Saturday, December 19, 2015

Almost the Winter (Spring?) Solstice

As I stepped out of the front door this morning to come through to the ex-granny annexe - now the workrooms area - I noticed nasturtium seedlings sprouting!  Outside the annexe door one snowflake flower is almost completely open.  They normally flower after the snowdrops.  And yesterday morning I heard the birds singing as if Spring were in the air - well, it was around 16 degrees C so who could blame them.  On the pond the ducks are pairing up!
But despite the weird weather, I am still enjoying aspects of Winter living.  I love the indoor cosiness that darkness encourages, and will soon be giving more and more of my time to curling up with good books (thought not exactly curling, as not only do my knees definitely prohibit such notions, but also I am and always have been of the straight back sitting school of comfort) and the latest issues of my favourite magazines (Craft Arts International, Printmaking Today, and Sculpture - all with meaty articles which also require time to digest).
Leading up to that I am experimenting with lino printing.  With one image of a woman reading I wanted to try to convey that sense of the cosy dark.  This is the first proof on newsprint:
I decided to use two backgrounds to convey the mood I wanted.  First, to achieve the cosiness I thought that I would use a quilt - in this case a close-up of the stitching of one of my quilts.  I like the pattern of marks the stitches make, and the 'lumping' of the fabric which conveys the cosiness is obvious too.
To convey the darkness I wanted something which would not eliminate everything else.  It is so easy to lose the distinctive black if one prints on even a dark-ish background (a real bugbear especially when choosing colours to put behind text).  I also wanted a benevolent dark.
I had bought some coloured Lokta Computer Paper from Paper Shed (now part of George Weil).  The blue  - a kind of grey/ 'airforce' blue - added darkness without actually obliterating.  (I'm not sure if this paper is still available, and now I wish I had bought more - hey ho.) 
Anyway, I digitally printed the photo of the stitched fabric onto the Lokta paper, which though calendered is hand made and therefore interestingly uneven.  Then I printed the lino block onto that, also taking care not to print all of the cut away lines. 
It is still a work in progress, but I am pleased with the results so far: an anticipation of a happy hibernation.


  1. On some blog yesterday I read about cherry blossoms on trees somewhere in Connecticut, US.....should not be blossoms until about April or May!

  2. Susan it seems that many of us are now experiencing weird weather.

  3. I always think that a stamp or linocut should be cleanly cut so only the design stamps on the paper or fabric. Lines showing up where the background has been cut away bugged me, felt like a failure on my part. It was Dijanne Cevaal that pointed out how much added interest these provide and I could see her point. Now you have shown me that they don't have to be random. The diagonal lines work so very well with this. Also the faint lines within the clothing which emulate folds and wrinkles. I have so much to learn...

  4. Sheila, one of the aspects of making things for oneself is that the more random the initial results the more one learns - not only about the techniques, but more important in my view what it is one wants to achieve. I really enjoy printmaking because I never really know what exactly is going to turn up. Of course there are disappointments, but the happy accidents seem by far to outweigh them.

  5. Wise words - I know they are true having experienced this myself when I just let myself explore. My challenge usually is to not let myself get frustrated with the disappointments, and in some cases, realize the disappointments actually have some virtue to them. :-)