Sallie Radock likes making an impression. She has been making block prints since the 1990s, carving blocks that reflect her interest in wildlife, world travel and gardening.
Radock enjoys this art form because of the pure, graphic quality of relief prints, the fun of experimenting with the ink colors and the textures of handmade papers.
Her designs are limited edition individually carved, inked and pulled prints. She uses acid free watercolor paper or handmade paper due to the variety of possible interesting effects. She applies colorfast water-soluble inks to the carved block then registers the paper on the block and hand presses to transfer the image to the chosen material.
Because the carved areas are lower than the surface of the block, they remain ink free and allow the color and/or texture of the paper to become a feature of the image. She prefers to press with her hands rather than a machine so she can modify the amount of ink that is transferred and create different effects to make each piece unique.
When creating a design, it is a mirror image of the original design and the finished product. The carved areas won't be inked, thus revealing the paper. For example, carving out the eyes or nose of a subject may give a rather unexpected effect in the finished piece. So, before beginning to carve, she plans which parts to remove. She always can carve out additional areas but it is challenging to replace pieces if too much has been removed.
Depending on how the colors work on various papers, colors and textures, even a familiar design can create a surprise when the paper is removed. That element of surprise is part of the charm and occasional frustration of making block prints.
Relief printing can be traced to early cave dwellers who engraved and scratched line designs onto the walls of caves more than 20,000 years ago. The Sumerians created prints in carved relief dating from 4000 B.C. Before moveable type, pictures and words were cut on the same block to create block books.
Radock is displaying her block prints at the Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave., to kick off the new Art in the Library program in June. A meet-the-artist reception is 5-8 p.m. Friday, June 4, as part of Sequim's First Friday Art Walk. The Ed Donohue Quartet plays from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
For more information about Sallie Radock, visit www.randstarimages.com.