Today's postings

  1. [Baren 44840] Re: Lasercut blocks (Andy English)
  2. [Baren 44841] laser cut blocks (Marilynn Smith)
  3. [Baren 44842] Fwd: Laser cut blocks (ArtfulCarol #
  4. [Baren 44843] Baren Re: Lasercut blocks (Raymond Hudson)
  5. [Baren 44844] Re: Fwd: Laser cut blocks (Graham Scholes)
  6. [Baren 44845] Re: Lasercut blocks? ("Eva Pietzcker")
  7. [Baren 44846] Re: Fwd: Laser cut blocks (Barbara Mason)
  8. [Baren 44847] Re: Laser cut blocks ("Aaron Gillette")
  9. [Baren 44848] Re: Lasercut blocks? (Clive Lewis)
  10. [Baren 44849] Laser Cut Blocks (Daniel Dew)
  11. [Baren 44850] Re: Lasercut blocks? (Mike Lyon)
  12. [Baren 44851] Re: Lasercut blocks? (Diana Moll)
  13. [Baren 44852] Re: Lasercut blocks? (Hannah Skoonberg)
  14. [Baren 44853] Laser Cut Prints (Gayle Wohlken)
  15. [Baren 44854] Re: Laser cut blocks (Viza Arlington)
  16. [Baren 44855] Information ("Jeanne Norman Chase")
  17. [Baren 44856] laser (Diana Moll)
  18. [Baren 44857] Laser Cuts are Cool (Tom Kristensen)
  19. [Baren 44858] Re: Laser cut blocks (Viza Arlington)
  20. [Baren 44859] Re: Laser Cut Prints (Georgina Leahy)
  21. [Baren 44860] Re: Lasercut blocks? (Digramma)
  22. [Baren 44861] Re: Lasercut blocks? (Mike Lyon)
  23. [Baren 44862] Re: Lasercut blocks? (Digramma)
  24. [Baren 44863] I've been hacked (Carole Dwinell)
  25. [Baren 44864] Re: Laser Cut Prints (Mark Phillips)
  26. [Baren 44865] Call for Artists: "Shin Jidai: Contemporary Japanese Book and Paper Arts" ( slinders #
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Message 1
From: Andy English
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 13:32:52 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44840] Re: Lasercut blocks
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This is an interesting conversation. I am still a little uneasy about lasercut blocks but only from my perspective as someone who is completely immersed in handmade processes - careful drawing, "squaring" up or down to resize, engraving and printing by hand or in a handpress, where direct contact with the block is felt throughout the process. I see no problem as long as work is honestly described because my one real concern is that work printed from mechanically created blocks might be passed off as being hand-made. I don't accept that it is "all in the printing" as, for me, the spirit of a relief print comes from the marks made directly by the artist. In the same way, I adore etchings but find that photoetchings generally leave me cold, even when the work is clever; something is lacking (for me).

The most important thing for me is that, alongside these developments in technology, people continue to learn the skills of cutting (or engraving) by hand so that what we do survives to enrich the future.


Wood Engraver / Printmaker / Illustrator
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Message 2
From: Marilynn Smith
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 14:44:33 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44841] laser cut blocks
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My personal take on laser cut blocks is that it simply would NEVER
work for me. I am the kind of artist who often sits down with a blank
canvas, block, paper or whatever and does what comes to mind. I am not
a pre planner. For me the carving is the creating and MORE important
than the printing. Yes, I have done multi blocks and hanga and it is
not my preferred way to create art, just too darn pre planned.

In art school I had a wise professor who stated there are two
approaches to creating art, one is to preplan everything and not
change anything as you create a painting, a woodblock or whatever. The
other is to start with a blank canvas and let ones mind create as you
go. His take was simple, neither way is right or wrong, just
different. In fact a lady in my printmaking class, who held masters
degree in fine art, had a sketchbook. She transfered every line, cut
and stroke for her prints exactly onto the blocks she carved and she
carved exactly what she had drawn. Her statement to me was that is the
only way to create a print. HUH??? I would go mad trying her method,
however her work was lovely.

If the image the printmaker is using is original it would seem to me
the pre planner would happily pass on the carving or the printing of
the block to any other person or method. That would in my mind include
laser cutting tools, any type of rotary tool or how about the artist
who demonstrated using a rock to pound out the image at our Kansas
City summit?

To me the art is the CREATING OF THE IMAGE. That is why we sign our
work and that is why it can not be legally reproduced without our
consent. No tool can create an original image, only the artist can.

