I used this year’s festive card making as an opportunity to experiment further with my meagre block printing skills. I have had the bug since printing the ‘verdigris’ fabric a few months back but haven’t had any big chunks of time to practice further on fabric (and I learnt from that first effort that big chunks of time are required!). The cards offered a perfect opportunity to practice cutting the lino and printing with it (albeit on paper rather than fabric), while also getting in to a festive frame of mind. A million meandering-line doodles in my sketchbook, which suggested snow filled furrows to me, formed the basis for the block’s undulating hill motif.

card production line

lino block awaiting cutting  |  inking up  |  print production line

I had originally intended to blockprint the lone tree as well but wanted it to be a really fine, delicate thing (fragile and skeletal as so many trees appear to be – in the Northern Hemisphere – at this time of year) and didn’t think I’d be able to achieve this with my limited lino cutting skills (and my annoyingly blunt tools – must find whetstone… also, must refrain from blaming tools). I decided instead to hand paint each tree with watercolour. The trees became progressively more complex the more I painted – a perfectly absorbing activity for the obsessive-compulsive in me. Once painted the tree branches were adorned with a dusting of frosty glitter (to give the cards a ‘festive’ edge, rather than the dead-tree-on-a-bleak-post-apocalyptic-hill edge!). And finally single stars were cut-out from the front of the card (using a nifty star-shaped hole-punch). The star cut from the front of the card was pasted in to the expanse of snow laden sky above the hills on the back of the card (nature abhors a vacuum :)

card production line

the end of the production line
‘quality control’ piles – the good, the bad, and the ugly

(I don’t think I managed to pull a single ‘perfect’ print! I know the ‘rough spots’ on a poorly printed linocut would not pass muster in a professional printmaking studio but I quite like the ‘antique quality’ these rough spots give an image)

card production line

 

Sidenote – ‘happy accidents’:

While lining the cards up to dry after painting the trees I found the hill shapes created an interesting ‘knotted’ repeat pattern.

card production line

It is not a ‘perfect’ repeat, in that it wasn’t originally designed to repeat and so doesn’t tile seamlessly, but I think I quite like the effect and am tempted to try it on fabric. I’m in two minds as to whether I should cut a new block that does tile seamlessly or whether I should just print up some fabric using the existing block and see where it takes me… I’m leaning towards the latter option but I know I’ll be disappointed for not taking the extra time to cut a new block if the results are iffy. Oh, the dilemma…

(Also, apologies for the gloomy light in most of these photos… the sun is obviously having way too much fun down South and hasn’t shown its face around here for a while).