Practice, Practice, Practice

…and they ran for their lives! 😱😧

It’s official, no eraser is safe in my house. They will get sliced, diced and turned into a stamp. Although I have some Speedball Speedy carve to work with, I’ve been using erasers to do the majority of my practice work, while saving the Speedy carve for more serious projects. Working with rubber is definitely much easier than linoleum yet I’m discovering it is also much easier to over cut and mess up a design. Like most things that I do, patience is needed with this. Practice and patience has been my motto for the day. 😊

Carving Again

Well, I’ve picked up my carving tools again after a year away from it all. This time instead of focusing on carving finished pieces, I’ve spent the last three days YouTubing block printing and stamp carving. Initially I was thinking about creating stamps I could make for handmade greeting cards but now I’m also thinking about doing carved pieces for mini prints done on art cards. I’m sticking with my overall theme of keeping things small and manageable, hence mini prints.
In the process of all this I stumbled down a rabbit hole into DIY eraser carving and discovered carving with an x-acto knife. I tried this out for myself and I have to say this was pretty challenging at first and had almost chucked my x-acto knife but something said don’t give up, plus I was a bit jealous at the relative ease others were having with it and I wanted the same. After four hours of YouTubing someone finally mentioned keeping the blade at a 45 degree angle and everything completely changed. That little tidbit opened the door to much smoother, cleaner and faster carving with an x-acto knife compared to using just my lino cutter.

Another handy little thing I’ve been introduced to is ink pads. Typically these are used for rubber stamping in scrapbooking and card making but since I’ll be making mini carvings no larger than the size of a baseball card, ink pads would work great for inking art card prints instead having to deal with tubes of ink, a brayer and finding something to spread the ink on. I’m all for keeping things convenient and neat if it’s something that gets the job done. Plus the ink pad I’m using by Ranger is acid free, permanent and waterproof which is very close to ideal for me since I want my mini prints to last.

In the meanwhile I’m still inking away on “See You”. I’m halfway done and it’s coming along nicely but I’m also taking my time. I want this to be a really good piece. 😊

For Mother’s Day


Shipped this off this afternoon to a friend for Mother’s Day. I’m really hoping it brings a little happiness and delight to this special occasion. 

Earlier this year I had mentioned that I was going to hang up my carving tools and focus strictly on drawing. After working on this carving I realized I missed doing these small pieces. So I’m taking my tools out of hiding and permanently leaving them on my desk with the plan on doing 1 or 2 small carvings month. I guess I just needed a little break from it to recharge my interest. 😊


Bijin (wip)

Today I’m working on a little commission craving for a friend’s Mother’s Day gift. Last month I did a design called Bijin, meaning “Beautiful Woman/Person” in Japanese. My friend saw it online and thought it would be perfect as a gift for her mother. So I’m spending the evening doing a graphite transfer of the drawing to the linoblock in preparation for carving. While doing so I’ve been watching the Ip Man trilogy. If you’re not familiar with Ip Man, than I’ll just mention one name…Bruce Lee. He was Bruce Lee’s teacher.

Anyhoo, since my childhood I’ve been deeply influenced by East Asian philosophy and aesthetics by way of movies, my mother and her second husband. My mother was an Army brat when she was coming up and spent time in Japan and Korea. So while I was growing up, our cozy little trailer was decorated with keepsakes from her travels. Her second husband was deeply into martial arts and through him I was introduced to meditation and an assortment of Eastern philosophies, most notable Daoism/Taoism by way of “Tao Of Jeet Kune Do” by Bruce Lee, which he had me read. I can’t say that I was any good at meditation back then. More than anything I ended up falling asleep. Nor was I good at the “drop & rolls”, holding kicks and throwing stars that he tried to teach me either. Most of the philosophy was enigmatic, so that was lost on me too but a seed was planted in me that didn’t begin to grow shoots until my late teens when I took an interest in Taijiquan. By that time I had left my comforts of frontier living in Alaska and moved to Michigan to live with my father, to a predominantly African American environment and a predominantly Christian atmosphere of ideology. My Eastern leanings more or less went into “the closet”, springing out every now and then only to be met with side eyed glances or just ignored. I did on two occasions run into individuals claiming I was practicing a form of devil worship. All I have to say to that is that I haven’t sprouted horns or felt compelled to sacrifice any cats or children yet, so I think I’m doing okay. But despite going to church and  getting baptized at 23, my heart was still in the East. For years I struggled to impose a system of beliefs and worldview up my spirit that just wasn’t conducive to my way of being. Eventually I quit. I left the church and the religion after the passing of my paternal grandmother, who was the catalyst for my joining in the first place. Since then I’ve studied many spiritual paths and religions, picking up a little bit of this and that, here and there but the one thing that has always remained constant is me having a copy of the Daodejing, the book that forms the basis for the philosophy of Daoism. I don’t say that I’m a Daoist partly because most of the time people don’t know what it is and I don’t feel like having to explain. But also because there’s a thought among Daoists here in the West that a real Daoist never calls herself a Daoist…so if asked I just say I’m a Buddhist. 😋 It’s a nice cover and most people at least know what a Buddhist is. Plus I can recite the Four Noble Truths, I know about the Eightfold Path and the precepts. So I got my bases covered if I get quizzed. Now don’t get me wrong, those years in the church haven’t gone to waste either. I can still quote scripture like it ain’t nothing and relate to my fellow Christians with ease. The beauty of Daoist philosophy is its ease to blend with other philosophies like Buddhism and Christianity and it’s lack of demand for strict loyalty to its own. But my heart lies in the Daodejing which forms the philosophical basis for my approach to life. 

The West has come a long way in it’s acceptance of foreign ideologies. I’m glad to see that more people are comfortable and open to Eastern philosophies, especially with Buddhism. And I’m glad to see that more Black people aren’t as apprehensive to things like meditation, Eastern aesthetics and concepts like “enlightenment”. A lot of these aesthetics and concepts seep in to my work, my thoughts and my ideas. When you see this, it’s not me attempting to be exotic,  different or even trendy, it’s simply a quiet manifestation of my inner reality of being American, of being Black and being something other than Christian spiritually. (Btw, I don’t walk around in a saffron robe or where a wushu outfit like Leroy from The Last Dragon, my head isn’t shaved and I do eat meat, just in case you’re wondering.)

So as I sit here working on this carving while watching Ip Man 3 (the one with Mike Tyson in it), I feel home again, back to those Sunday afternoons with my mother in the kitchen making homemade bread and me getting my weekly dose of Chinese philosophy watching David Carradine (my he rest in peace) in Kung Fu. For me, that’s getting back to my roots. 🙏😊

Sacred space.

Mandala (wip)

Sun mandala (wip)

Just a little work in progress update on the Sun mandala I’m carving. As of last night I over indulged on some Lindt chocolate, 100 grams of indulgence and stayed up ’til 3am waiting on a friend to fly in from Texas. I’m currently running on four hours of sleep so I’ll probably slip into a deep nap sometime this afternoon before I’m able to progress any further on this piece. I’m looking to have this all carved out by Sunday evening, painted by Monday and shipped out to it’s new home come Tuesday. Hopefully this choco caffeine high wears off soon so that I can function normally ’cause right now I’m stuck between loopy ville and jack rabbit valley and unable to focus on anything. Word to the wise, don’t eat 100 grams of dark chocolate late at night in one sitting. For me, it’s the equivalent of drinking four cups of dip brewed coffee.