Product Story - Happy Cloud, Angry Cloud Print by Ruth Broadway
Have you ever wondered how Ruth Broadway makes her beautiful lino prints? Our latest Product Story interview tells all...
Firstly can you introduce us to your work space what are you surrounded by when you start a project?
I work in a basement studio, there is lots of light and space to make a mess. I have images and objects that inspire ideas around me.
So, do you remember where and how the idea came about?
Often reading stories to my children will feed ideas for imagery. I am always scribbling down ideas and sketches in numerous notebooks. I have got too many notebooks on the go and often it takes me a long time to find the notes and drawings again when the time comes to put the ideas in motion!
Can you give a brief description of how you started the project?
I draw my design full scale and then trace it so that the image can be reversed and applied to the lino block [everything I cut out is back to front].
What are the essential tools for this project?
paper and pencil
rollers and pallets
wooden spoon or a burnishing tool
lovely printing paper
Can you take us through the stages of development from start to finish?
* Once I have the design I also have to think about colour - this print uses 3 colours and so I have to prepare and cut 3 lino blocks.
* Once the blocks are cut I mix my inks to get the first colour I need, there is often an order in which to print dependent on the colours I am using - in this one the blue is first to create the template for which to place the other two colours. The pink is next and then the grey is last because it is dark enough to work over the top of the blue.
* I roll the ink out on my pallet to get the right consistency of ink and then apply the ink with the roller onto my lino blocks. I sometimes have to clean up the blocks with a cotton bud to remove any rogue bits of ink that might spoil a print.
* Once ready I lay all the parts of the design face up on my clean work bench and carefully lay my paper over the top.
* I then use my trusty wooden spoon [it’s a really small wooden spoon and its just the right weight and size for the job - I might have ‘borrowed’ it from my daughter’s kitchen set!]
* Holding the paper in place I firmly burnish the back of the print. I use a relatively thin paper so often I can see through it and this helps me to take a good rubbing of the whole the design. This burnishing can be quite physical and I am always surprised how warm I get at this stage process!
* I love peeling back the paper to see how the print has come out.
* Once its done its hung on a drying line I have rigged up in the space [meaning that when people come to visit me in my studio they have to duck under drying prints. I’ve got used to where I can stand up straight and where I need to stoop!]
* Once this colour is dry which might be a few days it is time to do the second colour - pink. This time when the colour is ready to go on the block I place it face down onto the paper in the appropriate place and then carefully turn the whole thing over so I can burnish on the back of the print again.
* The grey cloud is done next in exactly the same way.
* The finished print then goes back on the drying line ready for editioning and framing.
Within the whole process of the project what stages did you look forward too?
I LOVE cutting the lino block; it feels like sculpture! - the more intricate the better, although my hands wouldn’t agree - they can get rather stiff and painful if I do a lot of carving. I also love the peeling the paper back and peeking underneath to see the final colour printing block and get the first view of the finished print.
Are there any future plans in the pipeline for new designs? Can you tell us about them?
I always got ideas whirling around in my head - often with the other areas of running a craft business single handedly, there isn’t as much time as I would like to just print.
Finally, once the project is complete and you have time to yourself what the first thing you do to celebrate?
I’ve never thought of celebrating maybe I should do from now on. Completing a print is quite rewarding in itself - I like the slightly weary feeling of having worked hard to create an end product.
Ruth, we think you deserve a little celebration after producing such lovely prints! If, after reading the story behind the 'Happy Cloud, Angry Cloud' print, you would like one of your very own, well you can! Ruth's stunning lino prints are available to buy in our SUMMER Paper Scissors Stone shop.
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