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.