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I am developing a bit of a pile problem.


Completed woodblocks are piling up around my studio. Part of this is because the print studio has been closed but there is another more emotional (or possibly neurotic) reason. I get attached to my blocks.

You know that feeling you get when you buy a new paintbrush and it has gorgeous, silky bristles? Sometimes you don’t use that brush for a while because once you use it it will stiffen and get ugly. So you hold on to it in its pristine state for a while, maybe until you start to feel a little foolish, and then you use it.

This is how I’m feeling about my woodblocks. When they are carved but not yet printed they are so pristine, so pretty. I love how they look.

Never mind that the image on the block is in reverse. Never mind that the whole purpose of the block is to marry it with ink and make a print. Sometimes I just like to revel in my pile of blocks.


Luckily, before my studio starts to look like I should be on the TV program about hoarding, I remember something else. I imagine that moment when, just through the press, I get to peel away the paper from the inky block and see the image for the first time the way I really meant it to be seen. It’s an exciting moment every time.

And, of course, I always take a photo of those pretty, pristine blocks to remember them by.

I’m off on vacation next week, but when I get back my pile and I will be heading into the print studio to make some images. The blocks will turn all black and have finger smudges on the backs and look like the workhorses they are.

And then it will be time to get started on a whole new pile. I have the best job in the whole world!