Amazing tools from amazing places

Every time I print a small project I get out two tools which continually amaze me.  So simple, so direct, so perfect for their purpose AND they are Thrift Store finds which cost next to nothing.

First, let's praise the bread machine!  All those nice square loaves made across the country just couldn't be better, unless of course they were SLICED BREAD.  Yeah, the greatest invention since sliced bread is the bread slicer guide in my opinion.  

Just look at this gem of engineering - 

Equal spaced knife blade guides designed to reduce that dreaded too thin toaster burning morning disappointment.  Or perhaps that way too think on one side sandwich slice that just won't do for little cucumber sandwiches at tea.

Well, this dollar find makes the best medium sized print drying rack you can image.

And if your paper is too thin to stand, just slip some cereal box cardboard between each slot and stiffen things up a bit.

Now if you are printing something smaller, or your print area isn't as large, behold the toy of the 40s, 50s and 60s - the SLINKY!

Yeah, a dollar for a toy and a couple of pennies for small zip ties and you have the most attractive postcard dryer the world has ever known.  

Good luck thrifting and let me know of any other amazing uses for common products.

Titisvillus stays at bay, but printer's devils sneak in none the less

Printing up the various textual portions of my Winter Postcard Swap I think I managed to keep Titivillus frustrated.  I don't think any misplaced letters or misspelled words managed to sneak in.  That doesn't mean that no Printer's Devils were at work though.  It seems that no matter what I have the habit of leaving ink traces where they don't belong.  Try as I might, ink seemed to creep onto my fingers and migrate its way around to the non printed side of the pieces.  Some of course were worse than others.  I hope the recipients will accept these stray marks as proof of the hand made nature of the cards.

You can see in the picture that the work surface took the brunt of the slung ink.  Why is it that a brayer always wants to first off roll backwards off the block and onto the table?  Arghhhhh........

Carving Consortium Winter 2015 Postcard Swap and Year of the Sheep/Ram Book Swap

I'm participating in the Carving Consortium Winter Post Card Swap.  There are 14 carvers creating a winter based image.  We'll then print our pieces and mail them to each participant.

I chose to try a woodcut printing block.  I've never tried wood cuts and thought it might be interesting.  I got a very nice piece of poplar lumber at Lowes and began the process.  Wow, this probably isn't the best wood for this but it seemed to be about my only choice.  The cedar was way too rough and the oak was even harder than the poplar.  I know that Japanese carvers like to use cherry wood and that wood carvers in general like basswood, but poplar is what I could find easily.

The design is a rabbit jumping over a stylized snowflake.  After carving the rabbit and the backgrounds I know that the snowflake was a non starter for me in wood.  I researched and found a way to carve in wax and then have my wax turned into a polymer plate for printing.  I guess this is a lot of how printing is going now a days.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the postcards.  Here's some work in progress pictures.

Also I'm in a Year of the Sheep/Ram swap where we send our prints to a central swap host who will bind them together in a book.  There are are 25 of us in that swap.  I used some of the fancy dancy carving foam which is now on the market.  I made a three color seperation set of blocks and then printed them in sequence.  This was good practice in registration of colors although I chose a pretty easy way of doing it.  Next time I'll get more challenging ideas.  I can hardly wait to see the results of these two swaps.  I'm so new at this I don't know if my stuff is total garbage or at least acceptable.

Rabbits and Cats

I've been on a terror this past month sketching and painting rabbits and cats.  My family are probably getting tired of them popping up in their mailboxes, but that is the joy of painting.  Good or bad, I get to inflict them on those dearest to me.