Sunday, December 2, 2012

Trophy Art (?)

Okay, this is not printmaking - it is a little break from carving, inking, registering, etc., which has been being done, but just not on this little project.  At Northbank Gallery we have had a Gallery Chair-person who has just been over-the-top-on-the-job-fantastically-tremendous. She has ridden herd on us with diligence - she has discovered how to nail jello to a tree, herd cats, and get artists to not only do as they have been asked, but to follow the rules and do it on time!  In my mind that deserves a trophy, so I have made one and will present it to her this evening.  In addition to doing her Gallery Chair duties she has also done two shows: one on all things onion and another on all things eyes and her next series is all things bees.  That will help explain some of the items on her Exemplary Gallery Chair award.  Most of the items are pretty self explanatory - paint can and brush for the constant maintenance of the gallery between shows, tool box, hammer, carpenter's rule, for hanging shows and so on.  (Did I mention that I now need a new supply of Sculpey?  That stuff is so much fun.  All of us pre-schoolers (and above) love it!

It is my hope that, upon seeing this amazing object d'art, the membership will be jumping at the chance to take on the Gallery Chair job with the dream of having one of these for their very own.  Either that or they will race across the bridge where they think they will be safe, but we will hunt them down if need be.

                                                                    Front view
                                                                         Back view  (that piece of paper is a list of shows)
                                                                   close up of back
                                                                close up of front

Thank goodness for Goodwill or Salvation Army, memory is not serving as to where I found this elegant trophy, and to the person who donated it so I could pick it up for a song.  Also, to the person who forfeited the Barbie Boom-box which became a yellow tool box.  And, last but not least, to the person who made the doll house chair so I didn't have to make one from scratch (or Sculpey).  And, to our Illustrious Gallery Chair (person) who brought this project to mind.  I had more fun than "Gallagher at a Farmer's Market" to quote a certain car insurance commercial.

And, I beg forgiveness for this having absolutely nothing to do with printmaking!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Iris is Ready To Rock and Roll

The proofing went relatively well today - with a minimum of additional clean-up carving.  Registration is still a problem, but much better than with the poppy.  Of course anything short of hari-kari would be an improvement over the Poppy Problems.  So, Iris is ready to go and now we are on to the next one. The drawing hasn't even started on that, yet. Heck, I haven't even decided on the flower.  Right now the sunflower (adoration) is in the lead, but inching up close on her hienie is a yellow tulip (love & friendship).  And, of course, there are others.  There are two that have to be: Amarylis (Beauty) and a thistle (Nobility and the flower of Scotland).  Meanwhile, here's a look at today's project.

Stay tuned - you never know what might happen tomorrow....

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Iris in the Making

A couple of weeks ago the image was transferred to the block via the magic studio paper sold at McClain's Printmaking Supplies.  I love this stuff - it is truly magic.  You just scan your image and print it (ink jet) onto this paper and while the ink is wet lay it upon the block and burnish lightly with a baren. Poof! Your image is on the block and ready to go. Magnifique!

So, then comes the carving.  It is mesmerizing when it is complex and there are many little fine lines. There is nothing quick about it, but as my friend Dave once said, "If you love doing something isn't it a good thing if it takes a long time?"  Or words to that effect, and I have to agree whole heartedly.  I've spent the greatest part of the week, whenever I wasn't doing laundry or cleaning up a mess, in the studio carving away and tomorrow we proof.  I can almost smell the ink.  Proofing days can be both exciting and depressing.  If there is only a small amount of correction that is good, but more can be a problem.  Mostly because now the block has been inked and either you clean it vigorously, or you muck about in sticky ink.  That is when you know the Japanese have it right and you should be using water color, rice paste and sumi ink.  But, this is going to be printed on fabric, so I think it will have to be printed in the Western tradition.  Ahhh, well - wish me luck and check back tomorrow.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

One more poppy & an Iris

Spent a few more minutes working on the poppy and opened it up quite a bit more.  It should print better on the fabric when I get to that point.  Meanwhile, I'm much happier with the lighter look.

The second image will be the Iris.  It is such a delicate and beautiful flower.  There are iris gardens not far from here where they have every color you can imagine, even black.  They are not in bloom now or I would trot over and take a photo to share.  Remind me next spring and I'll do that.  But, for the time being I have to be satisfied with some old photos from my morgue.  This one is actually a combo of two images, one for the flower and another for the stem.  And, I love the meaning that this flower carries with it: wisdom.  Isn't that supposed to come with age?  I don't know how much longer I can wait.  But. perhaps with this on a flag, blowing in the wind it will scatter a bit of it my way.

