Archive for the ‘Wood Engraving’ category

On humility….

March 2, 2016

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Yes, that’s a litter box under my press. As Tennyson fades into extreme old age, he chose the space where I kept my rags under my press as his salle de bain, so it seemed to make sense to move his litter there. Also, using an antique section of banister, we are able to keep the dogs from devouring the contents of the litter, which is simply gross and where I draw the line at humility. It means as I work on getting the type printing just right or fighting with make-ready on wood engravings, I catch the occasional whiff of…. Is it me? Surely not! Ahhh, the cat.

The press, being both the source of beauty, elegance and style – and Tennyson’s depository – does bring me down to earth when things are going well, as they have been for the past year or so. In 2015, I received word that the University of Toronto’s Fisher Library wanted to acquire all books and broadsides printed to date, with a keen interest in anything else I come up with.

The year also saw me blaze through 20 shows: indoor with table or booth, and outdoor under tent. These shows were on the whole very successful, and just a few changes I will be repeating the same number in 2016. Shows are a wonderful way to meet new people, and to keep up with friends and collectors.

As for what shows I’ll be doing, I’ll be adding a page to this blog, but a listing will also appear in my newly reinvigorated website, complete with an on-line store for prints, all to be found at www.greyweatherspress.com

The biggest news this year will be the release of the most ambitious project yet from the press: Ecclesiastes. Yes, Greyweathers Press is getting biblical, with a heft that will weigh in at an estimated 80 pages of beautiful Arches Text Wove, illustrated with 60 odd wood engravings. Stay tuned, a detailed announcement is forthcoming.

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An early draft of the title page design.

So with all of this activity, Tennyson’s periodic visits to my press keep me from getting too full of myself, and rightly so. It is all about the work, after all, and not the accolades.

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A Joyful Collaboration: The Truth About Rabbits

May 2, 2015

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It is our great pleasure to announce the release of a book of poems by Winona Linn, The Truth About Rabbits. These edgy, intelligent and humorous poems have been set by hand in metal type by Thee Hellbox Press in Kingston, with wood engravings  cut and printed by Larry Thompson of Greyweathers Press — a joyous collaboration of word, type and image.

The Truth About Rabbits
Poems by Winona Linn
Wood engravings by Larry ThompsonJointly published by Thee Hellbox Press and Greyweathers Press
Hand set in type in the Garamond face printed by Hugh Barclay at Thee Hellbox Press
Wood engravings printed by Larry Thompson at Greyweathers Press
Dimensions: 10.5 x 10″ tall. 20 pages on St. Armand paper
142 copies

$75

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2015: A Fresh Start

January 10, 2015

Ohhh, look! I’ve got a blog! I should really use it…

So, a new year and an energized press. By way of explanation, the last couple of (bookless) years have been a time of thought and entrenchment, crisis and recovery. With Greyweathers Press’ 10th anniversary this year, it is time to rip loose. For starters, I’m going back a couple of years to a project that ground to a halt in media res, a little Gothic Trifle with the rather clunky title of The Necromancer and the Seventh Daughter. A while back the title seemed fine, but now with the popularity of The Hobbit, the term ‘necromancer’ is known wide and far. Oh well. The original title used ‘sorcerer’, another word now famous, or rather infamous, considering real people burned with this brand are losing the heads in Saudi Arabia!

This is the second foray with Septima, her first being centered on dispatching a high-born vampire who was drinking her way though all the beautiful youth of the City. (There are still a couple of copies available.)

Now, keeping up with trends, it’s zombies, a festering golem, and something of an environmental message, along with Septima’s spunky “don’t fuss with me” girl-power attitude (a la Buffy & Joss Whedon). Setting type began just over a year ago, so that will resume, with my attention now on illustrations. Below are five of eight thumbnail sketches and an idea of what I’m thinking for Septima: The Sequel.

wraps

Sketches are very rough, the finishing will be done on the block. It is similar to what an inker does for the art in a comic book. In this case, it’s kind of hard seeing Septima standing there wearing an ironic look at something very tall. I added the stone cobbles behind her to help with perspective even though in this sketch it fights with the mummy-like wrappings she wears. I’ll work it out on the block.

Septima does a lot of running in this story. I found the image of a leaping runner going flat out; actually, this its more of a ballet prance than a sprint, but it looks as though she's goin' like stink! I may add a few zombie hands reaching out from the right side. We'll see.

Septima does a lot of running in this story. I found the image of a leaping runner going flat out; actually, this its more of a ballet leap than a sprint, but it looks as though she’s goin’ like stink! I may add a few zombie hands reaching out from the right side. We’ll see. The dress needs work – lots of ripples and wrinkles to show movement.

