Sunday, October 26, 2014

La farfalla cavalaia (cabbage butterfly)

I'm still just messing around with some off-cuts of dead wood from the fields.
I have one of the olive branches from several posts ago that was dry enough to work on my engraving. I'm still learning how to hold the tool properly and getting a feel for how the different tools create varying lines--but mostly I'm learning how to control the tool held almost horizontally to the wood surface instead of almost vertically as with the hangi-toh that I use during the moku hanga carving I do.

This was based on a simple doodle of the cabbage butterfly. The drawing was bigger and more decorative so for this small round I just sketched out the butterfly and a flowering twig.
The olive was harder to carve than the boxwood from my cardinal creeper print and my rough handling shows.
hosokawa Japanese washi, printed with a baren

I couldn't find any relief ink--Rigacci--THE local art store has "stopped carrying it" so all I had was a tube of Charbonnel etching ink. It was too soft to properly roll out and it didn't print well. It was too soft so filled the lines and then wasn't tacky enough to hold the dampened paper down and a bunch shifted as I was printing and had to be thrown. I had 4-5 mediocre prints of which this was one of the best....(and it is still poorly printed--too much ink and poor impression to the margins). Another, on Italian etching paper, didn't want to sit still and I ended up printing with too little pressure for fear of it shifting.
This is on Magnani etching paper...too weak an impression with the baren.

With a little watercolor, a touch of pen and ink for the weak spots and gaps
it made a nice little birthday card for my mother-in-law who turned 89 yesterday.

Now to find some relief ink! I'll try and print a couple more of these just for fun.....
I've been hesitant to break out the good wood, but it's time to try something a little better and bigger....but I have a few moku hanga projects first so stay tuned (if  you were ever tuned.....).


  1. It has life and is a step on a journey. Don't neglect the good wood too long - you may be surprised at its response to a (sharp) graver.

    1. Thanks Andy. Yes it's lively....and that still comes across-esp. in the black and white version. I remember when my watercolor teacher said to only paint on good paper...he said if you learn how to paint on bad paper you'll have to relearn everything because everything changes with good paper. I suspect it's the same with engraving on better wood.