Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Beautiful Plates

I went to Birmingham Museum recently with my mum, and saw their amazing collection of tin glazed ceramics from the 17th/18th centuries. There were also jugs, tiles, bowls and all sorts else, but these plates were my favourites. I don't think the two at the bottom are tin glazed, or from the 17th century, but I love them all the same. Click for a bigger view.

We also saw the incredible Staffordshire Hoard, which is touring the country at the moment, but I wasn't allowed to take any photos of that. Suffice to say, it was amazing. I think it's in Stoke-on-Trent now, but have a look on the website for where else it's headed

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Birthday Bunting

Here it is, my secret little screen printing project! My friend Ellie turned 30 at the weekend, and I made her some extra special bunting as a pressie. I also made her a big fat carrot cake, but that got scoffed way too quickly for a photo!

I printed two designs in four colours onto medium weight, unbleached cotton duck fabric (with much waste of fabric thanks to my poor planning), cut them out with pinking shears and sewed them together on cotton twill tape. I printed far too many triangles, so I'm going to make up a few more from what I've got left over and they'll be up on sale on my website as soon as I've managed to get the layout etc right in my online shop!

In other news, I stood on a blimmin' weever fish in the sea in Brighton yesterday and spent half an hour with my foot in a tub of hot water at the lifeguard station. The excruciating pain subsided and the swelling went down in good time for us to have scrumptious nachos at The Dorset, but it's back again now, so I'm typing this with my foot in a bowl of hot water.

Friday, 13 July 2012

"Is it raining? I hadn't noticed..."

Would you believe I spent yesterday wandering about the Peak District in glorious sunshine? T'is true! And it was ruddy lovely. But rest assured it's peeing it down again now. So here's something a little summery to raise your spirits.

I've spent the day screen printing. I won't tell you what these are for yet, but you'll see soon enough I promise!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Wood Engraving @ LPW

I was in Pembrokeshire last week, flarping about on the coastal path, watching seals, finding fossils and trying not to stand on all the huge, fuzzy Oak Egger moth caterpillars. It was awesome and is my excuse for not having done this post til now. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you've probably already seen my gushing posts about the wood engraving day course I took at Leicester Print Workshop a week ago. If so, bear with me, because I'm about to gush again (which sounds gross. Sorry).

First of all I must confess something. Until last Sunday I had no idea there was a difference between woodcutting and wood engraving. I know, d'oh! I knew that there were two basic types of block - side grain and end grain - but I was totally unaware that the method used to cut them was completely different. For anyone else as clueless as me; woodcutting uses side grain blocks of wood, the cutting method and tools used are similar to linocutting and the grain of the wood can often be seen in the final print. Wood engraving, however, is done onto finished endgrain blocks, which are much finer and smoother than side grain, meaning they're easier to carve, allow for more fine detail and produce a blacker print. The tools are points and edges rather than gougers and have names like medieval weapons - spitsticker, bullsticker, scorper...

So. The class. We each got a sample block which we used to get used to the different tools and the marks we could make, followed by a 'real' block which we set about once we were comfortable with our technique. That's my sample piece above.

I wanted to try engraving out as a way of incorprating my printmaking with my drawing, which is more detailed and less stylised, and I absolutely loved it. I took along the Chickens book I illustrated for Kyle Books a few months ago, partly so I could compare two similar images in different mediums, but also because I thought all those feathers would be perfect to recreate this way. Here's how I did:

Not bad for a first-timer, huh? I'm actually so pleased with this print that I can't stop looking at it. And I made ten editions. I started off using a Japanese tissue paper and burnishing by hand as I normally do at home, but I actually found I preferred using the thicker Zerkall and a small letterpress roller - the print came out lovely and crisp and dark. Yum.

It was amazing how differently each member of the class set about their block. We did a load of group prints too, so check it out, this is what everyone came up with. Pretty diverse, no?

I'd like to do a lot more of this. If only the blocks weren't so ruddy expensive! Even T.N. Lawrence's 'cheap' maple blocks cost over £5 for a 2x3" block. Cripes! Must look into other sources....

I really recommend anyone with an interest in printmaking check out the Leicester Print Workshop, they do courses in every type of printing under the sun, provide all the equipment  you'll need and the tutors are fantastic. We had the wonderful Geri Waddington teaching us, check out her work here. So inspiring.