Monday, November 16, 2009

And now...

The Labatt's Streamliner!

The last color is actually a very dark blue. I try to avoid using straight black as it's often very harsh, especially when going up against different shades of color. I also thought the blue worked well with the green to complete a very retro look for a very vintage subject.

"Labatt's Streamliner" 2009
Image 6"x4"
6-color reduction print from
single birch plywood block
using Reanaissance Graphics oil-
based inks on 110# Rives off white
cotton paper
Edition: 10
$30 unframed

Labatt Streamliner State #5

First, a big congratulations to Mr. James Jordan who identified this print in its 4th state as the Labatt's Streamliner. I fell in love with this vehicle one winter evening when Amy and I were downtown one evening. We stopped to watch a building being torn down when the Streamliner passed us. Already interested in early 20th century design, this baby spoke to me. Literally, it spake. It said, "Drink some Labatt's. And I did. And it was good.

Back to the print. The color in the 5th state was a happy accident. Thinking that the red was going to affect any color I put over it, I formulated a special color that, had this been screen printing, would have ended up looking like a light gray when printed over red. Ah, but this is NOT screen printing, and the color did not change much at all. In the photo, it looks gray, but is actually a very light green, perhaps the color of dried moss. It is a very retro color (usually found in Nike missile silo basements and jails of the period) and complemented the red so nicely, I decided to change my color plans. The light color of state 5 was necessary to combat the dark of the red. The fact is, I should have done the background first, as I usually do, but unfortunately was already well into the print when I realized my mistake.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A little closer now....

Okay, here we are on state #4. It should be crystal clear to all you playing the game. Just a couple more colors to go. What's the name of this classic Labatt's beer truck?

(HINT: "Classic Labatt's Beer Truck is NOT the answer)

A little info for the print geeks -- this is a reduction print with planned 7 colors on a single 6"x4" block of birch plywood, Renaissance Graphics oil-based ink on very heavy (too heavy) Rives off-white paper. The script for the logo was made using my wife's engraving pen which she uses for her glass work. And yes, I got permission to use it!

What the....

Okay, kids. Here's state #3 for this print. Now, it's obviously a truck, and a Labatt's truck, which also means it's a beer truck. But it's a very special beer truck with a specific name. Tell me what it is, when a copy from the edition of 10 (well, 10 so far. There's still a few colors to go).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Play to win!

Okay, this is state #2 of the mystery print. The first color is a silvery gray. The second color is a mustard yellow. Yes, it is a truck. But it is a special truck with a specific name (and will be easy to find for the Google-savvy as the pieces come together. Be the first to e-mail and tell me what it is, and you will get one of this brand new print. Unless I screw it up. But that so RARELY happens (see the "Kerflooey" and "Kerflooey II" posts below).


I can't be certain when the image of a firefighter, silhouetted against a home fire, handing the family pet to an elated little girl first got into my head. I think it was over a year ago, and I knew I wanted to do a print of the scene. A year of heavy misfortune forced me away from printmaking until only recently, and I am extremely happy with this print.

The print is 6"x4" on 94# Rives off-white cotton paper. Six colors were printed from one single birch plywood block using Renaissance oil-based inks in an edition of 9. $30 unframed.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Color commentary...

This closeup of "Little Camper" is just to show the retro aqua/turquoise striping on the camper

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Guess What?

So here's a chance for you, dear reader, to win some art. This picture is of my latest woodcut print, which I just started tonight. There's no closeup because it's just a big block of gray -- the first color. I will post a photo of the print after each state. As each color gets put on, you will see the image form. The first person who can tell me what it is gets one of the prints. Good luck and have fun.

E-mail your answers to


Under the stars.....

Here is "Little Camper," a fresh woodcut just completed yesterday. Inspired by the Bee Line brand of tiny trailers (which I now find are collectors' items and showpieces) I often saw when I was a kid. I will try to get a better photo for you because the camera here fails to pick up the turqoise/aqua retro striping that defines the front end of the trailer.

An edition of 7, this is a 6"x4" 6-color reduction woodcut printed from birch plywood on acid-free off white Rives cotton paper. Available. $30 unframed.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Meanwhile, at the same time....

