Emergency at the carrot field

29 February 2012

"Come quickly!" Clarissa burst into my studio. "There's an emergency down at the carrot field!"

I hopped after Clarissa as fast as I could, out of the burrow, and down to the field.

All the other rabbits were already there, looking up in horror. Oh, bless my ears and whiskers! In front of us was the biggest, tallest, hugest fence you ever did see.

Rabbits looking at a tall fence

"Whatever are we going to do?" wailed Clarissa. "How are we going to get our carrots?"

"Don't panic," said Nigel Floppyears. "We'll find a way! Us rabbits aren't put off this easily."

"If only we rabbits were capable of flying!" I said.

"Why, Bob Tail Rabbit," said Nigel, "I think you've got it! Wait here, everyone." Nigel rushed to his workshop. Bang! Saw! Ow! Huff! Puff! A few moments later, he reappeared. "Look, this is what we need!"

Rabbit with a balloon

"It's a cap, and it's able to fly! I'll be over the fence in seconds. Winston: the scissors!"

Dog cutting rope

We watched Nigel rise into the air.

Rabbit flying up 1

Rabbit flying up 2

Rabbit flying up 3

Up, until he was just a speck in the sky...

Rabbit flying up 4

...and then not even that.


We waited.

After a while, Clarissa said, "Of course, Nigel has found a way to get up... but how is he going to get down again...?"

Reduction linocut, stage 6 and 7

Stage 6: Blue shadow for the wall that goes all the way across the picture.

As soon as I had printed all of these, I realised I'd forgotten to put on all the blue that I needed. So stage 7 has just a bit more ink:

(Spot the difference.)

Reduction linocut, stages 4 and 5

27 February 2012

Stage 4 has just a slightly darker green at the bottom of the image; I wanted to get that bit of grass right before moving on the more complicated parts of the print.

Stage 5 has a darker green over the rest of the picture.

These photos are deceiving: the two plain green patches in the bottom left and right are the same colour in both stages, but the second looks lighter and much yellower now it's against the darker green on the rest of the print.

Reduction linocut, stage 3

24 February 2012

Third layer: Gradient from blue green at the top, down to yellow green at the bottom. The earlier layers start to make more sense.

Reduction linocut, stage 2

23 February 2012

Another layer of loose inking across the print.

Fingers crossed that these colours aren't already too dark.

How to increase your popularity

14 February 2012

To make yourself popular, make cake...

Rabbit chef

...for all your friends!

Pile of rabbits eating cake

(Just make sure that you keep a slice for yourself.)

The longest print

13 February 2012

Longest in time, that is. This print has been "work in progress" for months.

First version: I transferred the image onto the linoblock, and drew over it. I looked at the block for a long time, and decided that something was wrong: the composition. The picture has a strong diagonal element across the entire width. But reading from left to right it goes downward: a negative movement.

It would look better going upward.

"But that's not what it was like in real life."

Dilemma: Record the world as it is, or "improve" it for the sake of making a better picture?

Solution: Do what's best for the picture. (And hope that nobody notices.)

Note to self: Thumbnails.

Second version: I cut another linoblock, and transferred the image again, this time, the other way round. I started cutting and printing. Printed the first layer; the second layer; the third layer. On about the fourth layer, when I was using darker colours, I saw something was wrong: they weren't printing evenly.

I changed the pressure on the press, increasing it, decreasing it. No difference. With the blanket; without the blanket; rubber sheet instead of the blanket. No difference. Put the print in the other direction; change the ink; change the roller. No difference.

Sometimes the block went through the press too easily; sometimes it wouldn't move. There was only one factor left: the press itself. I had to face up to it: the press had died.

Solution: Buy a new press.

Which took some time: Sorting out the finance; arranging the delivery; fighting with delivery men who think it's OK to leave a 100 lb press in next door's front garden.

But it was worth it.

No excuse now to get on and print.

Third version: I printed my usual near-white backgrounds on about twenty sheets. I cut another linoblock and transferred the image (that's the third time, if you've lost count). I started printing.

Of course, getting used to a new press can take some time...

Oops. Wasted the entire pile of background sheets while trying to get the pressure right. At first I thought it was wrong, because the block went through so easily. Took time to realise that it was because the press is so well-engineered.

Note to self: Never experiment on important bits of paper.

Fourth version: On the positive side, I still had cut only the first layer from the block. I reprinted the backgrounds by using another block the same size, and then, at last, oh it's only been about four months, I was able to start printing again.

Now the press is set up correctly, it's printing beautifully, and effortlessly. Here's the first layer:

To get some variation in what will be beds of flowers, I inked the block in selected places, using different colours. (Which works well -- apart from when you've finished, you realise that you have five rollers to clean...)

I'll get on with the next layer.

Forward into the cave

01 February 2012

New readers might like to start with the previous chapters in this story:

Part 1: Drifting
Part 2: What happened next
Part 3: Under the sea

"So what happened next?" I asked Great Aunt Dahlia. "Grandma Lily swam through the cave, and found the golden carrots. What did she do?"

"Well, young Bob Tail, she did what any rabbit would do. She took off her hat, and filled it with carrots."

Rabbit in a cave

"But as she was struggling to put her hat back on her head, she heard a noise behind her. Just a single pebble falling; but then another and another. She turned around: rocks were falling everywhere!"

Rabbit in a rockfall

"In a trice, the entrance was blocked. She looked all round the cave for another way out, but there was none."

Rabbit with glowing carrot

"There was no going back the way she came. So she did the only thing she could do: go forward."

"But you said there wasn't another way out!"

"She did what any rabbit would do: she burrowed."


"She dug and dug and dug. Kept going until her paws were worn down to the bone. Just as she thought she couldn't dig another pawful, the earth in front of her fell away, and she tumbled through the hole."

"Was she out of the cave?" I asked.

"For a moment, she didn't know where she was. Then she heard a voice, more of a growl, and then a wicked laugh. Terrified, she opened one eye, and then the other. And then she screamed!"

"What was it?"

"A pirate! The biggest, baddest, bunny pirate ever to sail the seas."

Rabbit pirate

"Captain Jack Rabbit!"