Sunday, November 13, 2011

Carving out some time for fun

On Friday, I went up to Bishop's Ranch for a play day with friends. It was the perfect day to be there -- the sky was a soft gray, rain was falling, and the air was full of the fresh scent of autumn. Our friend (and the ranch's artist in residence) Lisa Thorpe gave us a lesson on reduction stamp carving. So we brought our lunches and settled into the cozy art room to play with rubber and ink and paper.

Here's Lisa, demonstrating her carving technique.  We started by drawing, and then carving a simple shape in both positive and negative.

Then we printed, one on top of the other with different colors.

 It's trickier than you'd think, figuring out which lines should be on which stamp!  We all agreed that the ones that weren't registered had the best, wonky energy.

Then Lisa showed us the reduction carving.  She did a great article on this in the Sept/Oct issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors, by the way.  She calls it stamping back to front, color by color.  So we started with carving little bits away, printing, and then carving more.  We experimented with one simple design, figuring out what to leave and what to cut away with each print.  Here's my final print, which had four layers stamped on it:

By the last layer, you've cut away most of your stamp -- so my remaining stamp looks like this:

Lisa, of course, has a lot of experience and has figured out just how much to leave to get those wonderful woodblock carving lines.  The answer -- as with a lot of art -- is to just keep doing it!

I also did a tiny nest stamp.

I really wish this had the background carved away with the positive egg and line shapes remaining... but that's probably harder to do.  And really, I didn't realize that until I printed what I had carved.

I brought my camera with me, and took the opportunity to take some pictures along the way.  I'm getting to know a new lens (Nikkor 50mm/1.8) and I'm determined to just keep it on the camera until I get better with it.  It has a VERY shallow depth of field to which I've not quite adjusted yet, which explains why there are so many out-of-focus parts in the following pictures!  But still, you get a sense of the day.

Here is Ancella, concentrating as she prepares to stamp a first layer.

Pat M was having a good time (sorry for the lack of focus there, Pat!)

Sydne works on her sketch...

I actually love this shot of Pat's hands as she carves, although I wish I'd adjusted things to get more in focus. This is one of "my other" Pats, as Miss C would say. I have two close friends named Pat and often do things with both together.  So in case you need to know, this is Pat D.

And of course, I had to shoot our tools...

 It was a very fun and relaxing day.  Lisa has done some great banners, stamping images on fabric and then stringing the pieces together artfully.  Well, Lisa does everything artfully. 

 It was a lovely way to spend a rainy day.


  1. Reduction stamping takes bravery!
    Any day that includes stamps and paper is a good day in my book :)

  2. I would have loved this! Your little print is wonderful.