Saturday, July 25, 2015

More Hair

The proof of the keyblock reveals that it prints oddly. The cherry is resisting a bit the ink and printed lightly it prints weakly despite the density of the Sumi I'm using. If I print firmly (really hard) I get an almost lithographic-like effect from the wood. The problem is the wavy hair is on the same block as my keyblock and they really should have been on separate blocks as the key block wants lighter pressure for the finer lines that might be damaged by the amount of pressure I'm using to print the hair.  I can sort of cheat using a weak baren to print the block and then go back with a stronger baren to print just the central part where the head and braid are.
It's hard to believe this is woodblock.

The new problem is that it looks great--it's a great tangled mess of hair--very like my wife's actual hair--but the braid definition is now hard to read as there is too much of the same black value where there should be more range.  I thought about it for a while and finally cut another block...the back of the cherry plywood that I got from McClains has a birch plywood veneer to the back side and while it was much harder to carve than the Shina it was more than adequate for the simple block I needed to cut (although there were some knots and voids under the veneer...
So printing this new block in a value darker than the braid yields something closer to my original drawing.

I also cut from a separate Shina block a plate with a simple solid braid/head shape by cutting out just the shape of the braid and head as a solid form.
This will serve to give the head and hair their base color--like a griseille painting the value will come from the black and white keyblock while the color will come from a brown glaze.

Now I just have to decide if I like this better than the way it was without it.
The tangled mass of hair is energetic and plays well against the flat colors of the torso and background....but I still have plans for those.

Here they are with color added:
To the left (orange blouse) is just the keyblock with the added brown base block.
Below (yellow blouse), is the same but with the addition of the braid outline block added last.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Braiding wood, paper and hair.

Early Proof state--the image is about 7.5 x 10".

I'm working to try to get a new print done for this year's AIMPE Awagami's International Mini Print Competition 2015 for works on Japanese washi (paper) and the deadline is nearing (July 30th).  I also committed to the Baren forum's quarterly print exchange and that too is due July 30th. The paper sizes are different,  with the former a standard A4 (8.25 x 11.5") while the latter is a bigger 10 x 15"....but after playing with half a dozen designs I settled on one I've been working on off and on for a few years that I knew would work well with both formats.

It's based on a drawing I did a few year's ago when my wife still had waist length hair that she would wear in a tangled braid.  I did an etching similar to this also a few years back but was never happy with that.

The basic concept is simple and fairly formal...a woman's head and back with the picture plane divided by the dark braid....but the variations are endless....and I've doodled simple, idealized, literal, and exaggerated backs and braids in many of the sketchbooks I've filled.
In this case these sketches were drawn from memory done to scale to fit an A4 sheet knowing that I could adjust the block to fit both paper sizes.

I settled on the bottom sketch which ,while not perfect,  gave me a little more room to play with the braid and blouse. I especially like the wispy hairs of the nape of the neck and the cloud of stray hairs that surround the head and braid.   It will be challenge to carve the hair and while I know how to cut the wispy ones, I haven't really figured out yet how to cut the head and braid themselves..nor how many blocks to dedicate to them.
I ordered a block of Cherry plywood for the keyblock from has a good 1/8th inch layer of good cherry veneer and a 9 x 12 inch block should allow me to print both paper sizes.

I glued down the laser copy I made of the drawing and once the paste was dry I peeled back the outer layer of paper to reveal the image. With a thin coating of olive oil,  the remaining paper became translucent and I could follow the drawing to guide the cutting.
I'm using a 4.5 Hangi toh to outline all the hairs.
This particular piece of cherry was pretty dense. Carving was pretty straightforward--if slow-- but clearing the cut bits was harder than usual often requiring 4-5 passes with the toh and back cuts to get the pieces to finally separate from the block. The final carving of the mass of hair of the head and braids was cut with a V-gouge instead of the toh.

I proofed this block yesterday onto thin paper and glued 4 copies down to Shin blocks to start the color plates.  I lost a lot of the detail above and the braid is now a tangled mess. I like it but will need to tease out the definition of the braid better than it printed in the top photo.
But now I think I'll need an additional cherry block to resolve the hair.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Peace Puzzle. Population control.

We are too many.
Conflicts arising from the scarcity of food and water, arable land, housing and jobs are all partly caused by the competition among us for the same resources.  
Peace won't likely be in our future or that of our planet unless we can stem the growth of our species. At 7 billion humans and counting,  the human population continues to rise and the increasing pressure for dwindling resources and the effects of rising temperatures, air and water pollution and habitat loss are the driving forces of the mass plant and animal extinctions that have already begun. (and Peace must embrace the lives of all of the world's living things--not just humans). 

Population control starts with family planning and birth control.
Sex education and the encouragement within communities for members to have small families can all help stem or reverse the problem of human overpopulation.
Birth control is one solution and contraception (the prevention of unwanted pregnancies) is one way to reduce our numbers and is better than the alternatives of
War, Famine and epidemic Disease.

So add my small piece to the bigger puzzle.
Encourage smaller families.
Make sure women (and men) around the world have access to safe and just reproductive care.