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

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Land Rover Reduction Linoprint

Being a lover of all things Land Rover and all things Dog I wanted to make a print that celebrated them both. It’s called “Land Rover Life”.

Land Rover Life 11 colour reduction linoprint by Debbie Kendall

I set my self a challenge to create the print as an 11 colour reduction linoprint. If you are a printmaker you will know what I mean by “challenge” (enough said) but if you are not well versed in printmaking techniques (or even if you are) and would like to find out more about how I made this print, then read on…

What is a reduction linoprint?

When creating a print of more than one colour, a printmaker may choose to carve a separate block (or plate)  for each colour or alternatively, they can use the same block for all the colours. This latter method is the reduction (or suicide) method. It is often referred to as the suicide method, not because it is suicidally tricky (though that is true) but because in using the same plate for all the colours, the plate is systematically cut away in increasing amounts as the print progresses and by the end of the print, it is completely destroyed, therefore there is no going back. It also means that no more prints can be made from that block, so once the initial run of prints are editioned, that’s all there will ever be.

Why Land Rovers?

The Land Rover idea was triggered by the announcement in 2016, that the last Land Rover Defender would be rolling off the production line, marking the end of almost 70 years of production of Land Rovers, from the original Series 1 to the Defender – over two million vehicles.

There are very few vehicles that have stood such a test of time and even fewer that have transcended fashion and trends to become an iconic part of British national culture. What I particularly love about the Land Rover is its appeal and relevance to all levels of society and its ability to be right at home wherever it is, be it a farmer’s field, an army base, a mountain pass, a country estate, a suburban town or a royal palace.

The Land Rover’s heritage of exploration and adventure and its “go anywhere, do anything” potential is an irresistible combination, evoking a sense of freedom and derring do. Its tough, rugged, no-nonsense character, combined with its no-frills, meccano-esque nuts and bolts and chunky silhouette -like a child’s drawing, yet perfectly proportioned – is both timeless and distinctive.

Inspired by vintage travel posters of the 1920s and 30s, I wanted to create a print not just about the Land Rover and what it can do, but also a print that depicts what the Land Rover stands for and what it means to its many different owners.

Those of you who know my work, know all about my love of dogs. To me, dogs and Land Rovers are inseparable and it’s no co-incidence that people who own both dogs and Land Rovers often speak of their vehicle and their animals in the same affectionate tones, both being faithful, hard working, characterful, individual and will go anywhere with you!

You may also know that hand lettering is also my “thing” and is a constant feature of my work. The phrase “Live A Life Less Ordinary” stirred up, for me, the best feelings about owning a Land Rover. If you look closely at the finished print, you’ll see that the letters are drawn so they look like they are ‘screwed’ into the print.

How did I get started?

So, the first thing to do was to design the print which involved many pleasant (and some frustrating) hours of research, inspiration and sketching.

land rover sketches

Then the final design had to be transferred on the lino plate – in reverse

land rover linoprint plate

I mix all my colours up by hand using oil based traditional inks, so I spent lots of time perfecting the recipe for the perfect Land Rover green…

land rover print colours

So what could possibly go wrong?

I am trying to get an edition of 50 prints in total. Allowing for errors and time for the plate to build up a nice even layer of ink, I prepare 58 pieces of paper for prints. I must print the colour on all 58 prints before I can move on to the next colour. If I make mistake at any stage I cannot go back and print more, because after that particular colour has been printed, I carve away more of the block for the next colour and it is irreversibly altered.

So here’s an interesting fact… In the making of this print I had to ink the block and put down the paper on the inked block to take a print a total of 580 times (58 prints, each with 10 passes of colour – there were 11 colours in total but I managed to print colours 5 and 6 together)! Each colour took several days of printing and was very physically demanding, because in order to transfer the ink evenly to the paper each print was hand burnished (rubbed by hand on the back of the paper) with various tools for a considerable length of time!

