Here’s that little sea serpent block and one of the proofs. To give you an idea of scale, he paper measures about 4×6″. It really is a very small block! I have a couple of larger projects due for completion in June, but I think it is taking the time to print an edition of this block as well. I personally enjoy collecting small prints and feel I’d be remiss in my duties as a printmaker if I didn’t produce some of my own.
After spending the last couple of months working on projects I cannot yet reveal, and looking at another month of secretive work ahead of me, I needed a break. So here it is, the result of taking an hour and a little scrap sized piece of wood to just have fun.
Speaking of fun, I’ve been talking to Jane Pagliarulo about having a weekly relief printmaking night at Atelier Meridian. We’re still hammering out the details, but the basic idea is to give beginners and novices the opportunity to carve and print woodblocks with an experienced printmaker (me) available to assist and advise. Attendees would also be welcome to bring and work with linoleum, though I can’t promise any special expertise in the material. More details as they solidify.
Every year as the winter holidays approach I think, “I should do a seasonal print.” Trouble is, I’m not content to whip up a standard-issue charming winter scene — you can find one of those anywhere, so I often end up doing nothing at all, or something very limited. In 2009, I managed my first holiday print while recovering from an early December surgery.Surprise surprise, it wasn’t a reindeer, snowman, or other classic icon of the season. Rather jolly image though, and I like to think I’d have come up with it regardless of the painkillers I was on at the time. I managed to whip up about 30 prints and send them out to family and friends. I had intended to create a follow-up in 2010, but without a surgery to keep me at home, I ended up too busy. I did, however, manage to make time to finally make something of my interest in the Krampus tradition.
For those not in the know, Krampus accompanies St. Nicholas on his rounds. Unlike St. Nick, he’s not interested in good children. He’s there to frighten, punish, and possibly even abduct the worst behaved children. This imposing figure is an Alpine tradition still practiced in the first weeks of December with costumed performers and raucous celebrations. Krampus postcards were particularly popular in the early 20th century, and were often emblazoned with the phrase, â€œGruss vom Krampus!â€ (Greetings from Krampus!)
My Krampus woodcut was created for the 2010 OCAC print exchange, and as such, an edition of only 30 were printed on off-white Rives BFK and exchanged. The handful of proofs from the printing were mostly given to family, and the block was put away until just a couple weeks ago. I liked this one too much to not print a 2nd edition. In order to differentiate between the two editions I’ve carved the block a bit further and printed on buff Rives BFK. I’m 8 months early for Krampusnacht 2011, but at least this year I’m ready!
Speaking of ready, I’m currently gearing up for Norwescon next week! I’m looking forward to demonstrating relief printmaking along with Mimi Noyes and Larry Lewis on Friday, and will also be carving and printing in artist’s alley several times over the course of the convention.
After a flurry of shows and events, and before Norwescon, I’m finally back in the studio catching up on printing. I finished up the 2nd edition of Gruss vom Krampus today (photos soon) and will next be tackling the Sphinx edition. The Sphinx was first sketched directly on the block at an event last summer, then proofed in front of an audience at Art in the Pearl. Autumn/winter tends to be my busy season, so I never got around to printing the planned edition of 50 though I did make a few of the best proofs available at events and online.
Technically speaking, I could have printed a few of the edition and numbered them as such, but I much prefer to print editions all at once. If it is impossible to pull the entire edition in one day (I’m a human not a machine), I’ll print the edition over a few days. Why do this rather than “print to order?” It would certainly be less of an up-front investment in paper and time to pull a few prints, sell them, then pull a few more.
However, by printing editions as I do in one fell swoop, I’m able to maintain greater control over the quality of the edition. My woodcuts are all hand pulled and due to the nature of wood and the maker (I’m still not a machine), there will always be slight variations between each print. That said, it is an edition! The variations need to be slight, and #50 shouldn’t be a lower quality piece of art than #1. So I print them all at once, give them a few days to dry, and then spend time sorting through all of the prints. Any that deviate too far from the rest, or are outright mistakes, aren’t included in the edition. Good variants might be kept as artist proofs, but mistakes are destroyed. On the few blocks I’ve treated as open editions (primarily artist trading cards), I still print in batches and keep examples on hand for comparison.