Back in December, we were asked by the Greater Hartford Arts Council if we would create the donor print for their 2013 fundraising campaign. Every year, supporters of the Arts Council who give $500 or more are given a limited edition print as part of their thank you gift. We were absolutely thrilled to be asked, me in particular. You see, the Arts Council is the reason Hartford Prints! exists today, thanks to a grant back in 2009 (scroll down, I am the eighth recipient listed). I had been hoping that one day the opportunity to give back to the Arts Council would come my way and it here it was!
The Arts Council wanted this campaign to be more interactive for the community. They suggested we come up with three different designs for the print and allow visitors to their website to vote on their favorite.
We thought this was a great idea and I immediately got to work. I decided to focus on public art that can be found in our lovely city:
Voting went incredibly well… there was quite the battle between Stegosaurus and Mark Twain and on January 24th the Arts Council announced on its Facebook page that the Stegosaurus won by a mere 8 votes. I was thrilled because this was the design I was most attached to and the one I most wanted to draw/carve/print.
The first order of business was to sketch out the final drawing which I did by working from photographs I had taken of the sculpture:
One part of the final design had been kept a secret… I planned to include the Colt Building, another Hartford landmark, in the background. The iconic blue onion dome can actually be seen behind the Stegosaurus by standing at just the right angle. Check it out in this photograph from my wedding taken by the fabulous Carla Ten Eyck:
I decided I wanted to carve the blocks for this print in wood. Usually when we do any carving in the studio for a card or print, we use linoleum. However, I wanted this print to have a bit more ooomph to it. Wood blocks are a more traditional medium and the grain of the wood shows really nicely in the printing.
In woodcut prints, as in all printing we do at Hartford Prints!, for every color desired in the final print, there needs to be a separate block. This first block was being printed in blue. The dome of the Colt Building in the background would remain blue; however, the lines in the Stegosaurus would have orange printed over them, dulling the blue down.
After a nine-hour day of carving (made easier by a marathon of Downton Abbey!) the fourth and final block, to be printed in black, was ready. Then… tragedy!!
The block began to split! First a crack appeared the morning after I had finished carving. I attempted to fix it with wood filler, but alas, the pressure of the press proved to be too much for the block and it cracked in half completely after only five test prints. There was no help for it, I was going to have to carve a whole new block…
Another marathon of carving (and more Downton Abbey – I am now completely caught up on the series!) and we were ready to go! I had planned my drawings and carvings well, so registration, or aligning the images, was a breeze.
The final step in the process was to number, title, sign and date all 350 prints (a job which took longer than one might think!) and package the prints in a plastic sleeve for delivery to the Arts Council. Our intern Kaitlin and I set up an assembly line and we knocked those babies out!
And we were done! After all that work, weeks of drawing, carving and printed, 350 prints were ready to go to the Arts Council. I must say, I am incredibly proud of this print. It turned out better than I had hoped and hopefully everyone who receives a copy will love it too. To learn more about giving to the Greater Hartford Arts Council and receiving a print of your own, please click here.