Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On and on...

Yep, still chipp'n away at the horse shoe crab block. I think I got a little "factory fever" with the repetitive carving of the stars and DNA patterns. Before I knew it, I had screwed up major bad. I was habitually plowing through the end section of the longer side of one of the DNA strands and went right into my star pattern without realizing what I was doing. Lesson: If you're tired, stop carving. Anyway, I don't know why I tried to fill in such a large hole with wood filler but I did. I knew as I locked the studio door that night that it was a stupid idea. I even lay awake that night thinking that it wouldn't work and I was just going to have to go in and fix it. Yes, I lay awake and think about these things. Anyway, I came in and made this plug for the wound. I admit I initially tried to carve into the filler and it crumbled just as I anticipated. Normally, a plug would be wedged into the shaped hole in a block and then leveled off but because this is a piece of shit plywood board I had to hand carve and sand a small plug of shina plywood. It actually worked great (or so I think until I proof it up!). By the way, I tried out a new brand of wood filler, Elmer's, instead of Dap. Yeah, that stuff is crap. It just doesn't haven't the body I'm looking for so I guess I'll be heading into the hardware store to get more Dap.

Using crap wood is always an interesting adventure. In one of the Kirin blocks, I was carving along and found area of glitter plastered in between the layers of plywood. Here is a curious stain at the top of the block. It was probably a marker of some sort as the wood made its way to lamination. Some areas are just a straight up pain in the ass:

This is a rather large strip of black striations in a layer of the plywood. The wood gets tough and brittle in these areas and I find I have to hone the knives more frequently than usual. That white patch is the wood filler that had to be plastered into an area that just wasn't there at all. Holes are always a pain. Water can get in and spread who knows where in your image to create rot or the pressure from printing can even cause "sink holes" in your image.

Lastly, when an area is "finished" I brush on some watered down wood glue to shore up the weak wood. I'm beginning to wonder if this is the best idea as it will affect the absorption of water during the printing process but I really have no choice. If I don't do something to shore up all the detail, I feel that the block will degrade before I even finish pulling color proofs. Either way, there is more than one way to skin a cat. If it refuses to print moku hanga style, I have a can of oil based ink and a brayer at the ready!

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