Recently, as I researched mail art created in the 19th and early 20th century, I came across a woodblock print postcard. And I learned that in the early 1900s, paper companies – such as A.H. Abbott in Chicago and Reeves & Sons in London – sold blank postcards especially for watercolor and pen & ink.
I thought, hey, I could do that. On Amazon, I found blank postcards with a matte surface perfect for block printing. And I already had linoleum blocks!
In 1970 and ‘71, while in the United States Air Force, I sought a childlike diversion to match my status as someone being told what to do by grown-ups. The local craft shop provided a solution: linoleum block printing. Just the smell of the block as the little cutter curled up a piece of the linoleum and the squishy sound of the roller spreading the ink were liberating.
For my subject matter, I chose that which I knew best. As I carved, an artist looked at what I was attempting and said, “That’s not going to turn out the way you think.”
But when I pulled the first print, the artist said, “Oh.” For my next effort, I went with something more original, while still in the same genre.
And then a work possibly influenced by a childhood love of pirate stories:
Ultimately, the artist delivered a final word on the subject: “I hate what you do. It’s so accesssible.” I can live with that. And 50 years later, the prints are in the mail.