Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Upside Down is Inside Out

If you are skilled at thinking backwards and upside down, Bravo! You will make an excellent printer!
It seems I have some sort of spatial dyslexia. Never was this more apparent than while learning to carve a woodcut plate! My ineptness aside, I had a wonderful time working again with master printer and image maker Ouida Touchon in her Advanced-Multi-Plate Woodcut Printmaking Class this past weekend.You can check out my beginning class with Ouida, here.


The design for my woodcut was inspired by a tiny viola Ouida picked for me from her garden. I used it as a jumping-off point to create a thumbnail image and then learned how to "proportionately scale" the tiny image to one that would fit the size of the printing plate and of the jig you see below...coolness.

This simple jig registers a multi-plate print beautifully. Here's more about the entire process. Thanks Wikipedia.

 This next bit is my nemesis. The finished enlarged design is traced onto glassine...

Then overlaid and retraced face down onto the wooden plate. You can see my pen line at the tip of the flower bud on the photos above.

Next, retracing through the glassine and carbon paper (FACE DOWN!!!) onto the wooden plate transfers the design onto the surface of the wood. The carving..which I love..is next.
Ouida...carving demo
Each different color gets it's own carved plate and I was doing fine until the last plate...gonna put the blame on...let's see, full moon, ah...biorhythms...how about allergies, yes! Allergies...a terrible thing this time of year...in the desert, yes, allergies make it terribly hard to distinguish top from bottom.

Of course, a successful print is one that is registered properly...meaning, that each plate is carved correctly, printed in the exact same place so the colors are exactly where they are supposed to be! You begin by printing the first color plate, then each plate consecutively until, at last, you print the full plate...which, in my case is the one that creates the black lines.

So, here is a graphite rubbing I made to test my design. You will see the note I made to myself, "Always Place Traced Pattern Face Down" which I should tattoo somewhere on my person if I ever hope to be any good at this...



Ouida demonstrating how to "ink on"

The one-color print was a success......

 ...as was the second color...

...but...because....I copied, transferred, and carved my third plate (the one for the leaves) upside right, which was wrong (!!!) my third color plate was a fail. Several hours and a bit of whimpering later....I pulled several successful prints, pleased with the results of what was now to be a two-color process. 

I loved working with Ouida and truly appreciate her patience! I plan on taking her Chine CollƩ printmaking class in the near future. If you are local, you can visit with the artist and see her work at the upcoming Las Cruces Arts Fair March 14, 15, 16.


My original plate...so cool I could frame it too!

Next morning I woke staring at my bedroom curtains imagining how I might translate the curtain's pattern into a woodcut....oh dear...

...I even like that oil-based inky smell...










2 comments:

Ouida said...

Hi! I finally read your post on our time together in the studio. Good way of making sense of it all with words and pictures. Wish I had touched up my lipstick but, oh well, such is life.
So glad you enjoyed it and yes, let's work together again soon.

Victoria said...

Thanks Ouida! So looking forward to our next class...and you are beautiful with or without lipstickšŸ˜‰

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