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.