Tuesday, April 29, 2008

CONTEST: The Book of Life

There are bits of knowledge that man has carried with him since the beginning of his existence about the natural world but only recently has he begun to realize how truly interlaced and connected these categorized concepts are. Our world is a giant scale that has balanced and continues to balance itself in a universe of seeming chaos. Natural disasters are simply a balancing of the scale and humans are a testament to the tenacity of life but now that we are able effect the natural systems in place, directly or indirectly, we must acknowledge how interconnected and delicate they are. People must find a way to sync up with the our cradle of life or step aside for nature's next improvement.

I conceived this idea in 2007 but only now have had the opportunity to flesh it out and get started. My knowledge of the Earth's interconnected cycles are limited at best because I am not a trained scientist but even the ancient Hindi's and Buddhists knew that somehow everything is connected. As a block printer and bookmaker, my goal is to create a tome of images that infer the natural systems of the earth. I am trying to abstain from including any script as the book must be able to be read and understood by any culture. This being said, I will be employing things like molecular structures and other such visual clues in places like borders. I am also open to including cultural symbolism as well. An example can be seen in the illustration above. The barbs on the ends of the sun's rays are actually hands. The ancient Egyptians used a stylized version of a thumb and flat palmed hand to infer how the sun god touched and blessed his people with his rays of light.
The contest is to see how many of these natural systems I can illustrate, carve into blocks, print, and cram into one volume. When I say I want to create a tome, I want this thing to be big! Your challenge is to present me a natural system in the earth that I have not thought of yet. If I use it, you will receive a print of your system from the edition when it is completed. Now, I said natural system in the earth but many things affect these. For example, I am including the Eleven Year Solar Cycle because the Monder Minimum will attest to that and everyone acknowledges the Lunar Tides. I am also not opposed to the concept of Cosmic Wind Cloud Seeding but I need to be a little bit more educated about that. Here is the list of cycles I have already conceived ideas for so that you'll know what not to suggest. Maybe you have something to add to these concepts? Let me know as that may affect my imagery and you may get a japanese woodblock print!

1. H2O in convection= the weather: liquid, evaporation, condensation, precipitation, liquid

2. H2O and Salt in convection= oceanic currents: warm saline rises, cold saline sinks (the filling of voids in this movement creates the currents)

3. Nitrogen/Carvon Cycle: vegetation utilizes ground nutrients, herbivore consumes vegetation, carnivore consumes herbivore, vermiculture consumes carnivore, vermiculture creates ground nutrients through castings.

4. Solar Cycles (11 years): solar activity cycle and polar magnetic switch

5. Tectonics: magma rises to mantle to create new crust, crust sinks to mantle to create new magma

6. Terran Convection: lava currents through convection

7. Lunar Cycles: lunar gravity on currents

8. CO2 Cycle: leaves absorb CO2 in summer and outgas in winter

9. Respiration: plants absorb CO2 and outgas O2, animals absorb O2 and outgas CO2

The illustrations will be just like the image you see above. Everything must move in a circle (cycle). The pages will literally be round and the book will look like a half circle when closed. There will be a circle cut out of the center as I have already designed a concept for a book stand. I have purchased a sphere of Labradorite from China to be mounted in the center so the pages will glide over it as they turn.
This book is a huge undertaking and I therefore I have not placed a deadline upon it. I am due to have a show about this concept in July of 2009 and hope to finish many prints by then for the show but I do not think that the book will be finished as a whole then. In fact, I think there will be several editions of this book as it grows. Life is a journey not a race and so I anticipate working on this project for 5 to 10 years, maybe even more.
Good luck! I look forward to hearing your response!

Monday, April 28, 2008

So Close!

