Woman with Hat 3, lino print by H. Kurzke
woman with hat 3 – a couple of prints on different papers

If you have followed this blog in the last weeks, you know that I am currently printing again. I mentioned I was working on a “more serious print”: Well, actually I decided to participate in the Bookmarks : Infiltrating the Library System Project by Sarah Bodman. And I am looking for something that I would like to print in an edition of 100. For my standards that is a rather large edition, but after the trials with woman with hat 1 and 2 I felt confident that I can do it, and I liked the idea of printing women with hats.

I spend quite a lot of time with the block for woman with hat 3. I didn’t want to rush into things, and decided to make a lot of proofs on different papers, to decide what would work best.

preparations for more 01
different papers and parchment waiting to be printed upon

I decided to go for oil based Sakura relief printing colour for this one. It turned out that this is not a smart solution if you have an unheated studio in wintery England. – It took them a little over two weeks to dry. While there are a lot of prints with which I am satisfied per se, there is none that I find ultimately convincing. It turns out I find my own block a little too boring to be bothered to make more than I have now. Right on top you can see a scan of some of the prints that I found interesting in one way or another. I like how the red dots on the paste paper on the very right make it look like she is holding a bouquet. – A lucky coincidence that I would have no chance to replicate intentionally. The second from left is parchment, and to my relief the paint indeed dried eventually, and I was not sure at all that it would.

Well, the prints had to move out of the way sooner than they dried, for me to experiment with something else instead, and so I tied some thread to the railing at my stair and hung the prints there. That makes them hang just above the height of a hand-railing as you can see. But  everyone who wants to enter my studio has to take the last steps crawling anyway, to underneath and through my working table, so this made the situation not much worse.

prints drying on the line
prints drying on the line

Once the (seemingly not) drying prints were out from under my feet – quite literally – I was free to try something else. Being bored with that print, and therefore, so I thought, with women with hats, I turned to an old favorite: fish and feathers. (I printed a lot of these two years ago, for example feathers here, more feathers here, some fish here, or other fish here I printed many more fish than these, though. For some reason I just draw and print a lot of fish, …). I figured, that the bookmarks would be some kind of business card, and therefore maybe should be something that is typical for my work. Therefore returning to an old favorite seemed like a sensible idea.

preparations for more: Fish and Feathers
two plates
bookmark scan 04 kleiner
Fish and Feather 1


I made two plates: a drypoint in rhenalon and a drypoint in lino. It was clear that the rhenalon wouldn’t do for an edition of 100. Typically one can get about 10 prints before it gets too blurry. But it was a quick warming up exercise.

The results are mixed. I am neither totally happy not totally unhappy with the prints. Some came out sharper than others, none crisp but that is to be expected with drypoint. I struggled with wiping, as you can see here: There are some regions that are clearly too faint, there is some additional dirt with the fish on the very bottom. Many details didn’t come out like I owould have wanted them to come out. But, well, it was just an exercise.

The frames marking three panels are a relict from an earlier stage in my sketchbook from when I still thought I would be making three independing plates. While scratching I wanted to try how I could translate the frames to the rhenalon (i.e. trying out whether I could do thicker lines). While that worked o.k., the boxes themselves are rather wonky, with the third one being significantly smaller than the first.

Well, and after that I gave the lino a go. This mix-technique is something I tried last year, and it doesn’t seem wide spread. I know of no-one using it.

Fish and Feather 2 - First Proof
Fish and Feather 2 – First Proof
Feathers and Fish 2 xth proof
feathers and Fish 2, trying again the next week xth proof no good

The first trial with the lino-drypoint looked promising (see above on the left). There was a lot of dirt visible in the print, and there were minor things I wanted to change, but I was actually quite happy with the outcome. The plan was to make more of these the next weekend. – Maybe even to go for the 100.  My next weekend therefore started with cutting more pieces of the watercolour paper to size that I was planning to use, and then water and press a first batch. Making a print takes quite a lot of work like that: First rub in and wipe the first colour in all three panels. Then clean the parts that should not print extra carefully. Then add printing colour to the lino on the three plates very carefully and in a very thin layer. Clean the plate once more, then print. – And every single one was dissappointing. (See teh white spots and lines above on the right.) The upper fish seemed to do o.k., but not great. The lower fish and even the feather didn’t show much of the first colour. Instead the parts that should be black just printed not at all. It took me far too long to realize what was going on. I thinned the black paint in hope it would more easily be rubbed into the scratches, I made the scratches a little deeper. Nothing seemed to work. Only then I realized: – The paint I was using for the drypoint was not made for intaglio but for relief. Switching to a paint made for etchings made all the difference. Well, that understood, after just one good print, I got rid of the frames:

Fish and Feathers 3
Fish and Feathers 3

I printed a couple of these images which came out o.k., now that I was using the right kind of paint only wiping remained an issue. It is hard to keep the prints consitent, though. Making an edition of 100 would be hard, hard work. I spend about 4 hours printing and got 20 prints out of it.

