A Sampler

Sampler: a piece of cloth embroidered with various stitches, serving to show a beginner’s skill in needlework.

220px-Merklap_1805_SamplerAfter a dry summer, we’ve had a lot of rain in recent weeks. As I have recently received an order of bulbs, every sunny break finds me out in the garden, wearing sturdy gloves and rubber boots. By the end of each bulb-planting session, the gloves look like they should be throw out and the boots are half an inch off the ground with all the muck they’ve accumulated. My reward will come in the spring, when snowdrops, daffodils, irises and tulips flower freely in my garden.

I’ve just been introduced to a printmaking process (or perhaps it’s actually two processes): collagraph and embossing. This gives me plenty to do when rain keeps me inside.

The word “collagraph” comes from the French colle, meaning to stick or glue. There certainly was quite a bit of gluing involved.

Embossing and debossing are the processes of creating either raised or recessed relief images and designs in paper and other materials. An embossed pattern is raised against the background, while a debossed pattern is sunken into the surface of the material (but might protrude somewhat on the reverse, back side).

–Wikipedia.org, “Paper embossing”

My first collagraphs were disappointing, mostly because I didn’t really understand what the final prints were going to look like. I decided that I needed to produce a “sampler”, incorporating most of the various techniques I’d been taught, along the lines of a beginner’s embroidery sampler. Having done this, I have a better understanding of the possibilities of these techniques and what kinds of designs might show them to best advantage.

"A Sampler", collagraph and embossing, 6" x 8"

“A Sampler”, collagraph and embossing, 6″ x 8″

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23 thoughts on “A Sampler

    • Haha. Yes, “debossing” would be a good scrabble word, along with two of my favourites: “qi” ( the circulating life energy that in Chinese philosophy is thought to be inherent in all things) and “gotch” (e.g., “gotch-eared sow”, a poorly described, local, pathologic condition of livestock).

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  1. Embossing and debossing, I am so impressed by arty people like you and also a bit envious. You make such beautiful things. What a talent.
    As for bulbs, I have loads still to plant, it is such a chore but won’ t it be worth it in the Spring?

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    • I’m glad to hear you are still in the midst of bulb-planting. It will definitely be worth it in the Spring. You shouldn’t waste any time or energy on envy. I truly believe that anyone who wants to do so can learn to draw in a year and a half, if they practice. Speaking of art, I often think of your February(?) post in which you asked the question, “Is the garden an art form?”. The more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that the answer is “yes”. Good garden design shares elements and principles in common with fine art. It’s bothersome that gardens are so ephemeral; however, this is also true of “event art”, concerts, dance and so on.

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  2. Great idea! And I love the word debossing – that’s a new one to me!
    I’m still “thinking about” getting some spring bulbs as I have a few empty pots…
    I look forward to your images of tulips 🙂

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  3. I am looking forward to see both: the spring flowers and the new prints you’ll be making! I love the embossed cards and I can imagine after your lovely ‘Sampler’ how many interesting prints could be done. I assume it’s quite a laborious technique…

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    • The technique is a bit fiddly, but I wouldn’t call it “laborious”. It’s actually more playful then other printmaking processes, such as etching, because the print is composed of a number of pieces which are put together on the press, rather like a jigsaw puzzle. Of course, you have to keep your wits about you! 🙂

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  4. What a good idea to do a sampler. I can see you creating loads of wonderful art pieces.

    You must have been getting all our rain. You will be having so much beauty to look forward to with your bulbs. I haven’t planted them for a few years, but I do love them. They herald the Spring don’t they?

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    • I don’t think we’ve been getting your rain, as we’ve gotten rain here in every season I can remember. However, the drought in California is a serious concern and it will affect all of us eventually, as we depend on California for much of our produce.

      Having definite seasons is something I’ve come to enjoy very much, and it makes Spring an exciting time. The flowers that emerge from bulbs are a big part of that excitement.

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