Thursday, December 18, 2014

Printing (A Chickadee) Under Pressure

Carolina Chickadee. State 3 of Multi-block Woodcut by Ken Januski.

Carolina Chickadee. State 4 Proof of Multi-block Woodcut by Ken Januski.

I've never heard it before but it would be easy to theorize that the oldest joke in the history of printmaking is that when deadlines come you print under pressure. The reason it's a joke is that by definition pressure is one of the main ingredients of printmaking. In one way or another you apply physical pressure to get the ink onto the paper of the print.

Still it's the first thought that came to mind for this post about my attempts at a print that will also serve as a holiday greeting card. After I finished the very complicated Goldfinch on Thistle woodcut, and after giving up on getting anything usable from sketching our cats, I went back to the quickest way for me to do a print: base it on a photo I took. I don't like to do this. However it was a last resort.

So that's what we have here. For all their ubiquity I have less than five photos of Carolina Chickadees. Of course one appeared at my studio window feeder as I brought the above prints up from the basement a few minutes ago. It helps having them nearby. But they are one of the very quickest of feeder birds: here and then gone, before the bully birds chase them away.

In any case I decided that Chickadees were a typical holiday bird and my time was limited. At top is the actual print. I just finished printing the third color, and the last one on one side of the woodblock. So the print will look a lot like it.

On the other side of the block I've carved the black areas. I did a proof of that block on the lower photo. I still need to figure out how much more of the black to remove. There may be just a bit too much thick line there. But I'll have to do some proofing to know for sure.

I hope to get it done tomorrow, in time for holiday mail and for late holiday selling on Etsy.

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