I had a bit of an "oh shit" moment earlier in the week when I remembered that I had signed up to participate in a collaborative book project for the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team (aka BEST). I hadn't even started yet. Then there was more panic as I searched through my emails only to discover that I had accidentally deleted the instructions, the poem we were meant to be working with, and the post with the due date and the stanza I got in the random draw. I sent off a quick, embarrassed email to my group (there were enough people for several 5-person groups), and very quickly got two responses with the required information from a couple of my (very supportive) team members.
So the project is this: members of BEST were assigned to 5-person groups, and each group got a poem to work with (ours was written by one of our group members). Then each person makes 6 copies of a signature (in this case, one sheet folded into a 2-leaf signature) inspired by the poem. Then we send 5 of the 6 copies of our completed signature to the project organizer, who sends 4 of them to the other group members, and keeps the fifth to bind herself. When we get the other four members' work, we bind them into a book. The 6th copy of the book will be bound by the project organizer and exhibited.
My group's poem is "The Garden of Her Heart" by Eva Buchala, and I got the second stanza, full of weed and flower and tree imagery. I may be working a little more literally than the project requires, but I couldn't resist the plants! The image of a bent and twisted tree especially captured my imagination, so that's where I started, with a centre spread. Here's the sketch:
I had thoughts of doing this as a print, so I wouldn't have to draw the same image over and over again six times. As I sketched, I decided that if my resulting design was simple enough to cut quickly in lino (quickly because I need to finish and mail by Friday), I'd do linoprints. I don't have the facilities at home (yet) to do any other kind of printing, alas. When I had a sketch I liked, I realized that it wouldn't be easy enough to do in lino that I could do it quickly. I briefly entertained the idea of scanning and printing digitally, then hand-colouring, but my laser printer chokes on paper that isn't specifically made for printers, and the ink on my lovely inkjet will run with watercolours on top of it. So hand-drawing it is.
I spent several hours yesterday afternoon/evening inking trees. I had to go to plan B for transferring the image. Plan A was to ink directly on the blank paper by working on my lightbox with the sketch underneath. Sadly, my sketch was not dark enough and the lights in my lightbox not bright enough, to penetrate the heavy printmaking paper I chose. So plan B was to rub graphite on the back of the sketch and trace over the lines as if I had transfer paper under. By the time I did that six times, my hand was already getting tired and I still had the actual ink to do.
So there it is. I basically drew the same tree six times, and finished just in time to catch Treme on HBO. It's drawn with india ink and a crowquill on BFK Rives printmaking paper in grey. I don't know why I picked the grey paper. It just seemed a nice change from my usual brown/cream tones. Though of course when it's done, there will be a lot of brown on the tree . . .
Next I'll transfer and ink the pages on the other side. When that's dry, I'll start the colouring--first one side, then dry, then the other side. Then I'll add the text. If all goes well, I should be done in plenty of time to mail them out on Friday.
And here are all the trees with the sketch after tracing over it six times: