Tag Archives: printmaking

Your Xmas card 2016.

I don’t much care for Christmas but I do love sending Christmas cards. It’s good to keep in touch, to send art, and to afford the time and materials to do so.

This year’s card is a tree printed on brown card (made from trees, oh the cannibalism). It’s a linocut, as explained in the comic I made to send out with each card. 

Each year’s list of addressees gets longer as people’s families grow, which is a nudge to remember that every Christmas card is someone’s first. So showing the process matters, especially if it’s a printing process other than a commercial computer printout. 

As I get further into the world of printmaking I must remember to keep explaining the process – which of course applies to academic work too, innit. Christmas holidays are a good time to hunker down with the PhD reading pile.

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Happy Optimistmas.

“You made this? I thought it was from a fancy shop.”
That was a good thing to hear when I handed over a handmade card.
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Here are some photos of this year’s Christmas card and the monoprinting process by which I made them:

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(mostly brown kraft card, some grey card)

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Here’s a plan for the survival of humanity:

  • make solidly good handmade things
  • get the things into the hands of people
  • get people to understand that these are solidly good handmade things, not part of some never-ending industrial chain of knock-off designs and poor printing methods, dead and wrapped in plastic
  • rejoice as more people more often choose more better-er solidly good handmade things.

Well, it might work. Fingers crossed for 2016, for all of us.

PS: have a look at all our awesome Applied Comics Etc comics projects from 2015, too

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PPS: having loved this song for hmmm 20 years now, I’ve only just seen the video. It’s a joy. Here you go:

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Hopelessly.

My new book is called Diner devotional. It’s a very handmade small book about diners.

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The 12 images are linocuts based on sketches of 12 real life diner counters. The diners are in New York,  Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. I ate at each of them during my summer 2014 travels around the east coast of America. Lots of eating, and lots of walking to balance it out.

Scroll back far enough on http://lydw.tumblr.com/ and you’ll find photos of my original sketches. And here’s a slideshow of the finished book:

I hope that slideshow shows my dislike of over-styled photos of uneaten food. I ate that breakfast.

I cut each of the 12 linocuts in individual pieces of lino, to then ink and print on one long strip of Japanese paper. I used the great big electric press at Northern Print.

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For the covers/endpapers of the book I set individual metal type (letter by letter). Then I printed this using the Adana press, again at Northern Print.

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Assembling each book took a while to trim and glue. I printed extra pages and covers so I’d have a few trial goes, and was glad I did: both the printing and the glueing were tricky to do cleanly and neatly. Which is weird,  because I was ever so good at the eating that started the whole project.

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So aye. There are 12 books, all the same and all with the unique imperfections that make them perfectly handmade.
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£10 each at events or by post.  This includes UK postage,  or contact me and I’ll work out overseas postage (less the UK postage so it’s fair).
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L8r.

The Late Shows is two nights in the year when arts & cultural venues in Newcastle & Gateshead open late, for a public arty party of seeing stuff & doing stuff. I’ve taken part before but this was my first time volunteering at an event.
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It was fun. I was at Northern Print printmaking studio, where I’m a studio member. The activities all had a campfire jamboree theme – partly because it’s an awesomely dorky theme, partly because NP’s building works meant we only had access to part of the building & the marquee out back. 
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There was letterpress printing of postcards home from camp.
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There was knot tying and embossments (tie a knot, then the pressure of the press pushes it into the paper – printing without ink).
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There was screenprinting of fox masks & owl masks.
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There was marshmallow toasting, & admiring the fake campfire& hand-printed bunting.

Each activity was fairly straightforward, which was a very good thing indeed. Letterpress and screenprinting were all set up & ready to print – just pull the handle – which is a great way to have a go at techniques that require a lot of preparation.  Embossing was a simple technique with a lot of scope for individual variation – tie a fancy knot or bow, or twiddle some string into a shape.  All simple and quick for people to have a go at up to 3 different printmaking methods, all free, all just turn up and have a go.

I’d expected to get a little bored explaining the same methods over and over again, but I didn’t. People were willing to have a go so required minimal encouragement, & were interested to chat more about printmaking in general & NP’s courses in particular. Which is a very good thing indeed: whilst NP has a very swish printmaking gallery & some proper class exhibitions, it’s a genuinely friendly studio & an encouraging place to have a go. And then have another go, and another, and keep going. They help you learn methods then let you get on with making what you want to make, which suits me juuuuust fiiiiiine.

Helping at print studio events is a pretty niche form of volunteering. I first visited NP at a Late Shows oooh way back in 2012 and talking with studio members made printmaking seem like a thing I could totally do, not a distant and unachievable art form. Then I did it. I know my own art-ing has benefited from joining in at NP, so I’m particularly glad to now be able to encourage other people to get involved.

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Bubbles.

This blog post comes to you from me on the bus from Newcastle to Leeds for Comics Forum and Thought Bubble. It’s a summary of why I’m excited, hungry, and running off the very fumes of exhaustion, in the form of a list of stuff I’m particularly looking forward to talking about/swapping/selling.
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1. AppliedComicsEtc.com
Applied Comics Etc has been evolving since the very earliest days of Asteroid Belter: The Newcastle Science Comic as a way to do more comics + research/engagement/education projects. We (me + collaborators) have piloted projects over the summer, I’m in the middle of one, and I’m achingly close to confirming more.

