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By slavetotheflyrod
[report]What the hell eh, the kiddo's home sick, and I haven't got shit else to do this morning.

Lets ink some feesh

First we need some supplies:

1 fish, freshly killed. Where and how you choose to select your victim is entirely a matter of personal preference. You will want to be sure to kill the fish as quickly as possible and with as little struggle as possible. I'm partial to ripping gill arches. To do so, I insert my index finger into the fishes gill and hook my fingertip around the gill arches, and pull until the arch breaks. The fish will bleed out rather quickly at this point, holding the fish by the tail, head down will speed the process.


Once the fish is bled out, you will want to rinse any blood, sand, and mud off the fish and place it into a cooler with with an ice and water "slush" For fish too long to fit in a cooler I use a large waterproof duffel that I refer to as the "body bag". The goal is to protect the fish from damage in transport.

In addition to the fish, you will need the following:


Rubbing alcohol, surgical gloves, spray bottle, razor knife, tweezers, a whole roll of paper towels, a sunday paper, foam brushes and rollers, block printing inks, paper, hair dryer, and a foam packaging block, 3-4" thick, wide and long enough to lay the fish on.

You will need a working area such as a card table or small bench. It's nice to be able to walk around all sides, and the table should be small enough that you can easily work around all sides.

Now, crack a brew, fire up some tunes and let's begin:

Rick got all artsy with the music so I feel the need to do the same

The most labor intensive part of the process by far is the prep work. To prepare the fish you will need to strip it of it's slime coat, remove the eyes, and pack the orafices with cotton or paper to prevent leakage that could ruin your print. It's not as easy as it sounds...

Take a close up of the eye. You will be removing the eye and will need to print the eye seperatly.

You will want to start by wiping as much slime off the fish as you can, always working head to tail to avoid damaging any scales or fins. Rubbing alcohol helps dissolve the slime, use the spray bottle with a 50-50 dilution of alcohol and water. Spray the fish down, then wipe dry. You will need to do this several times.

Pay close attention to the fins, gill covers, and other little nooks and crannies that act as slime banks.

You will find that the areas where the fins contact the body hold a lot of slime, pay special attention to these spots.

Once you feel you've removed most of the slime off of one side, flip the fish over and de slime the other side. While doing this, you should select your fishes "good side", that is, the side you will print. You will want to de-slime and dry the other side as well, but not to the same degree you do the print side.

At this point the fish will begin to take on a dull or matte appearance, this tells me I'm getting close.


I will finish the process with the hair dryer on low heat, all surfaces of the fish should be dry to the touch, if need be, touch up areas that still have a bit of slime. Again, pay close attention to fins, gills, orafices.


I can't stress enough the importance of properly drying the fish - any small amount of blood or slime will smear the ink and ruin the print.

Now, the time has come do do the gruesome tasks of removing the eyes and gills. If left in place the eyes will print as a solid black circle that does not look very life like. When removed, only the eye socket is printed, leaving a blank space where you will later fill in the eye by hand. The gills still contain a fair bit of blood and fluid and can be easily removed in the interest of reducing the risk of fouling a print up.

[size=150]If you're squeamish, you might want to scroll down a ways.[/size]

Use tweezers and a razor knife or scalpel to cut away at the connective tissue holding the eye in. Be careful not to cause damage to the eye socket. By cutting around the perimeter of the eye ball you should be able to free it easily.


Stuff the eye socket with a small cotton ball or bit of paper towel.

Now for the gills - I'll use a ratty old pair of dykes to clip the gill arches off at their bases, removing the arches and tissue from both sides.

This is what you're after, get it all out, it will ruin your print if you don't.

Now stuff the gills with paper or cotton to absorb any additional leakage.

Last but not least, in order to avoid shit all over your print, you will need to plug your fishes ass with paper or cotton. Don't worry, they enjoy it just as much as you do.

Now we're getting somewhere. We have one more step to complete before we print. We will need to fashion a "bed" for the fish, out of packing foam. The goal is to print exactly one half of the fish, with deep bodied fish like carp, it becomes necessary to support the dorsal and anal fins, and the tail in order to print them cleanly. I like to do this by creating a "bed" for the fish, like so:

I'll lay the fish on the foam block and trace the outline of the fishes body, ignoring the tail and fins.

Next, I'll remove that material in the area I've traced around until the fish sits comfortably in it, and the dorsal fin and tail rest flat on the foam.