This time I hope to eliminate at least one of the previous registration dilemmas, hence the text below.  It will all be transferred to the wood and will only need the addition of the border.  I won't be able to work on this next week, but the following week I will be up to my ears in wood chips and ink!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Poppy Registration Solved

A HUGE thanks to Terri Peart for the suggestion to use freezer wrap to solve my fabric registration issues.  The puzzlement was that I needed to register three times for this image (chalk that up, at least partially, to very poor planning).  Accomplishing this feat with sturdy paper you could do with your eyes closed, but a floppy piece of fabric? Not so easy.  However, Terri wrote to say that quilters often use freezer wrap - it has a plasticized back which allows it to adhere to the fabric with the help of an iron and when you don't need it anymore you simply peel it off and it leaves no residue. Well, call me Ishmael, if it isn't true!  It works like a dream.

Coming up with fabric scraps 11 inches wide was not easy.  I was able to find a piece just large enough - it is left over from making a dust ruffle for my granddaughter's bed.  The flags will not be pink and green stripe, but this fabric is the approximate weight and texture of what I will be using, so it was perfect for the test.

So, aside from needing to do a much better job of inking, I think the Poppy Problems are under control. The thing I really appreciate is being able to use the freezer paper over and over.  Once the required size has been cut it is a simple matter of adhering it to the back of the fabric and then treating the paper and fabric as one piece.

It's too bad the flags won't be pink and green stripe - I rather like it, but I suppose it would be good to hold to tradition somewhat, so they will be solid colors.  This might look good on a sweatshirt or a T, though.... hmmmm, more registration issues, maybe not...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Proof is in the Poppy

There were a few strung together moments this afternoon which allowed time for some cleaning up on the blocks and pulling a few proofs.  Cleaning up the blocks was quick and easy, and creating an acrylic mask for use when printing the poppy itself was a no brainer, but oh! the registration nightmare. I will certainly do things differently on the next flower.  And I see that I still don't have the text perfectly level, so still adjustment is needed there, but that won't take long. (She says with the utmost confidence, knowing full well that it will probably take hours.)  The next decision is whether to do color blocks for leaves and flower or stick with the black ink.  These will be printed on the traditional Prayer Flag colors of red, yellow, blue, white and green.  I think to stick with the black is the answer!  I may want to print these on paper, too, and maybe for that I will make color blocks and maybe even do moku hanga - who knows?

The first image is the California Poppy.  It was chosen for its traditional meaning.  Particularly in Victorian times, and probably before that, too, meanings were given to flowers and you better be careful what you sent, or delivered, because you could really create a societal faux pas.  Most of the sites agreed that one of the poppy's meanings was "imagination".  When these flags are out in the garden fluttering in the breeze I want as much imagination flying around in the air as possible.

The next problem is how to get this transferred to the fabric.  The first thought is to spray a re-positionable adhesive onto paper to act as a support, or carrier, through the printing process.  After printing the paper would be removed, of course.  So, tomorrow I will be heading out purchase spray adhesive of the sort I will need.  Unless someone has experience with this and can offer an easier solution??

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Helen Frankenthaler

Last week Helen Frankenthaler's work was mentioned on the Baren Forum and it reminded me of the print I did about Ms. Frankenthaler.  It was for a Baren Exchange about someone who had been influential to your printmaking.  At the time I was heavily into her imagery and the methods she used to make her prints.  There had also been a fantastic show of her work at the Portland Art Museum.  They had the paintings she did with the print made from that image next to it.  Fantastic!

The print that I did had her work East and Beyond: 1973 which was a puzzle print, behind her.  In my work I attempted to duplicate that work by doing a small puzzle print just like hers, with the woodblock of her in the foreground.

That total image was then trimmed and adhered to a digital reproduction of her work on a ph neutral paper for that purpose.  Finally, her name was printed and the stamp with her image (also an inkjet print) attached.  That was probably the most fun I have had doing something that I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but it all turned out successfully.  The moral of the story is: Go for it! Experiment!  Have fun!  You will learn a lot and have a whale of a good time doing it!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Clearing the Block

Carving the actual pattern is always fun and you can get to that zone where time doesn't exist anymore and you are one with the wood.  Awakening from this trance and having to face the boring and repetitious part of clearing away whatever you don't want to print can be absolutely brutal.  I wonder if it could be fatal to an older, arthritic person?  (Maybe we don't want to know the answer to that question.) On this block there is quite a bit of clearing away of unwanted wood and it is a rather hard wood (cherry) so it could be a daunting task, however - not in this case because it is Foredom to the rescue.  Foredom is a power tool much like a Dremel on steroids.  It has a flexible cable and interchangeable bits.  One cable is for etching, engraving, etc. and is what I used on the copper piece (see previous posts) and the other cable is for more like a chisel.  The clearing requires the latter.  You can see the tool head next to the block -

This was cleared in about 1/4 of the time it would have taken me to do it with the regular chisel (sitting next to the power head in this photo) and my hand would have ached for hours.  Not to mention how it would have felt during the process.  Using the Foredom I can hold it so that I am pushing from the shoulder in one continuous motion using both hands on the tool.  The blade only cuts back and forth when pressure is applied.  It is a really cool little toy!

