Bet, my sweet and awesome mother-in-law, (how many people can say that and mean it?) has a house that’s full of beautiful things, like old books and quilts, collages of family photos, Alex’s pottery, and approximately a million nests. This little nest is on her new screened-in back porch, and I drew it while enjoying her porch and a cup of tea.
The trucks that came with my press were old and worn down, and one of them didn’t fit on my rollers for some reason, so I bought some new ones. I tested the nest print with just the two rollers, which did not provide the level of saturation I wanted. Also because the trucks were worn down, the rollers were hitting the plate harder than they should have, making the lines blobby. I went back and worked on it again today with three rollers and was able to get much closer to the result I’m going for.
Before: Two rollers, old trucks
After: Three rollers, new trucks
Difference in saturation and line definition before and after.
I still feel like it has a ways to go, but I’m encouraged to see that with a little patience and experimentation, the press will do what it was designed to do – even after 100 years of hard work. I’ll post the final product as soon as I’m done with it.
I spent all weekend making this:
A semi ovular blue blot of ink, sort of centered on a piece of paper (though, I must say, the paper is gorgeous. Oatmeal Speckletone from French Paper with tiny hairs and wood chips in it). Sweat, and a little bit of blood, have gone into this meaningless smudge. A nest will be printed over it, and the moment the nest plate kisses the paper, it will transform from nothing into something. A blob into an egg. It feels like working in reverse. It would have been much more natural to print the egg over the nest, but because of the black spots on the egg are a part of the nest plate I had to do it this way.
In a past life (college) I was an oil painter, and I had a never ending palette of colors to choose from. There were so many points in the process that I could change my mind or decide to emphasize one thing over another. Painters are allowed to be wishy washy, to change their minds halfway though an idea, and to leave visible evidence that hours, weeks, even months went into one piece. With letterpress, I think it has to look effortless to look great. I’m finding that I like feeling confined to a limited palette, I like having to brainstorm my way through a problem rather than just feel my way through it, and most of all, I like MULTIPLES. How novel. How refreshing.
Since finishing college, the idea of investing so much time into a painting that only a handful of people will see has been exhausting. Having multiple products come out of one idea and one effort feels like a huge turn away from the part of the art world that I never wanted to be involved in. I can send a card to everyone I know, and they can send one to everyone they know. And they’re not copies, each one is an original. Original art that doesn’t hang in a gallery, that can be scribbled on and handled by anyone who encounters it? That’s my kind of art.