Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Long Beach, Tofino, Vancouver Island

Long Beach, Tofino, Vancouver Island.
The photo below was my first view of the Pacific Ocean.

And this was the same ocean the next day, perfect conditions for whale (and sea lion) spotting!

We visited Long Beach on a day of driving rain, crashing waves and sand-laden wind, but still is was fun tracking wolf (dog!) tracks, watching the sea eagles and waiting for bears to lumber out from the forest.  My only disappointment was not coming away with some of this mammoth drift wood (apparently illegal, even supposing we could lift it!)

also available in my Etsy shop

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Langoustine lunch

Langoustine Lunch - Etching with ink wash
The great thing about taking part in #printoctober on Twitter is that it has encouraged me to side-step my usual world of lino and explore some different techniques. 
First to make it beyond the drawing board was an etching on acetate, which is slightly foolhardy because I don't have an etching press. Undaunted I spent a happy if slightly fumy hour scoring a sheet of acetate with a soldering iron. 
Langoustine Lunch - actetate "etched" with soldering iron
Next was the inking. I though relief printing was messy but really it has nothing on inking up for intaglio printing. Having scrubbed ink into all the etches I wiped of the excess and then gave it a press. The result, as expected was not great, a nipping press simple cannot apply in enough pressure and doesn't have that roller action that intaglio really needs.
Langoustine Lunch - "etched" acetate proofed in nipping press.
I now see three ways to go with this: 
1 rub down the burrs to see whether that allows greater contact between ink in etches and the paper 
2 try pressing it through the mangle (requires cobweb extracation)
3 beg/borrow/steal time on someone else's etching press
I've added an ink wash to a few of the test prints (see top and below). Now back to the lino!

Langoustine Lunch - Etching with ink wash

Monday, 14 October 2013

Beakhead Ornament

Birkin Beakheads II

Several years and one house move ago, before we sold it on ebay we were the inconvenienced owners of a coal-fired Rayburn. It was great for slow cook stews and the warming oven was ideal for softening lino prior to carving but it was pretty rubbish at the central heating thing. After one too many winters of lugging coal through the snow we decided it had to go. Since then I've taken to giving my lino a quick warm through in a very low oven. However the other night I'd absent-mindedly turned the dial around to 220 and promptly got sidetracked by a slightly bothersome email exchange. Twenty minutes later I remembered to retrieve the lino and it was well and truly baked.  In the past my oversights have led to a rather floppy and crumbly lino plate that soon restores to it workable state, but this time I had pushed it too far. As it cooled the surface began to bubble ominously and eventually the texture turned rather brittle and difficult to cut. Normally I would have called it a day at that point and started afresh but this was the second phase of a reduction lino print and I really couldn’t face beginning again and abandoning the 20 prints I had started. So on I carved. It was not nice, the surface kept lifting, I had to make much shallower cuts and I was convinced the whole piece would crumble before my eyes or at least start lifting once I ran a roller loaded with tacky ink over the surface. Once the carving was complete I flooded the cut areas with PVA in an attempt to stabilise the lino “baulks”. Fortunately the design didn’t have large areas of the second colour or the blistering would have been a really problem. When the PVA was nearly dry I put the lino under a little pressure in my nipping press in the hope that it would consolidate long enough to get through the edition of 20. When it came to printing I used slightly more oil that I usually would to reduce the tack. I am relieved to say that the carving survived the 20 inkings and pressings!

Ok enough of the rambling and more about this print…

The piece is inspired by the stunning beakhead ornamentation carved around the doorway of St Mary’s Church, Birkin. I came across this on a bike ride earlier this year and was stunned by these imaginary beasts. One of the beakhead beasts is slightly misaligned as if he might fly away at night and rejoin the flock at first light. Someone kindly pointed me to this article http://www.buildingconservation.com/articles/beakhead/beakhead.htm which suggests there is a little pocket of similar work in this part of North Yorkshire. I really need to find the time to see the others.

Birkin Beakheads II

"Birkin beakheads" is available in two colours, grey and blue here and here.


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