September 7, 2021

Farmer's Birds

         Here’s a fun and interesting use of relief printing!  Bridget Farmer (UK/Australia) makes little three-dimensional models of birds by printing on cut plywood.  Each bird has two pieces, and each piece has two sides, so the bird is depicted from all directions.  Most are printed in multiple colors.  They each have a loop on top so that they can be hung to dangle in the air.  Farmer uses linoleum blocks to carve her designs with simplicity but accuracy.  She captures textures, patterns, and colors without losing the look of carving.  For example, I like the marks of carving on the belly of the third bird.
        Farmer primarily does etchings, in a very loose, sketchy style, but always Australian birds.  It’s always interesting to me when someone concentrates so deeply on a single subject.  I love birds — but I love everything else, as well!  It’s also interesting to see how her depiction of a bird is changed depending on her medium, so I’ve included one of her etchings for comparison.  But of course I like her relief-printed bird “mobiles” best.
        This technique got me thinking that I might be able to adapt the idea for my classes.  I’m always looking for new projects, and especially projects with a collaborative element so that kids print multiples to share with each other.  Butterfly designs could be made in a single piece instead of two, folded to give dimensionality, and made into mobiles including all the students’ different designs…  Well, I’ll certainly share it here if I ever do something like that with one of my classes, but in the meantime, I do like Farmer’s birds!

[Pictures: Welcome Swallow, lino printing on plywood by Bridget Farmer;

Striated Pardalote, lino printing on plywood by Farmer, and dry point etching by Farmer;

Superb Fairy Wren, lino printing on plywood by Farmer (All images from Bridget Farmer Printmaker).]

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