Sunday, May 25, 2008

Recent Work (2)

My grateful thanks to Hans who has agreed that I can share this with you. It is a short animation of the engraving of a bookplate that I finished a couple of months ago. It is one of my larger ones, being 4" tall by 3" wide and I particularly enjoyed tying together the different elements (trees, wagon wheel, vines & trout) that Hans wanted. A bookplate is a very personal thing, whether for personal use or a gift. Most of my working life is spent creating them and I find the process of working with the client to convey aspects of a life into a small space very interesting and satisfying.

Here is the film. The scans of the engraved block have been reversed so that the image can be seen to grow and move easily into the final section that shows the various "states" leading to the final image.

Here is a scan of the final plate:Now back to work - two illustrations and two bookplates to finish in ten days.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Recent Work (1)

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:

Nearly there:

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.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Another Week In And Out Of The Studio

The better weather has seen me both in and out of the studio this last week. Warm sun one minute, rain the next - real April showers.

Inside, I was working on the second design for icons for a forthcoming book. The book - showing a book - has been accepted - now for a laptop:

Outside, my eye was caught by a blackbird cooling down in the pond, no doubt causing much grief for the tadpoles and newts that like this shallow area. I photographed it from my desk:

Back inside, I was checking and signing prints:

The image in question is called "Lilies-Of-The-Valley, Nimes" and it celebrates the giving of this lovely flowers as a gift of friendship in France. In the background is the cathedral in Nimes in the South of France:

Outside, the large border is coming alive - with both flowers and hens:

I love to work outdoors; These are sketches for an engraving for our niece's wedding in September:

Below the table, the hens are hopeful for falling crumbs from my biscuit:

Time for a break. A plays one of my mandolins, a 1916 Gibson. I love to play the mandolin in the garden in the warm weather -a great way to relax.

Back inside, I contemplate the largest piece of box that I have had in stock. It was made by Chris Daunt and provided by the Society of Wood Engravers. I am one of 25 members who are making an engraving for a set of prints to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the relaunching of the SWE. My print will be based on the number twenty. I will be showing all of the stages of the designing and engraving of this print in the following weeks. Watch this space.

I enjoyed my week - I hope that yours was a good one!