02 03 The World in Relief: A print with an all consuming nature 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

A print with an all consuming nature

It has been over a month since my last blog post. Since then, I have been consumed by a very large intricate square print...and hundreds of circles. So without further ado, here are the two resulting print series:

Elizabeth Busey.  That Which Surrounds and Supports Us.
Linoleum Reduction Print, 28 x 28in, 2013.
Elizabeth Busey. That Which Surrounds and Supports Us (detail).
Linoleum Reduction Print, 28 x 28in, 2013.
Elizabeth Busey. Herbaceous Handwork.
Linoleum Reduction Print, 28 x 28in, 2013.
Elizabeth Busey. Herbaceous Handwork (detail).Linoleum Reduction Print, 28 x 28in., 2013.
These prints were inspired by microscopic enlargements of cross-sections of plant stems. The vascular structure of these stems supports the plant, transports fluids between the roots and shoots, and stores nutrients. Thousands of tiny vessels work in tandem to support a vast array of plant forms. Nothing short of miraculous.

The creation of this print involved creating the matrix of circles, mostly with my trusty Tama To japanese carving tool. Then colors were developed with many different layers of ink rainbow rolls. I wanted the prints to pulsate with life affirming color. After a while, it was necessary to begin carving away the matrix. Because it had taken me so long to create the matrix, this was a decision I made very gradually and painstakingly. Now only the darkest undulating ribbons and the large center circles remain on the block. 

As I researched these structures, I was struck by how much they resembled the intricate lace of previous centuries. I discovered that instead of being a pleasant activity in which women participated when their work was done, lace making was an industry where women could make as much income as a male laborer. The catch was that the women had to be constantly working whenever there was daylight, hunched over their lace pillows, staying inside the home to keep the white fibers clean. Women became pale, and suffered from tuberculosis. At times, the demand for fine lace literally consumed these women's lives.

As I mentioned before, I felt a compulsion to work on this print that I don't always have. Certainly some of it was the shear number of hours it took to carve the tiny circles away. But more of it had to do with the summer -- a summer where I was totally alone in my home for two weeks -- a first in almost 18 years.  The endless carving and printing of thin layers, over and over again, was a way to fill the daylight (and some nighttime hours) in my temporarily transformed life.

What work consumes you?

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