preparing the bookplate for ‘thaliad’

I’m cutting the lino-block for the Thaliad bookplate this week. Here are the preparations.


A first, as-rough-as-they-come study. But I liked the liveliness.


Second study, the bird rendered as a cut-out in order to trial various positionings.

The third study, which is a collage. Collage is a much better technique than a drawing for getting a feel for how a relief-print will look. After this I made a final drawn-to-scale transfer to the block ready to begin working with my gouges.

11 thoughts on “preparing the bookplate for ‘thaliad’

    • Tough, Phil, to get the texture available to the collage-artist into a lino block. But I intend using my etching-needle to work areas of ‘negative sgraffito’, and that should help create the variety of mark-making I’m after. But the block is very small, so I’ll need to keep things simple.

  1. Will you be using the actual block or lino sheet? Dull technical question, but as you know I have been working with lino. Still learning. The actual blocks I have seen seem well suited to hand pressing, such as a bookplate, so i guess i have answered my own question (-:

    Eager to see the results, perhaps I will make one for myself (and friends)
    Take care my friend ,

    • Yes, I’m cutting the lino-block right now, having used the drawn and collaged studies to work out my composition. The prints will be relatively small, to fit in the books, and so although I have to make seventy to send to the publisher, they should be relatively fast to produce. Only one colour. Nevertheless, my ‘burnishing’ arm is going to be put to the test. My gym days are behind me, and I don’t pack the muscles in my arms that you do!

      There are many artists who specialise in producing bookplates, most of them engravers who use the small size of the plates to showcase their skills. Some artists deploy stylograph pens to create densely rendered and intricate ink drawings that give the impression of engravings.

      I’m going for the ‘chapbook’ quality of a relief rather than intaglio print, with strong shapes against the white of the paper, more in the spirit of the crude block-cutting favoured by the German Expressionists that I’ve always been attracted to. I’m thinking of making a bookplate as a Christmas present for Peter, though his full name, Alexander Peter Wakelin is going to stretch my capacity to fit many letters into a small space that also has to hold the legend ‘Ex Libris’!

      PS. You know you never have to answer your own questions here. I always reply. And yes, do cut some lino blocks to produce bookplates. Your ‘Athena’ print, recently posted on your blog, had a quality that reminded me of the art of the bookplate.

      • Pardon my delay, lots of loose ends currently. I understand completely your love of the chapbook aesthetic, I share that with you. Recently attended an exhibition on German Expressionist woodcut prints, stunning, really reinvigorated my interest in barbaric qualities. The exhibition was cleverly titled The Human Beast, which I loved.

        Personally, lino cuts lend themselves to this sort of expression, Athena being an example. I’ve been busy producing a few blocks and I am happy to tap into the spontaneity the medium seems to offer.

        You have your hands full with your beloved’s full name, an engraving needle might be better suited! Good luck, I start my own bookplates next week. I’ve been enjoying your “how-to” series concerning the process.

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