September 17, 2012

revisiting blind embossing

i learned about blind embossing during my first collagraph workshop, where it was used to 'test' the surface and textures of the new plate. at that time, i didn't see very much use for it, although i did finish one print by going over it with graphite rubbing. the technique called to mind embossing on paper using brass stencils, which i'd taught in my craft workshops. 

then i made a blind embossing of an old plate several years ago. it didn't quite turn out as a blind embossing, as some of the areas, which were quite deep, had retained ink despite what i thought was a thorough cleaning. that gave me the idea for the print that i made last week, illustrated below.

this print is a lino block which i have used repeatedly on silk and cotton lampshades, in conjunction with tea dyeing and sometimes paint washes. it's a tree of life motif, but it also illustrates one of my favourite quranic verses (you will find the text below, in translation by professor ahmed ali). so i've used it sometimes in conjuction with text, and sometimes simply as a tree of life. here, i used it on paper.

as you can see, the cuts have retained a certain amount of ink, so there are white areas and other areas which have printed brown. i rather liked the effect, and managed to get two good copies. the block was run through the press using pre-soaked somerset paper.

here is the english translation:'God is the light of the heavens and the earth. The semblance of His light is that of a niche in which is a lamp, the flame within a glass, the glass a glittering star as it were, lit with the oil of a blessed tree, the olive, neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil appears to light up even though fire touches it not, - light upon light.'

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