Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lovely Spines

I’m still plugging away at the Trilobite lineage blocks. I’ve carved two more from the sketches I’ve made. Even though I’m not finished by a long shot there is something so gratifying about this stretch of the project. The massive block I did with the border and horseshoe crab in the middle was very tedious. In the beginning, the copper stars and DNA border seemed fun and challenging but by the end of its completion I was getting repetition sickness! The horseshoe crab was interesting but the jury is still out for me as to whether I should leave it be or try to keep working with the design. With the Trilobites I sketch the image to my liking, carve the block, and then I’m done and can move on to the next trilobite. There’s enough variety for it to continue to be fun.
This little guy featured above is from the Lichida family of Trilobites. His name is Boedaspis ensifer and his head reminds me of a vacuum cleaner. I had fun carving his whip-like extensions.

Here is Eoharpes and will probably be the only Harpetida Trilobite that I will do. The Harpetida family has a few other variants but not distinct enough for me to do more. They mostly all have the same wide helm-like face that reminds me of a Trojan warrior.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

20 tiny trilobites

Say that ten times fast! For the second stretch of the Limulus print I have started the twenty some trilobite blocks that will make up the background around the Limulus. I purchased a "Grab Box" of Shina from McClains back when they were selling grab boxes. I think they only sell bags now so it was a while ago. I've been picking out pieces and trying to figure out how the little guys will fit. Most pieces are no more than about 4 inches on either side so I'm back to my minute pecking out. Actually, the DNA border with the copper stars on each corner required a lot of minute pecking. These will just feel more immediately gratifying because they can be finished within an hour or less. I just have to keep up with the drawings! I only have five drawings completed so far.

Shina is a soft plywood and though it is better than the wood I purchased for the key block there is still a danger of flaking when I get down to the teeny tiny details. I still chase these guys with the wood glue wash. These guys will have a color block for each of them in an aquamarine color so I also have to be careful not to cut the lines too thin or registration will be a small nightmare.

I like how the clearing marks in the background look like sand or water.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Extended Absence

I must admit that I was shocked myself when I saw that my last update was in April and here it is June already. Several things have happened as of late and they have been steering my path across this rough water we call life.
I finally decided to proof up my Limulus block for better or for worse because a printer really can't decide what to change in the end until the print has been pulled. Here it is sitting on a table "warming up" with baths of water mist. Normally when I print I have a sheet or two of paper towel under a block to keep the moisture even on both sides so the block won't torque. This project is so big that I use a damp terri cloth towel to keep everything balanced. I proofed it up in bokuju but the final print will be a brown that I am working on made from soil in my indigenous area.

I found with this project that printing is quite a challenge. *Sigh* I purchased an enormous amount of Edgeworthia about 5 years ago before I learned that no, patrons do not turn out in droves to purchase woodblock prints (at least not my prints) and that no you shouldn't really print big editions until you begin to sell because then you have no money for new barens and brushes because you spent it all in paper. Lesson learned. Anyway, the edition is going to be printed on Edgeworthia which is admittedly not my most favorite of papers because for me it is very fussy. My friend Murray Whitehill was helping me and documenting with his camera as I printed. As you can see here, mutating into an octopus wouldn't be a bad idea as you can run out of hands and arms while trying to maneuver large sheets of wet paper. Murray produces really great photography and his most recent project is photographing artists as they work with a concentration on their hands. It's a great experience seeing all these hands in different media and it's become a game to me to try and figure out who the hands belong too! You can see more of Murray's work at and please do because he's got a lot of neat stuff!

Here is a proof coming off the block. I didn't get a whole lot of good ones because the Edgeworthia was too wet and wicking fibers all over the place. It's neat to see it coming off the block though. I am somewhat daunted by the fact that I will need registration for the next block as I have never printed this big and the bigger you go the harder it is to register finite detail.

Here is a proof of the Limulus block. I am resting my eyes a bit while I concentrate on creating and carving the family of trilobites that will surround the Limulus. I am a little dissatisfied with it but for negligible reasons. The boarder feels clunky to me but I know that it is fine because the proof is sloppy but the carving was tight and I am used to doing these small scale intricate carvings. It impresses me more when I view it from afar. Then it looks like all kinds of crazy detail. The other thing that bothers me is the shading of the Limulus. I feel like it still needs hatching but I am afraid to go any further. The wood will only allow so much before hatching turns into white area. I am telling myself that I can't make any changes until I'm finished carving the trilobites. Perhaps by that time the horseshoe crab will not appear so crude to me.