How much pressure is enough?
The challenge for the Curiosity Club. Two minutes. Double click to send images in detail.
Virginia, Phyllis, Jackie, and Pat were the first group of puzzle solvers to examine an inked impression and a cut woodblock.
1) the woodblock was the reverse of the inked impression
2) the deep cuts on the block resulted in white areas in the print
3) noticed the trees
The second group looked closely at three inked impression, next.
1) The dark impression was probably the first print inked up.
2) The left one had cornstalks and flowers in it.
All were surprised to hear that the artist preferred the blackest black one. Many liked the faint ones. One lady, Carol, asked how the "cornstalk and flower cuts" were removed from the woodblock. An Elmer's paste was applied to the cuts, let dry, then wet sanded with 220 grade sandpaper and some water. The surface was gently wet sanded until the cut surface was smooth to the touch. When inked, the previous cuts printed black. (click on link for video HERE )
It was a commercial artist at the Union Station in Kansas City named Fred Geary, a native of Carrollton, who got a bug for woodcuts. He was CURIOUS. He tried cutting on a linoleum block first. Something like this:
As Geary's curiosity grew, Geary tried woodcuts, and then wood engravings, which use a harder wood. In 1935 Geary had an entry accepted in the 16th International Print Makers Exhibition, at the Los Angeles Museum Exposition Park, in California. He was one of one hundred and eighty-five print makers who had work exhibited.
ABOVE, "Birthplace of Jesse James" by Fred Geary, wood engraving,18th impression of 100. This meant Geary had 18 impressions of that were just as DARK and as RICH and as PERFECT as the one you see here. The ink impression or proof measured 7 1/2 by 10 3/8 inches.
The Carrollton Public Library graciously allowed five of their Geary collection to be shown at the Curiosity Club.
Karl Marxhausen, an artist from Carrollton, prepared linoleum blocks for the Curiosity Club. The one to the LEFT was based on the right side of Geary's work.
Compare the inked impression to the RIGHT with Geary's work above. Places were marked for cutting, and students from previous workshops have made all the cuts. CURIOUS participants all inked from the same block, but applied different pressure as they HAND BURNISHED the back on the paper. The most frequent question was: "How much pressure is enough??"
Margaret wanted to do another one. Two minute video.
Margaret (M): Does it make any difference how much you rub on this?
Karl Marxhausen (KM): I guess you will find out.
M: Ok (chuckle) (paper slides askew) Oh shoot. Do I take the paper off?
KM: Just keep going.
KM: Just keep going.
Kathy: I bet it is just stuck to the block.
KM: And if it is stuck to the block that is a good thing!
M: Which one do you think is better?
Kathy: That is your interpretation.
KM: Which one would you hang on your refrigerator?
M: You know, I don't know.
KM: (points) This one (on the right) is upside down. (points to left) This one is right side up.
Kathy: There you go. That might make it a little better.
M: (point to left) Probably this on is better.
KM: I'd hang on to both and sign them both. And say, "I DID THIS."
M: (chuckle) And what if I....
KM: No, that's what gives it VALUE. If you say, I did this. And they ARE different. Then you can point that out. Say, "It was HARD. Cuz look, they ARE NOT THE SAME. I did both of them, but they are not the same.
M: (chuckles and she signs them)
KM: (points) Is that yours too?
KM: I would take ALL THREE.
M: You know what I did here? I signed it upside down. (chuckles)
KM: Hey, that works.
Edith and Margaret compare their impressions. Hmmm.
Virginia Sprigg signed her impression and clipped it to the clothesline John had put up. She went home and came back with a woodcut her first cousin had done. Donald Hayob was a retired art teacher from Slater, Missouri.
"I taught art at Longview Community College. The class was doing a section on Linocuts. I figured I would do one myself. So I herded them outside, we did drawings of the campus chapel, and went back in and did the box. I worked on the birch panel at night, for three nights. There was probably six to eight hours of work in it. Passion is what it takes. That and patience." (Hayob was reached on the phone, Sunday, Nov 16, 2014. He is 76 years old, retired, and lives on nine acres of land on the south edge of Lee's Summit, Missouri.)
One minute. Sprigg showed the woodcut "Longview Chapel" by Donald Hayob. His work measured 20 by 12 inches. Seeing the Geary works, and doing her own impression sparked Virginia to bring this treasure to share at the Curiosity Club. Sprigg lives in Marshall, Missouri.
"Once you started inking, they drew in closer." Kathy Tylee
"I have worked with linocuts before." Carol
Below, both Carol and John took turns, sat and used a Speedball cutter on the second linoleum block Marxhausen had prepared.
"Now I see that the cuts are careful and controlled." John
"Where can I buy a lino block?" Vera
"You can buy them at the Dick Blick art store in Kansas City." Karl
Artist Karl Marxhausen cuts on his lino block. CLICK HERE
Fifteen minutes. At his home studio, Marxhausen works on a winter scene. He used this linoleum block as a example of block work at the Curiosity Club Wednesday, Nov 12th. For further cutting, CLICK HERE
Tell me something about the tree by the house that Fred Geary did, below.
"There is lots of white cut out of it."
The Curiosity Club meets the second Wednesday of every month at 1:00 pm at the Marshall Senior Center, 14 E. Morgan St. It is sponsored by the Senior Center and the Marshall Public Library. You can join them for lunch at 12 or dessert, coffee and curiosity satisfaction at 1:00 pm. For more information call 660-886-3391, Marshall Public Library.
Thanks to Holly Forsman for taking photos for this post.
Thanks to Carrollton Public Library and Director Sue Lightfoot for inked impressions by Fred Geary, from their collection.
Thanks to Kathy Tylee, Director of the Marshall Senior Center.
Thanks to Wicky Sleight, Director of the Marshall Public Library. Thanks to Karl Marxhausen for layout and additional photos.
Marxhausen is a member of the Nelson Atkins Print Society.