Printing Blocks

It has been just under three years since I took on the role as owner of Colophon Book Arts Supply. Throughout that time, I have had to basically drop most creative practices in the interest of learning the vast skill set required to run an online retail business. It has been challenging and I’ve really enjoyed the process so far. However, it has been a while since I’ve sat at the bench to complete an artist book, and that is frustrating. It has been a really long time. But in the last few weeks, part of my studio space has been re-claimed for works in progress. 

studio table

There are plenty of projects waiting for my attention, and as I get closer to getting back to those projects I’ve pulled out a block that I was really excited about when it was started. It is a two piece print, a vertical diptych, of a painted turtle viewed from under the water’s surface. The upper section features minnows swimming around under some lily pads and the lower section depicts a painted turtle on its way up to meet the surface of the water.


My block cutting begins with a drawing which is then transferred to the block, and sometimes I can stall out at that step. There are not too many steps to creating a print, and each one comes with it a small moment of triumph. However, within my current day-to-day schedule, I give attention to the tasks that require more immediate action. The less time sensitive projects get put to the side. 

Back when I was a full time private practice book artist, this period of time between steps were short. Days or a week tops. But with being in charge of my (very active) business, the time it takes to get back to a project can be weeks or months. 


Scheduling is mostly at the heart of this time lag. If I’m on top of daily duties, I don’t have lingering tasks that beg my attention when it is time to sit at the bench for creative work. This involves a lot of no nonsense talks with myself. It is easy to procrastinate with small tasks, like email or paperwork, not to mention larger obligations like filling orders. But acknowledging when I’m dragging my feet or just putting things off is step one. Step two is reminding myself why staying on top of these things will get me to the bench faster.

It is also pivotal to keep the goal, or the block itself, visually present. I’m a person who spreads out across all available spaces, needed or not. So, I’ve designated a table that can only be occupied by the current works in progress. It is harder to ignore my goal when it is starting me in the face. But more important than that is the challenge to do something with on that block everyday, even a little at a time. So the tools will be out, the block will be ready, and I just have to show up. So simple…