Book Letters

I wanted to create something special for my friend Victoria Waddle’s birthday. I imagined her initials made out of open books.

I started playing with a physical copy of Robinson Crusoe to determine the general shapes and the component parts of the end view of an open book.
I cut a piece of paper the size of my linoleum block and sketched out my design. I then taped the design to a block and went over the lines pressing firmly. Since her initials are V and W, I didn’t have to worry about flipping them so they would turn out facing the correct direction when printed. If her initials included letters like D, B, or E, I would have had to invert the image on the block so the letters would print facing the correct direction.
My retracing of the drawing left a faint in impression on the block.
After I removed the paper, I penciled over the impressions to make the design more visible.
I began outline the design with a small V-gouge.
The areas of the block that are uncut become the areas that print. You carve out the negative spaces of the design. In this photo I’m beginning to use a large V-gouge to remove the open spaces surrounding the book forming the letter V. I chose not to texturize the area immediately around the book since I want the view to focus on the V shape of the book.
I carved out the negative space with a design so if it accidentally got inked that it would add to the piece. I also like to think of my block itself as object of art.
Having played with a physical book while creating my design, I chose to place the book-letters in my design inside a bookcase. Without the support of the bookshelf frame, a real book would open flat.
Here’s the block before a test print.

I tested the block using some black ink. The first impression (bottom left) showed some of the lines in the negative space. I carved them lower to remove them from the print (top right). I created a cut-out form (upper right) to help me align the block with the paper. I ended up choosing blue ink for the final print (bottom right).

I matted and framed the print before wrapping it as a gift.