Last day to get our blocks cut. Monday we have to be ready to start printing at 10.00

Today, Friday, we spent a long time trying to get our heads around the process and how it relates to our little piles of plywood. We'd already had the problem that we didn't have an 'original' painting or sketch that we had copied exactly. Today some of those particular chickens came home to roost. We had to cut all the subsidiary colour blocks making sure they related to the original B/W keyblock, when the image we would have used to offset them had been stuck down and cut through.

For example, It was only after sticking the tracing for the brown block down onto the ply that Ian realised he also needed to have the yellow ochre area of cutting included on the brown tracing to know where to cut through the brown to show the yellow ochre. Cutting too much through the brown block would otherwise show the white of the paper instead of the yellow ochre which would be printed first. This lead to quite a lengthy bodge, tracing out the keyblock onto a separate sheet of tracing, then registering that with the brown tracing, marking the edges of the brown tracing over the keyblock tracing. Registering both with the yellow ochre block, tracing that on and then transferring that yellow block area onto the back of the tracing already stuck down on to the brown area plywood. Did you follow all that? Good.

Merlyn was having to contend with the complete lack of proofing, which is how she builds up the images in her own prints. Cut, proof, see how it looks. Make a decision, cut some more, add another block, proof that. etc etc. However with this process you're expected to cut all the blocks to practically a finished state, without seeing any of the cutting, then print.

Judith was, stoic as always, cutting interesting shapes without much of an idea of how it would look once the colour went on.

All of Ian's blocks cut and ready to print on Monday morning. Note the general air of bodge

After lunch, well we should mention the lunch actually. At any random point between 11.20 and 12.30 Berlin or Amy ( Anan ) would suddenly appear next to our desks and announce it was lunch time. We would then join a steady stream of students heading along corridors and down stairs into a huge gleaming basement canteen labeled as an air raid shelter. There was always a security guard, head in hands, asleep at the first table. We would follow Hong or Anan to a suitable queue and then once at the counter try and work out what to eat from the huge trays on offer filled with all manner of mysterious foodstuffs. Pointing and nodding, with Anan yelling instructions, the harassed dinner staff would ladle it all up onto steel trays, Anan would pay with her student food card and then we would be off to find chopsticks and a table.

I often wondered if we all had the same slightly bemused, confused look on our faces that we saw on the faces of the occasional other foreign students we saw in the queue.

The canteen.

The food was actually very good, very healthy and very cheap. A whole meal with rice and two or three dishes including meat or tofu and plenty of fresh vegetables worked out at about 90p.

Doesn't look hugely appetising but tasted pretty good. Rice, tofu with chilli and spring greens.

Merlyn had been chatting to Berlin to ask about local markets and where locals do their weekly shop. So after lunch, and a bit more cutting, the ever amenable Berlin suddenly asked if we would like to see a local food market as it was on his route home.

Was very interesting to get away from the main streets with their brightly lit shops and see 'normal' back streets with blocks of flats.

Local flats with interesting and, somehow very Chinese, balcony detail.

The market was small, very busy and full of interesting piles of fruits and vegetables. It instantly made you wish you had a small flat nearby and could come here every morning to get your fresh veg for the day.

After a bit of an explore we realised that the market street was adjacent to the tourist street we'd walked before, The Zhongshan Road (Middle) and then round the corner was the 'Street of food' the helpful receptionist at the Fresh House Hostel had suggested. Gaoyin Street. As dusk began and the neon lights came on it looked fantastical.

A bit of a wander, a random choice of restaurant based on the food on diners plates looking quite nice when stared at through a window and we were settled for the night.

First week over and our brains were quite full. Looking forward to getting on with the printing next week now.

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