A Print for the Fallen

E is for Explosion

In a continuing progress review of a joint venture with www.sarakulmanpaperplay.com I’m explaining the process that led to a limited edition image and card engineered folder.

Having cut the card on the Silver Bullet machine, sara  then set about folding it into a shape that not only contained the image but also  gave hints as to the content within. This was a cleverly considered device, meant to compliment and enhance but not to distract from the print.

The original intention was to make a complete artefact and to post it to a leading designer. so the work needed to have elegance as well as functioning as an example of combined craftsmanship.

Explosions5 Explosions6Explosions7

The red card was inserted into the inside to allow the text to be read once the card was unfolded and at the same time providing an ‘E” on the upper cover. The ingenuity of the design meant that the letter form on the front became incorporated into the overall design and an integral element.

Explosions8 Explosions9photo-5

The insertion of the print itself added the final touch and what we had were three distinct colours working in unison and providing a dynamic integration of type, card engineering and print. This was a very successful collaborative project and the end result will hopefully make an impact.

completed project

completed project


Joint Venture: E for Explosion

Andrew Kulman and sarakulmanpaperplay.com join forces

E for Explosion is a collaboration demonstrating husband and wife team work. Andrew produced a series of wood engravings over Summer and asked Sara to design a folder which could contain four small engravings. The theme was explosions, inspired by Vorticist images and Paul Nash’s wood engravings of the Great War. Why explosions? Andrew  suggests that there was irony in taking something almost impossible to depict visually and engraving it in fine lines across small block of Lemon wood. What you achieve is an impression rather than anything that can be called objective.

Sara’s contribution was a series of innovative folders, using the dynamism of shapes and angles to make a visual response in card to the theme of explosion.  What originally started as a folder for four images became a folder for one particular image. The first considerations were centred on materials and colour. Particular weights of card and paper needed to be decided. One of the factors was whether the Silver bullet card cutter could handle the materials?

paper cutting machine

Sara preparing the card on the machine.

So what were the main considerations? Well firstly a project that combined both sets of skills, printmaking and paper engineering, but also a real joint venture that came together as a whole rather than two discrete aspects. Should colour appear in the print, how should it be used on the actual folder, would there need to be words, how large was the folder and how large was the edition?

Explosions: an exercise in Print and Paper, Part 3 printing

When it comes to printing, I’m very much from the ‘Kitchen Table School’ of working, no reliance on big presses mentality, the DIY methods that mean you can do printing at any hour of the day, even when most print workshops have closed their doors. Its something I learnt the hard way asa graduating student and have professed to my own own students since.

For those who enjoy the technical details, I’ll use TN Lawrence oil based inks, ( I’ve had white spirit and aquatint dust coursing through my veins since 1982 so I’m sticking to solvent based ink. I use a ticketed sheet of glass for rolling out ink, hand burnish with a wooden burnisher, sometimes aided with a hard rubber roller….and always wear an apron, can’t afford to keep ruining my best clothes. Its amazing how many students pass on the apron only to get ink over their expensive white D&G shirt.

As the wood engraving blocks are relatively small I’m able to ink up and print in a confined space and with minimal fuss, larger work I’ll tend to print in the University work shops, it has its advantages, space for one but also others can see how you work and that you do actually work.

Its interesting that my friend Chris Brown and before him, his friend, Edward Bawden favoured the home DIY approach, what worked/worked for them is good enough for me.

I’m also preferring to use Japanese tissue ( of varied thicknesses. Justin Sanders advised I use Gampi, but I find it too flimsy, gossamer thin) I prefer Shoji or Chinese rice paper.)

Here are two of the four images. Note the one has had colours applied. These are pantone/pro marker additions just to try out colour variations. Im quite keen to use bright primary colours to give a contemporary ‘Pop’ feel to the otherwise earnest subject matter..as a result of this trial, I’m sticking to one colour for the back grounds.

Wood engraving

Wood engraving

B/W Wood engraving

B/W Wood engraving

Explosions: an exercise in Print and Paper, Part 1 ideas

I’m in the process of doing a collaborative project with Sara Kulman, see her wonderful website http://sarakulmanpaperplay.com using print and paper. 

The theme I chose was explosions based on the symbolic representations that were incorporated into the dynamic wood cuts of Paul Nash, the lithographs of David Bomberg and the general energy seen in the work of Italian Futurists and British Vorticists. Why?..well partly I wanted to find a theme that would seem appropriate when I began engraving lemon wood blocks, the intention was to create something vast and dynamic on an impossibly small surface, how to capture an explosion on a 2.5 inch surface. The beauty of wood engraving lies in the very fine incisions that the razor sharp tools offer. 

I decided to produce small B/W drawings using ink and charcoal in order to understand the limitations of the space and the marks required to convey the explosive images. My images need to be pared down and stripped of unnecessary detail as i intended the lines to be the principal focus of intention.

In part 2 I’ll discuss the process of engraving and the difficulties encountered.

Drawing of an explosion

Drawing of an explosion