Finally, each time I put the paper down on the inked block to take a print  I had to make sure it was put down in exactly the same place… even a shift of less than half a millimetre would mean that the colours would not be mis-registered and the print would not have good, sharp definition. (Sometimes this can be done deliberately with great effect, but I wanted perfect registration for this print)! To achieve this I built a ‘jig’ and ‘tympan’ based on old printing machines which would (hopefully) hold the block and the paper in the same place each time. Printmakers expect to lose a few prints to mis-registration, errant ink smudges, too much ink, too little ink and a whole host of other possible, unforseen catastrophes! To top it all, one slip of the tool when carving the block could mean the whole edition is ruined! Now you know why it’s called a suicide print! I ended up with an edition of 47 for this print. Not bad!

Here’s how I did it…

The first step to start printing is to carve away all the areas on the plate that I want to remain white and then ink up the plate in the first colour I want to print – a pale blue.

In all the following pictures of the process the carved, inked plate is on the left and the resulting print from that plate is on the right.

stage one printing

Stage 2 is to carve away all the areas I want to remain pale blue (that I have just printed) and to ink up the plate in the next colour – a pale taupe/brown…

printing of second colour

Stage 3 is to carve away all the areas to remain pale taupe/brown and ink up the plate with the third colour – light grey…

printing of 3rd colour

Stage 4 is to carve away all the areas to remain light grey and ink up the plate with the fourth colour – mid brown…

printing of 4th colour

Stage 5 is to carve away all the areas to remain mid-brown and ink up the plate with the fifth and sixth colours – mid grey and orange (I can print both of these together as they are in separate areas of the print and do not touch) …

printing of 5th and 6th colours

Stage 6 is to carve away all the areas to remain mid-grey and orange and ink up the plate with the seventh colour – light olive green…

printing of colour 7

Stage 7 is to carve away all the areas to remain light olive green and ink up the plate with the eighth colour – Land Rover green…

printing colour 8

Stage 8 is to carve away all the areas to remain Land Rover green and ink up the plate with the ninth colour – dark green…

printing colour 9 - dark green

Stage 9 is to carve away all the areas to remain dark green and ink up the plate with the tenth colour – dark grey…

printing colour 10 - dark grey

Stage 10 -the final stage –  is to carve away all the areas to remain dark grey and ink up the plate with the eleventh colour – almost black…

… to reveal the final print

printing last colour - black

I hope you found this insight into the process of making a reduction linoprint useful and informative. If you’d like to find out more about me, discover more of my work or buy a print, go to my website

Alternative Ideas for a Printmaking Baren

This is a somewhat lengthy blog entry investigating some ideas for an effective, affordable printmaking baren for hand burnishing prints.

As I was embarking on a somewhat ambitious print – a hand burnished, 11 colour reduction linoprint of around A3 size – I started to investigate the best tools to transfer the ink to the paper. For all 11 colours and an ideal edition of 50 prints this meant that I was going to be hand rubbing the back of the paper at least 550 times, so I wanted the best tool for the job.

I don’t have a wonderful old cast iron relief press, so hand burnishing each colour was the only real option for me. Although I do have an etching press I have had trouble in the past keeping the image correctly registered when using this for a multiple colour relief print, as the roller can push the paper along (even a 0.5mm discrepancy between layers can be a problem).

For those who may be reading this blog who are new to printmaking, the traditional way to hand burnish a print is using a baren. This is a lightweight, hand-held disk which is used to rub the back of the printing paper after it is placed on the inked block, to transfer the ink into the printing paper. I have a cheap Speedball baren but in all honesty, it doesn’t really cut the mustard, as they say!

types of printmaking baren

Speedball baren, large serving spoon and porcelain door knob!

One alternative that I use is the smooth back of a large spoon. Rubbed in circular motions (over the back of the paper on the inked plate) this is a pretty effective tool. Another tool I have used most successfully in the past is a porcelain door knob – nice and smooth and easy to grip. However it was pretty clear to me after burnishing the first colour on the first few prints that I was heading for a repetitive strain injury if the spoon/door knob were going to be my main modus operandi for this project.

