Friday, October 30, 2009

Bad Habits

I have a habit, when looking for books at the library, of browsing through the stacks around whatever I'm looking for. Or of just browsing the stacks. This is how I found Berserk: My Voyage to the Antarctic in a Twenty-Seven-Foot Sailboat, the story of three guys sailing from the southern tip of South America to Antarctica. I was looking for some book the other day when I stumbled across Magdalena Muldoon's book, Metal Embossing Workshop. I had bought some copper sheet for another project, and I came across some cheap embossing tools in Opus, so I decided to give it all a try.

I have a small stack of printed images waiting to be transferred to lino blocks for printing, so I dug through them (all six maybe) and found a tree I liked the look of. I tranferred it over to the copper with carbon paper--although that really didn't work. It left only the faintest of lines, so I faked my way through the copying, coming up with a satisfactory tree that almost resembles the original image. I used a small metal tool with a ball end to trace the lines from the back, raising a line on the front of the copper sheet. Then, with a couple of wood tools that basically looked like they'd been run through a pencil sharpener, I turned the sheet over and retraced the image from the front--this time just outside the lines I'd already made. I then flipped the sheet back over and filled in the trunk of the tree and the wider sections of the branches. Then back to the front to push back the rest of the surface, ensuring the tree stands out from the whole plane of the copper sheet.
Stephanie, who has done pretty much everything I want to do, usually more than once and always better than I can ever hope to do (no, seriously. Check out her work), had warned me that the copper sheet I was using was too thick. But then, it was the only copper sheet I had, and I already had it, so I used it anyway. And she was right. I was stopping every couple of minutes to shake out the strain on my arm, as embossing was taking a lot of strength. But I did manage to do it, which excites me. Magdalena Muldoon's book has a number of different ideas for embossing (geometric figures, art nouveau patterns, etc.), several of which I hope to try. The nice thing is that the tools most likely to wear out or break are easily replaceable--I can make them (and others) out of scrap wood in the shop.
So now I've got something new to play with--a very bad habit. I really need to concentrate on one thing for longer, but here am I, busy learning about new stuff.

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