Monday, September 7, 2009

Paper Trail III - Paper for Relief Printing; two new online exhibitions

Creating a handmade book of any kind is rather like baking a cake: you choose and measure your ingredients, put them together according to a recipe, and voil√†! You have a cake. Or a book. Sounds simple. But of course, behind the scenes, there is someone making butter, someone growing and milling the wheat, caning the sugar… thousands of ingredients, millions of recipes, and infinite variations of cakes, and books. 
I’m still at the ‘ingredients gathering’ stage with this book, and how the cake, er, book turns out  depends on those ingredients, so I am considering very carefully what to use. I’m going to use a relief printing method to illustrate this book (to me the illustrations are the plums in the cake), and will use a different paper for them. The properties  required for printing the text are different from those needed for the prints. These will be hand-pulled prints from carved blocks. It’s a method I haven’t used before so it’s a steep learning curve. You have been warned.


I’m looking for a thin translucent paper, probably Japanese and handmade, and have a few options in mind, but I’m still doing trials and until I have a firmer idea in my mind of what I want these images to look like, I will leave my options open. This type of paper can be pretty expensive, so I don’t want to make a mistake. Comments on this and suggestions positively encouraged.

Notable  Online Exhibitions
There is a long and delightful association between fine press books and wood engravings, and they are still very popular. I feasted my eyes this weekend on the Society of Wood Engravers new online gallery of  artists’ prints selected for their forthcoming exhibition.  One of my favourites is 'Dinner is Served' on page 10. I have been following the creative process on Sue the artist’s blog, it’s fascinating to ‘watch’ other people at work. The sea gull is a real character.  Wood engravings are made from hand carved endgrain blocks of wood or synthetic materials, and printed by or under the direction of the artist, often in small limited editions.

Another new online exhibition is called Artists' Books: Bound in Art, launched recently by the Library and Archives Canada. This was originally conceived to show the work of Canadian small presses and book artists who had contributed their works to LAC under the “Legal Deposit” requirement. My ‘Sonnet XVIII’  makes an appearance under ‘Illustrated books’ . Sadly MIA are the brilliant works of many BC presses and artists, as well as those from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba … How can they leave out "Circus" from Shanty Bay Press? Beats me.