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Message 3
From: ArtfulCarol #
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 16:03:59 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44842] Fwd: Laser cut blocks
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As far as I can tell, most of the buying public doesn't know or care how
something is done. It goes for museums also. That is too bad for us who do
all woodblock processes by hand-- hand-carved, hand-pressed.
Something which is very labor intensive can be worked out on the computer

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Message 4
From: Raymond Hudson
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 16:04:07 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44843] Baren Re: Lasercut blocks
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Intriguing discussion! I would "see" the print differently if I knew the block had been carved by the hand of the artist--whether using a dremel, a gouge, or a sharp stone (as in Michael Schneider's work). In one sense, a lasercut block is similar to a block cut, not by the attributed artist, but by a carving specialist -- as in traditional Japanese prints. For me, creating a woodblock print involves three steps, during any one of which wonderful "happy accidents" happen: drawing, carving & printing. To omit the carving stage (or to accomplish it by an infallible reproduction of the drawing) diminishes possibilities.

Best to all!
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Message 5
From: Graham Scholes
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 16:51:58 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44844] Re: Fwd: Laser cut blocks
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> Just my opinion but I think tools are tools and the artist makes use of
> them as best they can to see their vision. Are we to only print by hand
> and never use a press? Are people who use letterpress cheating if they
> don't cut their own matrices for type? If I use a dremel to carve my
> blocks am I cheating?

You make good points... the kind of prints you refer to need the specific tools to get results.
A press for printing is the tool needed.... you can't print with out them... short of
burnishing, and not sure you could get the required results with litho, etching, engraving.... in
a large format.

My thinking is that the cutting tool referred to in this discussion is not a necessity.
I certainly does make the job easier .... not better

As I understand it, this forum was set up to educate on matters as it pertains to Moku Hanga.
In short it was to promote the dying art.... I think this is in the minds of some that want
to see this maintained. Very honourable indeed and I hope there are enough dinosaurs around
to carry on the tradition.

Tyrannosaurus rex

> care how something is done. It goes for museums also.

I don't find this to be the case with my experiences and exhibitions
in Public Museums and Art Galleries. They do like to see experimental
images and don't care how it is done. But tradition works such as we
practice is considered important to the process.
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Message 6
From: "Eva Pietzcker"
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 17:00:53 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44845] Re: Lasercut blocks?
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Dear Bareners,

I find this discussion really interesting. Yes, a tool is a tool. But regarding many prints done digitally, for my personal taste I often find that they are lacking energy and intensity, which apparently is "easier" accomplished by the dedication and devotion of the hand-made process. I found that to be very similar with the etchings done with photopolymer film, which makes it possible to print anything in etching. While the first impression might be: "wow", especially when everybody is doing this the results seem to be less and less interesting, seem to contain less and less energy.
When I was in Kyoto during the Mokuhanga Conference in June, I listened to the talk of a professional master cutter, who also had a Buddhist background. He was talking about his experience in his Buddhist practice that there are things you cannot see, but you can feel them. He compaired that to the Japanese term "aji" which, as I understood it, means something like "taste" and describes the special something you cannot describe. He compaired a digital photo, with one layer of ink, to a print he was contributing to with more then two hundred turns of printing layers of colours - something you might not "see" but you might feel.
It might be possible that it is not possible to say if a print is cut by hand or a laser cutter, if compairing the plates. But one might feel a different energy. Another point is, that if you cut a plate, you might know it better and print it differently.
In the end I think everybody is free to use any tool to do good art. It is just more difficult to make that when a machine is executing a great deal of the work.

Greetings from Eva


Eva Pietzcker

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Message 7
From: Barbara Mason
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 17:10:54 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44846] Re: Fwd: Laser cut blocks
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I agree, I remember Maria telling us the funniest story about a customer calling the woodblocks "slices" and by the end of the conversation, she was doing the same as the woman was buying lots of stuff! too funny
my best
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Message 8
From: "Aaron Gillette"
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 17:14:31 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44847] Re: Laser cut blocks
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Graham Scholes wrote:
> As I understand it, this forum was set up to educate on matters as it
> pertains to Moku Hanga.
> In short it was to promote the dying art.... I think this is in the
> minds of some that want
> to see this maintained. Very honourable indeed and I hope there are
> enough dinosaurs around
> to carry on the tradition.

This is definitely a worthy goal. But, in so many ways Bareners have
endorsed a more inclusive approach. We allow different blocks, inks,
papers, presses, brushes and cutting tools from standard Moku Hanga.
Pretty much, if it's relief, it's OK.