I started to investigate different kinds of barens and alternatives to a baren and spent a while looking online at what other print-makers were using. A couple of interesting options caught my eye.

ballbearingbarenThe first was a Japanese ball bearing baren which is made from a plastic disc through which up to 612 stainless steel ball bearings are suspended. The balls rotate freely when in use, which delivers multiple pressure points evently across the disc. Bound in black leather with a strong leather handle, this looks like it would have been the answer to my prayers… except the price – around £200 – rather a lot to invest in something I haven’t actually tried.

power_baren_bottomSome people online have tried making a version of this using drawing pins (metal thumb tacks) pressed into a base, though these would be fixed and not rotate freely as the ball bearings apparently do.

This looks like it might work quite well but not something I was motivated to try.

 

il_570xN.742611256_koh1

 

Another novel kind of baren I came across was made from glass.

It looked easy to grip and I like the idea of using a low friction material like glass. My concern though, with this design, was that the bottom of the baren looks to be completely flat and I wondered about getting enough pressure on thicker papers for efficient transfer of ink.

 

Thinking about the physics and qualities of a baren that will make light(er) work of hand burnishing, I felt that there were 2 main requirements:

  1. A lack of friction between the baren and the paper. In my experience barens with a single large flat area in contact with the paper can be quite abrasive (not ideal when the paper must be burnished many times)
  2. The ability to transfer pressure through a single (or many) point(s) to successfully transfer the ink to the paper. The reason the back of the spoon/my porcelain door knob make a good baren is because the pressure is driven through the small surface area in contact with the paper … but that is also the drawback because that small surface area means a lot of rubbing over an A3 size print! This is why the Japanese ball bearing baren looks like a winner – lots of small areas of pressure combined into one larger area (shame about the price though!)

I was chatting to my teenage son about this dilemma, and the Japanese ball bearing baren,  when he rushed to his room and bought out a string of magnetised ball bearings that had been a Christmas stocking present in his youth…

magnetised ball bearings

This got us both very excited and somehow we had the idea of arranging them in a spiral (like the Japanese ball bearing baren) on some kind of circular holder (which turned out to be a can of tuna – pretty much the right size, made of metal (to attract the magnetised ball bearings) and with a lip around the edge of the can to hold the ball bearing spiral in place!)… this is our creation – the TunaBaren!

TunaBaren TunaBaren

Well I was very excited to try this new idea. It was low friction with many small pressure points and it moved across the paper nice and smoothly. BUT…

tunabarenprint

The above picture shows the paper lifted back to reveal the lino plate after the TunaBaren has been used for a short time. You can see that on the lino and on the paper, where the TunaBaren has been moved around, there are a mass of swirly lines where ink has been transferred from the many points of contact of the ball bearings. Now, if you repeatedly move the TunaBaren around in lots of small rotating motions these do eventually disappear as every part of the paper is burnished, however there was quite a lot of wear and tear on the back of the paper itself too, and this worried me as I have 11 colours to lay down, which means 11 separate burnishings with the TunaBaren! I was concerned that the paper wouldn’t stand up to it.

It made me wonder if this would also happen with the Japanese ball bearing baren and I was thankful I hadn’t taken a £200 risk. If anyone can enlighten me on this, please do so!

So back to the drawing board it was. I needed to think of something that was equally low friction but with a larger surface area in contact with the paper than the small ball bearings. Mindful of the length of this post, I’ll cut to the chase. Inspired by the glass baren I discovered online, I decided to try to create a baren using glass cabochons. If you don’t know already, these are flattish, glass discs with one flat side and one gently rounded (convex) side. After hours of investigating possible ideas some deliberation, I decided to glue an arrangement of cabochons onto a wooden half sphere, as this should be a good size and shape to grip.

barenmaking

I bought three sizes of cabochons – 14mm, 16mm and 25mm – and two sizes of wooden half dome – about 80mm and 100mm and experimented with the best layout of cabochons.

