What do you do with your failed linocuts?

Working in multiples has the unfortunate consequence that when you fail, you fail in multiples. For every few linocuts I create, there is always a series that doesn’t work out. Maybe the image doesn’t read right. Perhaps it is boring. There are others in a successful series that have poor registration or inking problems. The paper I use is expensive, and when you are left with a stack of linocuts not destined for frames, it is hard to know what do with them, but also hard to throw them away.

If the paper is large enough, I simply put the stack away, later to be flipped over and used as tests for the next series.  I’ve heard of people who have an annual bonfire of their less successful work, and that has its appeal although it is clearly not environmentally friendly. My friend artist James Campbell has used old art magazines as the basis for sculptures, and I have considered cutting and stacking my linocuts, adhering them in some way that I could then sculpt them.

Lotus stars
Two folded eight-point stars made from my linocuts are ready to join over 10,000 stars woven in Bloomington, IN as part of a worldwide effort.

The best use so far has come from staff and volunteers from the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation in the form of eight-pointed woven stars.  “One Million Stars to End Violence : Lotus International Star-Weaving Project is part of a global effort to create an installation that speaks to the violence occurring globally. Creator Talia Pau from Australia explains, “Every star is a commitment to resist violence and revenge, to believe in forgiveness and healing.” The more than 10,000 stars woven in Bloomington, IN will join those woven around the world at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. 

I gave Lotus Outreach Director Loraine Martin a stack of failed linocuts — some which had one side used, and others that used both sides. Volunteers cut the linocuts into one-inch strips to be woven into stars. I’m most interested in the stars that had both sides printed, as they juxtapose two linocuts in ways that challenge me to consider collaging some work.

If you are in Bloomington, IN on Labor Day weekend, consider coming to the Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts and visiting the Children’s Area tent, where Lotus volunteers will teach you how to weave a star. You can also see me in my shady booth with my latest work. If I’m not in my booth, I just might be in the Lotus tent learning how to transform my failed linocuts into stars.

If you can’t make it to Bloomington, IN, you can learn how to fold these stars here.

What do you do with work that doesn’t warrant a frame?

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