Well, I won’t be using this plate for my edition in any case. Too many things that I still dislike about it. Even if I decided to go for fish and feathers, I would make a new plate.

I still have a couple more ideas to try, and I still have until June to make my bookmarks. Until then I’ll number and sign and mark all my trials. I’ll end up with A LOT of bookmarks. Anyone in for a swap?

10 replies on “More Printing”

  1. Hilke I would love a book mark! would a collaged postcard be okay to swap?

    1. Hallo Tanja, schön, dich hier zu “sehen”! Ich wusste gar nicht, dass du meinem Blog folgst. Meine Idee war, überhaupt erstmal auszuprobieren, ob der Druck auf dem Kleisterpapier funktioniert, und habe deshalb eigenes, einfaches Kleisterpapier genommen. Ich habe hier noch einige Bögen von dir, an die ich auch gedacht hatte.

      Ich habe da Stärkekleister und Acrylfarbe genommen, und in meinem Experiment hat sich herausgestellt, dass die Druckfarbe wie befürchtet nicht gleichmäßig von dem Papier aufgenommen wird. Ich habe für die Dame ja ölbasierte Farbe genommen, auch weil ich nicht sicher war, ob wasserbasierte Farbe auf dem Kleisterpapier überhaupt halten würde, weil ich da Acrylfarben verwendet habe. Die Druckfarbe dringt eben mehr oder weniger ins Papier ein, und an einigen Stellen sitzt sie eben nur als Film auf dem Acryl, was ein wenig unschön ist. Meinst du, das würde bei deinem Papier auch passieren? – Weil ich das angenommen habe, habe ich Kleisterpapier erstmal verworfen.

  2. How wonderful! I’ve taken part in the Bookmarks project 3 times, long ago, until I dared not ask to again for fear of overstaying my welcome! In my case, I went the digital route for two of the editions. Both times my printer died in the middle of printing them, close to the deadline. And where I live, the only way of getting a suitable replacement was online. Which meant I had to wait at least a week for the new one to arrive. Even so, I really enjoyed taking part, and I’m sure you will too. Technical frustration seems to come as part of the experience. Ha.

    Your description of your unheated studio in Northern England sounds a bit… Victorian? Oh dear. I like your stern-looking hatted lady, but I confess I do really like your fish and feather designs… if you can find a way of making 100 that won’t make you feel insane… !

    I still keep coming across old rejects/proofs/whatever you want to call them from the three projects… if you really do want to have a swap…? 🙂

    1. I am happy to hear you are in for a swap! I’ll get back to you via email for the details.

      And my unheated studio, well, it is in a converted loft, and because we heat the rest of the house, it has some heating from beneath. It still rarely is warmer than 18°C (65°F), usually more like 15°C (60°F) which I find o.k. while I am working, but too cold to be sitting at the computer or reading. – But English winters are just not so awfully cold, as you would know. In Leipzig in January it was the rule that there would be one week with high temperatures during the day of about -10°C; here the lowest temerpatures on cold nights is -4°C. But we start to get used to the English weather and this year joined in into the complains about the cold weather, last year we still shook our heads and laughed. – But yeah, it feels Victorian in a way.
      We are not in Northern England, though. – Did I type Northern England? Will have to check that again. We are pretty much in the middle and about as far from the coast as one can get in England (west of East Midlands).

      1. Compared to Northern California, I found winter in Britain to be brutally cold. Ha! It’s all a matter of perspective. Speaking of which, yes, you are indeed in the Midlands. My lapse.

        Many years ago, I remember seeing a milage sign while riding a train over there, as I was leaving London to visit a friend in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The distance was less than from where I live in California to San Francisco! You’d still be in Northern California. Yet here I was, travelling from South to North, a big chunk of the way across all of England. The difference in scale was mind-boggling.

        I got your email, thanks. I’m not on the computer right now that has easy access but will answer soon … (short answer–no hurry!) We had a big storm last night and the power kept going on and off. I didn’t want to risk too much time online… !

        1. Well, you know my theory: In the US, everything is bigger, including distances. When I first visited the states, among other things we went on a weekend trip driving from Minneapolis to Mount Rushmore – and back, of course. In total we went about 1,200 miles which is pretty much the distance going from Leipzig (where we lived at that time) to Moscow, Russia. That calculation was mind boggling indeed. The realization felt like being hit with a brick against the head: No-one would be so crazy as to drive with a car to Moscow. But there we were, happily sharing the road with other nutjobs. – As I said, in the US everything is bigger 🙂

          No worries about the email…

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