Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Deer Print part 12

Time to see what this new print looks like.  Carried in some print paper from the car, then went back out to get my printing go bag. While the ink warmed up a bit, ate my lunch, also brought from home. When that was done, I decided to go ahead and ink up my new block.  No Molly, so I picked music and I picked the Zombies.  I consider the Zombies to be one of the premier British Invasion bands, not at the level of the Beatles or Stones, but on par with the Kinks or the Animals, yet they struggled to get success.  They signed to Decca, a major label that sometimes didn't seem to want to be in the rock and roll business. When new manager Brian Epstein was seeking a label deal for his band the Beatles, he arranged for a demo recording with Decca, where they recorded 15 songs.  Famously, the label declared guitar groups are on the way out and declined to sign them, a decision that would cost them uncounted millions over the years.  To make up for that, they quickly signed other bands, including the Rolling Stones (at George Harrison's recommendation) and the Zombies. The Zombies started hot with a hit single, and the label decided to produce an album.  But British record labels were not big on albums (the Beatles were given a single day to record their first album), and they were in no hurry to put out a second Zombies album.  The band released a series of well respected singles, loved by critics and loyal fans, but they didn't sell that well, and the singles never really entered the charts.   It took a few years (and one more hit single) before they got their second album, but at that point they were nearly over.  When the Decca deal ended, they signed with a new label, but those records didn't sell particularly well either, and the band ended.  But there were always fans, a solo career for the lead singer, and the band made the rock and roll hall of fame.  What I have on disc is a collection of the A and B sides to all those singles, released from 1964 to 1969, which is probably the closest we'll ever come to hearing an album that might have come out between the two we had.

Meanwhile, I got to work on my block.  I at least wanted to ink the block and see how it turned out.

The first inking is always the most difficult, trying to see how it is all coming together, getting a feel for the ink and the wood.  In terms of the block image, it was pretty much what I expected.  No significant flaws, and I don't think I missed cutting anything.  In rolling ink on with brayers, occasionally I left ink in some areas, such as out on the margins, or within the broad empty areas.  Short term solution is to just cover the unwanted ink with masking tape (or in this case I used blue painter's tape, essentially the same thing).  Before pulling a whole edition, I'll let the ink dry, use the gouges to cut any areas that accidentally picked up ink, making those areas much less likely to get inked the next time around.  But for today's test, this would be fine.

The Zombies disc ended and I thought I would follow that with my Cynics disc, but it wasn't there.  The Cynics were an 80's band, from Pittsburg I believe, that played in a very retro 60's style, sounding much like a mid-60's band, thus compatible with the Zombies.  I have a bunch of albums, on record and disc, and eventually made a disc with some favorites, but never made a Studio copy, perhaps why I didn't have one there to play, and the blanks are no longer available.   So I went with a substitute- a disc of favorites from the Shazam.   This is yet another band I learned of through my friend Doug, a band playing faultless 60's style pop despite being a 21st century band from Nashville.  (side note- once I had plans to get together with Doug at a music festival in NYC where both the Cynics and the Shazam were scheduled to play, but a malfunctioning subway line delayed our arrival, and we missed the Cynics, though at least we got to see the Shazam, and enjoy a long set by the reunited Stooges, including two performances of "i wanna be your dog" with Iggy in full Stooge mode) My Shazam disc has songs from the first several albums, including my favorite, Godspeed the Shazam.  It gave me the energy to finish my task.  As I said, the first inking is always the most difficult, which I attribute to the wood soaking up some of the ink.  Later the surface is sealed by the layer of dried ink.   I didn't look forward to hand rubbing this whole block, but I would have to do it anyway to clean up, so I figured I may as well take a proof and see how it turned out.

Had to re-ink much of it as I went, but at least I was getting a decent black, but before I could finish it, I noticed the paper shifting on the block, and once that happens, you are done.  It's impossible to line the print up perfectly again with the block, and continuing to print it would get a double exposed effect, not what I'm going for.  This version was not a proper print (notice the light areas on the large black tree on the left), but it would tell me what I need to know and I can pull a better one next time.  

Because I have spent so much time looking at this image both forwards and backwards over the past 20 years, it took me a while to realize that the print I was looking at was backwards from what I had known.  The shapes of all the parts, the balance of black and white, the textures- it all matches up quite well. The tension between the looming cranes and the fleeing deer seems to work just fine in mirror effect. My patron said she'd be fine with that switch, so once the block is dry enough, I will go back and clean out the unwanted marks, pull an acceptable proof, and properly document it for future use.  Meanwhile, I can relax about getting this piece done.


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