I've been off the [Baren] radar for quite a while, but I haven't been slacking. For the better part of the last year I have been engaged in a project called "James G. Mundie's Cabinet of Curiosities", which features unusual items from medical and anatomy museums I have visited in the United States and Europe. I bring this to your attention now because there is a woodcut component to the series, two of which are viewable now at
I have six more woodcuts underway, and three new etchings - so those will appear on that page as they emerge into the light.
The woodcuts are based on drawings I did on site during my visits. To facilitate turning my sketches into woodcuts I had for many years been doing photocopy transfers with oil of wintergreen, but recently I have had less than satisfactory results using that method. It seems to me that the formulation of photocopier toner has changed, and the transfers are no longer as crisp and dark as the ones I could achieve in the past. Even worse, the ink doesn't seem to bond to the wood as strongly, so the image gets progressively fainter during cutting.
To get beyond this, I have resorted to the old tried and true hanshita method - or rather, what I've been calling "The Lazy Man's Hanshita". Elsewhere Dave Bull has described his preferred method, which involves attaching thin specialty paper onto a sturdier substrate such as typing bond, which then allows him to print directly from his laserjet printer and then glue that face down onto his board. What I have been doing -- as I lacked the super-thin appropriate paper, the spray adhesive, and the patience -- is to glue a photocopy of my drawing on regular copy paper face down (I had Elmer's wood glue handy, so have been using that), allowing that to dry, then using a wet finger to gently rub away the layers of excess paper. What remains is a clear and durable image, which may be further clarified with a light touch of mineral oil. One needs to be careful in the application of glue and the removal of the paper, lest it tear or distort; but all in all I find it's a much superior method to the stinky and smudgeable oil transfer.
Should you find yourself in Los Angeles before May 9th, you can see fifteen photographs from this series on display at Todd/Browning Gallery (http://www.toddbrowning.com),
in a show called "Shock & Horror: Human Oddities and Medical Marvels". The day that show closes, "Morbid Anatomy Cabinet" opens in New Orleans at Barrister's Gallery. I'll be showing six woodcuts, drawings and photographs there.