DIY Rustic Table Top Art Print Display Browser

I needed a way to display my unframed prints at fairs and shows and also in gift shops where my work is stocked. I searched online for table top print browsers and retail display solutions and looked into old apple crates and custom made wooden boxes but nothing was right …or it cost more than I was willing to pay!

I wanted a rustic style box that was not too deep (so the prints would stay fairly vertical) and that was low at the front (so as not to obscure the prints) and higher at the back (to support the prints from behind) … and the right size for my prints… so quite specific requirements then! I decided my only cost effective option was to make them myself.

Here’s how they turned out…

DIY Rustic wood print browser for art

If you’d like to find out how I made them, read on! I’m a not a skilled woodworker and it took me a day to make 5 browsers.

Here’s the tools I used:

A hand saw, tape measure, pencil, set square and drill (with 3mm drill bit for pilot holes and screwdriver head) plus various wood screws… sizes 3.5 and 4 and 30mm/40mm long.. and some rough sandpaper and sanding block or an electric sander.

Here’s what I did:

I visited my local wood recycling yard where for the princely sum of £12 I picked up some lengths of pallet wood – about 16mm thick and 100mm wide and some 20 x 44mm battens. They were nice and rustic looking!

The internal dimensions of my table top browser are 500mm wide by 250mm deep so for each box I cut the following lengths of wood:

3 x 500mm: 1 front and 2 back lengths

2 x 250mm: 2 sides on the bottom layer

2 x 266mm: 2 sides on the top layer

5 x 282mm: slats for the bottom

4 x 250mm lengths from the 20 x 44mm batten for the uprights

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First off I screwed together 2 x 500mm lengths and 2 x 250mm sides to make the base frame. I drilled pilot holes first to reduce stress on the wood and reduce the risk of it splitting.

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An extra pair of hands is useful to hold the pieces together but not essential. Next I screwed the slats onto the bottom. Again I drilled pilot holes in the slats before screwing them in.

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Then I  screwed together the three sides for the back and sides of the top layer … I used the remaining 500mm length and the 2x 266mm sides… it was a bit wonky but so long as it’s roughly square it doesn’t matter once it’s screwed into place.

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Next I attached the uprights to the box. I placed each one in position and marked with a pencil where to drill the pilot holes… making sure I avoided the other screws that are holding the frame together. I then drilled the pilot holes and screwed the uprights in place with 2 screws per upright into the bottom frame.

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Now turning the box on a short side, I inserted the 3 sided top layer that I made earlier. It didnt sit very square but this was rectified as it was screwed together. I put one screw in… no pilot holes this time… drilling through the frame and into the batten upright. Then I turned the box onto the other short side and holding the top layer into place, put another screw through the frame and into the batten.

I put 4 screws in each end – 2 into each batten – as shown below.

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Now all that was left was to add my logo. I thought the best way to do this would be by stencilling. I had some Mylar (thin plastic used to make stencils) but cutting out the small font and the Dog was very hard, especially as my Mylar was probably a bit on the thick side.

I looked online and found plenty of places who would laser cut any design into a stencil for you but it was Friday afternoon and I didn’t want to wait (or spend the money) so being a printmaker I decided to cut my logo into a scrap piece of lino and use that to apply it to the boxes.

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It worked pretty well though it needed a bit of touching up with a small brush in places where the wood was too rustic!

Hope you like the idea… I’d love to see your solutions to displaying prints at fairs too.

 

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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

 

 

In Memory of a Dog

A good friend recently had to say goodbye to her gorgeous flat coat retriever, River.

It was sudden and shocking news. I wanted to create something uniquely personal for her in River’s memory and also use drawing as an outlet for my thoughts on this sad news. River was a beautiful boy, so handsome and good natured and his love of water really lived up to his namesake.

If you are familiar with my prints, you will know that hand-lettering is my ‘thing’ and as someone who bought one of my prints recently commented, I have to be “both a printmaker and a wordsmith”, so I decided to write a poem about River and combine it with illustration in a vintage style.

Here is my Ode to River, in pen & ink on Japanese Hosho paper…

Tribute to a dog

 

 

Framed tribute to a dog

 

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).

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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

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!

Hand Lettered Sign for Show

I have been preparing for my next fair… the wonderfully named “Hyde Bark” Dog Show in London’s Hyde Park.

The event is run by the Mayhew Animal Home – an animal welfare organisation in London that helps thousands of dogs and cats to escape a life of abandonment, neglect and cruelty each year.

As hand lettering is my ‘thing’ I spent a few happy hours painting some signage for the stand I am designing for the event.

debbie kendall hand letterer

hand lettered signage by Debbie Kendall

hand painted signage by debbie kendall

hand lettering by debbie kendall

hand lettered sign by debbie kendall

Will post some pics of the finished stand after the show!

If you love dogs and live near London… come and see me at the Hyde Bark on 15th June.

 

Border Terrier, Jack Russell and Cockapoo Prints

Been busy as a bee with 3 new prints in my “Dog Tag” series… The Border Terrier, The Jack Russell and The Cockapoo.

These prints are all hand lettered and illustrated and then printed individually by hand on my press in my studio, dutifully watched over by my Portuguese Water Dog, Figo.

First up the Border Terrier, printed in a soft blue-grey ink, inspired by the big skies of the Border Country.

Border Terrier Hand Lettered Print by Debbie Kendall The Enlightened Hound

These rough ‘tweedy’ coated working terriers hail from the area between England and Scotland called the Border Country, a dramatic hilly landscape of sweeping valleys, heather moorland and green forests where 18th century farmers and shepherds, in need of some help to control the local fox and vermin population, started breeding Border Terriers.

And the Cockapoo… printed in a soft apple green ink

Cockapoo print by The Enlightened Hound

The popular Cockapoo was probably the first deliberate cross breed with the first records dating back to 1960s, or possibly 1950s, America. The delightful result of this cross between a Cocker Spaniel and Poodle is a happy-go-lucky, smart and totally devoted companion.

And the Jack Russell (Parson Russell Terrier)… printed in an understated taupe-grey ink

Jack Russell Print by The Enlightened Hound

I really enjoyed researching these popular and feisty little dogs, with their long history of assisting people with hunting and vermin control. Their controversial and chequered past makes fascinating reading.

The story goes that the breed line was started way back in 1795 by the Reverend John (“Jack”) Russell, a parson with a passion for fox hunting and country pursuits. However he was vehemently against developing the Jack Russell to a standard as required by the Kennel Club for registration as he, and his sporting brethren, believed that developing a pedigree Jack Russell line would dilute the tenacious work ethic that these tough little dogs are known for.

But of course there were those who disagreed and sought to create a breed standard – now known as the Parson Russell Terrier – which is recognised by the Kennel Club.

Kennel club recognition aside, these larger-than-life dogs make great companions for people in all walks of life.

So this makes a total of 11 breeds now in my “Dog Tag” print series… the others are Labrador, Cocker Spaniel, Springer Spaniel, Pug, Golden Retriever, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Whippet & Portuguese Water Dog… take a look at them all on The Enlightened Hound’s Website.