Back at Ardington School of Craft a few weeks ago to learn how to make a half leather bound sketchbook. I find book binding a very satisfying craft, and I love to make my own sketchbooks. I haven’t bought one for a couple of years now. This one looks almost professional.
Another new technique for me. I went to a one day workshop at Ardington School of Craft run by Beth Jenkins on the American technique of white line woodblock printing. It was intended to be a simplified form of Japanese woodblock, requiring just one block for the whole image, using watercolour and gouache as the print medium. It is really also closely related to mosaic and stained glass techniques.
Each area of colour is outlined by a gouged groove, the white lines, and then the area flooded with watercolour and the image transferred to thin paper by hand burnishing. Only a small area can be done at one time, so the paper and block need to be kept in register the whole time. Only one print at a time can be produced, and all will be different in colour. You can have indefinite print runs.
My first block, based on a photo I took off razor bills at St Abbs Head. The block itself is beautiful at the end.
I’m working on a second print in my studio. A roosting kittiwake I sketched at Dunbar. Still working out the best colour scheme.
I haven’t done much printing recently, despite building a new hydraulic jack press, but I have done some. First, this year’s Christmas card, a lino print of a festive tufted duck. The red was dabbed onto the print with a stencil.
Then I went to a Dry point engraving workshop, run by Beth Jenkins at Ardington School Of Crafts. The engraving itself, based on a photo I took last summer, didn’t look all that special, but when I rollered on coloured inks over the intaglio engraving, the whole thing suddenly came to life. More a monotype than an engraving.
I’ve just completed an excellent two day workshop at Ardington School Of Crafts run by Laura Boswell. An introduction to Japanese woodblock printing. An art form I love but I have never tackled before.
I started with an image of pine trees falling into the sea on the end of Furzey Island in Poole Harbour. I photographed it last week and even did a sketch of it in charcoal whilst sitting cross legged on the roof of my boat.
Laura took us through the stages of breaking the design down into blocks which would build up the image. These are carved on both sides of the wood block and coloured using horse hair brushes, watercolour paint and rice paste.
The blocks are printed onto damp paper, using a baren to burnish the back. I produced several multicoloured images and a final, fairly rushed one just in blue, which is very traditional.
It’s a fascinating technique. These results aren’t that great, but they are a starting point. Hokusai, here I come…
I spent the weekend on a two day linocut workshop at the Ardington School of Craft near Wantage. It was run by Laura Boswell, who is a wonderful artist and, as it proved, an equally wonderful tutor. She is a dedicated printer, specialising in linocut and Japanese woodblock printing.
I did a print of a bird of paradise first. This is a reduction process, so you cut away the block for each colour, ending up with a fixed number of prints and often a totally useless block. In this case, the final block was still quite a good outline of the bird (see the header image) which I might be able to reuse.
The second image was meant to be a Dorset seascape, but was rushed. I liked the colours, but the drawing was terrible.
I spent a fascinating day at the Ardington School of Craft experimenting with textual art, tutored by Simon Sonsino. Splashing inks about and then trying to incorporate lettering /words into the result. As one whose writing is illegible even to me, this was going to be a challenge, but great fun. At one stage it involved frisbeeing inked papers around the garden to get spin patterns.