Oberlin Alumni Magazine Spring 2001 vol.96 no.4
Feature Stories
Planet Earth
High Atop Wilder
[cover story] Creating a Scene
You've Got Mail: Now What?
Experience, Exposure & Enlightenment
Body Art
Message from the Board of Trustees
Around Tappan Square
Oberlin Partnership sharpens Economic Development
Composing a Career
President Dye's Sabbatical
Closing Institutional Devides
In Brief
Alumni Notes: Profile
Alumni Notes: Losses
The Last Word
Staff Box
One More Thing
New Hampshire Woodcut Artist Works Against the Grain

19148 Pg 42A
Top: Randy engraves a scene of Exeter, New Hampshire.
Below: The Peters Hall wood engraving
just prior to completion. The boxwood rests on a leather sandbag for easy maneuverability; the gravers beside it are made of tempered steel and ground to a mirror finish on a Belgian honing stone.
During a brief, yet enchanting, stay in Boston following his graduation in 1970, Randy Miller discovered the art of wood engraving. Inspired by the illustrations found in old books, he questioned why the aged art form wasn't more prominent today. He studied books on the topic at the public library, and, with some tools given to him by a woodworker, made his first engraving on a small block of maple. His 30-year-career as a wood engraver and artist had begun.

With burins and gravers in tow, Randy moved to Alstead, New Hampshire, where he continued to develop his expertise. One of the small number of artists who continue to engrave wood blocks by hand and use their own machinery to pull prints, Randy was commissioned to illustrate a book of short stories about land surveying in New England. He then spent a year engraving 26 images for a children's book, My Village, Sturbridge (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, New York), cited by The New York Times in 1977 as one of the ten best-illustrated children's books of the year.

Focusing on rural American landscapes, old buildings, and scenes from the British Isles, Randy has more than 200 engravings to his credit. From these, he creates prints and note cards, magazine and book illustrations, logo and letterhead designs, and, commissioned works. The September 1999 issue of Colonial Homes magazine featured Randy's prints in its "Master Craftsmen" section.

William Peck '72, class president and member of the planning committee for Oberlin's 2001 reunion, happened upon Randy's web site recently and recognized him as the co-captain of the College's championship basketball team of 1970. Intrigued by the artwork, Bill commissioned the artist to illustrate the cover of the 1970-72 cluster alumni reunion directory and gave him carte blanche for subject matter.

19148 Pg 42BRandy chose a view of Peters Hall because he finds the building architecturally distinctive and sentimentally poignant. The 5x7-inch engraving took him about 65 days to complete--two days for each square inch of engraved surface. Understandably, he describes the creative process as "intense and sometimes grueling."

"I was trying to juxtapose the intricate detail in the stonework and ornaments of Peters with a powerful sense of depth in the round tower, which is achieved in the engraving by emphasizing the shadows," he says.

Two years ago, The Old Farmer's Almanac sought out Randy for a new engraving to appear on the title page of its millennium collector's edition, only the fourth time the title-page illustration has been changed since the Almanac's founding in 1792. Randy's 18-year-old daughter modeled for his rendering of the profile of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture. The Almanac print was the first of his works to use color, which was added to the black and white print.

"Sometimes I yearn to work with color," he muses, "but the pleasure of engraving a clean, highly polished block of hard wood is a compelling and absorbing experience."
--by David Shernoff '02

To order a first-edition print of Peters Hall, signed by the artist, contact Randy Miller at prints@ix.netcom.com or at 17 North Rd., Alstead, NH, 03602. Randy's online gallery can be viewed at www.randymillerprints.com.

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