Monday, August 15, 2011

Smoking Figure part 38

A big day today, time to print this block that I started a year ago, based on an idea that I had been working on for years before then. As I mentioned yesterday, I had a little cutting to do, mostly in the piece of brick wall on the left side of the block. Took about 15 minutes. Then before I took out any ink I prepared my paper. At 48" tall, the block is too big to be printed on any of the papers I have been using for my larger pieces of the last decade. However, in my supply at home I had a few options. I had brought back a roll of Kinwashi from Carbondale (bequeathed to me by a fellow grad who decided to leave the program), a translucent Japanese paper with short bits of fiber within. More for decorative purposes than printing, but I have several yards of it and it would suffice for a first proof. I tore off a 5 foot piece, rolled it up, and set it aside. Also at home I had 4 sheets of professional grade Okawara, purchased at Pearl at a special sale price years ago (currently lists at over $25 per sheet) and set aside until such time as I might want to print a really large block. Each sheet is about 36" x 72" and a little thicker than the student grade version that I've used for my recent boardwalk series of prints. Still haven't created anything quite that big, and with no plans to do so, I decided to use a bit of it today.

I inked the whole block with my little brayers, a very long process. I carefully rolled my big piece of Kinwashi over the block, patted it down with my hands to get it to adhere a little, then started the rubbing process. As with all Japanese papers, the ink comes through quickly (see above), so it's easy to see what areas have been printed and how well. And as with all first printings on wood, it's very hard to get it fully inked. I did the usual peel back and re-ink routine in some obvious areas, but since I didn't need this to be a perfect print, I got it to the point where I could see how the block turned out and pulled it off the block.

Above is that first proof. It is definitely under inked in spots, but the results were good enough to provide the evidence that this is a successful print. Molly stopped by just as I was finishing it and was very excited by the finished print. She also took the photo below of me and my new print.

In real life, the model for this piece is about my height, so this shows that the scale of the figure in my print is a bit larger than life.

Time for the second proof on Okawara. One of my goals was to get this print ready in time to submit to a show this weekend, but there is a size limit that would prevent me from showing the full size print. The simple solution is to make a smaller image. I have some frames that can handle a 36" tall print, so I had cut a 38" piece from one of the oversize sheets. I re-inked most of the block, and then rolled out the paper starting an inch or so from the top, and finishing down near the top of the A on the cornerstone, as can be seen in the above photo. Despite taking my time with the second inking, this one still required some re-inking in progress, but the results are more what would be expected.

If you compare this to the first proof, the black areas are more solid black, and value differences in bricks on the left side of the print are clearer. And the cropped image may be compositionally stronger, though I do also like the full size version as well. Because of its poor quality as a print, I may try some color experiments on the large one. Meanwhile I still have a couple of oversized sheets of white western print paper, and when I have a some spare time in the coming weeks (and maybe after a few minor adjustments) I'll pull a clean proof of the whole block.


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