"To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart." -Phyllis Theroux
Observing the native flora and fauna of a landscape captivates me when traveling; and I enjoy collecting flowers and photographing creatures big and small while exploring destinations new or familiar. Capturing these unique elements on my recent trip to Scotland and Ireland filled my sketchbooks, and I have started using these designs to create a series of small open edition original linocut prints on note card stationery. These diminuitive artworks can be collected as souvenirs, sent to family or friends, or showcased in a framed display.
Welcome into my studio to see how these special pieces are created!
Original sketches, like this Scottish thistle, are individually transferred to a linoleum or rubber block and then carved by hand. For these note card designs, I create up to three blocks per element to allow for multiple colors to be printed.
Every card is finished with a hand carved "Elysian Studios printed by hand" logo stamp. Working around small details of text for this block was quite challenging, but the completed piece adds a nice finishing detail to each card.
Once a color palette is selected, I hand mix water-based printing inks, and begin printing the designs in layers. Below, you can see the grass green print of the first block in my Helian Coo design, the second block inked and ready to print, and the third line detail block for the cow nearby. These shaggy cows, native to the Scottish Highlands, captivated me with their sweet dispositions when we spotted them throughout the Highland countryside.
To ensure even ink distribution, I use this vintage silver pie server to rub the paper over each inked block. It works perfectly for the small scale of these artworks!
Each print is carefully aligned with the previous layer to build the image correctly. It is very satisfying to watch the art develop. Occasionally a significant misalignment or ink smudge will occur, and those pieces are lost. Moving meticulously through the production process requires focus, an even pace, and adequate dry time between printed layers.
Once all of the layers of the print are complete, each design is hand embossed to emphasize the art, and an insert of 100% cotton fine writing paper is placed inside, so that writing does not directly contact the artwork.
I enjoy capturing text for these print blocks in a variety of fonts, such as this traditional Celtic typeface associated with the Book of Kells, which I used for both the Ceud Mìle Fàilte and Éire designs.
The Scottish Thistle drawing in the first photo of this post was used to created the thistle emblem for the Ceud Mìle Fàilte design, which is a Scots Gaelic greeting meaning "a hundred thousand welcomes."
Handmade love is poured into the making of each one of these original printed note cards, and I thoroughly enjoy creating small works to share what is inspiring me. Since these designs are all open edition, I can make them in small batches, while continuing work on new designs.