No pun intended but I'm so close I can taste it! I received the deep cocoa colored paper in the mail a few days ago and went straight away to cutting it up into book covers for the hard bound books and jackets for the soft cover books. (Yes, I'm crazy and am printing and binding both!) I carved the cover plate design out of linoleum instead of wood and printed that a week ago. I put my info in lead type and an awesome pilot press decal I got from David Churchman. Those I will attach to the inside of the back cover as a sort of hack collophon. Yesterday, I printed the title pages and end pages. Because I carved the block to perform for both the hard bound books and the soft bound, it was like a three ring circus trying to keep track which orientation was which. It also did not help that I carved the image on the WRONG SIDE of the block!!!! No biggie, I just had some overhang I had to protect against grimy quoins and furniture but an annoyance at myself for a stupid move no less. I'm doing a little tap dance to the print gods in front of my drying rack right now to hasten the drying. Yes, print god tap dances appease the forces that be into pity for an idiot. I snapped a photo of the title block and flipped it in photoshop.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Maru Bake Illness!

I tried to post this to Baren Forum but I've been having some email issues lately with things not getting delivered so I'm throwing this debate open to everyone! I purchased my favorite Maru Bake from Baren Mall and have used it with great success for the past three or four years. I understand that it's only been about five years since my introduction to the Moku Hanga and that my brush has seen me through my learning stages (still learning btw!). The last time I broke the brush out to print my Strawberry Roan edition, I noticed this split in the wood!

I noticed a few months back that the back of the brush was developing a saddle shape slowly but surely so I'm not entirely surprised but I'm wondering if maybe I'm doing something wrong in the care of these brushes or is the life span of 4 to 5 years a good life considering the work they do. One clue I'm guessing is that maybe the hole I drilled for a hanging eyelet (my brushes are hung in the air for good circulation as they dry and are stored there when not in use) held excess fluid during use and cause rot? When printing, after I've soaked the brush a good 10 to 15 minutes (the bristles are suspended in water and the handle usually just bobs), I rest it bristles down on a blotter which inevitably gets damp. This is it's home until I pick it up for printing or wash it out and store it. Also, it has been damp here lately with spring so the humidity could very well be a factor.

Here are a few other images of the back and side of the brush. Maybe you can tell that the back is starting to warp into a saddle shape.

At any rate, I'm going to be working larger for a show I'm scheduled to have next summer in July of 2009 and I'm going to be ordering more Maru Bake anyway. I was just wondering if anyone had any suggestions for me about prevention or if this is typical.

In other news, for those of you going "Where the hell is this contest she's been making noise about?!?!" Chill. I'm putting the finishing touchs on the sample image. I had to make a whole other one as the original image was too light to photograph and too big to scan! Keep checking! It's coming soon! Also, I'm almost ready to start binding the chocolate books! Yay!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Strawberry Roan!

The Strawberry Roan has arrived! I am surprised at how well this print run has turned out. This is my first attempt at multiple color blocks and registration on top of a gradation. I had an image in my head of how the colors would turn out and which ones I would choose. Though I chose accordingly, like always, the image in one's mind is always different from the outcome. I actually like the product better! The kirin block project began as a spin off from another project. I was invited to participate in a beastiary making project and had come up with several sketches of different fantastic animals before ultimately deciding on my signet, Harvey. My kirin image was not truly new. I had designed a kirin for a book I was working on called "Murphy's Wife" and the animal struck me as a very entertaining subject. The traditional chinese kirin is usually rendered as being covered in scales with a mane of flames. I wanted to work on trying to design an animal that would in theory be able to exist. To balance out the body of a horse visually, I blended the bone structure of a horse skull and dragon head. Noting how the pelts in the equine world are extremely diverse, I softened the look of koi scales into a dapple effect.
I could have kicked myself when I started printing as I forgot my camera when I printed the salmon colored skin block, the green mane and tail block. Doh! After that, I was tired and went home with the intention of coming back the next day. Well, I didn't make it back and in total, the kozo was damp for two and a half days before I returned to it! I printed the cadmium hooves and horn and then made the executive decision to dry the prints and let them rest. The paper was beginning to shed fibers and I was afraid that the cadmium was going to offset as I stacked them back in the humidor. It turned out to be the right choice. I dampened them again after 3 days and set about making magic!

The colors really complimented each other well and seeing the gradation wick into the paper was real eye candy!

Lastly, I pulled the key block in a plum color.

I like this image of the initial key block print in sumi and the finished color print. The title for this edition struck me when I pulled the first scale pattern gradation off. The color and arrangement reminded me so much of strawberry seeds and there does exist a coloration in horses called "strawberry roan." What better way to celebrate spring?