So, last weekend was an Open Studios show and I carved three new blocks. But this isn’t one of them. This is something else I printed this week, but its story begins a long time ago. Whenever I’m explaining my rubber blocks to visitors at shows I have a tendency to describe it as a “new” material… until I catch myself with the realization that it’s about twenty years ago now. Yep, I’m getting old! But people always ask me how I got started with the block printing, and this is the story…
In high school I had made a few linoleum blocks for family Christmas cards, as many an artsy-craftsy person has done, but I didn’t particularly love it. Then this new carving rubber came out and, because I was an art teacher, I was sent a free sample of the stuff. That was the best advertising dollar they ever spent, because it was love at first cut.
Actually, though, I didn’t really start working on my own prints at that point because I was too busy being a teacher. Then I got married, and moved to New Hampshire for D’s second year of a two-year grad program, and rather than try to get a full-time teaching job for one year, I worked part time on after-school classes. Moreover, I got to take a free class at the gallery where I was teaching, and I chose a wood block printing class. That’s what gave me time to work on block prints and cemented my conviction that relief block printing was the artwork I wanted to be doing in my time.
I rediscovered this old rubber block recently while putting other stuff away. It’s that first rubber block I ever got my hands on: the free sample. I never printed an edition with it, because I wasn’t thinking of myself as an Artiste then, much less expecting to sell my work. I printed up some notecards for myself with acrylic paint on ordinary paper, and then packed the block away. But when I found it not long ago I decided that the little ship was pleasing enough to do a small limited edition (in slightly bluish-black on speckled blue card stock, to be quite different from the earlier prints I made.) So here it is.
The initial A is the design I carved on the other side of the same block. I don’t remember which I actually did first, but in any case, here they are: the first rubber block prints I ever made.
[Pictures: Fair Winds, rubber block print by AEGN, carved c. 1994, printed 2013;
Initial A, rubber block print by AEGN, c. 1994.]