If you recall, last week I had carved and printed the first layer of my reduction print, and begun to carve the second layer. In some ways that second round of carving was the most comfortable, because this is where I put in many of the lines that I would have done had this been a single-layer black-and-white print: outlines, textures, divisions between one thing and the next, etc. On the other hand, I also chopped out whole plants where I wanted them to remain light green, which felt a little alarming. I also discovered a few areas that should have been carved out in the first round, but which I didn't see then because it's not supposed to look finished in the first round anyway. And of course by the time you're carving the second layer it's too late to go back and fix the first. I was able to change the design in the second round to disguise one "mistake," and I trust the other area will just be put down to a lush confusion of leaves in the background!
Printing the second layer of ink, dark green this time, is where the registration starts to matter. If the two layers don't line up reasonably closely, the design looks blurred and off. I went ahead and printed the second color on 15 of the 18 first color sheets, even though many of them hadn't looked too good after the first round. To my relief some of them actually looked better now than before, when the second layer of ink covered errors in the first layer. But five more of them were deemed unfit for the third round.
And then it was time to carve the final reduction. This time I hacked and slashed away every plant, like a logger in the rain forest, leaving only the stark, empty frame of the greenhouse. This was the easiest and quickest round of carving, but… Yikes! Of course there's the washing and drying of the block before and after every printing run, and what with one thing and another I didn't get around to printing the final color of ink (black) until yesterday.
I must say I was quite pleased with how the black frame made the image pop. I was surprised that it also seemed to forgive some of the imperfect registration between the first two layers of ink. All the same, I ended up keeping only 7 for my final edition, and of those I'd say only two were anywhere close to "perfect." Nevertheless, here it is: the finished three-layer reduction print, The Greenhouse Door.
Finally, if you're still interested in more about reduction prints, there are many other artists who have posted information. Try these:
[Pictures: Greenhouse block after second round of carving;
Greenhouse block, second state (one of the imperfect pulls, obviously!);
Carving the third round;
The Greenhouse Door, rubber block reduction print by AEGN, 2013.]