Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Maple Helicopter Block Print

I am so excited to finally share this print with you!  It has been over a year since I took a walk and came across these beautiful lime green maple helicopters in my neighbors yard.  I clearly remember looking down at the helicopters, being amazed at their perfect composition, and thinking that I would make a print of them some day.

I began working on this print three months ago and it has been quite a journey.  I knew it would be more difficult than my last print because I wanted to use color.  I decided I wanted to have the option of printing a background in a different color, but also not wanting to carve the background away after printing that color.  That meant I had to separate the background from the foreground and print them separately. Below you will see what I am talking about.

I began by sketching my subject to size.  The print is 26''x 30'' and I chose this size because that is the size of safety-kut's monster sheet.  (I wanted to work larger but I didn't want to tile it like last time.)

After finishing the sketch I transferred the image to the saftey-kut by laying it down and rubbing the back side with a credit card.  The image should be reversed as you can see below.

The next step was to carve the wavy background lines.  I forgot to take a photo of that part so you will have to imagine it.  I then cut the helicopter shape out from the background as you can see below.  Technically speaking this photo should be two photos down because I had to print the solid shape of the helicopters first.

Below you can see the wavy line background that was printed first.  Sometimes people will print the background and then carve it away but I wanted to have the option to change the color and to make prints with or without the background.

After letting the wavy background prints dry I printed the green background of the helicopters.  I use oil-based ink so it took at least a week for the first round to dry before I could move on to this step.  I also had to be VERY careful with my registration.  I knew it would not be easy so I tried to carve a little extra white space around the helicopters.

The final step was printing the helicopter detail on top of the green layer.  I was super nervous about my registration but it all worked out remarkably well!

Below is a video of me pulling a print.  Although it looks like I am doing it by myself my infinitely patient husband George helped me burnish and pull every single print.  I cannot even put into words how grateful I am for his help, support and love with this crazy printmaking project.  When I told him I wanted to print three colors and I had to cut the plate apart and we had to perfectly align everything he didn't even flinch!

As you can see below I made some prints with the wavy background and some without.  I also made some prints with and without color behind the helicopters.

I ended up with the four variations below.  The fourth option was made by painting one of the black and white prints with watercolor.

I had to wait two to three weeks for the final layer to dry.  I think it took so long because it was ink on top of ink.  And the very last step is to stamp all of the prints with my chop mark.  It is a bit nerve-wracking to stamp the prints after putting so much time and effort into them, but I think the chop adds a nice finished element to the whole piece.

Below are some close-up photos I took of the prints.  Sometimes I end up liking the photos as much as the prints.

The last two photos are close-ups of the watercolor version.  So far I only painted one this way and I liked the way I could control the gradients of the greens.

If you are interested in purchasing a print visit NessyPress.com.


Jodi C said...

Just amazing! They are so beautiful and graceful.

What a fine adventure, can't wait to see what you come up with next.

Judith Hladik-Voss said...

Love how you used large scale!

april grinaway said...


JenJoy Roybal said...

Love it!

Unknown said...

Just amazing! A beautiful design and the finished works are stunning!

Lariane said...

These are truly beautiful- thank you for sharing your process so eloquently- very inspiring and incredibly useful for a novice like me ��

Nessy said...

Thank you for checking out the blog and for all your comments!