Thursday, August 17, 2017

Linocut in Progress: Backwards and forwards

It's been nearly a week since the debacle of too-wet ink forced me to abandon work on the current lino. Every day since then I have checked the status of the ink and found to my frustration that the problem continued– but only on one side of the print! The previous color pass was a blended roll of transparent blue to brown, and for reasons I can't quite figure out the brown dried much faster than the blue!

I've not run in to such an extreme case of uneven drying time before, but I decided today that I'd had enough! The upper half of the image was still very tacky, but the lower half was dry. Fine. Time to move ahead no matter what.

Spot inking, pale yellow

I mixed a pale yellow ink (mostly white with a little Hansa yellow medium) and spot-inked the flower centers. I covered the block with a newsprint mask as before, then printed.

Mask clinging to the print after a trip through the press

The mask often clings to the print after it's been run through the press. Sometimes it's just static electricity, others it's a slight tack left in the previous layers of ink. This time....


You can see that the mask isn't sticking at all to the lower half of the image, but it is still stripping ink from the top half! Crazy. But I decided to just go with it.

Linocut in progress, Step 9

Here are the lighter flower centers, the intact darker green on the bottom, and the stripped upper color. Yep. The upper half of the image took a step backward and the lower half went forward. Fine. I'll just work from this.

Linocut in progress, Step 10 (this image is embiggenable with a click)

After some more carving I put together another transparent blue-to-brown blended roll. Printing went smoothly, and I feel like everything is more or less back on track now.

I'm envisioning two more color passes before it's finished, with a good bit of carving to do before I'm back to the press. I'm a little nervous that the last color pass might involve another mask... but hopefully between now and then either the ink will dry or I'll come up with a better solution. Onward through the fog! Er... foliage.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Linocut in Progress: Technical difficulties, please stand by

The best laid plans... and all that.

After Step 7 I plowed on ahead with another blended color pass on the current lino in progress. This pass was a transparent blue-to-brown, but of course it all still looks rather green. I do like the more olive-y tones that the brown created, however.

Reduction linocut in progress, Step 8

The layers of value in the leaves are looking good, but at this point I realized I had forgotten the step that I meant to do when I first returned to this piece after a long time away. Dangit.

The flower centers had all become too dark too fast, and I meant to address this before moving on by doing a bit of spot inking. Well, more than a bit of spot inking-- there are a lot of flower centers in this image! I suspect I blocked it from my memory because I knew what a pain it would be to cut a mask.

Spot inking, step 9

With no small amount of grumbling I cut the mask(s) and spot inked all the flower centers with white. (Knowing that the end color won't look white because of the colors below it.)

Here's the mask in place on the inked block, ready to receive the print.

Mask in place

The prints on the drying rack all seemed tackier than I expected after sitting for a few days, but I pulled out one of the "tester" prints and ran it through the press.

Disaster.

See the extent of the disaster by embiggening this image with a click.

The print on the left is where the image stood at the end of Step 8. The print on the right is one that had spot inking and the mask applied. Sure, the lighter centers came out okay, but the mask pulled up almost all of the previous color pass!

Yep. Everything is far too wet to go on.

I was surprised by this, but probably shouldn't have been. Our weather has been unusually cool and damp, which slows down the drying time... but I think the problem is deeper than that. Remember I was worried about ink rejection because Steps 1-6 were so dry? I'm just guessing, but I think the ├╝ber-dry first steps have created a sort of "seal" on the paper, a barrier that's keeping air from these new layers and not allowing them to dry.

So. I'm afraid my goal of finishing this piece in the next week will have to be adjusted. Possibly a lot. It's too late to add any cobalt drier to the inks... and I hate to do that, anyway. Cobalt drier is nasty stuff, a known carcinogen, plus I hate what it does to the sheen of the ink. So I'm just going to have to wait for the prints to be ready in their own time.

Rather than come to a complete standstill, I spent the afternoon working through some ideas for another print to start. Nothing is leaping up to say "pick me, pick me" just yet, but it will. And doing something... anything... is better than sitting around and watching ink dry!