At the same time, I've been working on this print, a maple leaf with water droplets.
6 color reduction woodcut from birch plywood, 6"x4" $30


Okay! So, after a few stabs at multiple block printing, it occurred to me that my talents lie with reduction printing (using one block for all colors in a print, cut, print, cut fashion). And this is the finished product.

I don't even know where this building is. I took a photo of it when we stopped in an antique shop on our way back from corning last year. I have no idea what town we were in. If this looks familiar to anyone, give a holler.

6 color reduction woodcut using birch plywood, 6"x4". As yet untitled. $30, edition of 10.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Change of Direction

Soooo..... Well, I didn't think I'd been away from the blog so long. It's been a very educational couple of weeks. So, I redid the print, and found that the grains were so open on the wood that it was very hard to see the details. So, after consulting some online sources, I treated the blocks with a solution of glue and water and sanded them down. And it still sucked. So, I've decided to go with carving linoleum. I'd been thinking of carving linoleum for some time, mainly because it's made of linseed oil and sawdust, which means it's biodegradable. It's also cheaper. There's no grain, so that issue will be done with. It will be very interesting to see how it turns out.
As for the greeting cards -- the long awaited greeting cards, we've had another setback. I'm just trying to gather up enough resources to fund the purchase of the equipment. At this point, it doesn't look like there will be Christmas Cards this year. On the plus side, I've decided to pay the mortgage instead! Look at me and my crazy priorities!
The linoleum should be here for the weekend, I hope, and then this blog might actually be worth checking in on!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Kerflooey II: Inky Boogaloo

Okay, so attempt number two went much better. I love the poplar blocks, and the colors were really good. However, the register was still way off. But I've figured out how to fix the problem. So stay comes the good print (3rd Xs A Charm!).

Monday, September 21, 2009


Well, this was a learning experience from step one. I'm not upset that it all went south on me. Obviously, one wants one's efforts to be rewarded, and it would have been fantastic if the print had been perfect. But here are the things that went wrong:
  • The First block, Light Gray, was somehow more than a quarter inch out of register with the other colors
  • The Red block and Dark Red block were reversed
  • The blue and green blocks were somehow carved without allowing them to trap the colors in the structure
  • The very open grain of the plywood allowed for poor coverage
I originally planned to shim some blocks to make them fall into register with the others, but the green, and probably the blue, would have had to be recut. But regardless of that, I just couldn't reconcile myself with the poor coverage. I've never had to deal with the issue much, because reduction prints cover up most poor coverage from the first blocks.
     So, the big news is that, as of immediately, I'm going back to poplar, solid half-inch blocks. The best part of it is that if another job goes kerflooey, I can burn the blocks.

     So, here's how the proof ended up (detail):

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Altered States

This morning I proofed out the first color of the still untitled print. The proofing process is all about finding mistakes before you actually get into the prints that will go to customers. This is not a foreign process to me, as I am a printer by trade. But in my artwork, I've never really had the luxury of correcting errors. The reason is that, until recently, my prints have been exclusively "reduction prints." A reduction print is when you ink a block with, say, yellow, and print it, then carve away anything you want to remain yellow. Then you print the next color, say blue. Then you carve away anything that is to remain blue, and so on. Reduction is nice because you're only using one block, which is cheaper and less work. Also, because you are always printing with the same block, your colors always line up perfectly (this is called "registration." The drawback is that if you do screw up on, say, color 4, the whole job is ruined. Another drawback, and the only reason I've chosen to get away from the process, is that because colors must be printed on top of other colors, the coverage gets to be very uneven, and the colors are never as vibrant as I'd like them to be.
     So, that brings me to multiple-block prints. For this print, I have carved six blocks, the colors being Light Gray, Red, Dark red, Blue, Green and a special tint I call Shadow. The first block looks very good. I printed the second block, the red, this evening, and while it went down well, as you can see, the register is way off. I'm not sure what the issue is (but I can tell you that it is 100% human error). I will have to see where the other colors hit before I can decide how I'm going to deal with this.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A little off topic, but...

