Wood Samples and Demo Prep

Not much has been going on that is specifically related to editions lately. I met with Tom Petzwinkler this past week to show him prints, give him a better sense of how collaborations usually go for me and to get a better sense of what Tom is thinking and what we might create. He has some interesting photography projects going on right now, so we shall see what comes out, but I at least know Tom is very interested in the laser engraver and utilizing it to create imagery in some way.

Talking about laser engravings so much and then trying to prep for the demonstration I will be doing at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair got me going for more experimentation in the shop. So the past two weeks were spent working on printing more samples from the wood that was sent to me by my friend, Ned, at Eidolon Designs in Raleigh, NC.

Here are a few images of the tests.

Section of test image engraved into a sample of walnut

Section of test image engraved into a sample of walnut

Test image engraved into a sample of oak

Test image engraved into a sample of oak

Section of test image engraved into a sample of cherry

Section of test image engraved into a sample of cherry

Section of test image engraved into a sample of birch. Left image hand colored, right image on Japanese Masa

Section of test image engraved into a sample of birch. Left image hand colored, right image on Japanese Masa

Whats beautiful about all of these is the way the wood grain pops out and begins to play with the image in different ways. It is most obvious in the border areas, but also in the areas of gradual tonal change, like the sky. The machined nature of the surface of the oak and cherry really stands out, but the walnuts natural grain is the more dominate one. Depending upon the original intention for the wood, things like the machining can pop up when you receive the wood second hand.

Thats why the other part of the past two weeks was used to start testing out new systems for attaching veneer to a backing substrate for use in the laser engraver. I had some success on attached a piece of walnut to 1/4″ thick birch wood, but the pieces of beech and cherry that I attached to 1/8″ birch has bent because of the humidity leaving during the drying process. I placed each under solid pressure for an hour after applying the Titebound 3 wood glue, but over the course of the 23 hours afterwards the 1/8″ substrates gave in and bent slightly during  the rest of the curing period. So we learned two things with this, either always use at least 1/4″ wood for a backing or keep 1/8″ wood backing under pressure for at least 24 hours to make sure there will be no warping from drying.

The reason I am working on trying to find a backing system for laser engraved woodcuts is that the only system I was taught I feel is no good. I was originally taught to spray mount the veneer to a piece of mat board for backing and then run it through a press a few times to seal the attachment. But I found that after a decent round of printing, 10-15 runs, that my veneer started to come off the mat board. For a long time after I was using pieces of 1/4″ or 1/8″ thick wood straight from the tree, but that is quite expensive when you are talking about hardwoods like cherry and walnut. So I am running this series of trials to find the best way I can make full 12″x24″ attachments of veneer onto cheap plywood for cutting.

All these samples, cuts, prints, and tests will be at the Book Arts Fair for all to see as I demo the process for printing one on site. Hope to see people there.

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