A Practical Diversion

I spent Saturday at the John Rylands Library. For a change, I wasn’t trawling through 200-year-old books or having a meeting to plan projects, but actually getting my hands dirty creating prints in response to the Blake exhibition.

The workshop, “Line and Light”, was part of the public programme to accompany the exhibition. Inspired by the Rylands’ magnificent hand-coloured (by William and Catherine Blake) copy of Edward Young’s Night Thoughts, the workshop took us through the process of creating and printing a plate, then colouring it in watercolour.

We were using silver card, rather than metal, to create out plates, which has numerous advantages for a workshop of this nature, not least being rather easier to work with (a great bonus for someone as out of practice in drawing with even a pencil and paper as I am) and it still allows experimenting with various techniques to create different effects.

I made two plates, both taking images from “When the Morning Stars Sang Together” from Blake’s Illustrations to the Book of Job — probably the most famous design in this series.

I had great fun, even if the results are very amateurish, but maybe I will leave it for less than years this time before I turn my hand to making pictures instead of writing about them.

Here is my first plate (but my favourite of the two), which takes elements from two of the vignettes in the margin of “When the Morning Stars Sang Together” which depict the six days of Creation — this is the creation of the beasts of the air and the sea, and the sun, moon and stars.

Birds Plate

Here is the coloured print I made:

Birds Coloured

After this impression, I added some additional texture to the plate in the sky:

Birds B&W

The second plate I made is basically a straight borrowing of the Morning Stars themselves:

Morning Stars Plate

Again, I coloured the the first impression, with less shading:

Morning Stars Coloured

I then tried using a special tool to add lines to darken up the background:

Morning Stars Stage 2

Finally, I made it even darker by adding cross-hatching (although it turns out not very evenly, but I ran out of time to fix this):

Morning Stars Stage 3