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The Ghost Fleet that threatens the City. A rough re-working of another image, probably of the Black Fleet, again from Tolkien. I will probably embellish the ships with dragon heads and skulls etc. The dramatic sky will give me a chance to try out my newly acquired multiple liner.

golem

And that’s just the eyes and forehead. So it’s really, really big, consideting there’s Septima, the wee little thing, down at the bottom. She’ll be tricky to get right… it only takes about six or eight tiny cuts to do a figure that small, so every one has to be perfect. Might use my big doughnut magnifier on this one. The letters on the forehead are backwards for a reason.

bath

Septima spends a lot of time in this installment crawling around in sewage, so her reward for saving the City and her family (AGAIN) is to be hustled off to a vigorous bath. I thought it was kind of funny at the time, until considering how to illustrate with propriety a 15 year old superhero in the bath. The solution is lots of bubbles, and just enough expression on her face to show her what she thinks about it. Of course, how I’m going to carve bubbles from wood is anybodies guess, but we’ll get there.

Wood Engraving – Craft Show Productivity

November 15, 2013

At the most recent craft sale, Holly and I set the booth up so I would have a little table to work on for cutting engravings or linoleum. I will always do this in the future, if there is any room at all in the booth. People are interested and astonished by the process, it makes the shows bearable during the lulls and it looks more productive than thumbing away on an iPhone. I suppose the amount of cutting that gets done is directly proportional to the truck and trade passing thought the aisles, but so it goes. I finished three engravings during the five day show: one was a demo block that I had been chopping away at  through the summer and fall shows, and finally ‘finished’ into a kind of abstract.

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1.25″ x 4″ size cut on resingrave block

My next exercise was to explore the relation of light and dark in skin tones using lines, with interesting effect but needing more attention.

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Proof and endgrain maple block  2.25″ x 3.25″

And finally, those who follow this blog may have read about a recent personal project involving my family history. Earlier in the summer, I sketched a pencil drawing of my ancestor, based on his photograph, onto a block. While idling at the show, I inked in the pencil drawing to indicate areas of black, gray and white, while ignoring the background for the moment.

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Following the advise of some wise engravers, I began with the most difficult areas first, the face, hands and the lines of the coat, and the wrinkles in the bent arm. For the arm in particular, I went in with the fine tipped marker and clarified precisely the wrinkles. After completing the figure, I cut the chair and table, then had my fanciful way with the background. My only agenda there was to create a contrasting backdrop that was somewhat lighter and more graphic than the very tonal figure and face.

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Block size 2″ x 3.25″

And the result:

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I like it, although it needs some work still. The background work fine, and I am very pleased with the face, beard and hands — faces and hands are tricky. I wish I had left more shadow in the crook of the arm and along the breast, the contours of which seem wrong. The lower portion of the coat is almost perfect, and the pants worked out pretty well. There are some amateur errors — my graver slipped more than once along old Joshua’s forehead, which I assure you pained me more than it did him. In retrospect I might have done something more with the white space behind the chair, even just some visual noise, but there you go. In the original photo, Joshua has some unruly bed-head action going on, clearly a familial trait that has passed on to his great-great-grandson, so I preserved that element.

I cut myself some slack, since this is only the ninth or tenth illustrative engraving I’ve tried my hand at, and am still flailing around a bit as I adjust to the tools and the new medium. But it’s definitely coming along, and the possibilities in detail offered by the medium are pretty exciting.

The Idle Fool / Is Whipp’d at School

September 16, 2012

When my friend and letterpress printing colleague Jason (of Three Bats’ Press) announced a couple years ago that he was seeking artists to illustrate an upcoming project, naturally I took interest. He had taken the text from an early New England primer designed to teach children their letters by infusing the little tykes with a healthy fear of God, or in other words, scaring the holy snot out of them. Artists could choose a letter and with the associated rhyme for the letter. For example: A = “In Adam’s Fall / We sinned all.” Or this for J: “Job feels the Rod / Yet blesses God.” Or Y: “Youth forward slips / Death soonest nips.”

Cheery, is it not! Jason was clear in saying that he wanted a “re-interpretation” of these poems, and by handing off to a bunch of recalcitrant artists, I’m thinking he’ll get his way.

I chose F: “The idle Fool / Is Whip’d at School” out of a sense of personal irony (as a student I was neither devout nor studious) and envisaged a period engraving showing the enraged schoolmaster, a la Dickens, taking his fury out on some hapless kid.  But as I thought more, the extreme violence and fear overtly suggested in the statement and insinuated in the other quotes, and the religious extremism implied in the the whole primer, I conjured the impersonal image of great big meat-hook hands clenching a heavy barbed-studded leather strap, with all the menace of impending violence that seems to go hand in hand with extremist ideals. I may go that route, or I may throw it back in the puritans’ faces and do something associated with that odd cast of kink enthusiasts who have an entirely different attitude toward the whole question of whipping. With all the popular fervour for Fifty Shades of Gray and similar works, called “accessible erotica” or less generously, “mommy-porn”, that might be the right choice.

