Spring break is over and it was back to my linoblock class last night. We spent half our time making three ink pads and then were cut loose to "do whatever" again. Well, that's not totally fair. The teacher is giving hints of direction but I had to laugh when the gal next to me looked confused when we'd finished our pads and the teacher said to go into the other room. She said exactly what I was thinking: "And do what?" The teacher looked startled, and then realized she hadn't actually given us clues to what was next on the agenda. I think we all thought we were going to use those ink pads but she said, "oh no - it will be awhile before the glue is dry. You can cut more blocks or play more with the ones you already have." The gal laughed and said, "Oh good, I thought I'd missed something." Glad I'm not the only one sensing we need a little more instruction.
I'd identified two things that are hindering me in coming up with workable designs. First is the rectangle shape of the linoblocks and erasers originally provided to us to work with. I was really yearning for a square design or at least something a little larger. Second, if I planned to use the s curves, I needed a motif to fit inside the negative space created in one of the design repeats I came up with (see this post). I rummaged around in the supplies and found a larger eraser that had been cut into a square and a larger linoblock to experiment with. I didn't spend time cutting the spiral I worked out on the eraser, knowing that I have the tools to do it at home. Instead I concentrated on cutting the design on the lino block, one I hope will give me a more overall textured design when printed side by side. I got the idea for this from Cynthia St. Charles, someone I think of as a master at this sort of thing. She had just cut a bunch of new blocks and they are such an inspiration to me. You can find links to the blocks on this post which shows her "sampler" test run of the designs. This post shows a different test run that includes the block that inspired mine. As for my test run, there really wasn't enough time. I may have to dig out my paints and try it out before next class.
As for the making of those ink pads - I've run across instruction for making your own as well as for making a padded surface to print on but never took the time to try making them. I know it is simple simple but it's just one of those things I never got around to. By the time I'd decide to do some stamping, I wouldn't want to delay with making the pads. I was actually pretty happy to learn that for the print pad, I could use foam core board - always have scraps of that around. The teacher's preferred padding is two layers of acrylic felt covered with muslin that is pulled to the back and duct taped in place. I didn't get a tight enough wrap on mine the night we made them but now have remedied that. For the ink pads, she uses 3 layers of cotton/poly batting covered with muslin. She instructed us to tack the batting layers together at each corner before adding the muslin. The glue that took so long to dry was really just to hold the muslin in place once turned to the back in order to make stitching along the edges easier.
A funny thing happens when women pick up needle and thread. During the first two classes, we didn't socialize much with each other, so concentrated were we on drawing, cutting and testing our blocks. But as we sat stitching our ink pads, the conversation flowed, stories were shared and the laughter began. Dare I say there was a fair amount of bonding between these 6 women of a certain age, not unlike the sort of thing that goes on at quilt guild meetings as members sit and stitch? If you question the power of the needle to loosen women up, I only need tell you that once we went into the other room to start drawing, cutting and printing, things went mostly quiet again until we started putting supplies away and gathered our things to go home. Amazing.