Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wyoming Dispatch: By Hand

I've been steadily working on a print that is going to take the form of a triptych - three blocks printed on three separate pieces of paper, one continuous image. Below, Blanche calendars the paper.

Each block has selective inking, so that in one round of printing I am printing two colors. The image is inspired by the wintery landscape and its colors here - a minimal palette, only shades of gray, blue, black.

The block will be reduced for another layer of color. Below are the results of the first round of printing. The paper is a handmade rag paper (made from the leftover pulp from this piece). Normally, (white) paper is the negative space, the empty space of an image. Here I hoped the light blue of the fibers would activate the positive space of the image.

I printed it with a wooden spoon. Originally, I started to print them on Blanche, but she seemed inclined to rip the linoleum, and after all the carving I decided spoon prints were the way to go.

While I was spooning the backs of the prints, I found myself thinking of how this piece is the result of my hands in so many ways. With the exception of using Blanche to calendar the paper,  I made the paper by hand from rags I cut up, by hand. I carved the blocks by hand. I inked them by hand. And I printed them with nothing more than a wooden spoon and the pressure applied by my arms, wrists, and hands. I even tried the old trick of rubbing the spoon on my cheek to get a small amount of oil to make rubbing smoother, but everything is so very dry here that I don't think my cheek could contribute.

Hand-printing on your own handmade paper is a rather intimate experience. Don't get me wrong, I love a press. But while hand printing I'm able to feel how the paper becomes burnished, the punch of the relief into the fibers, the suction of the ink, the entire romance of the process. I feel like this piece will have a dual narrative, that which is presented in the image (more on that to come!), and that of its creation with my hands, here in a Wyoming winter.

 As I was working on the center print, we were hit with another snowstorm. The image above is looking from the residence to the studio buildings - the writers are the log cabin on the right, we visual artists are working in the one on the left. 

In other news - today I learned that Book Bombs is part of the exhibition For Decoration and Agitation, An Exhibition of Stencil and Pochoir Books and Art, curated by our kickass friend Jared Ash, at the Newark Public Library! East Coast friends, I hope some of you get a chance to check it out.

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