Dogs of the British Isles linoprint

Dogs of the British Isles linoprint

For this print I decided to combine my love of dogs and vintage maps by creating a print that celebrates dogs breeds that have originated or developed in the British Isles. I love the decorative flourishes and ornamental details that cartographers of the 18th and 19th centuries used when creating maps and I wanted to use these vintage elements in this print. Examples of these are the decorative cartouche around the title of the map, the compass and galleons and the classical ornamental scale in the bottom left corner.

 

Ornamental title map cartouche

Ornamental map title cartouche

Decorative map scale with banner, dog and globe

Decorative map scale with banner, dog and globe

From nobility and royalty to the working class, farmers and fishermen, the people of the British Isles were prolific and dedicated dog breeders to whom we can attribute a disproportionate number of breeds that we know and love today.  Depending on the information source, it is estimated that around 25% of all recognised dog breeds in the world originated in the British Isles … around some 90 breeds, some of which are now under threat of extinction. This map features 54 breeds, both those that have originated in the British Isles and some breeds, that despite more ancient origins outside these islands, were developed into the breed standard we know today by the people of the British Isles.

I started by sketching the breeds…

Pen and ink sketches of dogs

Once I was happy with the whole design, I had to transfer it onto the lino (in reverse) so I could carve it out. I tried several transfer methods (the most successful of which was the xylene transfer method from a laser printed copy of the design) but the large size of the print and the fine detail got the better of me, so I decided to get it screen printed onto the lino.

Carving the design into Lino to create a printing plate was a real challenge, not just because of the large size of the print, but also due to the finely detailed dogs and carving lettering only a few millimetres high. Carving the plate took well over 60 hours, using my extra strong glasses and a magnifying glass!  The more time I invested in the carving the plate, the greater the stakes – as one slip of the gouge can be almost impossible to rectify.

Partially carved lino plate

Partially carved lino plate

Printmaker Debbie Kendall carving a lino plate

I painted the lino red before transferring the design so it was clear where I had carved

Lino carved plate

The carved lino plate

Once the plate was ready, I made some test prints on different Japanese papers. I was looking to see how the paper performed for several criteria, such as ease and even-ness of ink transfer (especially in the solid black areas) and the weight, colour and texture of the paper. I chose the Awagami Bunkoshi paper, a medium weight paper with a natural creamy off white colour.

The main challenge in printing the plate without a press, apart from its large size (my press is not large enough to take the plate), was the difficulty getting a good even print in the solid black areas (the sea) whilst retaining sharp detail in the dogs and lettering.

Debbie Kendall printmaker

This depended on perfecting the amount of ink on the plate in the different areas and varying the printing pressure using various hand tools (a combination of a Japanese ball bearing baren, convex glass lens and my trusty porcelain door knob). Each print took well over an hour to print by hand and the combination of maintaining sufficient pressure to transfer ink evenly, with repetitive circular motions using the hand tools over that time meant that it was also physically very demanding. As I was aiming for an edition of 60 prints, I decided that if I was to maintain my sanity and avoid repetitive strain injury, I needed to find a press large enough to accommodate the plate and paper.

lizzie printing 2A

Whilst removing a good deal of the physical strain of printing, a press still requires a good deal of (for want of a better word) “fiddling about” to get a good print. The strong even pressure offered by a press is great for helping to achieve solid areas of flat colour (like the black sea in this print) but such pressure over the more delicate areas, such as the dogs and lettering, can cause smudging and blurring. This is where hand printing was beneficial as it was possible to press harder on the areas of solid colour and go lighter on the dogs and lettering. However after several days around 40 prints of the planned edition of 60 had been printed and I plan to hand print the balance over the coming weeks.

 

Framed Dogs of the British Isles print

Framed print 60 x 80 cms

When I first had the idea for this print, I had doubts about the feasibility of carving the dogs and letters at such a small scale. I debated about whether to create it as a screen print or even as Giclee print of my original illustration, but lino is “my thing” and I wanted to push myself  and at least try to see if it was possible for me to carve and print successfully at this size and level of detail. I found it was best not to look to far ahead in the process and just concentrate on the immediate task ahead, carving one letter and one dog at a time! My perseverance and patience were certainly tested in the creation of this print but as President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing worth having was ever achieved without effort”

Happy printing everyone!

Find out more on The Enlightened Hound’s website

 

 

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Labradoodle and Lurcher Prints

There are 2 new breeds in the Dog Tag series of prints by The Enlightened Hound. I say ‘breeds’ though neither the Labradoodle or Lurcher is considered a recognised breed – both being classed as a crossbreed. These technicalities however aren’t generally important to Labradoodle or Lurcher owners, who love them to bits regardless!

Each one is hand printed on a traditional etching press.

Labradoodle

Labradoodle Print

Labradoodle Print

Labradoodles are enormously popular family pets. They love to work and are eager to please. They are true companion dogs and thrive best with their people, delighting in being stroked and petted. Many of them are pretty smart and enjoy outwitting their owners – just for fun!

Labradoodle Print Detail

Labradoodle Print Detail

Labradoodle Print Unframed

Labradoodle Print Unframed

Labradoodle Print Framed

Labradoodle print in reclaimed wood frame

Lurcher

Lurcher Print

Lurcher Print

In the Middle Ages only nobility were allowed to own purebred dogs but accidental crossbreeds of these nobility owned sighthounds were snapped up by the commoners (peasants and gypsies) as stealth poaching dogs, who hunted by scent and sight to put meat for the cooking pot on the table. Rabbit and hares were the usual quarry and hunting usually took place at night.

Lurcher Print Detail

Lurcher Print Detail

Lurcher Print Unframed

Lurcher Print Unframed

Lurchers are the perfect combination of intelligence, speed, agility, hardiness, temperament & trainability. It was essential that the purebred Greyhound hunting instinct was tempered so that the dogs could be stopped from chasing prey if someone was watching. The penalty for detection was death, so dogs had to be loyal, trainable and live out of sight in the family home.

Framed Lurcher print

Lurcher print in reclaimed wood frame

Hand printed individually on an etching press, both prints are available from The Enlightened Hound

Vintage Style Illustration and Hand-Lettering for Libelle Magazine

I was approached by Dutch weekly magazine Libelle to do some illustrations in the style of my Quintessentially British print, for a special London themed issue of their magazine .

Quintessentially British Print

The first one was to accompany an article about all the things we have to do in the course of our daily lives, such as washing and ironing, shopping, gardening, walking the dog etc.

Following the style of my Quintessentially British print, I combined vintage retro illustrations with hand drawn letters in a limited colour palette.

Magazine illustration and hand lettering

The second illustration was to do with London and some of the things that a visitor might like to see and do in the city.

London tourism illustration

The third illustration was a little more challenging as it was related to fashion… the challenge was to keep the vintage feel of the illustrations but without looking out of date with current fashion trends.

Fashion illustration and hand drawn letters

Really enjoyed this brief and being pushed to take an existing piece of work to a new level.

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