states" before I was sure that everything was good. Here is the first printing of the final impression:

The various states are hung to dry:

It is time to print the edition of 100. The first twenty-five will go in the portfolios that will be offered for sale. Impressions numbered 26-50 will go to the artists and the remaining fifty will be available from me late in 2009.

The edition is to be printed on a particularly fine paper: The Edwina Ellis paper from the Zerkall mill in Germany. Each sheet yielded six prints. This called for some careful folding.

I then used a breadknife to cut the sheets giving a slightly ragged edge called "false deckles"

Here is the final engraving. A and J play the piano in our dining room. It measures 5 x 5 inches. Click on the image to view a larger version.
Other family members are suggested in the photographs atop the piano. The central "photograph" is just 6/8th inch across:

I am really pleased with this. Perhaps it is the best thing that I have done. Works that involve my family are always very important to me.

Outside, it is getting colder. My pots of Sempervivum contain remnants of snow:

Finally, a recent visitor that A spotted just outside the studio. A toad. It was happy to sit and pose and I plan to make an engraving from the photographs early next year.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cards For Christmas

This year I am collaborating with A to produce a range of Christmas cards for sale.

They are printed by hand on "Red" the 1902 Albion Press from my original engraved blocks. We used 300gsm Canford card and each one has a high quality "Conqueror envelope.

The cards are blank for whatever seasonal message is required.

Here they are:

And here are the images in more detail:

These cards are available here

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Autumn, Work In Progress... And A Special Offer

According to the colours in the landscape, Autumn is here at last.

From the bedroom window...

In the garden...

Today, however, it was so warm, sunny and calm that it would have graced July, rather than mid-October. Time to pick the last produce from the summer garden, starting with tiny, wonderfully sweet yellow tomatoes..

...and grapes. The fig tree was quite productive this year as well...

...and we still have lemons left for a few more Gin and Tonics.

There are still quite a few flowers in the garden. These French Marigolds are grown in the kitchen garden to deflect the attention of the carrot flies away from the carrots.

Inside and sorting out a large pile of engravings that I cleared from the studio during the Open Studio in July. These are just things that were around the place in little piles - finally sorted.There are current stock engravings, others that have been "retired" from exhibitions, some for Ebay and some that I will reuse for proofing on the reverse...

Meanwhile, I have been working on several engravings, including a large (for me) five inch square image for the portfolio marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the relaunch of the Society Of Wood Engravers. Working on a lovely block made up of pieces of endgrain boxwood, made by Chris Daunt.

Twenty five engravers are each contributing a print for a portfolio. Every print is based on a number between one and twenty five. My number is twenty. The theme is a piano duet - twenty fingers (and thumbs). I also liked the association between the number twenty and the word score, which has both numerical and musical connotations.

Here is my working sketch...

The next photograph shows the drawing of the image in reverse onto the darkened block. I am using simple perspective to draw the piano keys, with a vanishing point just above the centre of the block.

The engraving begins. The players are J and A, who both play the piano. I started with the highlights on A's jacket and hair.

And here, much of the engraving is done. Click on any of the photographs to see more detail.

More photographs of this project will follow in the next post.

* * * * * * * * * *

When I started engraving, printing could sometimes be rather a trial and I tended to print in fairly small batches. The Albions, and my years of experience using them allow me to go back to these earlier images and complete the editions relatively easily.

A recent engraving to be completed was Digging The Tree, one of my "Brothers" series. This engraving, which remains a favourite of mine, was also one of the first to feature Ely Cathedral in the background. The scene sees our sons digging a Christmas tree ready to take it into the house and decorate it.

Image Size 10 x 5.7 cm

As a special offer to my readers
, a number of these engravings are available here for a much reduced price.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Recent Work (4) Nelson

I recently completed a "Keepsake" to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of Horatio Nelson. This was a commission from The Kings Lynn Arts Centre.

The keepsake was engraved on a large block of English boxwood. The design has many elements, including Nelson's birthplace, Burnham Thorpe church, The arms of King's Lynn, A map showing the position of the Battle of Trafalgar and the columns at Trafalgar Square and Great Yarmouth.

These photographs show the progress of the engraving ("click" on the images to enlarge them).

Here is the partly engraved block with the original drawing that I worked from.

The finished block:

Part of the edition was printed for members of The 1805 Club. Those prints had additional text printed from a small second block. It is difficult to engrave small pieces of wood. An easy solution is to tape offcuts around the small block, making it easier to hold:

The finished block has been fixed to the bed of an Albion Handpress; ink has been rolled onto the block ready for printing.

I don't often appear in this blog.Here am I "pulling" an impression.

A scan of the finished engraving:
Finally... the keepsakes are printed, dried, trimmed, numbered and signed.... ready for delivery. They will be sold at an extremely modest cost at the Fermoy Gallery of the Kings Lynn Arts centre. the exhibition runs from 27th September until 1st November.

As a bonus, here is a short film explaining how I went about engraving the small second block:

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Recent Work (3)

Summer, such as it was, is nearly at an end and the harvest, such as it has been, is nearly in.

Here is the story of my engraving for the BAREN exchange number 37, which had the theme of a journey. It brought together two things that I had been saving, namely, the idea of making an image based on Cornish gardens and using a lovely natural "round" of boxwood sent to me by blockmaker Chris Daunt.

I started to engrave the block in public at Art In Action (see previous post). I worked on a very detailed area of plants at the bottom of the image and then moved on to engrave the sky.

I returned home, safe and sound, despite brake failure and continued to engrave. In fine weather, I worked in the garden, fuelled by large cups of tea:

The image gradually took shape...

...until the engraving was finished and I could take a proof.

I usually proof in the smaller Albion. I worked through a few states as I tidied up the engraving until the block was finished and printing commenced...

...followed by drying.

Here is the final image. The print is in memory of Wanda Robertson who passed away earlier this year. I bid farewell to another old friend, my Vandercook proofing press which I used to proof and edition my engravings from 1999 until the arrival of my first Albion press. I have sadly neglected it in recent years and it has now gone to a home where it will be loved and used.

So I will end by raising a glass to old friends. A glass from a bottle featuring one of my engravings on the label. I have engraved several designs for wine labels over the last few years. This is the first one that I have seen "on the shelf"; I spotted it in the shop attached to my local service station, of all places.