Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Giant Detail

I wanted to see how it came out printing the 'steam roller' block by hand burnishing and came up with the idea to isolate an area with inking a smaller area, then masking it off before laying paper over top to burnish/print.

First the hiss of the ink and roller!


Cutting a window in a piece of newsprint to a size 200 x 300mm to fit inside a standard 300 x 400 mm frame, I was able to float it over the image on the block to find a suitable composition. Then it was a case of carefully marking out the lay of the paper and attaching the mask by one edge so it could be folded back whilst the block was inked before being laid back over the block and the printing paper positioned over that (if that makes sense).

After running-up the ink it's worked rather well and opens up the possibility of picking other areas in the future.
There's an edition of 12 prints now just drying off nicely.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Let it Roll

Thank you to all the organisers and helpers of Pushing Print Margate who ran such an enjoyable day at The Giant Print Event.

A beautiful vintage steam engine and a dedicated crew of print assistants made for a wonderful and busy day.

Too tired to write much tonight so I'll add a couple of pics and write a longer report later.

Giant Print Event - Margate 2014

It's been such a busy weekend I'm writing this after the event.

Saturday saw us doing the long trek to Margate with a box full for printing bits and the woodcut I've been working on over the week. My 6 year old Grandson and I had to struggle with our heavy load from the Dreamland car park to the Pushing Print venue at the sea side end of the High Street stopping several times on the way to to relieve aching hands.

We arrived later than I had hoped but we needn't have worried as the Steam Roller had yet to appear. He and arrived on a low-loader and was preparing - presumably getting up steam - to drive from the car park to the venue. This was good for me as it gave us time to meet the Pushing Print crew and make introductions. Have a chat and start setting up.

I can't thank Dawn enough for being so accommodating. I was expecting to have to keep out of the way on the pavement to ink-up but they had set up a pair of tables for me to use along with paper and water and even shared the sandwiches.

Artist Hugh Ribbans had produced another beautiful animal lino cut for this year's event and talking to him and seeing his three (chicken, elephant and tiger) giant linos in the flesh I could see that the magic of his prints was in having generous open areas alongside moderate darks (this would allow for heavy inking and even distribution of pressure producing a clean print under variable conditions) where as my block had finer open areas and some large solids. So I was apprehensive that with generous inking my block might fill in badly on the whites and not print evenly on the darks.

Norman Murray and his Steam Roller Sovereign arrived making a wonderful entrance with it's loud steam whistle making our heads spin! Hugh had a block inked and ready to go and the PP crew started the public mono-print action - Grandson Ben being one of the first to create an image. While the crew were already printing with the Steam Roller on the road I was back at my table inking up the block. Ben came and helped after printing his mono-print and at last it was time to take a print.

Following directions and advice from Dawn and Hugh we placed the heavily inked block on the plywood under sheet on the road, I had brought some off-cuts of 9mm MDF to place against the blocks edge (this was something I had read about roller printing with higher block to prevent the roller smashing the the edge of the paper and block). Two blankets were then placed over the paper which ad been placed on the block and Dawn had the good sense to create a pad of blanket in front of the block to soften the blow. A quick whistle and Norman set the roller in motion. Given the 'dog-clutch' drive of the roller he did a great job of just getting the front roller over the print and then (alarmingly quickly) back again.

The moment of truth. We removed the blankets and peel the print from the block. It's well stuck on which is a good sign. The image appears. A success! Much better than I had thought it might be. All the smaller details printed and held well but there was an area down the middle where the split in the Steam Roller's front roller had left it light. So I thought next time I'll ask to put a board over the top to spread the load - it would either work well or be light all over. I was banking on the roller being so heavy that it would work.

The Pushing Print crew where incredibly busy all day feeding the Steam Roller with mono-prints and relief prints. Hugh's chicken print looked amazing in bright red. And after I had re-inked and done a second print with the board over the top, which had shown that it did print better that way, his next prints looked really clean and sharp. Very nice.

By now there was a great buzz around the printing tables and Paul was doing a fantastic job of hanging up the prints around the walls of a nearby boarded up shop as a street gallery. People were coming down to see what was going on. Asking questions, chatting and creating their own mono-prints. In between I was able to produce three prints, each one better than the last before starting to 'wash-up'. 

The colourful Mick Minter from the Margate Museum http://margatemuseum.wordpress.com/current-exhibition/ had heard that someone had done a print showing Mods and Rockers so he had come down to take a look. Unbeknown to me the Museum has The Wildest Ones exhibition on and Mick asked to have a print to display in the museum. I was only too happy to get one on display and he insisted on me coming to have a look. So we carried the very wet (as it will be for weeks) print throughout the people in the Square to the wonderful museum, which I didm't even know was there. I was given a quick tour of the exhibition by one of the curators and it is fascinating. I wish I had visited it before doing my print. It is full of photos, quotes, clothes, interviews, personal stories, brochures and even a BSA and a Lambretta all from 1964. The Museum building is the old Town Hall and is the place where the cells are that were used to hold the arrested mods and rockers who were later tried in the same building. So it couldn't have been better for my print. Mick temporarily placed it in the back of a cell display (banged-up for crimes against printmaking).