There are no registration marks on this block, yet, because I really have no idea, or rather I have several ideas, of how to do this and will figure that out when I get to it...

Next - there is some computer work to get the drawing for the center image where I want it and then transferred to another block.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beginning of the Flags

For years I've intended to carve blocks and make prayer flags for the garden.  And every year the project has played second fiddle to everything else.  Finally, I am off to a well intended beginning and, more or less, holding my breath that this time prayer flags will actually materialize.  For anyone not familiar with prayer flags they are a part of Nepalese and Tibetan Buddhist culture.  The flags are each dedicated to a particular element or virtue and as they flutter in the wind those wishes are carried on the air.  For a more detailed explanation (and probably more accurate, although I am going with the belief I just stated ,try this link.  I have never been one to be side-tracked by facts.)

My thought is to carve a border block which can be used for each individual print.  After many drawings and ideas I finally came up with a simple leaf and berry design with spirals in each corner. Traditionally the flags have a different image in each corner, but at our house we do spirals.

To get the image onto the block I scanned it first into the computer and then printed it out on the transfer paper sold by McClain's. Working quickly so the ink doesn't dry it is a simple matter of placing the transfer paper face down onto the block and burnishing it lightly with a baren.  Voila, the image is on the block!  Generally, with other transfer techniques, I like to tint the block with Sumi Ink, but if I had done that using the transfer paper obviously I would never be able to see it and I have enough trouble seeing things without interference. (Notice the magnifier hanging on the Hori-dai  which I learned about from my good friend Graham Scholes.)

A closer look at the quality of the transfer on a cherry block:

And so, tomorrow the carving commences!  Once I get to working on a project and the knife actually hits the wood I am committed to the project.  This block will be pretty easy - it will be the central images that will require most of the work.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Copper Piece Installed

Finally, the copper engraving of the creek, horse shoes, fir boughs and holly is mounted and installed.  I have to admit, it really does look pretty darned good in its new home.  Son Don was enlisted for aid in getting the piece installed - it wouldn't - couldn't - have happened without him.  We figured it weighed about 25 lbs. and was approximately 38" x 36" - rather unwieldy, anyway.  Here it is in its final home:

The front door is to the right where the mat is.  The walk from the street to the front door is quite a bit longer than shows in this photo.

This is a closer look, but it is still a bit difficult to make the image out if you don't know what you're looking for!  Somewhere, in a previous entry there may be a better photo, but darned if I know how to find out without risking the loss of everything I've just entered.  I wish they would forgo the well intended improvements and leave things the same on things like this.  We closet luddites lead a rough life!

Next I am on to a project I've wanted to do for a very long time and other obligations and previously planned jobs had to be done first.  So, now I really am going to do Prayer Flags.  They will be woodcuts.  I've vacillated between screen print or woodblock and finally settled on woodblock.  I probably won't get to the actual carving until the end of the month, but the drawings can get started tomorrow.  ;-)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Keepers of the Flame

Oh yeah, you have to remember to push the publish button when you've finished the post!  These older brains are something else - one would think I had never blogged before.  Apparently, the procedure was in the short term memory and we can see how good that is...

This image, "Keepers of the Flame" is part of the mythology series from Ancient Celtic Mythology.  In doing my research I found many references to the Pashcal Candle of Christianity, and how the symbol was carried on from pagan religions. In the time of the Druids and before, when religions were matriarchal, the interpretation of the candle's light was an honored symbol of Juno, or the local goddess of the moon, stars and sun.  It was believed that she gave newborns their gift of sight.  Personally, I think the candles were all scented and, hygiene being what it was back then, the more candles you could keep burning the better the smell.  My "Keepers of the Flame" represent all those feminine mystics from long ago who, like Motel 6, kept the candle in the window burning.

