Saturday, November 22, 2008

Earth, Water, Wind and Fire: Installed

Finally, after months of grinding away with various bits and my handy Foredom, the piece is ready for installation in the great outdoors.  It has been securely mounted on exterior grade plywood which has been primed and painted within an inch of its life.  The final coat is a clear enamel on the copper itself to prevent oxidation.  At first I was going to just let it do its natural thing, but then I realized that gradually all that engraving would disappear.  That was when I decided to add color with the propane torch, and sure enough! Gradually, all the engraving disappeared and had to be redone.
In a few years the plants will be halfway or more up to the bottom of the installed piece.  Right now it looks like it has been installed much too high, but hopefully, in a few years it will look just right.  I'm told that the first year plants sleep, the second year they creep, and the third year they leap.  Right now we are heavily into sleep, because nothing is doing anything.  There is a tiny tip of new growth, but that is it -- just enough for us to know they are still alive.
Earth, Water, Wind and Fire looks for all the world to be exactly where it was meant to be: and it is!  
The next project is to carve the fence posts!  I don't expect that to take near as long as this piece did. ;-)

Earth, Water, Wind and Fire

The four elements: earth, water, wind and fire seemed appropriate for a garden piece.  Of course, each of these had to be represented visually.   Water                                               Detail of fern representing earth.  The fern
was chosen because it is one of our oldest botanic specimens and it is a wonder to me how it can propagate so effectively with such a primitive and demanding reproductive process.  It seemed to demand some kind of recognition. Air/wind - my favorite to draw or paint, and
                                                        least favorite to experience. Another representation of earth simply because
    I love plants with berries and wanted to do berries. In the upper right hand corner is an 
image representing the sun and fire.  However, after
I decided to take the propane torch to the copper to
add color, the torch became the representative for fire.
This is the finished piece in the studio, mounted on primed and painted exterior plywood, ready for installation outdoors.  (To be continued...)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Working on Copper

This looks more like a Halloween costume than someone doing serious work, but under all of that gear sits a mild mannered printmaker working her little heart out. Several years ago I burned out a Dremel tool working on zinc and replaced it with a Foredom which is much more to my liking. So far, I have not managed to burn it out. This is a 2' square piece of copper intended to be installed in the yard when completed. To date I have been through 4 little burrs and have completely emptied the bin at our local Home Depot. It is slow going and I'm getting impatient! Especially impatient to get out of all of this gear! Before the piece is mounted and installed I intend to get at least one print from it.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall...

North Bank Gallery in Vancouver, where I am one of the artists, is having a Politik: Left, Right and Center exhibition this month. Since I am pretty much chair bound, recovering from surgery, I had to do what I could manage from my chair. This didn't exactly conform to that requirement, but modeling the pig did. The idea was after the reference in the political dialogue of putting lipstick on a pig, the old saw that is just another version of you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear, which was my mother's favorite. Somehow the Right managed to twist the comment to infer that Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for Vice President, was a pig in lipstick, which was never the intent or context of the comment in the original. But, since that seems to be what is making the rounds, I decided to play on that. The most surprising part of this story is that the piece sold before the show opened, making me think maybe I should go for folk art and give up the printmaking!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Froggie went a courting...

A few years ago I carved this little woodblock from parts of wood around other images. I only needed a little spot approximately 2.5 x 3.25 inches for the key and pond blocks, and even smaller for the other colors. Last weekend I printed up a fresh batch of Froggies and made them into gift cards by trimming them and mounting them to various scraps of papers and finally onto cardstock and finishing them off with a few odd beads and embroidery floss. Of course, they were not standard envelope size, so the envelopes are made from scraps of various mulberry papers hiding out in drawers. Nothing, but nothing goes to waste around here and very little gets tossed out. In that respect I suppose this could be considered house cleaning. Yes! I spent the weekend cleaning house! I wonder if anyone will notice.... Maybe one of these days I will put some of these on my poor little neglected Etsy site.... someday....

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Aeronautic Maneuvers

This last week has been yet another new experience. North Bank Gallery in Vancouver will be featuring a show entitled Airborne: Lighter Than Air, during the month of June. My contribution will be something I'm calling Aeronautic Maneuvers. It is not printmaking in the traditional sense, although the manikins are prints in some sense, if you stretch the term far enough, I suppose. My idea was based on aeronautic = having to do with wind and air currents and the manipulation of them, and maneuvers = dance positions. The work is done with steel cable, copper tubing and wire, & wooden manikins (thank you IKEA). It has been a lot of fun to do, much more like playing than work, and will be a challenge to transport and hang, I'm sure. Next week it will be time to pack and get ready for the Alaskan cruise we've been planning for some time and have done nothing to get ready for, yet. Since we leave Saturday morning to drive to the "other Vancouver" I guess it is time to give this trip some serious thought! There will be plenty of time for printmaking when we return. Maybe some of these figures from Aeronautic Maneuvers will find their way into some new images – along with glaciers and icebergs!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Another New Experience