When it's done, exactly half of the fish's body will be exposed.

You are now ready to ink and print the fish, and so concludes part one, part two to follow shortly.[/report]
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gills removed
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gill chop
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dry fins
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By slavetotheflyrod
[report]Part Dos

Mas tunnage, I'll dispense with the artsy stuff and go with some classic groove, I thought black and white would be appropriate.

Now we're ready to ink up the fish. Out of the tube, most block printing inks are a bit too thick and sticky. I'll use a small amount of water to thin it a bit. You're shooting for a consistency similar to mayonaise.

Once you've got the ink about right, you will want to use newspaper to mask off the foam under the tail and fins. You will need to avoid getting any ink on the foam.
Once the fish is inked the newspapers will be removed

Next, you'll want to apply the ink, head to tail as always, using the roller to apply it to the body and a foam brush to detail the head, tail, and fins. Closely inspect the fish after you've inked it, you will want to brush out any streaks or blobs of ink that you find.
Now the fish is inked and ready for paper. You will notice some ink on the foam, if you make this mistake, use your alcohol and paper towels to clean up and dry the ink.
Next, you will want to select your paper. It takes some practice to get the rubbing process down, so be sure to buy inexpensive paper to start. Papers suitable for printing will be rather limp, or cloth like, allowing the paper to conform easily to the fish's countours without creasing. You want to avoid heavy weight papers and papers that have a sheen to the surface. Smooth, shiny papers tend to slip on the ink and produced smudged prints. I'll include some more info and links to sources for paper later.

If you are working with a large sheet you may want to enlist a helper to lay the paper down. You get one shot - once the fish touches the paper you can not pick it back up and adjust the position. I'll have the help hold the paper by the edges so that it sags in the middle, forming a "belly" in the paper. I'll have them lower the paper onto the fish until this belly in the paper makes contact with the fish. At that time I place a hand in that spot, and "pin the paper in place"
The next part takes practice. You will want to carefully drape the rest of the paper over the fish until it's laying down. I'll start at the head, always using one hand to "rub" the paper into the details, and the other to hold the paper in position. Start at the head, and with your fingers, "mold" the paper around the fishes features. When using white paper and black ink, you can often see the image appear through the paper as you work. I follow a mental checklist to ensure I print all the fins and details. Mouth, head, gills, pectoral fins, dorsal fin, caudal fin, anal fin, tail. It takes practice to work the paper around all the details without creasing the paper, but after a few prints you'll work out a system. Again, a helper is handy for gently pulling the edges of the paper to avoid creases.
I should mention: I wear gloves during the inking process, then remove them before I touch the paper. Always check your hands for ink before handling your paper.

The last step is to gently "peel" back the paper, from head to tail, much as one would carefully peel a sticker off it's backing. Turn it over and see what you've got.
That's what you're after, a nice clean image with all the detail of the scales and fins captured. After some practice try doing multiples and changing the orientation of the paper so that the fish appears to be pointing up or down.
Once you get the technique down you might want to experiment with black paper and colored inks
Printing "schools" is fun too. You can get multiple prints from a single inking, each getting succesivley lighter. If you print a lighter fish in the background and a heavier one in the foreground you can create the illusion of depth in the print.

Rick's recent works have inspired me to try dome diptych and triptych prints.

That's most of what you need to know, but far from all of it. Half the fun is discovering your own technique and process.

Now go out and try your own, it's art week after all

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first one done
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ink on
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By slavetotheflyrod
I've got to run for now, I'll jump back on later with more pics and some links.
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Damn Slave- you've got some teacher in you. Great Tutorial. And you know I love the work. :cool
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By Bruiser
I had no idea so much work was involved. That's awesome Slave. Now I know why your prints are so damn nice.
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By slavetotheflyrod
[report]I wouldn't usually show off someone else's work, but in this case it demonstrates that the need to create shit runs in the family.

This is some of my Ol' man's work a replica of one of George Nakashima's Conoid chairs, in Bubinga and white ash. He asked for and was granted permission by the Mingei museum in San Diego to inspect and measure an original that is part of their collection.
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Wait till I con the ol man into building a drift boat for me

I'm diggin art week so far, and it's only Thursday. I think MuthaPucka needs to trow it up ya'al[/report]
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By cantfishforshit
Nice! Art week rocks...
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By SageBrush
Outstanding.............. :cool

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