Dawn also asked that I supply prints for a Pushing Print exhibition that are holding later in the year for a 5 year celebration. After how the wonderful opportunity they have allowed me to experience it would be the least I can do to donate some prints and hopefully allow them to raise more money to keep Pushing Print running in the future.

Meantime I have got to experiment with taking giant prints without a Steam Roller! Would a hired road roller be better than hand burnishing?...

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Rolling the Retro Metro

I've always enjoyed art and printmaking ever since the first school lino cut. A career in graphic design has restricted but not diminished the passion. So when the opportunity to print with a steam roller came along - how could I resist?

I'd read about using a road roller for printing in Rosemary Simmons and Katie Clemson's book 'Relief Print-Making' way back in 1988 but never thought I would see it for real.

2012 I was lucky enough to be working near San Francisco and visit the SFCB 'Road Works' event - https://sfcb.org/events/roadworks - A gloriously inclusive event where the public were encouraged to try simple soft lino cuts and bookmaking while the main event was the printing of Rik Olsen's giant lino blocks. It left me with a yearning to give it a go!

2013 I saw a mention of the Pushing Print, steam roller printing in Margate. I had to go.

A great atmosphere with kids and artists shoulder to shoulder and the mono printing tables. Everyone getting inky with a spontaneous output of creative prints - along with all the participating galleries showing an incredible range of artists work.

2014 The Pushing Print Giant Print Event returns  http://www.visitthanet.co.uk/events/11795/  http://pushingprint.co.uk  - this time I emailed the organisers and begged to be allowed to bring a block to be printed. With a positive and enthusiastic response all I had to do was create something like I'd never created before. My previous largest block was around 300mm square and I needed a relevant idea.

A picture of a steam roller - although a wonderful subject - has been more than well done by Rik Olsen and I wanted to create something more unique to the event. So Margate, or rather my take on it, became my inspiration. In searching for ideas found the clashes between mods and rockers hit the news in 1964 - exactly 50 years ago. Perfect. And with the Dreamland Rejuvenation project under way, the vibrant Turner Gallery and the increased popularity of the town with creative types and hipsters, it all came together.

I liked the idea of a couple from 1964 reliving their youth 50 years on. The memories of the kiss-me-quick good times along with the gentrification and regeneration of the modern town and how it successfully encompasses both - the retro and metro.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Motoring Towards The Weekend

From being seriously short of cutting time at the weekend I had an unexpected day free from work-like interruptions to continue the design.

It's good to go at anytime now. The major elements are all in place. There's a bit more I'd like to do and hopefully I can get done before Saturday. Then its all down to luck and good weather.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Woodcut Revival

I've always had a thing about relief printing and over the years have produced many personal takes on things, so when I saw Pushing Print was running their Giant Print Event in Margate again I couldn't resist being cheeky and emailing the organiser to see if I could do a large print with the Steam Roller. To my delight the answer was yes. Trouble is I now had to start creating something to print.

The optimum print area is about 900mm sq. Lino was going to be expensive so I thought I'd try MDF - I've seen some amazing large 'Day of the Dead' festival prints done this way online. Trying to get a bit the right kind of size I came across a £2 off-cut just over 750mm square which seemed big enough.

Looking for inspiration the thing I always think of with Margate is Mods and Rockers, Dreamland and the Turner. When I saw the Mods & Rockers hit the news in 1964 the penny dropped that it was exactly 50 years ago so I decided to commemorate the rejuvenation which has taking place over that time. The idea being that there's a couple that would have been around in 1964 - a mod and a rocker - still riding around on their scooter in the bubble of their past memories on a background of the modern Margate with the Turner Gallery. The line 'Talkin' 'bout Regeneration' became an ear-worm while I was trying to work out the design so I had to use it.

The old Mod and Rocker ride their trusty old scooter along the modern Margate seafront with the message around the sides and top in semi-fairgound/Dreamland-style lettering and decorations.

I sketched the image straight on to the MDF four or five times in charcoal before working over in marker pen. Then, to reverse it, traced the image on to baking parchment. Rolled black water based printing ink onto the MDF and used Trans Trace to push the image through on to the surface. This left a clear blue line on the black surface which shows the natural MDF colour when you cut through. Ideal. I've not tried working precisely this way before and it works really well.

I almost stumbled at the first fence when trying my lino cutting tools on the MDF only a couple of gouges seemed any good. I then made the mistake of trying to sharpen one badly and actually made it worse. Panic set in and I checked on line for techniques then found that I didn't have the right kind of gouge or a slip stone to sharpen it. So I took on board the theory of forming a small bur and taking it off using a fine file and it's worked well enough to allow me to cut all day leaving a slightly aggressive edginess to the cut marks which I really like with my free-cutting style.

I just hope I can find enough time to complete the block properly before next Saturday!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Chelsea Bridge from SW development

Yesterday I started reworking some areas in particular where the distant tree colour and contrast was coming forward and the water needed some modelling.

Then this evening I had another session in the studio balancing out the sides. In particular adding suggested structures and cranes to the left along with more bridge structure.

Really starting to come together now. (photographed outside in daylight below)

Size is 40" x 16" btw.