Memento Mori Mistakes

So I finally got around to printing a lino block I carved weeks ago. Turned out I made a few mistakes... The first one is obvious: I carved the lettering the right way around, rather than mirror-reversed, and so of course it printed them the wrong way round. Oops. The second was simply that I didn't carve out the eye sockets. The third is more subtle. I cut opposing spaces (such as the space outside either wing) in different directions, giving the background marks an unbalanced look. I must remember to carve them all the same way. So I carved out the eyes and removed the lettering entirely, since there was nothing else to be done about it. I'm still having trouble inking the block evenly, but I'm pretty happy with how they came out, overall. I added a little PearlEx powder in Interference Green (which is a fine white powder that shimmers green) to try to suggest a little phosphorescence, and that came out pretty well, though of course you can't see it here. If anyone's interested in them, prints are $10 apiece, and you can reach me at hexdotink@gmail.com or any other email you have for me. If anyone's interested in the other print, they're $10 plain or $18 with a verse of the Litany calligraphed on the back....

Inky Quills

I've said for many years that I don't do "flat art" -- I don't draw, paint, etc. I don't do things on a flat surface. I like dimensionality too much, and making flat look dimensional always seemed too hard to me. I used to draw when I was a kid, and an artist friend of the family said I had potential, but I perfectionismed myself out of drawing after a few years, certainly by the age of 7. But recently, the lino block printing had me thinking more about flat art, and then at the art store across from my college, I spotted something called a crow quill pen, a kind of dip pen made for sketching, with a very fine point. Terrible picture. Sorry. Phone. But it's quite a charming little pen, and it came with its own little bottle of india ink, and it was only $6, so I picked up that and a small sketchbook, because what the hell. It took me six days to get up the courage to try it. I watched a couple YouTube videos on pen and ink sketching (all of which were done with either rollerballs or fine fiber tips), and said hell with it, and dove in. I started with lines and basic shapes, as advised, and then started doodling. A series of S-curves became a fan and dancer. A cylinder became a flower vase for a rather sorry looking flower. Feathery scratchy strokes became a crow with a hang-dog look, mourning his lost quill. A slightly lopsided cylinder became Guy Fawkes' hat, or at least the hat of someone in a Guy mask. A short length of Greek key became the top of a fluted pillar. And so on. It didn't come out too badly, and more importantly, it was fun. Having a dip pen helped. I love those. Of course, my fingers come out all inky. I'm also starting a new lino block. A memento mori with a winged skull. Later I'll do another with a Hekate's wheel on one side and a labyrinth on the other. I'm also thinking of hauling out my dremel and making a salt slab labyrinth at some point. Work on the Book of the Downward Labyrinth continues. I really need to get the blog for that up and running. The latest piece necessitated some deep trance work last night, an Underworld journey through the labyrinth. There was a whole thing with eggs. Lots of food for thought, and for work....

Ossuary Skulls Block Prints

So I'm a dabbler, a dilettante. I do a bit of this and a bit of that, as the whim takes me. And I enjoy it. I pick up new hobbies, do them for a while, drop them, come back around later. Once every several years, block printmaking seems to be a thing I come back to. Last time was probably six or seven years ago. I bought linoleum blocks, a carving tool, a brayer, and some ink. I carved one block with a winged cog (because STEAMPUNK), printed it repeatedly in silver and once in gold all over a big sheet of purple paper, and was done again. (I should really try to find that paper. I liked it.) A couple of months ago, I was struck with the idea to do a block print of a bunch of skulls, like in an ossuary. Then I sat on the idea for a while, because it meant actually going and finding tools and materials in the chaos of my house. I finally got around to it last week. This is an artist's carving block for printing. It's not actually linoleum, but something softer and easier to carve. It still tends to be referred to as lino block printing. This is a carving tool with five bits, which go inside the handle when they're not being used. First I started penciling a border on the block, using the hole on a ruler to do a scalloped pattern, and divided the space inside the border into six sections. I went and found this tutorial on how to draw a skull to get me started, but it got a little confusing since I wanted them to have no lower jaw. (Jawbones are often stored separately from skulls in ossuaries.) I'm not great at it, but they're recognizably skulls. To keep myself from getting frustrated, I went back and forth between cutting the border, cutting the skulls, and drawing. I probably could've stood to leave the first one alone until I finished, then gone back and fixed it up some, but honestly, I'm not sure my skull-drawing got all that much better. At least I can comfort myself with the knowledge that skulls actually do look weird without their jaws. The finished block. It was at this point that I discovered I couldn't find my ink or brayer (not that the ink would've been the right color, but I couldn't even test it). And I didn't have money to buy them. But a very kind person was interested enough to buy four cards based solely on the block, giving me enough money to buy supplies. Printing ink, brayer, calligraphy ink, and a new pen handle, since I'm doing a verse from the Litany on the back of each card. Oh, and the other thing you need is a pane of glass for the palette. You want a nice, smooth surface to spread the ink on, so it's even. Turned out the only pane of glass I had lying around was this one. Remember those gold-marbled mirrors from the 70s? I found this weird green-marbled one someplace or other, and meant to break it up to use in a mosaic. Never happened, but it means I had this cool palette. Spreading out the ink with the brayer. Then I rolled it onto the block as evenly as I could. Aaaaaand the first print! Not too shabby for my first time doing this in years. I made ten prints that night, and I have ten more cards to play with, either for this print or another... since I just happened to find two more uncarved blocks while hunting for ink. Both of them, plus this one, are thick enough that both sides can be carved. Woohoo, project for the break! Here are four of the prints, so you can get an idea of what good ones look like (on the bottom) and less good ones. That top right one is objectively a failure of what I was trying to do, but I like the ghostly quality of it, and I'm keeping it for sure....