If we want to tighten the restrictions on acceptable prints, that's
another discussion. As things stand, it seems arbitrary to draw a line
in the sand at laser-cut blocks.

This can also be an accessibility issue. For those who are physically
unable to cut blocks by hand, a laser or CNC is an excellent, legitimate
alternative. Same goes for presses.

Most Bareners are here because we're interested in creating handmade
works of art/craft that have roots in age-old techniques and traditions.
I don't think the exchanges are in danger of being overrun with
mass-produced pieces any time soon. However, I don't think we should
arbitrarily shut down areas of exploration.

We can be dinosaurs with lasers.

- Aaron
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Message 9
From: Clive Lewis
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 17:16:54 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44848] Re: Lasercut blocks?
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A computer generated image reproduced by a computer assisted tool seems to
be more along the line of printing with a laser printer instead of engraved
blocks and a baren or press. The 'craftmanship' that one normally
associates with printmakers is left in the hands of computer programmers.

Using computer programs like photoshop to explore colour combinations
involves the artist and exploring new ways of making marks, drimmels,
routers, drills, chemicals and the like still involve the printmaker. While
laser cutting or the use of photopolymer plates produces interesting art it
seems, to me, a deviation from what Baren appeared to be all about, the
revival of disappearing art form.

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Message 10
From: Daniel Dew
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 17:25:17 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44849] Laser Cut Blocks
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My two cents, it is a tool, in a sense, but lacks the "human" factor.

I once asked a teacher what the difference was between a screen print and a serigraph?
Her answer was the "purpose". Although cryptic, I like the definition.

If the purpose of the laser is "accessibility", then go for it. If it is merely for time saving, nope.
If it is because you suck at carving, well..........

Daniel L. Dew
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Message 11
From: Mike Lyon
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 17:53:36 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44850] Re: Lasercut blocks?
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Reminder about the initial post which began this longish thread - maybe
someone has some actual experience / knowledge to share?

-- Mike
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Message 12
From: Diana Moll
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 19:01:34 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44851] Re: Lasercut blocks?
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This has been an interesting discussion, indeed, I liked what Eva said. In my own shorter way I ask isn't art meant to show "the hand" ?
all best
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Message 13
From: Hannah Skoonberg
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 19:05:09 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44852] Re: Lasercut blocks?
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Wow this got super passionate very very quickly. A few points. Laser
cutters are still prohibitively expensive, I don't think we have any
Bareners who own one, and Mike's router is technically a different tool
even though it can do many of the same things. But if a member did get
involved with that kind of tool, it would probably be very isolated and I
would like to believe that this community could be supportive of every kind
of printmaker. There is no need to draw lines in the sand here. And there
are things that a laser cutter can do that is near impossible by hand. What
if you wanted perfect geometric shapes as you explore urbanization?

I am am trying to figure out why so many of you are emotionally opposed to
a laser cut woodblock. You could scan a drawing and process it through
Illustrator feed that drawing to the laser cutter, and end up with a result
the revels in the hand of the artist. This idea that the soul of the block
would be lost or that it would entirely commercialize the process is
speaking from fear. The printmaking community as a whole is embracing
digital innovation. And historically the roots of printmaking lead us back
to ideas of the commercial and the multiple.

Is it a fear that the art created with such a device would be
uninteresting? Because I have seen plenty of uninteresting prints carved by
hand. It is all about what the artist does with it. And this whole
conversation was brought up because professional collectors cannot tell the
difference. So it cannot be that it looks intrinsically different than a
hand carved block.

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Message 14
From: Gayle Wohlken
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 19:14:56 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44853] Laser Cut Prints
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For me, I am going for a collaboration with the wood, so I want to hand carve a piece. I tend to like some of the incidentals I get, and I like the way certain woods allow for that more than others. They show a certain energy that would be missing if I cut them out. I like what wood has to say, and I am always kind of amazed by it. But, it's my style. Others who want a different look to their prints might find laser cutting just what they need to achieve that. I like the German Expressionists, so right there the laser cutting doesn't appeal, though I can appreciate works made that way without wanting my work to go in that direction. To scan in a drawing and then have a laser printer cut it out takes away the very thing I love about working with my own hands on wood. I get results with the wood I'd never get any other way.

