Das Wilderbeasts is a two-color, 5″ by 7″ linoleum block print on paper.
“In the landscape of your mind, there are beasts. Beasts without names or shapes. Beasts you cannot control. You watch them. The only thing you can do is watch them. They eat flowers you planted. They run around in the woods of your beliefs and the canopies that once shaded the raw soil come crashing down. You need this. Believe it or not, you do. Sit back. It’s like watching the Discovery channel, where you learn about nature. Your nature.”
For creative inspirations, I subscribe to a couple of different blogs and websites. One of the sites that I love a lot is grain edit, which features classic and modern design works. Many of the designs they showcase, vintage or not, have a variety of very charming textures, like this one done by Telegramme Studio.
These posts also reminded me of some German expressionists’ prints that I was introduced to when in college. Suddenly, instead of colorful, flat, sleek screen prints, I wanted to make limited-colored block prints with some rough texture. That’s also why the text of the print, instead of “The Wild Beasts,” is called “Das Wilderbeasts” some kind of pseudo German ;p
The Prophet–wood block print by Emil Nolde, 1912
1) Idea sketch Sketching out the idea first on paper.
sketching out the idea
2) Transfer the image to the block I forgot to purchase copying paper, so I just covered my original paper with graphite, than draw on the back of it with the block at the bottom. Notice that you have to transfer the image onto the block backwards right now, otherwise your print will end up being backwards.
transfering the image to the block
3) Mark the cutting area The graphite lines were a bit faint, so I tried to mark the lines with sumi ink, but it didn’t stay!
sumi ink doesn’t work on linoleum block
Luckily the sharpie marker worked! Note that the image is backwards.
marking the lines with sharpie
4) Carving time to bust out the knives and do some damage. I have accumulated many sets of cutting knives of various brands throughout the years. For linoleum, which is quite soft, it doesn’t really matter which brand I use.
my carving knives
For some really fine areas, I used an box cutter to cut. There’s no rules saying what tool you need to use, as long as you get the job done and it looks right to you.
using box cutter for cutting small areas
Close up of the beasts
5) Printing the background layer since I threw out a lot of my block printing equipment during the house fire last year, I needed to purchase some new stuff. Here’s a sheet of mylar, basically a thick piece of plastic, on which I’m going to squeeze and roll out my ink.
The painting knife is for handling the ink once it is squeeze out of the tube. The Barren is for hand printing block prints, applying pressure on the back of the paper.
ink, painting knife, blocks, barren and paper
And don’t forget, the ink roller!
block printing ink roller
I must insert an educational moment here. Please do NOT put your roller with the rubber side down on any surface! It hurts the surface of the roller, causing it to become uneven and will not be able to distribute ink nicely onto your block! Plus, on a hot summer day, your roller may become soft and melt and stick on your work surface!
don’t put the roller side down on your work surface
Here, I squeeze out a blob of ink, “stir-fried” it a bit to make it softer, and draw out a ribbon for the roller to roll out.
squeezing out the ink
rolling out the ink
Inking the background layer.
inking the first layer
Using the barren to apply pressure on the paper to pick up the ink. This was tiring and aggravating to my sore wrists (which I have only myself to blame). If you have a printmaking press, you wouldn’t have to do this.
Â 6) Printing the 2nd layer rolling out the blue color first.
rolling out the blue color
rolling the ink onto the block
close up of the inked block
And of course, nothing good ever get made without there first being tons of mistakes. The major challenges here are aligning the second layer with the background, and also not over ink and put too much pressure on the paper while printing.
mistakes and proofs
too much ink and pressure causing double image
it takes more time to print blocks than silkscreens
And…drum roll please! Here’s the texture!
the block printing texture
printing an edition of 15
Voila! Here it is, Das Wilderbeasts! I hope you have learned something from this post or at least been entertained somehow. Isn’t printmaking entertaining? I think so. As always, I dedicate this print to Larry, who taught me how to print.
And, as always plus, if you’d like to own this, just let me know! XOXO