Thursday, October 03, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 14

As I have said, the demands of students never really end.  After a few days of trying I had arranged another potential meting with Nellie, who was pleased enough with her experience in my August woodcut class that she hasn't stopped since.  First she showed me (at the Belmar opening) her in progress drawing of a new portrait piece. Then I heard from her with a request to come into Ocean Grove so she could print it under my supervision.  When I couldn't commit to a time right away, she used the knowledge gained in my class to print it herself.  E-mailed me an image and it looked  just fine.  Then questions about sharpening tools, so I e-mailed her what I know about razor strops and water stones. Then having acquired a stone, she wanted information on how to use it.  Don't want to leave an interested printmaker hanging, so I told her I'd be in my space today.

Got there this morning with a plan of my own- continue work on my latest supermarket block.  Felt like a blues day, so I started with T-Bone Blues by T-Bone Walker (a compilation of 50's sides cut for Atlantic), issued as an LP in 1972, and I was very glad when a CD version came out in the late 80's.  Walker was one of the great Texas guitarists, clearly part of the tradition that gave us Lightnin' Hopkins and Stevie Ray Vaughn, both sounding like them and not like them.  High quality recordings, exceptionally clear for that era.  When that disc ended, a home burned combination of two John Lee Hooker albums from vinyl in my collection, sides from the 40's through the 60's.  In that era, blues musicians didn't record albums, just songs for 78's that record companies might assemble into albums if they felt there was a demand.

Meanwhile, I continued cutting.  I wanted to finish that fireworks display box, taking on the complex designs of the side with its list of fireworks names.  Had made good progress when Nellie showed up.  First she was pleased to be hearing some blues, but I had no knowledge of her potential interest, so just a coincidence, or perhaps that people just like John Lee Hooker. Like many of my students, she decided that she wanted some tools of her own and bought some of the same variety I have for my classes.  These are not the top quality ones that I use, but are Japanese made and far better than anything that can be found locally, yet at a reasonable price.  But she has been using them and showed me the results.  It turned out that her portrait piece was not a woodcut as I assumed, but a linocut, proofs of the two being indistinguishable.  Tells me she loves the wood, especially the natural quality of it, but sometimes the cutting makes her sore.  Well, it can have that effect- it takes a little effort at times.  Worth it I think.  She hasn't given up on wood, and showed me a piece of poplar plank she acquired, having been told it works well for the process.  Never tried it and have no idea.  Also showed me a recent purchase, a brand new can of ink, made by Speedball and with Bill Fick's name on the label.  Fick is a core member of the Outlaw Printmakers, whom I've known for many years and have worked alongside in places from New Jersey to Texas.  He's a linocut artist, an if he's endorsing this ink it must not be bad- I'll get her report when I can.

But the real purpose of her visit was to learn about sharpening.  She had ordered and already received a grooved molded sharpening stone, but it came with no directions, details, or instructions in the packaging.  Hoping it would work the same as the stone I have, I dropped it in some water to soak while we were talking.  When it seemed that sufficient time had passed, I placed it on a paper towel to absorb the excess water, selected one of her gouges, and showed her my guess as to what would work.  She tried the sharpened tool and thought it might be improved, but wanted a better test.  So we took her 1.5mm round gouge, her favorite tool and the one she used most, thus the one that now most needed sharpening. So she tested it first on some scrap wood, then I resoaked the stone, found the bevel angle, and put the tool through the process.  I tested it on wood, then she did, and she felt it was now better.  In fact she seemed relieved, knowing she'd be able to get more use from her small gouge.  She also wanted to know if there was a more detailed tool available.  I pointed out in the catalog, that for a little bit more than the standard quality tools, she could get a superior quality level gouge, which can come in a 1.0mm- just be careful not to break it.  She told me that she intends to order one soon, so I guess she's hooked.  We also talked about some of her new blocks in progress, additional options for what she had already carved, other materials (she confirmed what I had told her- that water based inks that claim to be waterproof once dry did run when wet), upcoming classes there in the building, the ups and downs of being a model  (as I told my students using charcoal last week, it's when you're not supposed to scratch that you suddenly feel very itchy), stuff about colleges, etc.

When she left, I got back to my block, finished cutting the section I had been working on, then cleaned up and got on my way.  Got class tomorrow and have to get ready. Forgot my camera today, so you'll have top see the results next time.


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