Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Morbid inspiration

What inspires you? Sometimes I find it in unexpected places. This design is an image I created based on the central design on the carved gravestone of a woman who lived during the nineteenth century. Sound morbid? I fell in love with it because of its simple, symmetrical and folksy qualities. I made a rubbing of the image and digitized it. My experience with the process began in a beautiful historic cemetery in Florida many years ago. I have this cool friend that has introduced me to many crafty endeavors over the years and one time she and I explored a cemetery in Pensacola. It was such an adventure looking at all the tombstones dating to the eighteenth century. Ever the prepared crafter, she had with her a kit that consisted of thin translucent paper and a large hockey puck-like crayon... for making gravestone rubbings.

To make a rubbing, you place the paper over the area of relief you're interested in and solidly color the entire area with the crayon. The result is an image of the "negative space" on the gravestone. Pretty cool. (Some cemeteries don't allow you to do this because it can be potentially destructive to very old stones.) I highly recommend perusing old cemeteries if you've never done so, even if it's just to look at gravestones or photograph them. It's so interesting to see temporal trends in terms of design -- and even epitaph trends, through time. Like most material things, gravestones are products of fashion too.

Flash forward to recently in Virginia when I found this beautiful gravestone, hidden away in the corner of the cemetery, a weathered hidden treasure. I made a rubbing and came home and scanned it. I used Photoshop to trace over the scanned outline and ended up using it as a template for a lenoleum block for printing. These are fun to make and you can print on various surfaces. I've printed them on fabric and card stock, to use as greeting cards. Here's the print block (the rubber block is pink and the ink color I used is blue).

Wanna make one of your own using any design of your choice (morbid or not)?

  • Trace or pencil your design onto the rubber or linoleum surface (find these at Michael's and other arts and craft supply stores). In my case, I printed out my photoshopped image and put a piece of graphite paper in between it and the rubber and then traced over my design, transferring it to the rubber.
  • Use wood and lino cutting tools (also at Michael's) to scrape out the design.
  • Now, ink it up and print!

    I need to figure out how to incorporate this design into a quilt somehow.

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