Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Cards and other things

I have been selling hand printed cards from my Etsy online shop. If you would like to by one then you can find it HERE.

I am posting orders out as they are received but cannot now expect them to arrive outside of Europe before Christmas. I am planning a range of hand printed cards that will be available throughout the year. I also accept commissions for your own personally designed, engraved and printed card and am now taking orders for Christmas 2013.

It has been another busy and successful year in the studio. I am currently working on my 80th bookplate and plan to display some recent ones in the New Year. I am also working on a couple of ideas for new handmade books from The Isle Handpress; one will be a nature subject and the other an episode from my childhood that influenced my eventually becoming a printmaker.

I will, of course, be continuing to blog about my work here and also show work in progress on my Facebook artist page, which you can follow without having to become my "friend".

I wish you all well as the Christmas season approaches and thank you for your continued interest and support.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

For The Benefit Of Mister Kite

Earlier this year I was contacted about a very singular project - to recreate the engravings from a Victorian circus poster. This in itself wasn't all that interesting. I am an engraver for hire and am offered a wide variety of work. What made this fascinating was the fact that this was the poster that inspired John Lennon to write the song "For The Benefit of Mister Kite" that was on the Beatles' "Sergeant Pepper" album.

Available images of the illustrations on the poster were of a very poor quality:

These images would have been printed from "stock" blocks in the printer's workshop. They probably didn't even belong together and may have been trimmed to match. One way or another there was a lot of "noise" in the images that we had. The blocks would have been old, possible mistreated, inked and printed hastily and then we were looking at copies of copies of the original.
I spent a long time looking at the images, comparing them with other Victorian circus illustrations that I could find. I started to make drawings and comparing notes with Peter, who had commissioned the work:

After much discussion and many drawings, I started to mark out the designs on to two lemonwood engrain woodblocks, pick up my tools and start to engrave the images.

I made a short animation of the process using scans taken from the blocks and proofs:

Here are the finished blocks after I had proofed them and and made all the adjustments that I wanted to:

Here is the final proof from the blocks:

A very interesting aspect of this project was that it was filmed:

Nick and Joe made a wonderful short film about the whole story:

Lennon's Poster from Make Productions on Vimeo.

Finally, the whole story is told and the finished poster can be seen HERE.

Monday, October 01, 2012

The View From Swift Cottage

I do enjoy portraying wildlife into an appropriate setting and staying at Swift Cottage in Derbyshire gave me a chance to engrave a rather different landscape from my native Fenlands. The swifts were certainly there. They are a favourite bird of mine.

Originally, I was going to show two swifts in the foreground as this rough sketch shows.
At this point, I decided to use a naturally round piece of boxwood and shaded the sketch in pencil to explore this idea:

Here is the block, darkened with diluted pen ink and ready to start to mark up the design in reverse:
I decided to make a record of the engraving of this block and so can show how it developed from the first ink drawing to the point that I could pull the first proof in the press:

I felt that the second swift was pulling the image apart and so replaced it with three smaller swifts in the distance, flying in the opposite direction:

I proofed the block in the smaller 1865 Albion handpress:

I was very pleased with the first proof (State I) and went about making small adjustments and taking further proofs. Here I am checking State III and making the final changes

I was very pleased with State IV and decided that nothing else needed to be done.

Here is the finished engraving which will be published in an edition of 125, printed from the original block. It is available HERE. During the month of October 2012, it will be offered for a special price.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

In Print - And A Coloured Engraving

I have enjoyed my collaborations with The Jericho Press and so I was very pleased when another was proposed. I was intrigued when this commission proved to be not only a map but also a coloured map. I do not make multi-block coloured engravings but I do enjoy a challenge and so I decided to have a go.

The map features parts of Lake Urmia whic is in itself a very interesting lake.

I drew out the agreed map outline in reverse onto a boxwood block and started to engrave around the lines and text to make the black key block.

I printed a proof from the block and hand coloured it in watercolour. I then used this to make three separate colour blocks. I used "Resingrave", an artificial engraving medium to make these.

All of the blocks required a great deal of clearing which is time consuming and often gives me blisters after several hours wielding the same tool.

I delivered the blocks to The Jericho Press and Chip Coakley did a wonderful job of printing them. I love his choice of colours:

The book is a delight; I love the binding which was carried out by Chip at the press:

"Easter In Ula, Salmas" with the only multi-block coloured engraving I intend ever to do is available from The Jericho Press at a very modest price.

And now, something completely different.

When the film of "The Woman In Black" was released, I was contacted by a couple of Horror magazines who were planning special issues:

Both illustrated their issues with images from my fine press portfolio edition of the engravings published the the Profile Books hardback.

"Little Shoppe Of Horrors" feathered an interview with me about this project:

My exhibition at The Old Fire Engine House in Ely has been extremely successful. Although it is officially finished, it will continue to be shown throughout August.

I did complete some new work in the weeks leading up to the opening of the exhibition and I will feature some of those in coming weeks.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Open Studio 2012

There is always a feeling of "Its that time of the year again" when Open Studios swing round in July. This year, time was decidedly tight after taking a week's holiday and then hanging and opening the exshibition at the Old Fire Engine House in Ely. I had a week to make sure that the work was ready and that the space was clear for me to bring my engraving studio out of the house to sit next to the printing presses.

There are two many odds and ends to clear the space completely so old bedsheets were used to draw a veil over the accumulation of decades:

Parts of an old wardrobe were recycled to make a stand to display unframed work (most of my framed work being in Ely):

The weather was always going to be a concern and a stroll down West Fen before opening time was typical of the weekend with bright sunny periods interspersed with rain showers. On the whole, it was just fine:

The first weekend was a very pleasant affair with old and new faces among the visitors, much interest in my work and pleasing sales. Here are some views of the 2012 Open Studio:

Wine labels, cards and bookplates:

New work, postcards, blocks and tools:

Handmade books (and unframed engravings):

The Woman In Black Portfolio, magazine articles about the project and a file of other illustrations:

Adana table top presses and ink:

Peeping into the Press Room:

The beloved Albion Handpresses:

"Red" was set up to demonstrate printing:

The drying racks always fascinate enquiring minds:

A seldom seen view of the Press Room:

I am open again this coming weekend (14th - 15th July between 11am and 6pm see and then I have a long list of commissions to work on. The garden is also calling as both vegetables and weeds are flourishing in our rather rainly summer:

I will post again soon to catch up with recent work and publications.