Sunday, February 28, 2016

Carving Material Review: Blick Blue Easy-To-Cut

Hello and welcome back for another review, yay! (I would note that since my last post, I now have at least three more carving materials in my possession to review... this may be the never-ending set of reviews...)

Since the last review was of a Dick Blick material, I decided to go ahead and try the other Dick Blick branded material for the next review, called Blick Blue Easy-To Cut (henceforth to be referred to as Blick Blue - as opposed to the "blue stuff" that Speedball makes).  It's really inexpensive - Dick Blick sells this for $1.84 USD for a 4x6" sheet.

 (Spoiler: having now used it, I love it.  Not my #1, but definitely up there.)


Appearance:
Blick Blue - quite thin
My first thought when I received it was: ugh. It was actually much harder than I was anticipating and I had really low expectations for how well it would work as a stamp material as opposed to a lino cut material. Little to no bend in the material when I hold it horizontally - just a slight bend.  Okay, so the material is a very soft blue - kinda grey-ey blue, with a nice velvety texture with a fantastic smooth surface.

Size and Weight:
This carving medium is slightly tricky to use as a stamp, coming in at only 3 mm thick.  Yikes.  As a result, it pretty much has to be mounted to use it as a stamp... Also, if you hold your block in your hand while you carve like I do, the thickness makes this almost impossible.  As a result, I either had to put it down on a mat to carve (no, thank you) or temporarily mount it on another block (yes, please).  I have done this before with a dark grey material I sometimes use (review to come!) so I was happy to use this medium that way.


Transfer:
Transfer via heat went really well - no problems, nice dark transfer, and nothing melted.  Phew.  The image I used was pretty complicated and due to poor decision making, I ended up with a bit of a muddy design.  All in a day... 


Crumble Factor:
No crumbles or grit when I rubed the material, before or after carving.

Carving:
Okay, so the hardest part of this material is the hardness.  Heh.

To put it in context, it's harder to carve than OZ Kut, but with sharp tools, it is actually easier to cut. However, the hardness of the material did pull at my knife and wanted to pull it off course if I wasn't paying attention... The upside of this that I found was that the material doesn't move away from my tool (the new formulation of pink stuff has this problem).
Blick Blue - carving while mounted...
It  cuts differently than the carving materials that have more plastic (or whatever is in them to make them more elastic).  This material texture therefore doesn't have that plastic feel, more velvety like I said earlier and has a decidedly different creamy feel when I slice it with a tool.  When carved, the pieces release easily without that annoying elastic hold that I sometimes get with other material.

All in all, both the knife and gouges carved this really well and I was actually quite happy with the result :)

Inking:

Beautiful, gorgeous.  Actually, the velvety surface of it seems to grab the ink well and give a nice distribution.

Conclusions:
Definitely like this material.  The only real downside is that because it's so hard, when I had a dull tool, I could really feel the strain in my hand and had problems with cramps.  Obviously, I have no issue mounting my stamps, but if I needed just a carve and go material, I couldn't use this.




3 comments:

  1. Was considering this as a comparable item to richeson grey easy to cut, have you used thay before?

    Lino for me is just a bit of a pain to store. Ireally like how detsiled i can get with richesons version.

    The conundrum is Blicks sells richeson in store but not online.

    Id buy richeson by the roll from them but this apoears to be their replacement.

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  2. Sorry. Was just happening along this blog and eventually found your spreadsheet and actual post referencing the jack richeson product directly.

    I dont have the same issues when using it for relief prints but I appreciate all the info in your reviews!

    Sorry about all of the typos. Typing in the dark on my phone rocking my kid to sleep haha.

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    Replies
    1. No worries! All these reviews are from the perspective of stamp carving - as distinct from the traditional lino carving process for relief prints. I suspect this, as well as the JR Easy-to-Cut lino, would be very different for that process - it likely is much easier to cut while lying flat and using a bench hook. I've only carved real lino a couple times - both of these are *much* softer, but still very hard and I would think fine if using a press or other relief technique :)

      Do you use a press for creating your reliefs?

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