Making the Big Print (2009)
This project started in 2009 with the assistance of Tom Diel, a design director and custom furniture builder. Tom worked with a CAD file and programmed a Como CNC router to make the initial cuts in a ¾” birch block. This took five hours of machine time. There were 16 files with 4,000 individual lines of G code telling the router what to cut next.
Because we wanted to keep as much detail as possible, very small islands were cut out by hand. My assistant, Taylor Airheart, is shown painting the positive printing areas that exposed the negative, which would be removed using hand tools. Micah Conn and I used traditional wood carving tools to sharpen the image detail. The block was cleaned thoroughly and three coats of polyurethane were applied to seal it in preparation for inking.
The next series of photos shows the shop layout, paper registration, and inking station. Auka, a slow drying water-based printing ink, was applied with a hard duramitor roller. We used a twelve-inch hand brayer to fill in low spots. We proofed the block and printed by hand. Linda Guy is shown inspecting the proof. She marked areas that needed further cutting or building up. We continued with proofing on other papers and experimented with color. The image is 48″ x 67½” on a 56″ x 76″ sheet. Creating this print involved a combination of mechanical and traditional hand work.