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Tuckamore Design is a very small handcrafted card and print company based in Buffalo, New York. I'm a Canadian transplant, originally from Newfoundland. I've been a printmaker for 15 years, almost as long as I've been an architect. I never formally studied art, but I've taken classes from a handful of amazing artists at Dundarave Print Workshop in Vancouver, BC, and NSCAD in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

I love paper, especially since I spend a lot of hours every day working on a computer for my other business, Design Synergies Architecture.

I also love to create handcrafted greeting cards for everyday and seasonal occasions. When the inspiration hits (and I have time), I make the occasional original print. Every piece is printed by hand or on an etching press.

In the early days, my prints and cards were featured at the Canadian Craft Museum, the Craft Association of British Columbia shop, and various exhibits in Vancouver and Halifax. My cards have been sold in shops in the Maritime Provinces, Buffalo, NY, and most recently in Martinsburg, West Virginia! Through my Etsy site, my cards have been sent all over the world.

My work is influenced by Celtic and Art Nouveau design, by Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and by the Arts & Crafts movement. I found inspiration for several years in my front porch container garden in the Elmwood Village in Buffalo, and now I'm daydreaming of spring in my new backyard garden.

My favourite medium is linoleum block printing, especially blind embossed prints (deeply impressed and printed without ink). I'm about to embark on a watercolour adventure, and I'm wondering how that will find its way into my printmaking....

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Embossing Part 2

How do you choose the right paper for embossing?  Just about any paper will work, but you have to consider the type of block and how deep the carving is. I have been using Stonehenge almost exclusively for cards because it has a nice texture, embosses well, and it has a slightly smoother side that makes it easy to write on. It comes in a few colours like fawn or cream, but I prefer white for embossing. 

You have to experiment and find the right combination of paper, type of press, level of pressure, humidity, etc. I’ve found that thin papers like Canson can work if I ease back on the pressure and dampen them, not soak them. Be careful about soaking time with lighter weight papers.

I've used Rives BFK, my favourite printmaking paper, for embossing and it works very nicely. Arches 140 lb watercolour paper will also emboss nicely, but the lighter weight papers are not as forgiving when undergoing heavy pressure in the press. Heavyweight papers are tough to emboss.  Handmade papers can be very nice for embossing, depending on how heavy they are.  I found some lightweight papers at a local art supply store a few years ago which had bits of flowers and leaves in them, and they embossed nicely.

To get a good, deep impression, paper must be soaked in water first, then allowed to almost dry. I soak Stonehenge in cool water for about 5 minutes, then place it between clean white towels (no coloured lint on the paper!) to dry. How dry? Enough that there is no wet sheen on the paper, and that it is still pliable but not wet. I know that isn’t a good explanation but there are so many factors that can influence the outcome. If the paper is too wet, it will buckle and crack around the edges of your block. Too dry and the impression won't be deep enough, or hold its shape over time.

The Daffodils embossed card that I did for a WetCanvas exchange last fall was printed on Strathmore recycled content cards. I had some trouble printing on it because I didn't soak it enough.  I'm not crazy about the type of paper they use for these cards, even though it is recycled. 

Thicker papers are much harder to emboss. I have some lovely handmade paper from India that I found at the Daniel Smith store in Seattle a few years ago. It’s about 4x6”, great texture, really wanted to print with it, but it does not emboss well because of the heavier weight and the texture.

If you want to see how some other people do it, check out Julie D’Arcy’s work or this sample lesson plan that I found online for high school students. One of my favourite finds is this relief print by John Ruszel - such a creative way to do an embossing, wish I'd thought of it! John's embossings of typewriter parts show that you can emboss with just about any material - don't limit yourself to a lino block. 

After printing embossed cards no bigger than 5x7” for 14 years, I want to move on to some larger pieces now and explore how far I can go with embossing. I have some architectural photos that I’d like to work from, and some other ideas percolating in the back of my mind. All I need is the time to sit still for a while, sketch, and carve!

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