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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Christmas Cards for Dog Lovers

This year there are two Christmas card designs available, both of course with a dog theme.

The “12 Dogs of Christmas” has made a comeback, as it sold out last year and it is joined by “The Howling Dogs of Christmas” – a new design featuring my watercolour drawings of howling dogs.

The Howling Dogs of Christmas Card

The Howling Dogs of Christmas Card

It’s printed on thick, textured card and comes with a festive metallic silver envelope.

Howling Dogs of Christmas Card Pack of 10

Half the profits go to Hearing Dogs (for deaf people) and The Cinnamon Trust (who help the elderly and terminally ill keep their pets with them, when they may otherwise have to give them up).

Watercolour detail of Howling Dogs Christmas Card

Watercolour drawing detail of Howling Dogs Christmas Card

I’m not sure what the Hearing Dogs did with their share last year, but I got a lovely letter from The Cinnamon Trust who used their donation to help buy memory foam beds for 2 large, arthritic dogs.

Watercolour detail of Howling Dogs Christmas Card

Watercolour dog detail of Howling Dogs Christmas Card

Here’s a reminder of last year’s “12 Dogs of Christmas” card, which is also available again this year.

12 Dogs of Christmas Card

12 Dogs of Christmas Card

Cards are sold in packs of 10 for £10 from The Enlightened Hound’s website

 

Yorkshire Terrier Print

The diminutive Yorkie is the 21st breed in my Dog Tag series of prints.

Yorkshire Terrier print unframed

Bred in England as an expert exterminator of vermin in 19th Century mills, mines and factories, this feisty terrier was also a handy pocket sized hunter’s companion, with enough guts to flush out badgers and foxes from their dens.

Yorkshire Terrier print -hand lettered detail

Originally known as the Broken Haired Scotch or Toy Terrier the Yorkies were re-named after a reporter at a show was heard to exclaim that the breed had much improved since it had been in Yorkshire!

It was not long before this tiny and devoted breed made the transition from its working class roots to high society, when it caught the attention of Victorian well-to-do ladies, for whom it became a playful companion and pampered pet.

Yorkshire Terrier print in reclaimed wood frame

Keen of eye and sharp of tongue, what the Yorkie lacks in size it certainly makes up for in spirit. Sprightly and self-important, with a silky steel blue and golden coat, the Yorkshire Terrier remains a terrier at heart.

The print is available framed or unframed from The Enlightened Hound

 

French Bulldog and Poodle Prints

I am excited to have reached 20 breeds in the “Dog Tag” series of prints with these two new additions – the French Bulldog and Poodle. Next, I will be taking a little break from this series to pursue some new ideas but as I still have many requests for other breeds (think Yorkie, Boxer, Great Dane, Bulldog, Pointer… and the list gets longer) I will be returning to the series next year!

There’s a lot of hand lettering and illustrating involved in these prints…

Poodle sketches French Bulldog sketch

Hand lettering hand drawn letters

Telling the story of the breed in an original and quirky way can be a bit of a challenge in around 30-35 words!

french bulldog print poodle print

french bulldog print hand lettering poodle print detail

framed french bulldog art framed poodle print

The French Bulldog print is hand printed in a dark sepia black and the Poodle print in a soft french grey ink.

The French Bulldog has a colourful history accompanying the rather politely named Parisian Belles de Nuit on their evening sojourns. Apparently they were a useful way to break the ice with potential customers to start a conversation! They were also the dog of choice for the french in-crowd arty set and cafe owners in the 19th century. They were bought over to France from England when the Industrial Revolution forced traditional lace workers to flee to France to find work.

Also with a colourful history, the poodle was a popular feature of the travelling circus. Like the Frenchie, the poodle was the a la mode accessory for high society. The poodle’s frou frou reputation belies its origins as a dog bred to retrieve waterfowl from muddy swamps and rivers!

Here are all 20 breeds in the Dog Tag series of prints…

Dog Tag Series of Prints

Prints are 30cms square and each one is individually hand printed and signed.

Sniff them out at The Enlightened Hound

Border Collie, Beagle, Westie & Schnauzer Prints

I have been busy with more prints in the Dog Tag series based on the most requested breeds from people I meet at shows and online. So here are the next 4 in the series which brings the total to 17 breeds!

Border Collie: Hand printed in a soft blue-grey ink

Border Collie Print

Detail of Border Collie Print Framed Border Collie Print

Beagle: hand-printed in an earthy khaki-brown ink

Beagle Print

Beagle print detail Framed Beagle Print

West Highland White Terrier (Westie): hand printed in a light sky blue ink

Westie print

detail of Westie print Framed Westie Print

Schnauzer: hand-printed in a sophisticated dark grey ink

Schnauzer print

Detail of Schnauzer print Framed Schnauzer print

The next three breeds in the Dog Tag series, to make it to 20, will be ready in the next couple of months and then I’m taking a break form the series for a few months to work on some other printmaking ideas that I have been thinking about. So many ideas and so little time!!

To purchase and find out more about the prints, visit The Enlightened Hound’s website

Hand Lettering Project & Sketches

These last few weeks I have been participating an online project on illustration and lettering in label design run by hand-lettering guru Jon Contino through the online education website Skillshare.

So what was I hoping to get out of this course? Well, whilst I am not trying to design a label for a product, I have had in my mind a vintage label/dog tag inspired design for a new print… one based on specific dog breeds and their story…

Skillshare run project based classes in hundreds of subjects, taught online by experts in their field. Its not just art and design though… there are classes in computer technology, fashion, photography, business and writing too. This is my first time using Skillshare so I don’t know if all classes work in the same way, but for the hand lettering project Jon, our teacher, provided guidance through downloadable notes and instructional videos. We students then upload our sketches and ideas as the project progresses, for feedback.

The first thing we had to do was create a ‘mood board’ for our project… this is to help establish the tone for the project and describe the kind of style that will influence it… here is mine…

hand lettering ideas

 

Then we get down to some serious creative business….

blank sketchbook

 

Sharpened pencils at the ready and favourite pens on hand, the blank sketchbook always freaks me out a bit but once I get going that soon dissipates with frequent breaks for dog walks and, more recently, some gentle running – perfect for getting the creative juices flowing!

Feedback comes mainly from your peers who are also participating in the class. Its a great community feel and the more you get involved in both your work and looking at other student’s work, the more support and feedback you get from the other people participating in the project. Unfortunately feedback from the teacher is not very forthcoming… but there were over 450 participants in this class so I guess it isn’t realistic for teachers to comment on all of them individually… but it doesn’t really matter as the other participants, being like minded folk from design backgrounds are generous, constructive and supportive in their feedback.

Now the ideas are ticking along nicely and I have lots of sketches and ideas to refine and play with…

hand lettering and illustration sketches by Debbie Kendall

 

The project is taking shape now and I am finalizing my ideas… so far it has been fun and creatively challenging participating in the Skillshare project… I have started this design with the Portuguese Water Dog as the subject becasue this is the breed closest to my heart but I am open to ideas for which breed to do next… let me know what you would like to see and  watch this space for the new print!