While there hasn't been much to report from the studio, a lot has been going on behind the scenes. The fact is that I haven't completed a print in almost two years, but it hasn't been for a lack of trying. The problem stems from a lack of confidence caused by a grand series of disappointments.
There have been several prints started, many of which are detailed in past posts. They would often go for five or six colors, and the something curious would happen, destroying the print. The colors would go down on the previous layer. I would hang it up to dry. Later, I would check on it and find that the ink had virtually disappeared! It was crazy. At first I thought it was that the ink wasn't printing at all, that I had thought the color was better than it really was. It was only after many, many episodes of this that I realized that it looked fantastic when it came off the block. Somehow, over time, it was disappearing before my eyes.
What was happening, actually, is that the ink was beading up, like painting a balloon with watercolors.
Now, what to do about that? First, I needed to go back and see what I'm doing differently than what
I used to use inks from Renaissance Graphics in Pennsylvania, and I was always happy with them. In fact, I'm not sure why I stopped. Well, I've ordered a small bunch from there and from Graphic Chemical in Chicago, so my detective work will continue.
Aside from that, I have also made peace with my cast-iron book press (I now realize that it will never give me the crisp looks that printmakers with etching presses get) and have added spoon burnishing to the process to help smooth out areas the book press misses. I have dumped linoleum, poplar and birch plywood in favor of the costlier but dream-like shina plywood, which cuts like butter and holds lines well, even after eight or nine colors. I have discarded my jig, which used to hold my block when printing, which required a block to be perfectly square and also left a lot of embossed marks on the paper; now I use a kento system cut right into the printing block. I have finally mastered the art of sharpening my tools. I have been steadily working on drawing and designing.
Now, if I can just get the ink to work, we might have something!!!