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9.09.19 Introducing Woodcut Prints

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Exploring Traditional Relief Printmaking

Earlier this summer I purchased a Takach printmaking press after years of looking for the right one. Now would probably be a good time to show you what I was doing ten years ago in college and what served as a foundation for the art that I am making today. I made this book of giant woodcut prints for my senior thesis, titled The Forest is Thick & It Reaches The Sky, it spans over 30 feet when unfolded. It’s the story of a bird that leaves home to explore the world only to find itself back at home again, but with a new sense of home under its wing.

In July I retrieved the original woodblocks from my uncle's attic in New Jersey where they have lived for the past ten years. To inaugurate the new press, I’m releasing small editions of 15 of five of the prints from this book. I never made editions in college, just proofs upon proofs until I had enough good ones to make a few books. 

The process behind creating a relief print is one of the more straight forward printmaking processes. It begins with a sheet of grade A Birch Plywood, the desired image is traced onto the block of wood and all of the negative space is then carved out. Depending on the size of the block, this can take anywhere from days to months. These blocks are huge, measuring at around 23x31 inches, it took the whole year to complete the book.

Once the carving is complete, blocks are inked up with a giant roller, placed on the press face up and then a sheet of printmaking paper is placed delicately on top of the block. Three different felt blankets cover the paper and the block is then rolled through the press. The pressure of the machine creates a beautiful debossment that is very similar to letterpress prints.

Right before we went on summer break, Andres printed small editions of five of my favorite blocks from the book. Because the process takes so long, these editions are quite small. It takes about 30 - 45 minutes to properly ink up and print a single print. As we continue to work on new relief prints you will notice these editions are much smaller than other giclee or screenprints. Traditional forms of printmaking asks for much more precision and patience while printing. 

We printed these prints on the same paper as I did back in college with oil based Gamblin Relief Ink, trying to stay true to the original versions. Each print is hand signed and numbered in an edition of 15 and will be available on Thursday, September 12th at 3PM PST in the shop for $125/each.

Among these five different prints are two sets of prints that when displayed together form a continuous 44" x 30" image (pictured below). If you are lucky enough to score both prints in the set we will send along matching numbered prints, but prints will not be available for purchase as sets. Limited to one print of each per person.

Good Luck and thank you! 

Love, 
James 

P.S. We had a great summer break and will be fulfilling all orders from the past two weeks today and tomorrow. Thank you for your patience if you have been waiting long

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