The beautiful Holly Trill was doing a clean-out and was asking on twitter if anyone was interested in a collection of vintage cigarette cards. She was happy to give them away for free to any loving and excited home, and as someone who constantly collects little pieces of paper ephemera (either as wall art inspiration, as collage material or as mail art goodies), I was all over the offer. Inside the fat envelope, all the way from the UK, was over 140 cards in collectible sleeves, and about 30 other unsorted ones. It was such a bonny pile, that I only had room to share some of my absolute favorites. A few will find a place on my inspiration walls in the studio, and the others will most likely find suitable places in future outgoing mail art parcels. Thanks again for your generosity Holly!
While visiting my family cabin recently, I scored this absolute little beauty at one of the best antique stores in Invermere. This gorgeous bird is actually made of bronze; it is a lock from Ancient China that can be used on any hasp & staple closure, which can be commonly found on big wooden chests. The key pushes through the back of the bird to release the head, which opens the lock; isn’t it just fascinating?! One day I imagine it will lock a large wooden memory chest that my parents gifted me years ago (which is full of my baby & childhood keepsakes)… Until that day comes, this antique winged creature will be happily sitting in my bookshelf aviary, on top of my Robert Bateman’s Birds book, amongst other feathered friends.
As promised, today’s post chronicles my new relief print in further detail! Thanks to everyone for their kind comments yesterday – it’s nice to see a lot of people as excited as I am, to be making relief prints again. As I hinted in my Justice Bicycle Residency post, I had been meticulously carving a barn owl plate for several days back in late August. She inspired me to get back to the medium, so it is her I have to thank for this lovely edition. In it’s simplest terms, creating a relief plate is just like carving your own rubber stamp. I used lino for my plate, but you can use soft rubber, wood, even erasers! This owl was inspired by my favorite altered book piece from my solo show in July, “flirting with darkness.” I just love the wide wing-span, the gorgeous plumage and the barn owl’s determined, yet calm, demeanor. Using a variety of tools, I slowly carved away at the lino to remove anything I didn’t want to print. In other words, I carve all the areas I want to stay white, and LEAVE all the areas I want black, intact. The image will also print in reverse, so if you are working with text or a directional image, mirroring is critical. Once the plate has been carved it is time to print! I set up a printing station on the edge of my drafting table, and got to work! The beauty of relief print, is that it’s probably the easiest form of printmaking to do at home, as you don’t really require a press or tons of fancy equipment/supplies. All you need is a couple pieces of glass, a rubber brayer, and a rolling pin. I used a water-soluble black block printing ink, but you can experiment with other paints & inks (again, more so than you can with other print techniques). On one glass plate, I use my brayer to roll out a thin block of ink. It is here that you must use the goldilocks theory: Not too much, not too little, just right in the middle. You should be looking for tiny beads of ink. Once your roller is coated, I take it to my plate sitting on a sheet of newprint, and slowly run it across the top surface. Returning to the ink block, and back to the plate, as many times as needed until the surface of the stamp has a good coating. Too much ink will fill small detailed grooves, while too little ink will result in a ghostly looking print with gray instead of black. The relief plate is now transfered to the other sheet of glass which has a registration plate taped underneath it. A registration plate allows me to put my carving down in the right place and line my paper up on top of it, in the EXACT same spot every time. This helps to ensure consistent printing within the edition. Once the paper is registered on top, I use my rolling pin to slowly and evenly distribute pressure over the entire print. This pressure transfers the ink to paper, and voila you have a finished print! I am so proud of this beautiful barn owl! I really think the textures and details came out well, which is something I’ve struggled with before when carving lino. The plumage looks so impressive and his intent focus is also something I admire. If you love the print just as much as me, I’ve finally listed it in my etsy shop, so she is for sale here!!! I’m so happy to have had such a positive experience with the medium after a very long hiatus. I think this boasts a promising future for relief prints in my practice!