Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Puppet King

I  uncovered the pizza oven a few weeks ago and I noticed a strange log underneath that I didn't remember throwing under the tarp when I closed up the oven last summer. But it's been there, protected and drying for at least a year, and as I pulled it out I was struck by how heavy it felt....It clearly wasn't oak or madrone or a fruitwood, but it wasn't any of the exotics I cut down either--the tea tree or bottle brush or laurel that got heavily pruned last summer.
So I got a saw and cut off the stump end and then a round. And out of curiosity I started to sand it. 100-120-180-220-300-400-600-1200 and 1500 grits and about an hour or two later, I had a glass-smooth round of wood about 4" in diameter. The fact that it would polish to such a smooth finish suggested it might engrave well and so I went through a few sketchbooks and pulled out an idea I'd been thinking about since last year. I transferred the drawing to the block and started cutting.

This wood proved to be not suited to engraving after all and in my hands the end result is crude and rough.  The wood cut cleanly enough for simple lines but clearing or re-cutting tore and shredded the wood and real detail was impossible so I'm glad I purposely chose a simple, childlike image to engrave.

 My mask-like face turned into a puppet as I was carving and last-year's doodle became unexpectedly topical with the election circus going on in the news and the no-longer-hidden way that big business, oil and the pharmaceutical and agribusiness giants (and now the Russian government) seem to be controlling the people we elect to represent and protect the people.   I added the sets of eyes the background and the "King Puppet" became "The Puppet King".

"The Puppet King", wood engraving. 
I'm happy with how this came out. It's been almost a year since my last engraving and I needed the practice. Plus after meeting with a local engraver and making a few new acquisitions that I'll reveal shortly,  I'm really excited about my next one-- and this time on REAL wood and proper tools.

2 comments:

  1. What a wonderful print; and creating it from a 'found' matrix is even better. Sometimes the simplest ideas/designs result in the best works.

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    1. Thank you Peggy. Yes, it was easier to be loose with "free" wood. I wasn't worried about "wasting" it. I'll need to try to keep that looseness and liberty as I start cutting denser wood.

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