Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Startled Starling

When we left off we had two transparencies ready to expose.  We exposed and then had: 2  exposed plates which I'm sure I photographed, but can't find and so we're moving to the next bit.

First, the background plate was inked.  It may be hard to determine in this photo, but the dots are an aqua blue with a lime green surface roll.

Two stencils were cut, one with the bird, and the bird.  (Sorry, I forgot to rotate this one -)

 The one without the bird was placed on the inked background plate

And, then the one with the bird was inserted and the one without was removed leaving the bird stencil in place.  Now we're ready to print this plate leaving a white space for the bird.

A little ink has come through in the white space, but it won't matter since it will be covered by the bird.

Next, we ink the bird plate

And cut out the two chine collé pieces from very thin Japanese papers: (oops, forgot to rotate again!)

And, after applying glue to the wrong side of the papers, but placing glue side up, they are placed on the plate in the proper place where they will stay if they know what's good for them.

This is placed on the press bed in the registration jig aka blue masking tape:

And, the print paper with the background lowered into place, run through the press and voila!

We have a Superb Starling

Superb Starlings are all over Tanzania - like Seagulls at the beach.  Every rest stop is well populated as they scrounge for tidbits of dropped or discarded food.  But, they are gorgeous.  They are much more iridescent.  I was unable to get any combo of ink with gold powder, or mica, to achieve the desired effect, but maybe I can find a paper which will do the trick on my next trip to Portland.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Little of Everything

If a person were to judge the activity here from the number of posts it would appear that most of the time there is absolute quiet.  However, even though we don't make much noise, several things have been on-going.  Firstly, there is the LaPierre Lane sign.  About 2, maybe 3, years ago hubby brought this poor bedraggled worn and soggy wooden sign in and asked if I could re-hab it.  Oh sure, I answered with fake confidence, and quickly stuck the thing under the press and forgot about it.  Maybe 6 months later I got it out and sanded it a bit.  At that point I began to realize just how much work was going to be involved and quickly stuck it back in its temporary home, under the press.  Now the several years passed and it accidentally surfaced again.  I decided it would make the perfect birthday gift for the guy who has everything, including me.  So, I set to work - and honestly, I wish I had a before picture because the transformation has been shocking, to say the least.  It involved a lot more sanding, which was infinitely easier to do once it had r-e-a-l-l-y dried.  And, then the fun began: first with the oil-based exterior primer where ever paint was going.  Then the staining for the background, followed by 3 coats of exterior latex paint (dark brown edge and back) and raw sienna (they call it cedar) for the lettering and last, but not least, 3 coats of Spar Varnish over the part that was stained.  The last of the varnish went on today, so it should be good and dry by next Wed., which is the Lucky Guy's 80th birthday. Unfortunately, he will not be surprised because he walked right by this thing half a dozen times and didn't notice it and then on the 7th time he saw it.  I should have known that my luck was not going to hold out indefinitely.

The origin of the sign is unknown.  It was something that the younger brother, Len, had at his house in Salmon Creek, Idaho.  When Len died his widow gave it to Mr. Lucky and he brought it home.  So, we don't know whose handiwork it is, nor do we know its age.  All we know is that now it is looking good and will hopefully last way past us.

Meanwhile, the other day I got the ladder out, moved a bunch of furniture and other stuff around, and hung the Puzzle Print "City of The World".  It consists of five 22" x 30" sheets, or a total of 30" x 110".  I don't know if there's any significance that the road in the middle heads off down to the bathroom door, but I choose to think that there just might be...

And, here is where the nonsense ends and the, more or less, serious work begins.  Below are two (you probably will have to take my word for this, two pieces of acetate with black ink.  The one on the left will be the background and the one on the right will be a Superb Starling (the ornithologist name for him, not mine - if I had my way he would not be in the Starling family -).  These will be exposed onto the solar plates  as soon as I get back to the studio.  And, then we will see if we can get a decent print to develop.  Or, it may end up a woodblock - but since this has a deadline and the holidays are nipping at my heels, I'm hoping to knock out a quick little intaglio. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Fantastic Fantastic Garden

Somehow time has flown by and I am just getting around to hanging the Fantastic Garden print.  I'm sure that I will enjoy it much more now that it is out of the drawers and up on the wall.  Hanging was not an easy project and definitely not for the faint of heart, or those of us who have our qualms about teetering on step stools on top of cabinets leaning precariously over exposure units thinking all the while that we are about to fall and break our neck.  But, the job is done and I am breathing again.  (Isn't it strange that when we put our bodies in peril, no matter how slight, we tend to hold our breath until back to normal footing?  You'd think we would be busy getting as much air in as possible, not keeping it out.  Oh, well.... that's what most of us do, anyway.)

