Tag Archives: surgical spirit

Man Engine

12 Apr

manengine

Back last week I was rummaging through the drawers in my plans chest and pulled out some used paper that I thought could be reused and today I got my chance. Swansea hosted Man Engine , the largest mechanical puppet ever constructed in Britain, which has been journeying up from Cornwall. It’s amazing. I was invited to take part in a live drawing event (with afternoon tea) at Galerie Simpson on Swansea’s High Street to coincide with the behemoth’s progress through the city. It’s very slow moving so I managed to sketch the giant head outside the gallery on the pavement as it rumbled by. I drew with black, white and sanguine conté crayon and some of my home-made sepia walnut ink onto a recycled cyanotype print on Bockingford paper. If you want to know how to make walnut ink, please check out my blog post here.

The Stone By The Motorway

25 Jun

Tyn Cellar

This is a thumbnail sketch I’ve done based on field drawings and photos of the Tyn Cellar Neolithic stone, near the motorway not far from Margam. I’m doing thumbnails, small working sketches, to learn more about the subject, to get used to it, to explore different ways of making marks, looking for ways to develop it. This is starting to look like it might be good cut into wood or lino and printed up, maybe in 2 colours with some chine collé in the background. I’ve used some heavyweight Tate Gallery paper and randomly sponged it with a walnut ink wash. Once it had dried I drew into it with a 6B graphite stick and a white Kohinoor stick.

 

I’m travelling around South West Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments. His previous book on the stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Accompanying us is film maker Melvyn Williams who is recording a documentary about our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. I’m currently working on a series of expressive drawings of ancestral sites and if you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

 

Walnut Husk Ink Revisited

20 Oct

UPDATE:

It’s been about a year since I wrote this post when I made a batch of walnut ink. I’ve been using it regularly and it’s delicious, silky, smooth and rich. It seems to be lightfast, no signs of fading on any of the pieces, although I’ve been careful to use best quality acid-free paper like Fabriano and Saunders.

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Here’s the most recent drawing, in carbon and white conte crayon overlaid onto a background of walnut ink.

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So today I finally finished the walnut ink I started a couple of weeks ago. A friend gave me 4 fresh walnuts (juglans regia) in their husks. I peeled them and left the husks to stand in a basin of water for about a week and a half. They went very black and mushy. I put the basin, covered with tin foil,  into a slow cooker with hot water coming up to half way and left it on the lowest setting overnight, letting it cool completely for another day and night.

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Then I strained it through a ‘J’ cloth into a large jar and tested its strength on a bit of cartridge paper. It was quite pale so I boiled it on the stove and reduced it, checking occasionally until it was a decent sepia colour. There wasn’t much to bottle, about a quarter of a tea mug. The recipes I’ve looked at online suggest adding up to 20% surgical spirit (rubbing alcohol) as a preservative, but there’s so little that I think I’ll use it up pretty quickly. I’ll do some drawings with it and leave them in the light until this time next year. If they haven’t faded, I’ll see if  I can get hold of a larger amount of husks and make some more.

 

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