1/25/2012

Wonderful Wood.



Where did January go? A month almost over in the blink of an eye. I did manage a lovely day over at Tatton Park; I needed to deliver a painting to the folks here, so it was a perfect excuse for an excursion. I was dismayed to see that a much-loved ancient tree had been very badly damaged by the wind. When my boys were little they loved to hide inside the hollow trunk. The land manager has left the branches to decay naturally so other life forms will benefit, some consolation for the near demise of a very old oak.

I have been working on a new collection of designs for the spring trade fairs, mostly hand drawn but with lots of digital work added. So much for my intention of spending more time outdoors! The reaction to this new collection has been very positive and I am keeping my fingers crossed that some of the designs will make their way through the final selection process. All this sitting at the computer has made me determined to make time for more printmaking.



The very lovely thing about wood engraving is handling the wood. It arrives so beautifully wrapped, like a very pretty bar of soap. I love handling the tools, the feel of the paper, and the smell of the ink. The whole process is very satisfying though not without its frustrations. I have been making good use of my new press and keeping fit by all the pulling involved.



I got so obsessed with getting a rich, black, even print that I almost obliterated the finer details. Each print is unique in its own way, the first few are total rubbish, and then as you get into the swing things improve. Just as you think you have it cracked you notice a smudge here, a blotch there, an uneven bit where the ink wasn’t quite evenly applied. The stack of rejects steadily grows until you feel like throwing in the towel altogether. Now, I am talking about my own experiences you understand. I have met many fine craftsmen who do not have these problems but sadly I am a long way off that. However, I did enjoy getting back into the craft and managed to get together a little collection of prints and even made a little portfolio to contain them.



If you feel inspired to have a try you might like to visit this website for information about the wood, tools etc.

17 comments:

  1. I just admire the way you keep on with each one until you are totally satisfied with the result Valerie.

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  2. I love reading your blog. That wonderful old wood stump is amazing, too. You are such an inspiration to me!

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  3. You are much too hard on yourself Valerie! x

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  4. Such a sensual art form, Valerie.. that's when it gets in your soul.. The love you feel for this art form is clearly evident.. as is your talent. Beautiful work!

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  5. I am glad to see the press is getting used with lovely results. I like your book binding skills also making your own personal folder to keep them in. You are clever.
    Yes we do have amazing starry nights, no lights and a huge expanse of sky over the estuary.

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  6. Beautiful work, and the shapes in that poor tree.

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  7. It is always inspiring to see when folk work hard to succeed. (Sometimes instantaneous winning can be a bore). I love those prints you have made. It makes me want to have a go myself so thanks for the link.

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  8. Lovely work as usual! I have just recently framed the bee skip engraving you sent...will send off a photo for you soon. Great patience you must have for such detail.

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  9. I really like wood engravings,they are so very evocative. I've often bought books simply because they have wonderful illustrations done in this way. I know they require great skill. Your rabbit is just gorgeous. I think you must live in the general area where I was born and brought up, my family roots go back in Cheshire to at least the mid 1600s, some of my ancestors were the village carpenters in Over Peover and many more were ag labs in Snelson and silk weavers in Macclesield:)

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  10. Lots of trees seem to have suffered in the heavy winds of last weekend. We saw quite a few down at Trentham yesterday. I love your rabbit wood engraving:)

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  11. Truly inspirational work and information - as always! and I have always wanted to go to Tatton Park - I am planning a visit to NT properties in Cheshire in my head...

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  12. I'm in agreement with the others who have left comments- your rabbit engraving is gorgeous!

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  13. cool to see tatton park. i grew up in altrincham and so every so often it was a place we'd visit. of course i was in awe of the possibility of such a place being someone's property once!!!! steven

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  14. The fallen tree reminded me of our 200 year old Maple that was felled last year in a storm, it nearly broke my heart. I saved a big chunk of it to be made into a large bowl someday. Perhaps you could retrieve a bit of the tree to create a memento?

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  15. oh, old trees are so precious! lovely in a way that the wood lies there becoming habitat for local critters.

    wonderful to read and see of your printing experience. such a fine portfolio to collect your prints in, a fine way to share them.

    wishing you a little time for walks.

    how fun, my verification word is:
    theduck

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  16. You simply must see the etchings here: http://bill-yardley.co.uk/ Mr. Yardley was featured in the January (or February) British Country Living. I can't remember from the article if his work was woodcut or other...

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