Kawkab al-Sharq, Oum Kalthoum

We have the musical Artist, Camille and a mutual friend to thank for bringing us together 13 some years ago. Camille’s concert at Bimbos in San Francisco is where I first met Aïcha Idelcadi. In the years that followed we shared a mutual love and curiosity for Art, Music and the city of San Francisco.

Here is the story of our studio adventures in creating a woodcut reduction print of Egyptian singing legend, Oum Kalthoum. We began with an introduction to the reduction process through two color small rubber stamp prints. The whites of the pyramid are carved out first and the orange or green (we experimented with colors) first of two colors is printed. Once we have our goal of copies plus extras, we can carve out the previously printed base or first color (orange/green in our case). what remains on our rubber block is the relief (ink accepting surface) of the second/final color which in our case is green and blue.

Rubber Stamp reduction prints by Aicha Idelcadi and Nathalie Roland

Rubber Stamp reduction prints by Aicha Idelcadi and Nathalie Roland

Once we had a basic understanding of the reduction process, we began imagining our 7”x7” woodcut reduction print. Idelcadi brought the idea of an Oum Kalthoum image to the studio. (Read more about her idea- will link to interview here) We did some research of Egyptian motifs and exchanged more about the extraordinary life of Oum Kalthoum. Eventually we came up with this drawing that incorporated an Egyptian floral motif and a geometric star which appears in the decorative patterns of the Middle East as a nod to one of her many titles, “The Star of the East” or “L'étoile de l'Orient”. We used an old photo as reference and the sphinx by her side for her homeland and additional title “The Voice of Egypt

Our line drawing, our draft of color separation, some drawing ideas and previous drafts.

Once we established our line drawing and image goal, transferred the drawing to wood and began carving out the white parts including highlights on her face and the star band behind her. After the highlight areas were carved out , we could print the first yellow gradation color. After we had printed more than 28 (our target goal for the edition) we carved away the yellow parts of the same block of wood. Thus, leaving the raised wood surface to be inked with the final green color.


“Kawkab al-Sharq, Oum Kalthoum” Woodcut reduction print. Carved and printed by Aïcha Idelcadi and Nathalie Roland in San Francisco, California. Image 7”x7” on 10”x10” paper. Edition of 28. Available for purchase here.