Week Eight: Linoleum Prints

This particular crafty adventure has been in the works since way back in December when I revealed my linoleum-printed holiday cards. Pookie and Schnookie and I have been joking for a while about trying lots of new things until we stumble upon what will lead us to internet crafty millionaire-dom. They’ve been pondering all sorts of things and I love papercrafts, and we decided to plan a Craft Spectacular Day to start from the beginning and try linoleum printing together.

We settled on Presidents Day, because all three of us had off for the long weekend. We spent a while browsing online for supplies, and each of us bought a few linoleum blocks, a carving tool set, a roller, and some paint. I supplied the endless paper (I used this event as an excuse to buy a pound of scraps at the craft store last week, and boy was THAT a treat) and pencils and tracing paper.

The only hitch in the plan that day was that there was some sort of water main break at my apartment complex, so I hadn’t had water since the late morning. But we figured it would be back in a few hours and got started anyway.

I think the hardest part for all of us at the beginning (okay, well, all day) was trying to figure out what to carve. It’s hard to be very precise on the linoleum, so you’re trying to think of something that would be easy to carve but not boring at the same time. The basic method is to draw your design on tracing paper, flip the tracing paper over onto the linoleum block, and rub the back of the tracing paper so the pencil lines transfer (backwards) onto the linoleum. We then floundered a bit with whether we were carving the positive or negative image, too.

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The blocks are super hard, so you need a lot of pressure to carve out the designs. I was busy telling them about how my mom had warned me to be super careful while carving, because the carving tools are reeeeally sharp, and maybe she thought we should wear gloves on her left hand… and that’s right about when my right hand slipped and I jabbed the damn carving tool right into my left pointer finger. And my water was still off. And it was bleeding. And my mom TOLD ME SO.

the injury

We all laughed heartily about that for a while, or I pretended to laugh heartily to disguise how much my hands were shaking, and how afraid I was to actually look at the wound, and Pookie and Schnookie looked at me shifty-eyed and asked if we needed to go get me stitches. Then they made me eat cookies. It turned out to be not too bad, other than the holy crap that hurts factor, and the I can’t believe I stabbed myself during crafts factor. But my dad had put together a pretty serious first aid kit when I moved into my first apartment, so I had lots of bandaging materials.

first print

At this point we had just started printing with our first blocks, and were pretty excited about the results. I, naturally, stuck with super boring stripes, but Pookie carved a masterful strawberry, and Schnookie made a spool of thread which was intense. And the prints? Especially on my array of colored paper? Are SO cool!

We did that for a while and then broke for the almost-as-important trip to Pete and Elda’s portion of the day. I also really, really needed to use the bathroom (still no water) and was concerned about not having really washed my wound yet. So we did all of that, and ate a surprisingly large amount of pizza and drank a bunch of beer (to fuel the crafts). And I thought, as I do every time I am there, that I need to set up some sort of rotation so that I can get myself to Pete and Elda’s on a more frequent basis.

that beer tasted SO good.

SERIOUS YUM

We then went back to my apartment and started carving new blocks, trying to be more creative or correct the mistakes that we made the first time around. (Or, you know, not stab oneself in the process). We also had some rubbery looking blocks (they looked and smelled like gigantic art erasers) that we used the second time around, and these were much easier to carve but seem to be a little more flimsy. So I think the idea is that you use the hard gray blocks if you want to keep the block and reuse it again and again, while you use the easier to carve blocks for more intricate designs that you don’t need to keep? (Going back to the gray blocks after the ez-carve ones was IMPOSSIBLE.)

more stripes

our masterpieces

circles

So we had a day of crafts, pizza, beer, and hilarity. And we made some really cool cards in the process. I think next time I carve linoleum, I will think a little more in advance about what I want to make in the end (which will, let’s face it, be stripes because I both cannot draw and am unoriginal). But really, this was just an awesome time all around. (And I didn’t need stitches.)

December Daily Book: Finished!

Well! The photos I ordered to put in my December Daily minibook arrived on Monday, and last night, I incorporated them into the already completed pages and finished the pages for the last few days of the year. It actually is probably weird to keep calling this December Daily, since it ended up going from the day before Thanksgiving through January 2. But that’s okay, because that’s how I define the holiday season, anyway. I had a bit of an almost-disaster last night when my tape runner ran out just as I was about to put a ton of photos back to back.. but the trusty ol’ glue stick filled in perfectly. I forgot how much more messy glue sticks are. (Even worse? I was at the craft store earlier in the evening and deliberately didn’t buy a refill because I figured I must have done that already.) Anyway! As I’ve said before, putting this together in this way meant that my dining room table was covered in paperscraps for the entire month+, but that’s what made it easy to keep updating it every few days. I’m not sure that I really prefer the whole adding photos at the end, but it did feel good to work on it more steadily over a longer period of time. Then again, the built-in holiday color scheme and limited supplies made that easier, too. I updated a few of the previous photos with updated shots now that I have added photos – you can see all of the pages over here. And here are the last few pages.

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

December Daily Week Five

Yes, I’m still going, and still loving this project. Updates in smaller chunks seem so much more manageable, if you can get past having a giant mess on one’s dining room table all month. (Oh, to have a craft table…) It’s hard to see this (for me at least) without photos; I’m planning one final post to update the pages that will have photos in the end. It has been a big help to me to focus on the happy, festive, holiday things, especially this week in spite of the disaster!blizzard!pocalypse of 2010. It has been a crappy week, but looking at these photos, it is a lot easier to remember that a hell of a lot of fun stuff has happened, too. (Last week’s update.)

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

Secret December Craft: Christmas Cards!

I have hinted a few times about my secret December craft, and while that was probably obnoxious, I really wanted this to be a surprise. This seems surprising even to me, but for all of my crafting, I have never made my own Christmas cards, and this year I wanted to change that.

And then I saw a post on Apartment Therapy all about linoleum printing and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

See, back in 7th grade, one of our art class projects was linoleum printing, and I had so much fun with it that I kept my carved linoleum block and still have it sixteen years later. For real. Why I kept it for all these years, I’m still not really sure, especially since I was ruthless when it came to childhood mementos when I moved last summer.

gathering supplies

Anyway, the AT post told me what tools to buy, and I found most of them at a local art store, and bought the rest online. The cards and envelopes came from Paper Source, and the stamp on the inside was from AC Moore, after I had bought a more expensive one at PS; I couldn’t resist a snow theme.

in process

I stamped about 30 cards in an hour or two one weeknight, and the only issue was that I came veeeery close to running out of space to lay each card out to dry overnight.

penguins!

I stamped the insides of the cards and the envelopes another night, and was really disappointed in the white stamp pad, as well as the cheap white gel pens that I bought and didn’t end up using. Oh well.

december daily book

And of course I had to washi tape the envelopes closed.

All in all, I am so, so happy with how these turned out, and I would do it again. (And I will definitely be linoleum printing again; perhaps here is where my future internet fortune lies!)

December Daily Week Four

This project continues, although I have to admit two things: 1. While working on it in short bursts is surprisingly easy (as long as you leave your craft crap out so you don’t have to set up/clean up every time, making these books without having photos printed is tough. It’s hard to imagine what I want the finished book to look like, or figure out leaving space or blank pages for photos without having them in my hands. 2. I totally messed up because I was rushing, and now Tuesday and Wednesday of this week are totally out of order, and it’s bumming me out. Oh well; there’s nothing to do to fix it so I might as well just live with it. (Last week’s update)

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book

december daily book