"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Bird Cherry Update

Back in 2015 I started experimenting with prints based around the Bird Cherry tree in the garden. I intended to make one print for each month to chart the changes. It was more a way of experimenting with techniques than actually producing a thing, and as with many projects, this one got overtaken by other work.

These are the first few proofs for possible January and February images. They are all based around one twig of this thorny little tree which I am not so keen on but the birds (yes, the clue is in the name) do love…and so do the bees, so it has to stay.

Currently I am trying to improve my bookbinding skills and am attending a short course with the excellent Sue Doggett at City Lit. Knowing we were going to be looking at Japanese stab binding on Monday galvanised me into picking up this almost forgotten project. Going back to the prints made me realise how much my understanding of printmaking has improved but there was no time to remake the prints, just to finish the last 3 months..oh and the cover and the endpapers and the text .. etc etc.

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The full set of Bird Cherry prints, all printed on Japanese paper. The print size is  20 cm x 10 cm.

They are mostly collagraphs with the odd lino and woodcut thrown in. They are printed on Japanese paper, trimmed and tipped in. My printing is still rather erratic so this seemed to be the best way to get a decent set.

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Tipped in prints and a text page.

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Text, endpaper and January print. The text is also printed on Japanese paper, for its lovely translucent quality.

The image pages are French folded Japanese paper, so bound on the unfolded edge and the end papers were made from a spare plate I had made as a background for another project.

The great thing about working with a professional is that you get to do things correctly and are shown things that suddenly open up a whole bunch of other possibilities. I have done some simple Japanese binding before but never added these very neat little corner pieces.

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or made an internal binding to hold the pages together before the final binding.

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The cover was printed with the same thorny image as the endpapers, thorns are very apt for this tree, and laminated onto thin card, I agonised about the reverse of the cover but the card was dark grey and smooth and looked too dull against the textures and colours of the prints and other papers, so I laminated that too with plain Japanese paper. Much better.

The cover title was set into a recessed rectangle and then everything was punched to make a classic 4 hole stab binding and bound with olive green hemp string I happened to have. NIce!

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book

 Bird Cherry: 12 Calendar Prints of the Bird Cherry: Prunus padus:   25 pages, tipped in hand printed plates, hand printed cover and endpapers. 225 x 290 mm. Hand bound.

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Translucent endpaper.

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Print for April when this little tree is covered in white blossom before the leaves appear.

I had allowed for the binding in the page size so this book opens pretty well. It is one of the drawbacks of this binding that it cannot open entirely flat, but if the pages are big enough and the paper flexible it works OK.

Yes I am pleased.. and relieved to actually get something finalised.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Oak … Book 1

Back in December I made some woodcuts of the Oak trees in the spinney. This is a collection of the woodcuts, very simply printed and bound into a wordless book.
Yes, there are mistakes but it is a bit of an advance. The plates are hand printed, the cover is printed from hand cut type and it’s bound by hand. There are two 6 page sections, 10 images printed on Fabriano 300gsm with red endpapers and it is a satisfying 24cm square.The biggest book I have attempted so far.

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“Oak…Book 1”  24 x 24cms

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Oak, spread.

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Early proofs.

I am calling it “Book 1” as I am hoping that “Oak ..Book 2”  will have some text and be bound a little better!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Spinney Trees

This lovely May morning I took a small sketchbook and a pen up to the Spinney to make some quick notes about the tree shapes. Most of the trees have their leaves now so I can identify which is which. I am looking for characteristics of each species which I can use for some prints. They are the trees I see, very possibly not typical of the species, but ones I know and can place along the route..a young beech, the tall alders and a cluster of limes etc.

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Field maple, Larch way up at the top of the canopy and the Limes with my bike :)

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The lovely tall Alders down by the bird hide, Wild cherry, Sycamore with its big drooping leaves.


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Pollarded willow, Poplars in the wind with floating willow seeds blowing everywhere, Elm with bunches of, now browning, seeds which are scattered everywhere.


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A small Beech growing under the Oak canopy, Birch, twisted from the prevailing wind, arching Bramble and a spindly Hawthorn again growing up towards the light under the canopy.

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Ash just coming into leaf with its tipped up branch ends, Blackthorn up on the old railway line


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A5 sketchbook and pen. It’s all you need.