~Gayle Wohlken
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Message 15
From: Viza Arlington
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 19:29:11 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44854] Re: Laser cut blocks
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I think that is too late to turn back now. Since the door has been
opened to collagraphs, linocuts, oily inks and what not i think we
should include ALL relief printmaking processes. I really don't
understand why collagraphs are allowed if hand carving is a
requirement. I would like to be able to make relief etchings for the
exchanges but i was told they would not be accepted. But i have made
linoleum etchings and that was allowed. To me this makes no sense. So
i guess I don't really understand the reasoning behind what is allowed
and what is not allowed. If it were up to me ALL relief prints would
be allowed hand carved, laser carved, router carved, wood burned,
collaged plates, relief etchings regardless of the plate material,
oily inked, hand colored, water based inks,etc.. as long as it is
printed in relief.
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Message 16
From: "Jeanne Norman Chase"
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 19:31:35 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44855] Information
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Well, since I started this , I will say that I have learned a lot about laser and how the many printmakers feel about said tool.
I have ducked a few tomatos and have had a few private posts agreeing with me.
But I am open to any suggestions to digest.
I still like the intimate feel of the "artists hand" on the print.

But cut away, I love printmaking in most all its many forms.

Great discussion.

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Message 17
From: Diana Moll
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 19:34:33 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44856] laser
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having not throughly read ALL the discussion, I retract my statement.....(blushes slightly and buries nose in emails)

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Message 18
From: Tom Kristensen
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 21:12:59 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44857] Laser Cuts are Cool
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This debate about the merits of laser cut blocks began with a Anders
Rikardson who was concerned about "the trap of buying
reproductions made by this technique" In no time at all we have moved
onto questioning whether any decent woodblock art can be made with
laser cut blocks. Thin ice indeed. It seems some people believe that
by using old-school methods that they are therefore making worthy
art. This overlooks the fact that we have all adapted our own methods
to suit our own interests. I would guess that a minority of people
are using an actual baren to make prints for this baren forum.

And lets face it, not many of us are carving blocks to compare with
the work done for Hokusai, if we can hope to advance woodblock art it
won't be by virtue of our skilful carving. Perhaps the wood block
print is an out-moded moribund art form with all aspect of design and
production in obvious decline. Perhaps the laser-cut block will be an
inspiring innovation attracting a new generation of artists. Perhaps
it would be best to be inclusive of people who are keen to explore
new avenues, lest we at the baren forum be seen as a bunch of
irrelevant fuddy-duddies who failed to see the writing on the wall.

Now, if somebody would like to carry on a discussion questioning the
right of people to present prints made with a printing press as
opposed to an actual baren then we can see how much glass is left in
this house.
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Message 19
From: Viza Arlington
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 21:29:32 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44858] Re: Laser cut blocks
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I guess i was wrong its not too late to turn back. i just looked at
the exchange rules and it looks like collagraphs are no longer
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Message 20
From: Georgina Leahy
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 22:22:40 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44859] Re: Laser Cut Prints
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as an artist who has stopped cutting due to shoulder and repetitive strain injuries (hopefully temprarily) I heartily endorse laser cut as artform. If the artist has an image in their head, heart or subconscious, they can bring it to life through any form that best suits the image. I wish I could afford laser technology, I could do more prints!

having said that, I have a dremel and it does not thrill me, there is nothing like the feeeling of carving vigorously, full of confidence that every stroke will work out and accepting mistakes as part of the design! oh well......
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Message 21
From: Digramma
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 23:54:48 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44860] Re: Lasercut blocks?
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As i said before i have used a laser cutter for several of my prints. I
said it and i will say it again: it is just another tool.
Handicraft can be admirable but it will never be Art. At least not in the
manner we learn what Art is.
I asked a simple question in my previous post: Historically we know that
artists like Hokusai or Hiroshige or anyone around that age painted but did
not carve their own blocks. So from the point of view of the
"handicrafters" (risky terminology here but whatever) we should consider
the carvers of his blocks as the real artists who created his woodblock
I will extend my idea to a parallel example: Mozart wrote Operas. He
conducted them (like Hokusai "conducted" the line of work on his paintings
made into a print) but he never played in the orchestra or sung any part of
them. So are we to credit the success of his Operas to his "instruments"
(singers, musicians, etc)?
Let's take a look at another example: cinema in many ways replaced theatre.
Mostly because a play can be performed only once. A movie can be played in
a pretty much the exact same way as many times as you can copy it. So we
are to conclude that cinema is inferior to theatre?
I will make the long story short since i CAN continue with a lot more
similar lines of thinking and examples: if you have something to express,
something to communicate, something that its yours and you really burn to
share it, in most cases you must do what you can in order to achieve this
feeling of expressing yourself, of communicating. We know for a fact that
there are so many ways to achieve this as there are living people on this
Earth. What your viewers will receive is what matters. Not the "know-how".
Defending the use of knives/scalpels against the onslaught of machines in
your Paradise Lost speaks only of insecurity and fear of the future.
Reminds me greatly of people ignorant to the actual use of a computer,
seeing a computer-generated graphic on a screen and saying "oh! the
computer made it". Did it, really?
The whole discussion on the matter downgrades greatly the actual issue of
creating. We have something to say. What's the big deal about how we will
do that?