I hate to dip my toes into the slimy pool of what passes for pop culture these days, but: do Jon & Kate Gosselin understand the concept of videotape, and that the kids are going to be watching their stupidity in the coming years? Kate's said that she continues to wear her wedding ring "for the kids." At some point, a child from outside the bubble is going to sidle up to one of the kids and say, "Your parents are psychos." Oh, to be the one to deliver the news!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ready for Action

Please check back this week for play-by-play action as I work to complete this untitled multiple-block 6-color print (as yet untitled) of a building we saw outside of Rochester last year on a road trip. I just finished carving the blocks this afternoon (using a gouge now drunk with the taste of blood [see earlier post]) and beginning tomorrow or Thursday I will begin the proofing process. This is a great opportunity to check out what goes into pulling these blocks together to make a good print.
(Above: The six blocks, hopefully carved correctly)

Blood on the Block

When you first use razor sharp tools to carve wood, you learn one thing fast, and it's a lesson usually written in blood: keep your hands clear in case the gouge slips. I learned that lesson in March of 2002, while carving out a portrait of my brother. The gouge I was using, which was very dull, caught on a particularly rough patch of wood. No quitter I, I put my weight into that gouge, knowing the wood just HAD to give. Because the knife was so dull, it skipped over the wood and right into the hand, which was holding the block. This was about 3 weeks into my woodcutting adventure, when I didn't know bench hooks from barens, so I was clueless. But I learned fast. And though I've had a few scrapes here and there, I have wisely avoided putting myself in the position of being punctured like that first time.

Ah, but that's me. Flash forward seven years to this afternoon. I'm calmly carving a block in my studio when the Little Woman decides she wants to play with my toys. I give her my sharpest gouge, as that's safest. She took an old block of poplar i had from before I started using plywood. Poplar is soft, but I prefer the "give" plywood afords the blades. Poplar is also very slippery at times.

She busied herself nibbling away at the wood. I saw the knife slip a little, and I admonished her to keep her hands if front of the blade. Another slip. I suggested she stop. I stopped carving and turned around for a second to strop my blade, and she walked out of the studio without a sound, and I figured she'd had enough tool time. I sat down to resume, and that's when I saw the drop of blood on the floor.

I ran upstairs, where she had her hand under the water, cleaning the wound. I fetched her a bandage and patched her up with a kiss to her boo boo.

And balances of knowledge once again tip toward the wise (or, at least, wizened).

Monday, September 14, 2009

Stalking Marv Levy

Okay, just so you know I'm not a one-track-mind kinda guy...
Saturday night, after celebrating my grandmother's 92nd birthday, the Little Woman and I went to Wegmans in Blasdell to get some provisions. As we were browsing the books and magazines, she leaned over to me and whispered: "Marv Levy." I looked next to me, and there was the man, the Football Hall of Famer himself in a bright orange, blue-striped Hilfiger shirt. Everyone around him was staring, but no one was approaching him. Which is nice. But if you're wearing a traffic cone inside a crowded supermarket, aren't you just asking to be hasseled?
Anyway, Marv was behind us with his cart full of fruit, and as we strolled out to the car, I had a great idea: let's stalk Marv Levy!
So, we drove around the parking lot until we found him and tailed him. After four turns and a hop onto the 219, we realized that he was going our way. So, I guess it's not really stalking, especially since we exited in West Seneca as he proceded up the I-90, destination unknown.
Another brush with greatness, brought to you by Napping Cat Press. And check out Marv's photo. He looked just like that when he squeezed the nectarines!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Amazing Response

It's interesting, the things that pique the interests of folks. My call for input on the "Life is all about..." project has generated much response. But I need more.
The most interesting thing is that not one person has written anything negative. Even the goofy ones. My God! Are we optimists? (or are we dancers?)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Welcome & Thanks

So, there's a good chance you've stumbled over into the neighborhood by chance because I or someone who knows me & you sent you an e-mail entitled "Jeff's Little Project," in which I'm asking volunteers to e-mail me their fill-in for the following sentence:

"Life is all about _____________________."

I want to thank everyone who has responded so far -- people I haven't heard from in ages. I think it will be a pretty interesting project. Please keep checking back for updates on the project.

Since I haven't publicized this blog, I'm pretty sure it's new to everyone, so poke around. I haven't gotten into a rhythm yet, but there's some interesting things coming along soon.

