‘Block, Paper, Chisels’

  • Hancock artist Kim Cunningham's new book 'Block, Paper, Chisels: Prints from New Hampshire's Monadnock Region' is set to launch this week through Bauhan Publishing. Courtesy photo—ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BLM...

  • Hancock artist Kim Cunningham's new book 'Block, Paper, Chisels: Prints from New Hampshire's Monadnock Region' is set to launch this week through Bauhan Publishing. Courtesy photo—ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BLM...

  • Hancock artist Kim Cunningham's new book 'Block, Paper, Chisels: Prints from New Hampshire's Monadnock Region' is set to launch this week through Bauhan Publishing. Courtesy photo—

  • Hancock artist Kim Cunningham's new book 'Block, Paper, Chisels: Prints from New Hampshire's Monadnock Region' is set to launch this week through Bauhan Publishing. Courtesy photo—

  • Hancock artist Kim Cunningham's new book 'Block, Paper, Chisels: Prints from New Hampshire's Monadnock Region' is set to launch this week through Bauhan Publishing. Courtesy photo—

  • Hancock artist Kim Cunningham works on a two color print of her 'Rainbow Trout' in her home studio. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Hancock artist Kim Cunningham works on a two color print of her 'Rainbow Trout' in her home studio. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Hancock artist Kim Cunningham works on a two color print of her 'Rainbow Trout' in her home studio. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Hancock artist Kim Cunningham works on a two color print of her 'Rainbow Trout' in her home studio. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Hancock artist Kim Cunningham works on a two color print of her 'Rainbow Trout' in her home studio. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Hancock artist Kim Cunningham works on a two color print of her 'Rainbow Trout' in her home studio. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Hancock artist Kim Cunningham works on a two color print of ‘Rainbow Trout’ in her home studio. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin

  • Hancock artist Kim Cunningham works on a two color print of her 'Rainbow Trout' in her home studio. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/18/2020 5:09:53 PM

Kim Cunningham refers to her new book “Block, Paper, Chisels: Prints From the New Hampshire’s Monadnock Region” as “a visual memoir and culmination” of her life’s work.

The book, published by Bauhan Publishing in Peterborough, is set to launch on Saturday, Nov. 21 in conjunction with Cunningham’s virtual appearance with the Toadstool Bookshops scheduled for 10 a.m.

“Block, Paper, Chisels” is a dive into the print making medium, including more than 70 prints from Cunningham’s four decade career as a print maker, capturing favorite landscape scenes from around the region, local wildlife, including a section on owls, and a more abstract approach to her work with a look at trees.

“They’re really neat to look at and it helps people understand the process more,” Cunningham said. “I wanted it to be educational. I felt like I had a good collection of work and then it was figuring out how I can turn them into a book.”

Cunningham said she tried to demystify the process of block print making, something most people only try once when they’re in school. Cunningham, who lives in Hancock, was one of those people that was fascinated by the block print making process and pursued a degree in etching from Kirkland College, a small, private liberal arts women’s college located in Clinton, New York, that was only open from 1968 to 1978.

A number of the images were from her three calendar releases – Monadnock, Owls and Wild Things – through Bauhan Publishing, while the remainder are a collection of more recent creations as well as ones that go way back to her early days working with the medium.

“It’s really a wide range,” Cunningham said. She used some older blocks to do some reprints for the book. In some of the explanation areas of “Block, Paper, Chisels” she added some random prints to showcase the range of her work.

“I definitely delved into my archives,” she said. “It was fascinating to see how much my work has remained the same after all these years. I haven’t revisited some of them for a really long time.” She even dug out a couple drawings she did when she was six years old.

She enjoyed the process of making the calendars, the last of which debuted in 2019, that the idea of putting a book together seemed like the next natural step.

“We really had a good time working together and a good response,” Cunningham said of the calendars. “The book project is really building on that. It was just an organic thing that grew out of it. And the thing that really helped was having already done those calendars.”

She wrote haikus for the series of prints in the Monadnock and Wild Things sections and did a lot of her own lettering, using her talents in calligraphy, that help introduce each section.

Cunningham first began her work, which she called the earliest form of print making, using wood, but transitioned to linoleum and rubber. Wood is a much harder to work with and using the softer material has allowed for Cunningham to truly perfect her craft. She has developed a technique to give her prints a simulated wood grain look, allowing for the best of both worlds.

She uses two blocks for each print, one for color and the other for black. A lot of time goes into the design of each block, starting with a photo and a sketch before she begins her chisel work. And something people may not know is that everything reverses “so if you’re doing a scene you have to think backwards,” she said.

“It’s a labor intensive art form,” Cunningham said. But she had some good teachers along the way and her love of lines really brought out the creative aspect of the medium.

She does her own printing, all without the use of fancy equipment. She uses water-based block printing inks, much like young students do in art class, spreading it out with small rollers. Once the colors are just right, she adds the paper and uses a special plastic spoon to help get an even covering for what turns out to be a spectacular print.

“It’s the old fashioned way of doing it,” Cunningham said. “You really don’t need much equipment or space to do it.”

Cunningham said she was “thankful to have this big project during the pandemic.” It kept her engaged and allowed her to focus solely on putting it together. She made a binder, using plastic sleeves and prints from her copy machine to begin the layout of how she envisioned it to look.

“They really had me involved in the whole design process,” Cunningham said.

The link for Cunningham’s Zoom event can be found at www.toadbooks.com/blockpaperchisels. Her book is available for pre-order now online at www.toadbooks.com and https://bauhanpublishing.com/ and will become available for purchase on Nov. 26 at the Toadstool Bookshops.


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