Keepers of the Flame
7.5 x 8.5
Solarplate™ intaglio
Akua intaglio ink, a la poupeé
chine collé

The long burning candle was also from ceremonial rekindling and encouraging of the new sun at the Winter Solstice.  If the candle extinguished before the specified time it was a sign of bad luck for the coming year.  Roman, Greek and Christians did away with any possibility of that happening by inducting the custom into organized religion and putting someone in charge of keeping that thing burning. The Romans left it up to the temple of Juno and the Christians to the church. Many of the old pagan festivals involving bonfires, torches, candles and other lights were originally dedicated to the Goddess-as-sun, or to the Goddess as controller of the sun and its cycles.  Well, thank goodness we got over that - I would hate to think women were saddled forever with the responsibility of the sun coming up every day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Procession of the Birds

My artist statement says that I am trying to reach back and get in touch with my Celtic roots and that has involved some reading about early European mythology.  Some of the myths I have, more or less, tried to illustrate - not by any forethought of mine, I don't consider myself an illustrator, but it seems to have happened none the less.
Birds play a very important part in these mythologies - everything from being "familiars" (helpers to witches), to being the souls of the dear departed, to being just messengers from a parallel universe.  Feathers were symbols in many ancient beliefs: the early Egyptians believed that every seventh incarnation was a bird, Manx sailors never left on voyage without a feather from the sacred wren. It was traditional to slay wrens on New Years Day on the Isle of Man.  Birds and feathers often symbolized air as one of earth's basic elements. So - birds were important.  The image of a group of women traipsing through the woods  to release the birds came from nowhere in particular, maybe I wanted to free those wrens on the Isle of Man.  Since that particular period in our mythology evolution was one of matriarchal religions  women are everywhere, in all different ages, shapes and sizes and they all dance and sing with reckless abandon.

Solarplate™ intaglio inked a la poupeé
Akua intaglio inks, Somerset Satin paper
7.5" x 8.5"

I've become rather attached to these folks and think they will probably surface in a woodcut now that I have no particular deadline and can take my time!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Which Witch?

It is time to get around to posting again - it seems like years since I've entered anything.  Come to think of it, I was always like that with diaries, too.  Xmas would come and I would always get at least one and in the end I have a library of diaries with entries through the first two weeks of January and blank from then on.  That was mostly because I felt that my life was so mundane and uneventful that there was nothing interesting to write.  Little did I know that those would be among the most interesting days of my life!

But, just because I haven't been writing doesn't mean nothing has been happening around here.  Which Witch? was a fairly easy print to compose, but getting that black, black, blue black background was a bit tricky.  And finding the right chine collé paper was a task with pitfalls, too.  Paper too thin, too thick, not the right color - eek.  Finally, I went with what I had in the drawers and was pleased with the way the green grapes and the table cloth compliment.  At the opening of the exhibition Friday night I was amazed at the number of people who couldn't find the witches even when they were pointed out!

Which Witch? is a Solarplate™ print measuring approximately 14" x 16.5" and printed intaglio.  Incidentally, those witches are both very nice, gentle people, strictly vegetarian, maybe a glass of potion now and then, but basically of high moral character and pillars of their respective covens.  Nothing to fear from these two - they haven't cast a spell in so long that they have completely forgotten all incantations.  They were good studio mates and kept up an interesting banter throughout the process.  ;-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Copper Complete

The Foredom has been grinding away, relentlessly, turning a lovely piece of copper into dust.  Yeah! we have an image - and one that I think conveys the tranquility of Tryon Creek State Park.  It is difficult to get a good photo of a metallic surface, but I hope you can tell a little of what is intended from this shot.

This piece is intended to exist as the copper plate mounted onto the exterior of a house.  But, there are some pretty interesting passages and I had to know how these marks might translate to paper.

detail from copper plate

So, I pulled a print using Akua Carbon Black -  the wonderful part of that is that after the print is pulled the plate cleans with soap and water and very little elbow grease (which is more than I can say for wiping the plate prior to printing!  I thought my arm was going to drop off.)

Obviously, this was not what I would like if this were intended as a print, but in this instance I think there is 
a lot to work with and as soon as the ink is dry I am ready to dive in and see what I can come up with.  Meanwhile, though, some of the marks translated quite differently than I would have thought.  Some are really dark, and some are quite transparent and almost fragile. 

detail from print

This little detail will give me something to muck about in and see what works and what doesn't.  Meanwhile, though, I think the copper will stand alone and that is what matters.  The Foredom will enjoy a nice rest.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Copper Engraving

Good grief! It has been ages since I've written anything.  Between travel, Christmas, Colds, and general winter lethargy, not a whole lot has happened.  But, I couldn't put off getting this copper piece started any longer.  Hopefully, it will be the engraved plate which is its primary purpose, AND I will be able to get a print off of it for my show in June, which I am really supposed to be working on.  It is pretty slow going and I can only stand to work on it four to six hours a day - my back seems to feel it is obligated to set up a major screaming session if I try to push it any further.  So, here is as far as we have made it after about 4 days of work:

The section under the newsprint will be the next part and will be started this weekend.  Meanwhile, I am off to Ink and Drink at Atelier Meridian this evening.  My son and I are going to sneak off and "smash hearts" (make valentines for our respective spouses).  Should be great fun!