If you have any questions, or wish to participate in the "Life is all about__________" project, please send your verbiage to

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Thief of Time

Well, I finally did it yesterday, I committed the heist I'd been planning since the early 1990s. And if what I did is wrong, I don't wanna be right.
I stole the Larkin Administration Building, a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece that actually was removed from the map in 1950. However, there is still a small piece of the building on the site. And while the main portion of the ruins is lovingly maintained by dedicated volunteers, a large piece remains crumbling into the parking lot. So, yesterday I pulled up to the wall and snagged a fragment, and took it home. HA HA! MINE ALL MINE!
But let's not make any hasty judgements, as there was purpoise to my purloining. I will be using the brick to match colors for the Larkin Building Print that I will be executing this week, and you are all invited! So keep checking back!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Missed It By THAT Much

After I began woodcut printmaking in 2002, our hobby of haunting local estate sales took on a little more excitement as I searched for anything print-related, from artwork to equipment. With Buffalo having had quite a rich history in printing, I figured some good stuff would eventually start to make its way out of dusty attics and musty basements.
But, no, it never really did. As far as the artwork goes, the closest thing was a "woodcut" which was being sold as a print for $300; getting up close, I could see the sawtooth edges that are the hallmark of a computer printout. And as for equipment, I'm pretty sure that it is dictated by law that every garage/estate sale has at least one drawer from a California job case.
So, this morning we headed to Elmwood Avenue to check out the Elmwood Festival of the Arts, where, naturally, we were confronted with a banner that reminded us that that event is NEXT weekend. So, we poked around the neighborhood shops, and happened on an estate sale in a ridiculously large and beautiful home on Lafayette Avenue.
Being Sunday-- Day 3 -- there wasn't much left but some books and knick knacks (and, I swear, a California job case drawer). We went to the second floor and pawed through some more stuff, and frames, and the attic apartment, which was mostly empty, bun fun to look around. Finding nothing of interest, we probably should have left, but as the owners of an old house, we can't resist looking around the basements of old homes.
I immediately found a box with receipts. I love old receipts from back in the day, but these were even more meaningful. They were receipts from a printing company for business cards, letterhead and forms, many made for Buffalo's leading businesses in the mid 1950s. Not cool enough to buy, but pretty cool to behold for a minute. That's when the Little Woman said to me, "Ooh! Look at that old press!"
This beautiful old cylindrical proofing press sat in a sad little corner piled with junk, and set around it were boxes of old type. It had finally happened. I hit the jackpot.
"The press stays with the family," came a voice as a gently caressed the press' drum.
"Oh," I said, a little sad. I already have a press that I'm happy with, and being broke, I knew I couldn't have afforded the press anyway. Had there been other printing-related items, I'm sure I could have snapped up some stuff, but I didn't have much use for the press and the type.
"Yeah, this is day three," the voice continued. "Everything is pretty much gone. But two days ago it was PACKED WITH PRINTING STUFF."
Yes. It turns out that the house was owned by Mildred Andriaccio who passed away in April at age 93. Her claim to fame was, of course, that she was the first woman to own a printing business in Buffalo, Andria Press.
So, Mrs. Andriaccio, I salute you. And I implore anyone out there: If you hear of any sales "packed with printing stuff," won't you give a brother a shout?
(Note: Pulled the accompanying photograph from the web. The photo was called "The Ghost of a Printing Press," and I think it fits the post pretty well.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Primary Focus

In the coming posts, you will be seeing a huge difference in prints, primarily the colors. After a lot of R&D, I have found that using just the four process colors (magenta, cyan, yellow and black, not only can I make any color I need, but the colors are more vibrant.
Until this point, I have been using a shelf of mostly opaque inks which worked well for reduction prints, in which each successive color is printed on top of previous colors.
I've abandoned that method for the traditional multiple block method, in which each color is printed from a separate block. This means that, for the most part, each color will sit in one layer on the paper, providing true vibrancy and true color representation.

