Friday, October 09, 2020

A Not Quite Great Pumpkin part 4

 Using relief ink to color a wooden object relates to some of my recent experiences making wooden sculptures for my nieces, but long before that it was part of woodcut printing.  That's how I knew it would work, and besides, I had the color inks. I had left it in the shed to dry, knowing when the ink is applies thickly (as in a brush) it takes longer to dry than the residual on a printed block. However I also know from printmaking that pulling a ghost proof on scrap will remove a little more ink from the wood and help it dry faster, which is why I sometimes call these things blotter proofs.  Yesterday I stopped by the shed just long enough to check the progress on my painted pumpkin, and used a sheet of old newspaper to pull one of these blotter prints.

Today I got there a little earlier with a goal to finish the coloring job on the pumpkin.  I had the tube of brown relief ink in my car, along with the glass palette and brush that were also in my Studio.  I also brought a tube of black ink I had in the car already, plus my print shop apron. 

The pumpkin, all the color inks, and the ink knife and brayers were also in the shed. One extra thing I brought from home was an empty can left from lunch, a place to put some water.  Inside the tubes the ink sometimes separates over time, the thick pigment separating from the liquid medium.  Squeezing it out on a palette, no problem- squeeze out enough to get some of each and use a brush or ink knife to remix it, good as new.  Squeezing out just a little directly onto the wood I was coloring, more of challenge, which is why I picked up a palette the other day.  I also grabbed a folding chair from the patio to use while I painted- the last few times I just stood, bending over the table, and my legs didn't like that.  For this longer task today I decided to use a chair and spare my hamstrings the ordeal.

Used the backyard hose to put a little water in my can, into which I could dip my brush to make the water soluble ink flow better, or what in printmaking is called viscosity.  (with oil ink I would use oil, such as a burnt plate oil or something like that) Squeezed out a little brown ink on my palette and added that over the top of what I had painted on the stem. Quick and easy.  Then some lamp black, and touched up the cut holes in the jack-o-lantern design, such as the eyes, nose, and jagged smile.  Also used it to repaint the tendrils over the surface- they had been covered by my early layer of orange, but showed through so I could see where they needed to be.  Then outlined the leaves as the original design had.  Then more orange, a better one than I had put down the other day.  Put out a squeeze of fresh yellow and red on my palette, a little white, and the leftover black in the brush I used to mix it gave me a suitable color, more vibrant than what I had there.  Adding a little water helped me put it exactly where I needed it. 

My father came outside, was surprised by how warm it was there in the sun, and asked if this would survive the weather, since while today was dry,  there would likely be rain a few times before the end of the month.  Good question, one I had thought about myself, and I don't have an authoritative answer.  Never left a finished block out in the rain. In my experience, once this ink dries it is pretty stable, but I told him after it was dry I would spray it with a clear acrylic finish, knowing there was a can of it in the kitchen.  Hope that will do. 

I decided the coloring was done, but left it on the table to continue drying in the open air and sun.  No rain in the forecast for tomorrow, so I decided to take a chance that it would be safe until then.  The only problem is that with everything else I remember to bring today, I forgot my camera, so for now you will have to take my word for it. I'll get a photo and post it tomorrow.


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