Mystery Flower

Giant flowering tree "mimosa" across the street...

Yes, my nose is itchy and my throat is raw — but I am smiling at the sight of those pollen-loaded trees. This is the beginning of the first allergy season of the year. I’ve waited since last November to see these darn blossoms. Well, here they are, all around me.

Last year I was asked to make a print of a certain flower which I wasn’t familiar with. I did get the scientific name (sort of) and a rough description. Then I went online and googled close to a hundred images to get a visual. Those were good references, but if you ask me I can’t get a connection with my subject unless I am actually occupying the same atmosphere with, touching with my hands, seeing it from different angles, and smelling the scent. So I decided to visit a florist.

In retrospect I should have realized way earlier that those flowers were not in season in the dead of winter. Perhaps maybe on the other side of the hemisphere, but my local florist was not involved in that operation. So how was I supposed to find them?

“Just wait until they start blooming,” was my answer. And ironically, these flowers turned out to be the ones blooming everywhere I look these days. And now I notice the giant tree across the street from my house that gets heavily loaded with these blossoms. And NOW I remember that I try to avoid these flowers every year, because I feel pretty sure that they give me allergies. The whole town smells like them. With every wind blow, my dark blue Accord gets coated with a layer of bright yellow specks so fine, like sawdust. (and I just had my car washed 3 days ago)

So here they are…. And I greet them with a new admiration. Sure I held my breath but I touched them, turned them, and began to like them. Hey, how do you do, nice to finally meet you, properly.

And I’ve been hard at work for the last few weeks — sketching, experimenting with composition, and getting the blocks ready. Last two weeks I have been carving exclusively. For this piece I am using four blocks, one block for each color which has a different design.

work in progress, block #1

work in progress, block #1

This one is not completely finished carving yet. It has a lot of detail so it is taking a long long looong time. Whenever I am at a long task, I remind myself to focus on each tiny step I make with care. When these little steps add up to bigger step completed, I think about the next step forward. These days I am listening to a lot of Pandora while I work and am completely happy discovering Lana Del Rey and Florence + The Machine. So happy to have music back in my life.

This is already going to be the most ambitious carved work to date. In terms of detail it is very complex and I will probably never do something similar to this again (at least I feel that way now). In terms of technique, this will be a challenging four-block printing process, since I hand-pull my paper (I don’t use a printing press machine). I hope that I don’t mess up the registration….

work in progress, block #2

work in progress, block #2

work in progress, block #3

work in progress, block #3

The fourth block hasn’t even been touched yet, but I am excited at the thought of smearing color. I hope to do a test print soon — maybe by this weekend. I am lucky that this project has a VERY flexible deadline (arigato, Ms. L!).

So far I have major injuries, but I am considering to get a pair of special gloves from the hardware store soon. Tiny nicks and jabs to my fingers do annoy me, especially when I am cooking and using vinegar or salt. Really felt it when I was marinating portobello caps last night! Those Japanese carving tools are excellent and sharp…


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