“Beer’s intellectual. What a shame so many idiots drink it.” ~ Ray Bradbury
Today I’m excited to show off my new print celebrating beer. You can find this print in my Etsy shop here.
This is the third in my series of prints celebrating the “six beverages that changed the world.” I have a hard time figuring out which of those beverages are my favorite. What makes me happier, a perfectly brewed cup of coffee in the morning or a nice Italian red with rich pasta? A pint of IPA sipped in a quiet English pub? A good Bourbon, cozily sampled with friends in an upscale bar? A Coca-cola with a burger and fries?
Clearly, each of these drinks compliment different times of day, moods, and atmospheres. It’s no wonder human beings had to keep inventing new libations to love. For me, a beer is best enjoyed after a hard day’s work. It’s the kind of drink you have with others, in public settings, a friend’s barbecue or a bar. At least in America, it used to be considered a working man’s drink, emphasis on the man. Women didn’t drink beer. They sipped wine or cocktails. Now every gentrified neighborhood in the country has its own microbrewery with a loyal following of self-proclaimed beer snobs, both men and women.
My husband and I are just such snobs. Yes, I’ve come a long way from my youth when I thought all beer was supposed to taste like Bud Light. But I digress. Imagine how much fun Mike and I have had sampling different beers in England, Germany, and Belgium.
This is why I was excited to find this quote by Ray Bradbury when I was playing around with ideas for my beer print! Yes, beer can be as sophisticated, varied, and complex as wine.
Now on to the process.
First, I had to play around with a couple of sketches. I decided on a composition with the beer bottle on the side and the lettering curved above and below. The words “what a shame” would be on the beer bottle itself, so that the eye flows from the top to the bottom of the piece in a kind of backward “c”. This was a difficult quote to incorporate into an image, because it is not just one sentence. That’s why the beer label proved useful in the design. I wanted the image to have a rustic, old-timey feel, so I chose a lettering that reflected that. The spiraling design in the background is the most unusual part of this and my favorite.
Since I wanted to use three colors, I used two plates. The first one (on the left in the picture) would print first in yellow, then I would carve out everything I wanted to remain yellow when I printed on top in light brown. The second plate would be for the rest of the lettering. Step one, step two, step three.
Coming up with the yellow color was the hardest part of the inking process. Because my press is too small, I printed this in a friend’s studio. (Her name is Mirka Hokkenen Kim. She’s a brilliant artist who has taught me a lot about printmaking and you can find her work here.) I thought I mixed enough color to bring with me, but I quickly ran out. We tried to mix up some new color, but her white was a different brand and it kept coming out too orange. After trying and failing to get the same color, I eventually had to run home and grab my white ink and bring it back with me. You live and you learn, I guess!
After the yellow, I had to carve out the areas I didn’t want to print in the second round. This is why this is called “Reduction Printing.”
Next I printed the light brown. Then I switched to the second plate and printed the second shade of brown. The second shade of brown was also tricky to mix. At first it was too black, then too red, then finally just right.
I don’t know why I didn’t think about attributing the quote until so late in the process, but at the end, I had to carve out a stamp so that Ray Bradbury’s name would appear on the prints.
And then…. drumroll please…. the final touch was adding these red foil stars. I can’t take credit for the idea. It was Mirka’s suggestion and she was right on the money because I think they look totally snazzy!
And there you have it!
The other prints so far in this series are listed in my Etsy shop.
Up next: my first foray into resingrave etching!