An Instant Classic

In my last post, I provided a photograph of the Knox Farm stable and the print that I made from it. Well, last week the Little Woman and I drove out there to find that the tree that caused the wonderfully wabi way of the wicked wall has been rem0ved. It always saddens me when they take down a tree, especially one that is just so aggressive as this one. But I have to assume that their ultimate goal is to save the structure...and let me tell you, that is one lofty goal. It always saddens me when they demolish a building, especially one as tenacious as this one.
However, if I discover that they killed the tree and the building, hoo-boy! They are really going to get one blistering letter from this hombre! So watch it!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The stable at Knox Farm State Park in East Aurora, NY drew me in from the first time I saw it. Two ancient trees, innocently planted generations ago alongside the barn, have grown ro rhw point that the stable has buckled in the middle, causing the clapboards to unseat and the window lines to follow the curvature of the earth forced up by the roots below.

I love that my print reminds me a little of the warped lines of Charles Burchfield's watercolors, that it exaggerrates the buckling in the wall. Originally I was upset that the print seemed darker than the photograph, the trees in particular. But two years later -- and seeing it side by side with the photograph, I like the mood it invokes.

It also echoes what has long been my philosophy: Tenacious as we may be, intelligent as we think we are, nature ALWAYS wins.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The First Official NCP Card

Although NCP has existed for more than two years, it wasn't until this year that the first official NCP design went to press. This Valentine's day card, designed for my wife, features a teakettle with two teabags, the labels being hearts. As a production card, the words "Tea for two" will be printed on the front, with "Let's Steam Things Up" on the inside.

All designs begin their lives as hand-printed woodcuts, sold as limited edition fine prints. The production cards will then be used to make screens and will be screenprinted on quality card stock using non-toxic inks. Cards are expected to retail at $2.90 ea.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Buffalo Collection

In 1998, my wife and I packed up all of our posessions (and the cat) and moved to San Diego, CA without ever having been there. It's a long story, (one I plan to tell in my long awaited memoir "What the $%#@ Are We Doing? AAAARRRRGGGHHH!", coming out soon from Masochistic Moron Press). Two weeks later we returned -- homeless, jobless, penniless...joyless, clueless, hpeless...a whole lot of lesses, and lessons.

But on returning, as I mounted the skyway on a trip to see my grandmother in the Elmwood Village, I made a vow to myself that I would never let Buffalo push me away again. Rather, I would dig in and make this city, warts and all, mine.
Ah, youth. That was over a decade ago and, frankly, I've been a little slow with the revolution. Of course, in those days I saw myself as a future novelist. It would be four years before I began a new tangent with printmaking. I've been a lot more successful with the printmaking.
But, despite it's faults, I'll always be committed to Buffalo, particularly it's architecture and design (yeah, yeah, the people are great, blah blah). So here are a few prints of local flavor.
#1 Here is "Buffalo Breeze," a print I designed for my friend Jim Tamol, former Blasdell resident gone all Floridian, to celebrate the purchase of a new sailboat. Unfortunately, I can never remember his address, and though I have had a copy all wrapped and ready to mail to him for three years, this is the first time he's ever seen it. So there it is, Jimmy! Pick it up on your next pass thru town!
#2, of course, is Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin Martin House, which is finally reopened for tourism.

Tribute to Kalie, Our Founder

I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge our friend, Kalie, who was not only our belove pet (read: Family Member), but also the inspiration for the name of our little company. We lost Kalie to cancer in March 2007 after nearly twelve years of joy and fun. She is deeply missed, but we try to keep her spirit alive here in the NCP offices by following her example of Moderation, tenacity, independence, creativity -- and plenty of naps. We love you, Kalie Belle!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Behind The Scenes

On January 3, 2007, Napping Cat Press was officially born In Buffalo, NY. In the spring of the same year, went online, featuring a full display of woodcut prints created between February 2002 and early 2007, a five year body of work that had netted several awards.

However, Napping Cat Press itself was created with the sole intent of turning art into commodity, the commodity being original, hand-printed greeting cards. The journey has been long, the obstacles at times seemingly insurmountable. But now, nearly two and a half years after the concept struck me in the middle of the night, Napping Cat Press is approaching the unvailing of a new generation of stationery gifting.

Yes, "Stationery Gifting". Copyright 2009, Jeff Dean. All Rights Reserved. (Aww, but you can use it.)

So, as we approach the culmination of more than two years of designing and planning, hemming and hawing, you are cordially invited to check in to this blog to get behind-the scenes of the designs, inspirations and work that is driving Napping Cat Press.