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.


Barbara Mason said...

this is lovely, your niece is a luck girl!

Annie B said...

Wow, Andy, wow! So amazing to see the progression of your carving. Thanks for showing it.

So I'm guessing that a scorper is like a tiny u-shaped gouge that you push through the wood? How about a spitsticker - is it knife-like? I'm curious about what tool you used when you added vertical lines to the sky and horizontal lines to the ground. Is it a tool that pushes through the wood, like a gouge? If I were to try carving in the opposite direction through an area that had already been carved (with the wood I use, which is a plywood) using any kind of tool that pushed the wood I'd be very likely to chip away lots of small pieces.

Technical questions aside, this is a lovely engraving and I agree with Barbara, your niece is very fortunate!

Pietrocelli said...

thank you for well done photots and comm. nice work

Neil said...

This is generous and brave of you, Andy, to be willing to show your work at all these unfinished stages - and incredibly interesting to see the beautiful finished image emerge from the untarnished block. And I agree with Annie, the names of the tools are just mouthwatering.