It has been a little while since I've posted! I love blogging and documentation but sometimes it does get in the way of making work. I have a show in April so I made the decision to skip a lot of blogging and get to the making part! Still had my camera handy but only picked it up when I felt things were well underway and my progress is going good.
The latest work I have completed is dedicated to my wonderful muse, Fatter Fat Toad! You can read more about her here on my other blog:
Fatter Fat Toad in the Journey to Middle Earth
The Chinese consider toads to be very auspicious and I really enjoyed Fatter Fat's company whether or not she brought me money. She brought me plenty of joy! I always wanted to carve a block to remember her by. It's been a year or so since I've seen her. I started with pictures I took of her in her favorite place next to porch steps. I picked out one of my favorites that I took of her and posted on my blogspot about her. She didn't like the camera and would puff herself up when I took photos so that she looked like a giant disk of warty clay! I liked the one of her head slightly turned to face the camera as she lay puffed up with her legs tucked under her. It showed off her warts and stripes. After she endured my irritating camera I would reward her with worms from my worm composter. This was maybe the secret to why she stayed around so much.
I sketched from this and several others. (The smaller sketches are from other smaller toads that have visited the house.) After roughing in her dimensions and markings, I transferred the sketch to a piece of battleship gray linoleum and went about carving. For some reason, it was hard to initially carve this work. I don't know if it was because I was worried that I'd somehow screw up or that this was the first time in a long time that I had carved battleship gray linoleum. Usually, I work with the golden hued (softer) stuff. I knew I'd like the gray material because it would hold more detail but somehow it was hard to just get started. I noticed myself avoiding her face so I decided to approach the carving through the markings in her flank. In hind sight, I think I was afraid of making an error in carving her face.
As I progressed I did something I never do when carving linoleum but may start doing. I took a black magic marker and colored over the remaining surface to get a good visual on what was going to print. I've never needed to do that before but for some reason this time around it was a good aid to help me balance tones throughout the rest of the piece.
As I began closing in on her head it was becoming less of a hassle to begin working on her face because now I had a "guide map" of sorts to work with. I could match the texture and colors in her face to the textures and colors in her body without second guessing because I could already see how they will look.
Once the carving was finished, I mounted it on a piece of plywood with carpet tape to make it type high on my vandercook printing press. The printing was a real treat and Fatter Fat must have been a real good omen because I suffered no set backs or issues during printing. I printed her up in an oil based ink made by Graphic Chemical called Antiquarian Black. It is supposed to hearken back to the early period when books were printed and it does have a warm rich tone that is very comfortable with my soft fibrous paper. I chose to photograph the final print rather than scan it so that the morning light would bounce off the edges of he impression and you can see how it is slightly debossed into the paper. Now all I have to do is sign and edition!