And thus… the CabochonBaren

alternative printmakers baren

 

alternative printmaking baren

THE VERDICT:

The CabochonBaren is better than the Speedball baren, better than the spoon and better than the TunaBaren! “Better” meaning that the ink transfer was decent and the effort required for ink transfer was markedly less. My porcelain door knob still gives the best ink transfer (but for a lot of effort). With just the spoon and doorknob it took 3 days of printing to get 50+ prints for the first colour. Using mainly the glass cabochon barens, with the porcelain door knob when needed in specific areas, I reduced the time taken from 3 to 2 days to print colours subsequent colours.

bareninuse

The wooden half spheres were lovely to hold and I preferred the larger 100mm size. The jury is still out on whether fewer larger cabochons perform better that more smaller cabochons, though if pushed I would say the latter… I managed to fit 26 x 16mm cabochons and 4 x 14mm cabochons onto the flat face of a 100mm wooden half sphere.

For the record, I am using oil based inks on fairly heavyweight (80gsm), textured and very absorbent (unsized) Awagami Hosho paper for my print, but I am also doing some test prints on thin (100gsm) smooth, wove, Conqueror paper. I think the Hosho was always going to be a challenge without a press as it is so absorbent and quite thick (for a Japanese paper). Although I have read about Hosho having a smooth/rough side, it didn’t seem to matter which side I used as regards the uptake of ink and printing result. One thing I did notice was that the CabochonBaren worked like a dream on the thin smooth Conqueror, so I think with a thinner, sized paper I may just have hit on a winner!

I would love to hear from other printmakers on their experience with various barens. Do get in touch 🙂

 

 

 

 

Greyhound and Dachshund: New Dog Tag Prints

If you are not familiar with my “Dog Tag” series of prints, these hand lettered prints tell a quirky potted history of a particular breed of dog in the design of a dog tag. They are individually hand printed on my traditional etching press, with hand mixed oil-based inks, then each one is signed by me.

The Greyhound and Dachshund are two of the most requested breeds that people have asked me for at fairs and shows this year, so here they are (just in time for Christmas!)… they join the other 11 breeds in the series.

Dachshund Print

Despite their cute and comical appearance, Dachshunds are incredibly brave little hunting dogs that were bred to chase and flush out badgers.

Often significantly larger and heavier than a dachshund, badgers are a fierce and formidable opponent, yet the tenacious dachshund with its indomitable spirit is a fearless and efficient hunter. Their long, low body is perfect for getting into the dens of rabbit, fox, wild boar, badgers and other burrow dwelling animals that have gone to ground.

The origin of the dachshund is still debated as there are etchings and statues of similar long, low dogs dating back thousands of years, however 16th century German hunters were responsible for selecting and cross breeding dogs to create the dachshund we are familiar with today. The name Dachshund literally means “Badger Dog” in German.

Known affectionately as Sausage Dog, Hot Dog, Doxie, Dashie and Weiner, these adorable and amusing companions are a favourite the world over.

Greyhound Print

At least 4000 years old, the Greyhound is arguably the oldest purebred canine. Combining speed, grace and exceptional hunting ability with loyal and devoted companionship, the greyhound has been used in the sport of coursing (the pursuit of prey by sight instead of scent) since ancient times. It can reach speeds of between 40 and 45mph.

