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28 August 2016

Methods of obtaining Registration

Don't go thinking that I'm over lino-cuts just yet. I've one more little development I want to share with you. This one is about obtaining registration.

You may recognise this lino-cut? Do you see the mess I've made of making the print. That is the result of very poor technique. I just plonked the paper over the block and... well... you can see that it's slipped and created a godawful abomination. This is not the look I was after, but how can I become a bit more consistent in my printing? Read on... 

My idea for a solution has come straight from "How to make lino cuts" which I bought about a week ago. It's a war-time printing of a book that I think might have originally been published in 1935. It's hard to tell - there are no dates in the book itself - but this is what my research is telling me.

Inside, A Stewart Mackay reveals some top tips on composition and technique. It's worth a read if you can lay your hands on a copy. I love books like this.

See figure a in the diagram above. Mackay describes a little jig he built himself to allow him to print multiple-colour lino-cuts. Mackay talks about the multiple-block method where a different block is used for each colour. The problem with multi-colour prints is in getting each block positioned just right so that the prints line up.

The jig above provides one way of "obtaining registration". A fixed corner is used to hold the block while a carefully positioned piece of paper is rolled down over it. Easy!

I figured that I wanted to make one of these jigs with only one small modification... 

Before I move on... take a look at this wonderful picture. If the rest of the "John Pearse Ukulele Method" book looks as good as this advert then it's bound to be a real treat! I want a copy! 

Some day in the not-too-distant future I hope to frame one of my prints. I happened to come across a book on how to do just this only yesterday. Don't you love it when crazy coincidences like this happen? As boring as the subject might sound, I haven't been able to put the book down... there's so much to know!

Take this snippet about mounting a print as an example. I never knew that the bottom margin needed to be 20% larger than the top and sides.

If I go to the trouble of properly mounting my prints then it won't matter so much whether I get the print dead-centre of  the paper. It will matter that I get as clean a print as possible. On seeing Mackay's jig, I figured it would work pretty well for this purpose.

Here I am gluing the jig together. I  doubled up two 6mm MDF boards that I cut to about A4 size and along two sides I stuck some thin wood guides.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will see that I am using both my homemade c-clamps AND my new Jorgensen clamps. Double the clamps and double the Win! Ha ha. 

One more diversion...

I took my ipad with me on holiday last week and set about creating experimental finger art using the Brushes Redux app. It's a bit fiddly, but ideal for producing lino-cut-esque imagery. See this Orca image I designed. I have more that I've shared on Google+. I may do a whole comic this way... I think the style has a certain simple charm to it. Just like with lino-cutting, finger drawing forces me to simplify the design. I like it!

Back to the jig. Here it is! Woohoo!

I talked about making one small modification. With his, Mackay uses drawing pins to hold the paper in place. I wanted something that wouldn't mark the paper and here you can see that I've fitted two carriage bolts to hold a clasp bar. It works well.

The idea is that you fit the block prior to inking and line up and fasten the paper in place. You then ink the block elsewhere and carefully transfer it back to the jig where you roll down the paper to apply the baren.

But would it really be that easy to use?

It was pretty painless in the end. See here my first print using the jig. I didn't quite line up the image dead-centre, but I'm pretty close and it's square. Boom! I could be onto something here!

Thank-you Mr Mackay for your wonderful idea!

Not content with finger painting, lino-printing and jig making, I've also been designing a new font! I love a couple of prints by Blamire Young (created in 1902) which deal with the Fawkner Printing Press. They're beautiful lino-cuts made all the more appealing by the words Blamire has incorporated into the design. These must have been an absolute sod to cut, but the end results are fantastic.

The more I admired the prints, the more I got to wondering if I could somehow create a font like this for my comics. Well, with a little help from a clever font editing tool called Birdfont, this is just what I did. In the picture above you'll see top and bottom the original text. In the middle is what I produced with my new font. I like the end result. It's not as raw as Blamire's original, but I think I capture some of the magic. I reckon it's quite an easy font to read as well. What do you reckon?

That's it.

I end with an unretouched finger painting I completed a couple of days ago.

"4 Totems" 

Update 29-Aug-2016: I was just in here fixing a few stupid typos and figured that I should include a little more about Blamire Young and the prints that inspired my new font. Enjoy...

"A print from Johnny Fawkner's press
Brings thoughts to gentle minds unbidden
If Johnny then had printed less
Should we be now so hard press-ridden

Blamire Young was an Australian artist (1862 to 1935). This print (and the following) featured in a Museum Exhibition which included a demonstration of a museum-owned Fawkner Printing Press. The verses are Blamire making fun of the poor quality of the printing.

I see now that these prints are described as wood-cuts rather than lino-cuts. That would make a lot more sense if it they were being incorporated in a printed newspaper page of the sort produced by a Fawkner Press.

"A print - and that a poor one - from the press
Of Fawkner, publican and printing jobber.
Yet Fawkners sheet was welcome none the less
Where men wore curly hats and funny clobber.

"LIB ASSOC EX MELB 1902" is a reference to the Library Association Exhibition held in Melbourne in 1902 where these prints appeared.

According to the State Library of Victoria, Blamire's original prints went on to be photographed and "rubricated" by A H Chisholm. I don't know if this is what we're looking at here or whether these images are reproductions of the original printing run.

Either way, I'm sure you will agree that they are inspirational works.

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