Monday, March 7, 2016

Pizza from Scratch – Part 4

January 28–February 9: 'Burning Weeds', a hand printed, five-color lino cut, 24 x 12 inches.  At this stage neither the logistics of printing and binding or the format of the book have been resolved, but a page size of 10 x 12 inches (landscape) would accommodate this image as a double-page spread if trimmed to bleed.

Red, on orange on yellow,  and orange on yellow, 'wet on wet ink' proofs.

'Wheat Field', early morning, lino cut with watercolor wash, 24 x 12 inches. These double-page spreads convey the breadth of the landscape but printing them presents a challenge. Perhaps single-page images would make more sense . . . .

How about 12 x 7.5 inches? Here a close-up of the key block for a three-color lino cut, 'Cultivating' with the Massey Ferguson tractor.

This print of the key block is offset onto two other blocks, one each for red and green.

Obviously the Massey is red and the leaves and grass are green, where the two colours overlap they will produce a brown, ideal for the soil and tree trunks.

A first color proof shows how the red/green makes a brown, but it still needs work.

The wheat seeds viewed close up. This shows how the lino cut progresses, first cuts are rough outlines, followed by detailed hatching to add light and shade.

The finished block. For the book I might add a color wash or print black on a colored background.

Ten pounds of Glenn organic Spring wheat from Johnny's Selected Seeds in Maine where broadcast by hand.

To cover the seeds and compress the soil around them I drove around the field on the Kawasaki Mule dragging a vintage spike-tooth harrow. Two scarecrows and a totem pole will keep watch over the crop. (Key block)

Three-color lino cut with hand coloring. Now I wait for the seed to germinate and turn to the tomatoes which were planted earlier and may appear first in the book . . . . Read more in Pizza from Scratch – Part  5

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Pizza from Scratch – Part 3

January 12, 2015: Making adobe clay involves 'puddling' – the mixing of clay, sand and water with your feet, hence this pencil study. Drawing is an important discipline for the artist – daily practice is worthwhile. This post includes detailed studies as well as sketches for the illustrations to the Pizza book.

One of the main goals is to grow wheat for flour to make dough for the pizza. Here is a pencil drawing of an ear of Glenn organic Spring wheat grown on our farm here in Iowa.

The first step in preparing the field for planting was to burn last years weeds, with the hope that many of the weed seeds were also incinerated. At this point I began to think the book should be landscape format and this subject will become a double page spread lino cut.


Mixing cement and building concrete-block walls is hard, thirsty work, especially in the heat of the summer and the builder deserves a well-earned beer at the end of the day, especially when an important stage is completed. These walls will support a concrete plinth on which the oven will be built.

Wire mesh and tubing in place to reinforce the concrete slab.

Firebricks in position on top of an insulation layer, ready to build the sand dome around which the oven will be formed.


Drawing the sand dome to achieve the desired lighting was tricky.

My clay-covered hands forming the Adobe bricks.


Sharp-eyed viewers will observe the sand dome is covered with the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper is dampened and the hand-formed Adobe clay bricks are placed around the dome to form the first layer of the oven wall.

Preferred fuel: well-seasoned oak.

After almost three weeks drawing, it is time to embark upon a lino cut. Read more in the next post: Pizza from Scratch – Part 4

Podcast: David Esslemont on the history of the Gregynog and Solmentes Presses

Gregynog Hall Nigel Beale aka The Literary Tourist , came to visit and recorded our conversation in which he asked me about the history...