2. Trails
Trails: a book about travel, history, and being a slug is my new comic book. There are previews all over the internet. It costs £8 and comes with a free linocut.

3. Pancho and Lefty
Pancho and Lefty: a left-handed comic is a comic I made earlier this year when recovering from minor surgery on my right (drawing) hand. I’ve been proper delighted that people seem to like this proper odd comic. It can only be acquired by swapping (for a comic, for a drink, for no reasonable offer refused) because I’m uneasy about selling a comic based on someone else’s lyrics.

4. GIANT comics
Eight stories 2008-2014 and Dublin are two one-off scrapbook comics. I might sell them for full-on Fine Art Prices but until then they’re free to read.
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5. #inktober
I made a giant mini comic of my #inktober comic what I done posted on the twitter. I’ve printed 100 to give away free.

6. Prints
I need to write a blog post about my righteous indignation at perfectly nice computer printouts being sold as if they’re printmaking prints. Until (and beyond) then, I have a small stand of linocuts, letterpress, and hard ground etchings (£8-30 each) and linocut and monoprint cards (2 cards per pack, £5).

So yeah. Also some awesome business cards, a folder of originals from my contributions to anthologies (Paper Jam Comics Collective, Radio On, and Double Nickels), and, y’know, stuff.

156B New Dock Hall. If we run out of comics things to talk about, my new favourite song is Taylor Swift’s Shake it off. It’s complicated. We could talk about that.

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Letterpressure.

I’m alright at printmaking.  I’m alright at hard ground etching, linocut, and monoprint.  Then I did a letterpress and solar plate course and hot damn, it was hard.  I learned a lot, mind, so here’s some learning to share.
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Letterpress involves the setting of pre-made type and images, then inking, then printing.  This Printing Is Hard print shows the joys of using old type: some of it’s all sharp and perfect, some of it is worn and interesting, some of it is worn and warped to near uselessness.  Example: all locked up well, all inked well, some too worn to print evenly.  There are tricks to pad the press to compensate for this, but still: old type is a beast.
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Maybe I skipped over the joys of inking and printing.  Examples: too much ink, too little ink, over-damp paper.
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It’s also possible to create an image, scan it, invert the colours (black is white and white is black), print it on to acetate, put a solar plate behind it, expose it to bright bright light, scrub off the solar plate gel, dry the solar plate, fix it to a type-high printing block, ink it, and print it.  I sincerely hope this blog post conveys quite how much preparatory work is involved in this process.  Like, lots.

Solar plate is more temperamental than I’d hoped.  The edges of the solar plate need to be perfectly clean and flat, else there’s a raised edge that holds ink.  The solar plate needs to be perfectly aligned with the wooden printing block, else there’s a border of wood that absorbs ink and prints an unwanted border.  The solar plate needs testing to find the appropriate length of exposure to light for that image on that batch of solar plate, else bits of the image won’t transfer.  Example: these fan-holding ladies had arms, noses, and fans in the acetate image, but these details didn’t transfer to the solar plate.
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So, misery guts, the positives.  When done right, letterpress offers a great mix of the ART and REPRODUCTION aspects of printmaking.  It’s a technique that’s particularly well suited to layering with other printmaking methods.  It’s an opportunity to make something new using old, or old and new, elements.  It’s possible to adjust how strongly the image is indented (debossed) into the paper.  It’s pretty as all hell.

Letterpress and solar plate require persistence, preparation, and precision.  I’ll be back on the horse when I can book some quiet time in the studio.
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Note: this is a pile of offcuts, not angry ripping up of work. I’m using print offcuts as business cards: the textures are awesome and I enjoy giving people permission to handle prints.

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Beer Street and Gin Lane.

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Yes Beer and Yes Gin are my newest prints for sale.

They’re both lino cuts (draw an image, transfer it onto a sheet of lino remembering that it’ll come out backwards, cut out the bits that won’t hold ink, prepare paper, prepare ink, roll ink onto lino, put inked lino and prepared paper into press, press press, unpress press, gently put paper onto the drying rack, tidy up the lino, then do it all again).  

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They both have one part inked solid black, and one part inked as a gradient.  Inking gradient colours is a bit tricky but very satisfying when it all comes nice. 

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I’ll not be making other boozes.  The Hogarthian awesomeness/awfulness of gin and beer means it’s ok to treat gin and beer in this way, but any more would be irresponsible and boring.

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Yes Gin and Yes Beer are each a numbered edition of 50.  Each one is a little bit unique, because that’s how printmaking works.  They’ll fit a 7.5″x5.5″ mount in a standard frame size.

They’re for sale at Northern Print gallery shop, from me at Comic Art Festival in Kendal and Thought Bubble in Leeds, and oh yeah I’d better sort out my online shop too.  Or email me and I’ll send you a PayPal invoice.  They cost £30 each (this includes UK postage; international postage is extortionate so I’ll split the cost with you).

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