Birds of a feather...
I’ve been thinking on this print for a long time. I wanted to incorporate some natural wood grain into this image. I didn’t have an idea what that grain would represent but I thought I would let the wood decide for me. It could be water, mountains or land.
After a rummage around a local lumber yard, I came home with a sturdy plank of hemlock with an interesting grain pattern. It was a lovely warm day in early March so I set up the saw horses outside and fired up the blow torch🔥
This is a very satisfying job. Burning the wood helps to raise the grain. Once that task was done, I brushed the wood with a stiff brush and washed it well with soap and water.
Surly this would be the water beneath my murmuration of starlings.
I had pondered long and hard as to the shape my birds would make in the sky and how best to transfer that image to the Lino. In the end, and after watching countless videos of swirling, swooping, clustering starlings. My decision was to draw directly onto the Lino with India ink and a dip pen. The fact that it would be a reversed image really didn’t matter.
I loved doing this. A dip pen has come to be a favored tool. I love the olde world scratchiness of it.
I let the shape just form. I drew what felt to be about a bazillion birds, I really had no idea how long it would take to carve them out as I added more and more, changing direction and trying to feel the rhythm of their flight.
The wood had a hollow space at one end so I had to figure out how to nestle a rocky outcrop into this hole. I don’t have a photo of this, sorry. I inked my wood and made an impression onto a sheet of Mylar which I then transferred to the Lino block. After that I could better judge where my rocks would go.
Once I had penned in the rocks I thought, more birds were needed. I mean what would another few hundred matter if it made the image stronger.
Let the carving begin....wow! This is going to take me a long time.
I settled into a rhythm. Carve for about three hours, then I needed a long break, to stretch and have a cup of tea.
Ok, I didn’t have tea and cake at every break but, it is a nice little ritual I do occasionally indulge in😋
After about twelve hours I had completed this much.
Carving is probably my favorite and really the easiest part of the process. It’s meditative. I can just listen to a book or podcast and let the world go by as I used, in this case, my tiniest gouges to carve around all these birds. I’m guessing that it took around 50-60 hours to get all the birds carved.
On to my graduated sky roll..
I wanted the horizon line to be almost white, so I flipped the brayer over approximately at the halfway point. This block of lino had a bloody bump in it as you can see and no matter what I tried I couldn’t flatten her out. I made a registration with some mat board and my trusty turns burton pins and decided to just press on...
These are my first sheets to hit the line..It is my intention to do an edition of 20 but it may take quite a while. As I needed to wait for more paper to arrive. So let these dry for a couple of days then inked up the murmuration.
I added a few highlights with a dark grey blending with my breyer to add a little definition to the rocks.
This is the really exciting bit, you know in your heard there is a drum roll happening as you turn the wheel.
Hooray, first one looks clean, that is a bonus. I find I’m usually ditching the first one or two prints and re carving something, so yay!
The last part of this print gave me conniptions. My wooden board was over an inch thick and how on earth was I going to register it. Good grief, I give myself some challenges sometimes.
The last print of the wood block gave me fits, trying to figure out how in the world I was going to register this big old slab of wood. Well here is a video. Honestly, this is far from professional but it worked and I love this print. Nope, sorry I cannot figure out how to embed the darn video so if you want to see it you can go to my Instagram page @tinasfreshpress. If you would like to see this print in person it will be on view for first Friday art walk July 2nd on Bainbridge Island at the brand new Lamb and Kid studio space. The invite is also on my Instagram page.