Education continues, and this time it is in the realm of ketubahs, a word I had never heard before this assignment came into my life. My niece is marrying a wonderful man of Russian/Jewish heritage this weekend and they asked me to design and execute their ketubah, which (according to Wikipedia is) a Jewish prenuptial agreement. It is considered an integral part of a traditional Jewish marriage. It states that the husband commits to provide food, clothing and marital relations to his wife, and that he will pay a specified sum of money if he divorces her. If he dies, leaving her a widow, the ketubah amount is the first charge on his estate. Not knowing really where to begin, I began on the web where I found approximately one cajillion examples. The kids sent me samples of their likes, and they were not even similar. The groom's choice was very ornate and geometric, and the bride's choice was organic and natural. So, I tried to combine the two. My approach was to go to the Victorian Language of Flowers site and choose: Bird of Paradise - magnificence, Asteracae - love, Wild Rose - perfect happiness, Star of David - Judaism, entwined ribbons - individual qualities joined harmoniously, and an abstract heart - the universal emblem of love. The rest of it is shape, line, space, color and value, the old stand-by principles, heavily influenced by Alphonse Maria Mucha, one of my favorite Art Nouveau printmaker/illustrators. The kids have not seen this, yet - I just hope it will not be something they hate, since it is supposed to be a "work of art", signed at the rehearsal dinner, that will be framed and hang in their home.... Yikes! I hate commissions. By the time the client sees the work I am tied in knots fretting furiously that they are going to gasp and turn pea green when they see it... Oh dear, Oh my...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Year of the Rat

It is a bit past the traditional February date of the Chinese New Year, but due to the rat race in my habitat I just didn't get around to doing my New Year's cards until last week. I guess I needed surgery and a recovery period aka, enforced down time, for me to settle in one place long enough to get them done. All has gone well in all departments.
So many possibilities for a rat card - I couldn't seem to land on one that I was happy with. I had them packing bags (pack rat), racing little cars (rat race), hopping about (kangaroo rat). But, since this is the year of the Summer Olympics I decided to go with Marathon Rat in the end. He is a relief Solar Plate printed on Graphic Chemical Heavyweight paper, using GC's 514c Bone Black etching ink modified with GC Gelled Medium, and hand colored. Each evening after printing the plate was cleaned well with baby oil and the printing area cleaned with rubbing alcohol and window cleaner. Hands are cleaned with that old favorite, Lava Soap. Since Solar Plates are light sensitive polymer coated steel plates, and are developed in plain old ordinary tap water, it all makes for a pretty much non-toxic environment. Fumes from developing the solarplates are largely negated by developing under running tap water. Still, it is a good idea to wear gloves, just in case.
The reverse of the card was put through an ink jet printer with a short explanation of the character traits of those born in the Year of the Rat. Basically, they are charming, charismatic, practical and hardworking. They are endowed with leadership skills and are highly motivated, organized, meticulous and demand control of all situations. It is that "charismatic" trait you have to be really wary of as they will convince you to join them in that Marathon before you know what hit you. However, if you are prone to betting on such things, Rat people make for a sure bet in such situations as they cannot stand to look at the backside of a person in front of them, hence they are sure winners.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Drying Systems

A few days ago David Harrison wrote about his drying system for prints on his blog, and a handsome system it is, too! You can see it at I told him that I had put up a very economical drying systems for my blotters, which could be used to dry prints, too. I don't use it for prints because I always print on damp paper and the prints need to be between blotters. As a result I have a number of well worn blotters that need to be dry before being put back into storage for the next time. The system I'm using I bought at IKEA for around $20, maybe a little less. It was a cinch to install and works beautifully. Its original purpose is to hang drapery/curtain panels, but it works very nicely for this, too. The installation is 16 feet and it comes with mini clothes pins. The pins have a loop allowing you to clip the article and then attach it to the cable - an advantage when using it for larger items.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Not a Knot

This year I had vowed to participate in the Cascade Exchange through Oregon State University. Every year I intend to do this, but when the due date arrives I have done nothing. So, this year I made possibly one of the ugliest, most disgusting little prints I've ever done. Ordinarily they would have found their way to the kill pile, but since I vowed to do this I followed through and sent them off, my poor homely little orphans. The way that I print is somewhat akin to a Suicide (reduction) print, where you really don't know what you have until its finished, and since I had waited until the last minute I had no time to start over. But, I had the plates all made so after I had mailed the obligatory exchange disasters off to OSU I tried printing with different colors and added chine collé and it turned out considerably better. The basis for the print was, of course, René Magrittes Ceci n'est pas une pipe (This is not a pipe). He was right, it wasn't. It was a painting of a pipe. In the same vein this is not a knot. It is a print of a knot. And it is a play on words & spellings. English is so much fun to play with! Sometimes I think I should have been an English Major, but then I couldn't have ended a sentence with a preposition, could I?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Birth of Aphrodite

Print Arts Northwest will be exhibiting prints from Cyprus during the month of March and later in the year we will be sending prints there for exhibition in one of their galleries. But, while their work is here we were asked to do small 9" sq. prints giving an interpretation of Cyprus to be hung with the work from Cyprus. That was the impetus for the birth of Aphrodite. I learned that Cyprus was the birthplace of the mythical Aphrodite, ancient Greek goddess of love, and figured that if Venus arrived via sea shell then Aphrodite may have arrived from the sea also, amidst bubbles. And so she did, with a basket of hearts and carrying the two olive branches from the Cypriot flag (symbols for the two factions of Cyprus: Greek and Turkey), may they continue to live in peace. Her head dress is a map of Cyprus and is embellished with copper leaf as the name Cyprus means "copper" in Greek. So there you have it - the explanation of all the elements in the birth of Aphrodite. She is a Solarplate intaglio using several plates printed numerous times and ending with chine collé of the goddess herself, and the bubbles, printed at the same time as the line plate, of course.