Friday, August 31, 2012

Clearing the Block

Carving the actual pattern is always fun and you can get to that zone where time doesn't exist anymore and you are one with the wood.  Awakening from this trance and having to face the boring and repetitious part of clearing away whatever you don't want to print can be absolutely brutal.  I wonder if it could be fatal to an older, arthritic person?  (Maybe we don't want to know the answer to that question.) On this block there is quite a bit of clearing away of unwanted wood and it is a rather hard wood (cherry) so it could be a daunting task, however - not in this case because it is Foredom to the rescue.  Foredom is a power tool much like a Dremel on steroids.  It has a flexible cable and interchangeable bits.  One cable is for etching, engraving, etc. and is what I used on the copper piece (see previous posts) and the other cable is for more like a chisel.  The clearing requires the latter.  You can see the tool head next to the block -

This was cleared in about 1/4 of the time it would have taken me to do it with the regular chisel (sitting next to the power head in this photo) and my hand would have ached for hours.  Not to mention how it would have felt during the process.  Using the Foredom I can hold it so that I am pushing from the shoulder in one continuous motion using both hands on the tool.  The blade only cuts back and forth when pressure is applied.  It is a really cool little toy!

There are no registration marks on this block, yet, because I really have no idea, or rather I have several ideas, of how to do this and will figure that out when I get to it...

Next - there is some computer work to get the drawing for the center image where I want it and then transferred to another block.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beginning of the Flags

For years I've intended to carve blocks and make prayer flags for the garden.  And every year the project has played second fiddle to everything else.  Finally, I am off to a well intended beginning and, more or less, holding my breath that this time prayer flags will actually materialize.  For anyone not familiar with prayer flags they are a part of Nepalese and Tibetan Buddhist culture.  The flags are each dedicated to a particular element or virtue and as they flutter in the wind those wishes are carried on the air.  For a more detailed explanation (and probably more accurate, although I am going with the belief I just stated ,try this link.  I have never been one to be side-tracked by facts.)

My thought is to carve a border block which can be used for each individual print.  After many drawings and ideas I finally came up with a simple leaf and berry design with spirals in each corner. Traditionally the flags have a different image in each corner, but at our house we do spirals.

To get the image onto the block I scanned it first into the computer and then printed it out on the transfer paper sold by McClain's. Working quickly so the ink doesn't dry it is a simple matter of placing the transfer paper face down onto the block and burnishing it lightly with a baren.  Voila, the image is on the block!  Generally, with other transfer techniques, I like to tint the block with Sumi Ink, but if I had done that using the transfer paper obviously I would never be able to see it and I have enough trouble seeing things without interference. (Notice the magnifier hanging on the Hori-dai  which I learned about from my good friend Graham Scholes.)

A closer look at the quality of the transfer on a cherry block:

And so, tomorrow the carving commences!  Once I get to working on a project and the knife actually hits the wood I am committed to the project.  This block will be pretty easy - it will be the central images that will require most of the work.