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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 1

This is a really long post, so I'm going to split it into two parts. 

I won’t go on and on about how little time I have to print and apologize for not posting new work.  I’ve whined about that before, both here and on the WetCanvas forum. I haven’t produced any new work since February, it’s driving me crazy, and as soon as I get through this week I’m going to do something about it!

In the meantime, I wanted to talk about embossing, my favourite printmaking technique.

What I love about printmaking is that there are so many different techniques to choose from, and the resulting image may look completely different depending on which one you use. Part of the artistic process for me is deciding which technique will best bring out the image that you have in your head. I work almost exclusively with linocuts these days, but in the past I’ve done zinc plate etchings, collagraphs, and monoprints.

I like etchings a lot, like the Lindisfarne print above which I did while studying at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.  But I don’t have the proper set-up at home to do it. Plus, I want to use non-toxic techniques and I haven’t had the time to learn about it.

I've received some wonderful compliments lately on my embossed cards. I can’t tell you how gratifying that is. Recently, someone asked on the WetCanvas printmaking forum about embossing. So, I decided I would try to summarize how I do it and show some examples of embossed work that I've seen which I really like.
Essentially, embossing is relief printing without ink. My teacher in Vancouver, Lone, called it "blind embossing" so that's what I've always called it. It's a very simple way to print, no mess to clean up, and the results can be so gorgeous that it looks a lot more complicated than it really is. 

To create a lino block embossing, I start with a photo or sketch of something that I think will work well as a three-dimensional piece. Usually it’s a floral or Celtic or architectural design but I’m trying to broaden my horizons! It’s just so darn easy to do flowers in lino…like the Daisy card.
 
When sketching something for a print, I have to always remember that the finished result will be the mirror image of what I draw on the linoleum. Even experienced printmakers experience brain freeze and forget that, including me! I sketch in pencil on tracing paper, then flip it onto the linoleum and burnish it from the back to transfer the sketch to the surface. So the final print will be a direct copy of what I sketched onto the tracing paper.

If you're used to carving lino for an inked print, then you have to twist your brain the other way and think about it as a true relief print.  Instead of carving away the parts of the block that I want to print as white, I have to reverse that and carve away the parts that I want to stand out. That’s why I almost never print my embossed blocks with ink – the result is completely opposite to what I would have wanted if I’d designed it for ink in the first place.  In other words, all you get is a white design on a coloured background.

Choosing paper for embossing can be a challenge - more on that in Part 2....

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