A first attempt at turning the quote on its head, so to speak, played with the curve of a back to create a lower case ‘f’ from a whip and a belt for the cross-stroke. It had the uncomfortable look and feel of something out spiny out of Predator. Another quick effort incorporated a similar stylized letter ‘f’.  I’m really not entirely sure about pursuing this route.

Perhaps my discomfort comes from a certain reserved nature, but it also has to do with the violence implied for the woman in the picture. Making it a male back, or elongating the drawing to show the woman holding the whip would certainly change the dynamic.

No matter what, there will be a stylized letter “F” formed from the coils of a whip.

Jason tells me that he is expecting some very extreme submissions for some of these puritanical aphorisms, so perhaps I’m worrying needlessly.

Tintern Abbey in the Autumn

September 6, 2012

Frontispiece printed on St.Armand Old Master paper.

Tintern Abbey is a summer poem, and we view it very much as a summer book, even though it was conceived in the autumn of 2008, work initiated on it in the winter of 2011 and the first copies were only available in the spring of 2012. Now, with September here again, goat skins and Japanese papers are in the talented hands of Christine McNair who is commencing work on the deluxe binding. Gathering materials for the deluxe edition was an education in understanding the distinction between goat skin and calf skin, and the nuances of Japanese paper.  And as the work carries on, I hope this book will bring the warmth summer with it, no matter how cold and stormy it may get in the months to come.

I intend to produce another dozen regular edition copies to satisfy orders and to have some available for the Merrickville Studio Tour, happening over the last two weekends of September.

So, September will be a month dedicated to Tintern Abbey, and things got underway with the printing of the suite of engravings from the book that will be included with the deluxe edition. These were printed in a run of 15 of each of the seven engravings on St. Armand Old Master handmade paper – really lovely stuff.

While I was cranking away, I printed another 20 copies on white Byronic paper, which will be sold singly, framed or unframed. The one very small engraving could have been done 2 up on a sheet, but I didn’t have another small engraving in book, so it got it’s own entire page.

It’s one thing to offer prints additional to a deluxe edition; it is another to house them safely and sympathetically with the leather bound book in its slip case. I may have seemed unseemly to pounce (as I did) upon a fine press deluxe edition brought to the OPG gathering a couple weeks ago, but it contained a chemise style wrap for the gathering of prints and I was keen to see how they had done it. Mostly, it was what I had in mind: an unadorned paper folded and scored to fit around the prints and slip closed through a cut slit.

For Tintern Abbey’s gathering, I’ll be using Canson Mi-Teintes, which is of a weight almost perfect for the task. My first attempt had it opening top bottom, then side to side, but this would show the flaps along the edge when seated inside the slipcase, so the final version will have it opening from the sides, which still works fine and will look neater along side the book in the slipcase.

 

Announcing Tintern Abbey

May 7, 2012

Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern
Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks
of the Wye during a
Tour, 13 July,
1798

by
William
Wordsworth

~ ~ ~

Five years have passed; five summers, with the length

Of five long winters! and again I hear

These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs

With a sweet inland murmur. —Once again

Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,

Which on a wild secluded scene impress

Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect

The landscape with the quiet of the sky.

~ ~ ~

A letterpress limited edition of 80 copies, 40 pages, hand set with cold type in Goudy’s Italian Oldstyle, with calligraphy rendered digitally to magnesium plates by designer Holly Dean. Illustrated with seven engravings by Larry Thompson. Printed on a Vandercook 219 onto St. Armand Canal paper. Dimensions: 9.5 inches tall x 5.5 inches wide.

REGULAR EDITION: Half bound in cloth with painted papers created by Holly Dean. $160.

DELUXE EDITION: Copies numbered one through fifteen quarter bound by Christine McNair in leather with painted papers created by Holly Dean, in slip cover. Complete with set of engravings printed on St. Armand Old Master paper. $260. SOLD OUT

Shipping and handling additional. Discounts to the trade.

Orders welcome at studio@greyweatherspress.com

~ ~ ~

More than five years have passed since Greyweathers Press published its first book, Coleridge’s popular poem Kubla Khan. Once again, we return to the Romantics to celebrate our first half decade and to commemorate a visit we made to the Wye Valley in the fall of 2008.

William Wordsworth wrote ‘Tintern Abbey’ to be the thoughtful and serious end-note for the poems assembled in Lyrical Ballads (1798), which included the work of his friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. We are pleased to present ‘Tintern Abbey’ on its own, featuring an introduction by Professor Mark Jones of Queen’s University, Canada.

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