Strange landscapes from wood (1)

On a recent walk in Hoxton, I picked up a piece of wood. Perhaps it was part of a crate. It had interesting grain.

John cut it into smaller pieces with a saw.

Wood pieces

I was going to use them as relief blocks. Then I got talking to a fellow printer at East London Printmakers. She suggested I press them into soft ground and make an etching plate. Then I thought I’d use the Albion press to get sufficient pressure.

The technician, Dan, asked if I had aquatint on there, and I hadn’t. Can you put aquatint on top of soft ground? We went off to consult the studio co-ordinator. She said yes, aquatint was good idea.

So here’s the process:

  1. Prepare plate with soft ground
  2. Press wood into soft ground using the Albion Press. This makes an impression with darker places where the wood was.
  3. Put aquatint (dust) onto the plate, and fuse it with the gas burner. The soft ground burns and goes brown. The aquatint fuses onto the plate in the darker places. 
  4. Etch in acid, Edinburgh etch, for two minutes. 
  5. Clean off the plate and print.The aquatinted areas are dark.

Here’s the result.

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Wood block into soft ground. Printed from copper plate. “Strange landscapes”, on drying rack. Prussian blue ink on Vintage Paper Co paper.

Here’s the other block, with chine collé stripes added. I’m not sure which way up it should be. IMG_0696 Since this whole session was experimental, I also used some experimental paper from the Vintage Paper Company. They say on the package: “This was made some time between 1969 and 1973 as waterleaf (unsized) printing paper by J Green and Sons (brilliant but now extinct British papermakers). I had it gelatine sized in December 2017 by Two Rivers Paper (brilliant and very much alive and kicking British papermakers” and they ask for feedback. I think it worked really well, and I’m now off to write them an email.

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March 2019: I used this plate to make some chine collé prints. See this link:/strange-landscapes-from-wood-2/

Towers East and Towers West – multiple prints

My idea was to produce multiple copies of “Towers East” and “Towers West”. These are aquatint plates I prepared a few months ago.  This post describes the process to produce the plates: Towers East and Towers West

The Towers are St Mary’s Tower and Peabody Tower, just to the North of the Barbican.

I made 14 reasonable prints, and 2 out-takes. I glued the out-takes into my notebook. I make one page per print session, and record what I did, what paper and ink I used, what worked and what didn’t. This is in an attempt to learn and improve my printing technique.

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Here are the 14 reasonable prints, numbered 1 to 14. Numbers 1-13 are on card 20cm by 30cm. This card size is intended as a greeting card. When folded it fits neatly into an A5 envelope. Number 14 is on larger paper. All are for sale,  £5 each plus postage. Please contact me by email via the contacts page, or leave a comment on this page. The red writing is on the online image here, not on the print.

Click on an image to enlarge it. It may take a little while to load.

The technique is “chine-collé” which is described here: The chine collé process

Here’s number 13 so you can see the format:

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Here is number 14 on the larger paper:

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These are all part of my “Towers Project” leading to an exhibition in the Barbican Library February 2019.

I work in the print studio at East London Printmakers. Prints are on Fabriano Unica Paper, using Intaglio Printmaker Bone Black ink. They are printed by hand on the Henderson press. Each print takes about half an hour to print.

St Bartholomew the Less

St Bartholomew the Less is a Chapel of Ease in St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City. It’s just to the right of the main entrance from Smithfield.  You might not notice the door in the wall. Sometimes they put a board outside. I’ve been in a number of times. It’s a very peaceful, welcoming, place. Somehow, one feels the need to visit a place of prayer before, or after, a hospital visit.

I was invited to draw pictures of the church. The City Music Foundation, a charity, wants to use my pictures in its publicity. They are going to be based in St Bartholomew the Less. So the Managing Director of the Foundation, Clare Taylor, contacted me. She’d seen the pictures I’d done of The Charterhouse.

Here are the first two pictures of St Bartholomew the Less:

It was founded in 1123, by Rahere, a “courtier of Henry I“, according to the leaflet. The tower dates from the 15th century. “The three bells in the tower include one dating from 1380 and another from 1420” says the leaflet. I was interested in Rahere, because there is a Rahere St and a Rahere House which I have drawn.

Since the Foundation is a music foundation, I thought it would be a fun idea to draw the bells. By kind permission of the Parochial Church Council (PCC), whose representative efficiently produced a key, I was able to go up into the belfry. Bells, I found, are not so easy to draw as you might think. Like the human form, they have curves. And unless you get the curves exactly right, they look like a different character. Also, the belfry contained not only very ancient bells, but also 600 years of dust. It was indescribably dirty. But amazing. And very quiet inside, with all the noise going on outside. I wedged myself into the wooden frame, braced my back against a metal rod, and got started.

The platform into which I was wedged was not very big. I manoeuvred very slowly because I didn’t want to knock anything, such as a paintbrush, down into the depths. The best medium seemed to be black ink. Ink is a bit dodgy to manage at the best of times. But keeping it upright on an ancient wooden raft, in the semi-darkness, verged on the farcical. No-one was there to sympathise, except the bells, and they’d seen it all before.

 

 

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