Things are happening at Grey Gardens, possibly too many things at once. There are projects spread all around in various states of completion. Still the energy is good and after months of what felt like spinning my wheels, I am starting to gain some traction.
First project update, the wood block for the If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now project is stained and ready to carve.
I stayed with my favored hot pink stain for this block. Once I start carving, toning the block with this stain helps me see what I have and have not cut.
To tone wood blocks, I typically mix a few drops of Golden Fluid Acrylic into Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish. I apply 1-3 coats of Polycrylic® and sand the surface lightly with 220 grit sandpaper between coats. No sanding is needed after the final coat. I prefer this method of toning to traditional processes that use mineral spirits, oil based ink, and polyurethane because of the low odor and the soap and water clean up.
No matter which method you choose, using a protective finish seals the block and prevents ink from soaking into the wood. This leads to better ink coverage and provides a flat, even transfer of the ink during printing. It also makes it possible to switch colors easily.
In this project, however, I first want to see if the wood grain will show in the print and work advantageously for the image. So, I did not use Polycrylic® on this block. I used only the Golden Fluid Acrylic thinned with water.
At first I worried about about using water on the block, especially since I am working on MDF with a Birch veneer. Proceeding cautiously, I worked to carefully apply the acrylic using as dry a brush as possible, following behind with a paper towel to soak up any additional moisture. This worked well, and the application does not appear to have affected the stability of the block.
Now, to finally carve the block! My current goal is to not spend another year carving and printing this project. I will keep you updated on how it's going.
In other updates, I have finished building a Forced Air Print Dryer for the studio. This is a great tool for drying prints made on damp paper and it is relatively simple to construct. I am writing a tutorial detailing the construction and use of the Forced Air Print Dryer (this is decidedly less simple) and will post that information very soon.
What about you? What's happening in your studios?