Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chicago: WEN Workshop (1)

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.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

IN Print and Business as Usual

The Open Studios have been and gone and were very successful. On the first morning, I received a copy of East Anglian Ex-Libris by John Blatchly. It covers bookplates related to East Anglia from 1700 to the present day and is a wonderful addition to the collection of anyone interested in bookplates. Dr Blatchly has included two of my engraved pictorial bookplates: my own that I use for larger books and the one that I engraved for Joan..

Since then, both presses have been busy as I have been working hard to complete jobs before I head off to thwe WEN gathering at Kildeer, IL.

As the engravings have dried, I have been sitting and signing and numbering them. I will feature this particular project in a couple of weeks time:

I am planning a project of my own to engrave in the US. So much of what I do is commissioned work that it will be a treat to do something for myself. This morning, I received a pair of wonderful boxwood "rounds" from blockmaker Chris Daunt. I use his blocks exclusively in my work. These are beautiful and, for me, the natural shape of the wood is a pleasure to work with. You may remember one that I engraved before.

I fly out on Saturday - so much more to be done.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Open Studio - First Weekend

This year's first Open Studio weekend was a very pleasant occasion with a steady stream of visitors and pleasing sales which, traditionally, go towards my purchase of printmaking paper for the next twelve months. The weather was beautiful, with the sun streaming in but not as hot as earlier in the week, when the rollers on one of my small Adana presses melted in the heat.

Inside the door, There was a wall of framed engravings, a browser containg the newly editioned prints from Freshly Picked and a folder of the engravings for Philip Pullman's A Outrance. This was followed by a group of sketchbooks to show how projects develop from the first pencil sketches to the final ink drawings:

The central table had wood engravings for sale in browsers:

Also on the central table was a disply of many of many of my engraved bookplates and some of the books that they have featured in:

At the far end, I was demonstrating engraving and carrying on with one of my current projects:

Moving through into the press room, there was another wall of framed engravings behind the smaller 1865 Albion Handpress:

The recently tidied shelves had small displays, including some of the engravings that I have made for wine labels:

"Red", the larger 1902 Albion was in use to demonstrate printing from engraved blocks:

I was able to get on with some work, enjoy the company of new and old friends and have a relaxing but surprisingly tiring weekend.

It all happens again next weekend and you will be most welcome to visit.

I made another short "Walk through" movie and, this year, added commentary as I walked around. Here it is:

Friday, July 03, 2009

Open Studios 2009

Once again, I am opening as part of the Cambridge Open Studio scheme. My studio will be Open from tomorrow (July 4th-5th and 11th - 12th) between 11am and 6pm.

I will demoinstrate engraving and printing on the Albion handpresses. There will be engravings for sale but there is no obligation to buy - feel free to come and look.

The details are here: you can find them by searching for me in the "Artists" section. I will post photographs very soon.