The Big Humpback on the Big Tuna

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Mysticeti, prior to final tweaks and inking.

On Saturday, September 14th, I spent the day in Nashville, printing with Big Ink at Hatch Show Print. Lyell Castonguay and Carand Burnet from BIG INK showed up with their expertise and the ‘Big Tuna’ press to help seven artists print oversized wood blocks. Lyell inked all the blocks and ran the press, while we cleaned the blocks, loaded the paper and helped lift and hang the print. We definitely needed many hands to complete this project. Thank you to BIG INK, Hatch Show Print and all the participating artists, including Jen Wright, Duncan McDaniel, Jennifer Garrison, Lauren Medford, Randy Stewart, Juan Rojo and Catherine Maldonado! Also thank you to Daniel Lonow the Haley Gallery manager for hosting, and for giving my family a tour of Hatch and the hidden parts of the Country Music Hall of Fame. It was so great to meet everyone and spend a day making beautiful prints!

Photos from the event were taken by my lovely husband, Venkatesh Gopal.
Lyell Castonguay from Big Ink, inking the blocks.
Lining up the inked blocks on the ‘Big Tuna’ printing press.
Lyell getting ready to print.
Signing the first print.
I caught a big one at the Haley Gallery at Hatch Show Print.

Tharangini

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Wood blocks drying in the sun.

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Two women mixing inks in front of the drying room.

I went to visit Tharangini, (tharangini studio.com), a place on the edge of Sankey Tank in Bangalore that makes block printed fabrics using all natural materials. I had visited before around ten years ago and had forgotten how great this place is. First it is in a beautiful spot on a quiet tree lined street. It’s an enclave in Bangalore, away from the sound and air pollution. They were in the middle of a print run of furnishing fabric designed by Seema Krish. After printing the fabric design, it gets sent to a unit for underprivileged women to have hand stitching. Ten women will work on it at the same time for five hours to complete five meters of cloth.

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One of these printers has worked here for decades. He worked for the mother of the current owner, Padmini Govind. Here he is in action, lining up the block for a continuous design. The numbered wood blocks line the walls of the workshop.

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Sunitha, my mother in law is having two saris printed. Below, she and my sister-in-law Vinuta are discussing with Padmini to decide which block patterns will work best. I went to see if they could print my truck blocks on fabric. Padmini and her printers ran a test to see how it might work and will continue to try a few different techniques to see how well they can get them to work. My linoleum block prints are shallower than the wood blocks that they use. They also contain large print areas and detailed areas, making it difficult to get a good print using their usual technique. They proposed thickening up their printing ink to make it stickier and using a brayer instead of dipping the block in a tray of ink. I am excited to see their results! I am also going for a workshop on November 5th to learn their fabric printing technique. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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