Saturday, 28 April 2012

Moving forward

I have made a set of test prints from the lino trying out some different weight papers and using both the press and hand printing. On the heavier weight paper, which I think I’ll need to use to give the book substance, the press works best.

Apart from the halos left by bits of lino stuck in the ink, the offset print from the first block is interesting, and has future possibilities but not for an edition!

The composition isn’t finished yet. I need a compromise between the plain wall between the women and the fussy wallpaper. I also need to make the back of the prince’s head visible.

There are also some things I need to resolve with the carving. I think the trees should use some of the carving marks for texture so these need enhancing in future. The faces will need to be clear of marks unless I can use some on the witch to suggest wrinkles. I also need to work out how to cut some of the smaller more delicate details.

I went to a Japanese woodcut workshop last weekend at the Hot Bed Press. Very interesting. I’m not posting images – I learned a lot for future reference but nothing I’d want to show.  I could carve finer detail though using wood.....
Did I say I wasn’t going to do Rapunzel as a wood cut? I’m sure I’ve got some small bits of plywood somewhere.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

A Productive Easter Holiday

Its time to go back to work but this has been a productive Easter holiday.
I’ve rescued a chair (It was a 21st birthday present to my mum which makes it nearly 60 years old and it looked very much the worse for wear) and upholstered my rag box (which was inherited from my mother in law) to match.

I’ve started to learn to weave (sounds very grand but I’m only using a simple frame loom) and had another go at trying to learn to knit.  No pictures of either of these. I’ve not produced anything worth sharing. Tapestry weaving  is something I’ll continue with. I’m really enjoying playing with colour and texture without having to ‘make something’. But knitting!  It’s one of those basic skills that I feel I ought to be able to master and every now and then I have another go. I think its back to the bottom of the cupboard for now for the needles.

 On the book front Rapunzel has moved again (I wouldn’t say it’s made progress, more gone sideways, but I’ve been busy with it). I decided to push the long thin concertina format for the time being which meant looking at the composition again. Not only did it have to fit the format but it also had to make sense as separate panels as well as one large image.

The collagraph plate still didn’t work for this so I started to play with extending the composition. In the meantime it has changed from simple silhouettes to a more detailed image. It started to make me think of a cross between woodcut chapbooks and Victorian illustration, especially Morris and Beardsley. 

The Victorian influence fitted in well with the inspiration from Castell Coch and I enjoyed bringing in references to that type of painted imitation wall tile decoration in the space between the two women. The motif is based on hawthorn – a plant that is said to have protective qualities and comes in a variety with seven petals. Seven being a magic number I thought this was apt for the witch’s interior decoration. 

The strong white dark contrast should also make it easy for Xerox lithography, or so I thought. 

Problem number one – Staples have changed their photocopier. The copies from this one aren’t as good to print from as the old one.  Problem solved by using the ancient (if expensive) machine at the corner shop.

Problem number two – the large areas of black just aren’t printing well and though I like the worn look for other purposes they make it difficult to read this image. I think It may also be difficult to produce a uniform edition with such large photocopies. 

Problem number three – although the copies are large for this process (and my press) they are only A3. This is making the size of the book, when the image is folded into eleven panels, feel a little on the mean side

On the positive side with the Xerox litho, I did print copies of the collagraph plate. I don’t want to use it for Rapunzel but I think there are possibilities here that I want to explore for ‘Where the dead live’

I have decided to try working in relief print for Rapunzel, lino rather than wood, which means I can scale up the block. I'll have to loose the hawthorne motif - far too complcated for my cutting skills, but on reflection when I've seen it printed it looks a bit too busy for the rest of the image anyway. So far I’ve only tried a test cutting piece and still have to print it.

Printing may have to wait a while. Next weekend I’m off to the Hot Bed Press in Salford to a  Japanese Woodcut Course - a much appreciated Christmas present from my kids.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Rethinking structure

I’ve had some time to reflect on what to do with Rapunzel.

 I like the long thin image that I’ve got in the collagraph experiments but this doesn’t fit the book structure I’d thought about using. To make it fit the structure means shortening it by nearly half but this means the illustration doesn’t work as well.
I’m also beginning to think that the original structure is a bit too much like a folding box and not enough like a book.

Extending the end pages gives longer compositional possibilities and the concertina added to the tower makes it feel more like a book and less like a model.

But further experiments with the tower are showing problems with the opening of the book and the flow of the folds, it doesn’t feel natural.

Although I’m not entirely happy about losing the tower shape, I may, after all this messing about, just go with a straightforward accordion and have the long thin shapes echoing the tower.
An accordion means that I will be able to use a heavier weight paper for printing than I thought I’d be able too. The box fold was not happy bending two ways even with mock up paper and I’d been ignoring the fact it might get worse with a thicker one.

There are still lots possibilities with this construction. A long thin narrative piece, perhaps with images on two sides. Or stitching the folds to make tall thin ‘pages’. And that’s without playing with cutting and reverse folding........

I do like the idea of having the cover as a three panelled piece, this wraps the story within the tower like the witch tried to do with Rapunzel.