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Bridges Print

November 5

Bridges is an exchange exhibit that is being put on by the Midwest Guild of Book Workers. The guidelines are:

Each participant makes an image related to or about bridges. This could also be a state of mind or a physical structure. Participants will then make a box or book for presentation of the collection.

I have been involved in the organization of this exhibit, but I am also participating. I love an incentive to make a print. With a small edition of 20 and a small print size of 5.5 x 8.5 inches, it was totally possible to accomplish alongside my current to do list. My print is going to be an 8.5 x 11 woodblock print that will be folded down to the determined size.

My print features the Norwegian folk tale, Billy Goats Gruff, as the entire story takes place on a bridge. This is also among the stories my dad told me and my siblings in order to get us to fall asleep. So if I have a special connection to any sort of bridge, it is this one. The literal one in the story and the metaphorical bridge that spanned the distance between childhood wakefulness and sleep.

NBPM 11-5aOnce my sketch was more or less complete, I scanned it into the computer to reverse the image for the woodblock. In relief printing, the image needs to be reflected in this way because if not, when the block is printed, the image will print backwards. I am using 1/4 inch birch plywood for my woodblock, the kind that you can get at most hardware stores.

NBPM 11-5bThe image can be transferred to a block in many ways, but one that I like to use is tracing the image, through a drawing or a copy, with graphite paper as the transfer medium. You can see in the above photo that I determined my image size as well as my paper size on the block already.

NBPM 11-5cLining up my sketch with the drawn lines, I taped the drawing to the block. I only tape one side of the paper so that I can lift it to make sure the marks are transferring without losing registration in the process. Graphite paper is then placed under the sketch but not taped down. I don’t mind if it moves so long as there is graphite paper under the area I am working on.

NBPM 11-5dAt the end, it looks like this. This particular transfer paper holds up to my hand rubbing the marks as I cut the block, but it can be erased if I have to touch up an area or change a design element. With these lines, I have enough to guide my cutting, but there is plenty of room to play along the way. Today, I was able to get a good start and plan to finish before the day is over tomorrow.