P.S. I can't resist saying this.
For as many artist examples we have in Art History who became famous for
"selling well" we have double as many who died unknown, in poverty or worse.
Just because you sell your art did not, does not and will not ever entitle
you to Parnassus any more than anyone else.

P.S #2 if anyone wants to know actual technical details on the use of the
laser cutter please feel free to contact me.
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Message 22
From: Mike Lyon
Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2011 00:13:02 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44861] Re: Lasercut blocks?
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Well said!

And yes to PS #2. I'd love details about your use of laser cutting.

Also, is there, do you think, ANY way for a person to know by
examining your prints that they were pulled from laser cut blocks
rather than by hand held cutting tools?

Mike Lyon
Kansas City, Missouri

Sent from my iPhone
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Message 23
From: Digramma
Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2011 00:28:01 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44862] Re: Lasercut blocks?
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To begin with Digramma is Dimitris Grammatikopulos, a previously active
member of Barenforum. It seems like my Gmail postings went public without
my signature. Apologies to that.

Mike Lyon: I used the laser cutter in works where i wanted to imitate
intaglio in linoleum or wood and in cases where i took the photo-methods to
the actual use of light ( fos/phos in Greek means light).
To the extend of my experience in laser-cutting and traditional printmaking
techniques i can say that certain techniques of printmaking (in particular
relief printing ones) may be perfectly imitated.
Laser cutting (for now at least) is limited by size and the fact that the
laser beam burns/melts the image into the material used. Since you have
great experience and knowledge on printing with a machine ( that's what
your CNC machine actually does) you must be realising as you read this,
that factors like dpi come into play.
For the wider public i can give an simple example. For now laser cutting is
unable to imitate a Rembrandt eau-forte or dry-point.
But it's more than fantastic if you want to incorporate your talent in
photography on your print.

Regards to the treasure of knowledge we know as Baren forum :)

Dimitris Grammatikopoulos
( )
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Message 24
From: Carole Dwinell
Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2011 00:34:35 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44863] I've been hacked
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I did NOT send anyone an e-mail with a link. Do NOT open, or pass on
or return. Sorry about that. I have closed the account.

You will never get a group e-mail from me with exposed addresses as I
always use the Bbc: box.

"Today is the day to DO it!"
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Message 25
From: Mark Phillips
Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2011 02:37:25 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44864] Re: Laser Cut Prints
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I have an injury as well from a train wreck several years ago and have
looked into CNC as a possible solution to both work large and in less
pain. Technology has always been a resource artists have drawn from and
printmaking maybe more than any has pulled from commercial technology
for inspiration and new methods. Here's a new technology I'm excited
about incorporating into my CNC (when I finish getting it built) It allows you to record
your drawing stroke by stroke and use that info to feed to the cutting
machine to literally follow my hand when it cuts. With that in mind my
hand will still be in the work but I won't stall on larger projects when
my hands go numb and my shoulder neck locks up and starts to spasm. For
me I only have 3 rules: Use good materials, Keep you hands out of the
press and don't eat the ink - everything else is fair game.

Mark Phillips
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Message 26
From: slinders #
Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2011 04:15:38 GMT
Subject: [Baren 44865] Call for Artists: "Shin Jidai: Contemporary Japanese Book and Paper Arts"
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"Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) seeks art to be included
in a juried exhibition of contemporary Japanese book and paper
arts. The exhibition will be on display in MCBA's Star Tribune
Foundation Gallery from May 19 through July 15, 2012.

Eligible work may include, but is not limited to: sumi-e,
calligraphy, origami, kirie (paper-cutting) moku hanga (Japanese
watercolor woodcut prints,) handmade paper, hand bookbinding, or
any paper-based work that upholds the traditions of Japanese
book and paper arts."

The Minnesota Center for Book Arts is a wonderful community
housed in a terrific building! This sounds like a good
opportunity for Baren members!

Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year to you all!