I spent the afternoon amidst mechanical machines, smalls of solvents and ink, and a handful of happy people. It was cloudy outside and the breeze blew but barely could make it through even the two open doors so things got rather sweaty inside.
I see the same full time staff at Signal Return: Lee, Lynne, Joel, and one other that unfortunately her name escapes me because she’s usually on the other side of the room behind the counter. I’m sure I’ll get it in my head eventually as it’s clear that I’m going to be spending some time there.
I’m fussing with the words of a new book, and after working on it for all this time, the images started to become a bit clearer in my head through reading and sketching. Somewhere down the line I decided that color was necessary; not just because Zōsan lacked it, but because it might really add something to the images of this particular book. Plus, the process seemed like it was fun and had lots of possibilities.
I scratched the surface of those possibilities through a three color print on a Vandercook 4 proof press. I spent the week caving linoleum blocks with a transfer print after working on color studies using Procreate on an iPad. That really helped me figure out what I wanted to do, and once I locked that in the carving process was a straightforward process of translating to the carving blocks.
Printing like this is still quite stressful for me. There’s a lot that can go wrong, and I lot I don’t know. But that’s part of the appeal here: the learning by doing, the mistakes, the intuitive nature of it, the embracing of imperfection and the industry of every crank and pull of gooey ink.
We took a lot of time locking up the black plate first to print registration prints. I made seven but I now see there’s merit in printing more just in case. We used those to ensure that both the green and blue colors would line up properly. I had flashback to reading those wonderfully bad and terribly registered Bazooka Joe comics (and wearing out my jaw chewing that gum!) as we worked through correcting each. Lee definitely helped me do the lock ups and when I do this myself there’s going to be a lot more errors involved. I don’t think in picas much.
The magic happens like exhaling once you’ve held your breath through all the thinking and registration and setup. You crank away and admire each print with both a critical and enamored eye, tweaking this and that with each one. Each switch felt like a leap of faith to some degree. Was it going to work? Will it be perfect? The answer was almost always a “sorta-mostly”, and that was an important acceptance to go through.
No two were exactly the same; some were printed “too light” and others much more punchy, but as you go on you feel the judgements floating away and you begin to see the loveliness in each and every print, not just ignoring the differences but embracing them. And this happened even before the Corona was handed to me.
TLDR: the new book will most definitely have color in it. Probably a small handful of two- or three-color prints — because they are wonderful.
I ended up with 14 prints. If you want one, I’ll be picking them up next week. Let me know!