There is plenty of amusing greyhound behaviour terminology to learn. These big-hearted hunters like to alternate between the “Zoomies” (galloping with abandon on winged feet) and the “Snoozies” (lounging and dozing in comfort and warmth). Many delight in hoarding food and toys in their beds where they may practice “Roaching” (rolling onto their back and spreading their legs at odd angles in all directions, like a dead cockroach) and they may also enjoy a spot of “Roo-ing” (singing or howling).

detail of dachshund print detail of greyhound print dachshund print unframed greyhound print unframed  framed dachshund print framed greyhound print

hand mixed ink rolling out ink for printing pulling a print etching press

For more details and to buy (£40 plus shipping, worldwide) please visit The Enlightened Hound’s website

Personalised Dog Rubber Stamps

I really enjoyed my most recent collaboration with The English Stamp Company to create a range of personalized dog breed rubber stamps.

dog rubber stamps

The use my original pen and ink drawings of different dog breeds from my Dog Tag series of prints and they can be personalized with the name and breed of your canine companion.

dog breed rubber stamps

The English Stamp Company have been making rubber stamps for over 20 years. The stamps are beautifully made and mounted onto a traditional beechwood handle so they look great and are easy to use. They also stock a range of ink pads, blank tags and cards so you can get started straight away.

english stamp co

There are 12 breeds in the range so far, with more to come.

Dog Stamps

Dog Breed Stamps

Dog stampsscnauzer pug greyhound whippet stamps

They are available online from Not on the High Street

Old Printer’s Stone Workbench

A local printing business recently contacted me as they were closing down. They kindly wanted to know if I could use any of their left over paper and ink stash. When I went to have a look I spotted a wonderful old workbench and asked about it.

Antique printers stone workbench

They told me it was a Printer’s Stone used in the days of letterpress printing when metal type had to be laid out and set. The top is a completely flat surface which was needed to ensure that the type was set accurately. This workbench has solid iron top however historically a flat stone was used, hence the name – Printer’s Stone.

Fred Ullmer Printers Engineers

This was one of the original pieces that was bought for the printshop when it was set up in 1922. Although the wooden frame bears the scars of many years of use, the iron top is in great condition. It seems incredible that it is probably over 90 years old!

iron top printers workbench

Now I am excited to say that, after much scrubbing of 90+ years of printshop grime, waxing and polishing, it is has a new life as an island in my kitchen.

old drawer from printmakers workbench

The iron top will need oiling or waxing to keep it from developing rust spots.

The huge old drawer opens from both sides. I’m not sure what I will store in there yet but not anything edible!

I’m very happy to have this wonderful old piece of printmaking history in my house. I love it!

Hyde Bark Dog Show and Fundraiser

On Saturday I had a stand at the Mayhew Animal Rescue Home’s fundraising event – the “Hyde Bark” in London’s Hyde Park.

The Enlightened Hound at The Hyde Bark

My pitch right by the Serpentine was lovely and the day was hugely enjoyable – more fun than the art/craft fairs I have done in the past – all due of course to the variety of 4 legged attendees!

I am happy to say that my hand-made stands and hand-painted signage worked nicely for hanging my prints and everything remained in place despite a few gusts of wind!

The enlightened hound's stand at the mayhew fair

the enlightened hound craft fair stand

 

It was great to meet some of the members of the Cockapoo Club who persuaded me to add Cockapoos to my series of “Dog Tag” prints. More pictures of me, the cockapoos and the event can be found on the cockapoo blog “Miss Darcy’s Adventures”.

Some other highlights included a huge Great Dane (named Jarvis) sniffing a tiny mottled Dachshund (named Blue Cheese!) … an elegant Afghan (which took me back to my childhood as an aunt of mine had one) … two little dachshunds named Beatrice and Audrey (such great names) and a lovely Catalan Sheepdog (who reminded me of my own Portuguese Water Dog).

It was lovely to meet everyone who stopped by my stand (both 2 legged and 4 legged). Thank you all for your your interest in my work and for the many people who signed my book with requests for “Dog Tag” prints of their breeds… most popular requests were Yorkie, French Bulldog and Beagles – they are all now on my list!

There was lots of entertainment to keep everyone amused… from agility to dog shows and heartwarming rescue stories from the Mayhew Rescue Home. Lots of fun had by all and all for a good cause!