Tortie Girls trays, set.

Tortie Girls Trays

These are lightweight 10″ x 13″ pine wood trays each with a hand-colored and signed block print of my tortie girls, “The Goddess” and “The Roundest Eyes”, adhered in the bottom. Inside of the tray is painted pure white, outside and upper edge is painted pure black with a matte finish on the entire tray.

I usually print about a half-dozen of each block print in acrylic ink on rice paper, allow them to dry, and hand color each one individually with watercolors so I have them on hand. I sign each print when the embellishment is complete and store them in an acid-free sketchbook for framing or whatever else I may use them. Then I give each tray a light sanding and paint each tray with acrylic paint.

I trimmed down the finished, colored print to fit inside the tray and adhere it into the bottom of the tray with acid-free mounting  adhesive. Later I’ll add one coats of finish on the inside of the  tray to protect the print.

The trays are good for decoration on a tabletop or wall, or to use to actually carry lightweight items but are not suitable as a hotpad or to carry heavy dishes or other items. If kept in direct sunlight the watercolors will fade in time but the inks and paints will not. They can be easily wiped down with mild detergent or diluted all-surface cleaner but not immersed in water.

The trays are handmade and may vary slightly in size and shape or have slight imperfections. You may see some paper wrinkling in these prints in the trays; the rice paper tends to pucker up when the ink dries with printing, then again when I watercolor them. I actually iron them to stretch them, but they are never entirely flat. I had originally wanted the prints to look as if they were printed on the trays themselves though that is impossible with the block printing technique, but I think the paper wrinkles adds an interesting element of texture to the trays.

See other gifts featuring my Tortie Girls.


Tortie Girls

I am unendingly inspired by my houseful of felines, especially those two tortoiseshell calicos, Cookie and Kelly. The framable prints, T-shirts and textiles are printed by hand by the artist from hand-cut linoleum block, then each individually is hand-tinted in bright tortie colors.

Tortie Girls tray, The Goddess.

Tortie Girls tray, The Goddess.

“The Goddess”

Well, everyone knows a fat cat who knows she’s beautiful, and Cookie would tell you that a woman with a round shape was once most desirable and an object of worship. That’s why I call her “The Goddess”.

Tortie Girls tray, The Roundest Eyes.

Tortie Girls tray, The Roundest Eyes.

“The Roundest Eyes”
Sometimes when I look at Kelly the only feature I can distinguish in all those tortie markings is her extremely round eyes.

Not everyone has the room for, or the use for, art on their wall, and I designed these block printed works to be versatile. I do offer them as prints on paper, but I’ve also printed them on sweatshirts, curtains, placemats, tote bags and so on—whatever will hold still long enough for the ink to dry. The black portion is printed in ink, then I go back into the prints and hand tint the shirts by painting ink into the design so that the color stays more durable through washing.

I sign and number each shirt, just as I would a print on paper.

Block printing is a technique wherein the artist carves the surface of a piece of linoleum, leaving raised areas which will become the image. Ink is rolled onto these raised areas, then a piece of paper is pressed against the block and when it’s lifted away the ink remains, leaving the image on the paper.

Because of the nature of the medium, each print is unique and ink coverage varies by the surface. Most artists consider this random activity to be part of the process of creating an individualized print, and along with the hand-painting makes a unique work of art.