I suppose to really appreciate the peril involved in this  activity you first must realize that the ceiling is at least 10 ft.  (I'm sure it is 15 ft. if it is an inch, but I'm told it is 10 ft. and he has made me a believer after all these years that he is always right.)  But, I was the one hanging in mid-air hanging the garden.   NEWS FLASH!!  This just in:  the ceiling is 12ft.  This is the first time in the history of Francis that he has been mistaken.  Not wrong, mind you, but a little mistaken.  There's a difference.

The Fantastic Garden is a puzzle print - the result of the organizational, drafting, cutting, sawing,  creative, herding, and printing skills of Maria Arango-Diener.  I've forgotten how many artists are involved, but they come from all over the globe and each contributes their idea of the project theme, in this case the Fantastic Garden, and then Maria re-assembles all the parts, prints them and sends us each a print.  This print is 4 sheets, each 22" x 30", so that would make the total surface 44" x 60" if my calculator doesn't lie.  Altogether it is a pretty fantastic woodblock print carved from cherry plywood and printed on Stonehenge Rising.

Thanks to all you wonderful Baren Forum woodblock members (and especially to Maria the Wonder Woman of the World of Woodblock) for enriching my life and making my studio Extraordinaire.  It will be even more extraordinaire when I get the City of the World up on the wall.  But, that will have to wait until next week - it will take me that long to drag the ladder back in again.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Printmaker At Heart

A funny thing happened on my way to nowhere in the middle of the Serengeti last week.  My party and I were merrily bouncing along when we happened upon a Lion pair snoozing beside the road.  The moment we stopped moving they stopped napping and began inspecting our vehicles.  This could have been a Vehicle Emissions Test Station, but it was not so marked.  Mr. Lion continued his snooze, but his lady friend was intensely curious.  She was particularly enamored with the spare tire cover on the vehicle immediately preceding the one I was in.  I'm sure I could read her mind and she was saying:
 "Hummm, This is something new. I wonder how they did this, it is a very interesting effect.
Looking from this angle I think I can see how they did it.

Ahh, yes, first the tire and then this thing over it. Yes, I will have to try that.
But, for now, I think I'll just have a little snooze and think about it."

Now, if that doesn't sound like a printmaker I'll eat my Wildebeest.  We had to wait several minutes for this couple to get out from under the vehicles so we could be on our way to snapping photos of other beautiful creatures.  I must have roughly 652 photos of lions, although some of those could be elephants.  Some day I will have to count them, but for today, I think I'll snooze and think about it. There could be a print in there - in fact, I think there is......zzzzzzzz

Monday, April 28, 2014

Photo Finish

The ponies are headed for the finish line and with any luck at all, they will reach it today!  The latest incarnation involves playing in mica.  Well, why not?  The deadline is flexible so I can take as long as it takes, which is really quite a grand feeling!

There is some pesky trimming to be done, too - unfortunately, the fingers were not always pristinely clean when handling the paper.  Rats.  Here is a photo of the pony with his/her iridescent  circles - I hope they will show up on various monitors….

Now the only thing remaining is the clothing.  You didn't think I would send these babies out in the buff, did you?  Having already gone silly over this project, here is the finishing touch -

After the trimming and dressing are complete there will be the little matter of finding envelopes which fit.  Oh oh.  Probably should have thought about that quite some time ago.  And then there is also the story about this little pony to be written.  He/she has had quite an illustrious past and I'm sure everyone will want to know all the delicious details….. maybe not!  At any rate, I do hope everyone will enjoy this little fella as much as I've enjoyed putting it together and that it will bring you veritable downpours of good luck in many different forms.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Trouble at the OK Corral

This gift horse is quickly becoming the gift that keeps on giving.  Finally, I finished mucking about in the background and moved onto the blue and yay! it was time for red.  Such excitement in the corral, and then to my horrified eyes should appear - the part of the red block that I had mistakenly carved away.

The stripe on the saddle nearest the animal's head has no red.  I'm sure to the less obsessive compulsive of us this would not have mattered, but to the rest of us - well, this had to be remedied.  So, on comes the fake wood -  or to be more genteel, QuikWood, as it is known at McClain's.   Or, you can find a similar product at your local home improvement store.  I simply mixed a little ball of this wood putty stuff, flattened it to the right height, smushed it on the block where I'd made my mistake,  and when it was dry, carved the missing part back in.

Now all the stripes have their red part.  The purple line block has been printed again and everyone is in blotters drying.  Or eating, or sleeping, or whatever critters do when they are between blotters and weighted with a piece of plywood.  They will rest there until morning and then it will be on to the next step. I'm not hearing any noise from them - they must be resting peacefully.   I think we can surmise that the trouble at the corral is over.  For the moment.

Meanwhile, I need to run down to the local version of a yarn store and see if I can get the right size needles for the next knitting project.  It is a constant problem to keep me entertained and off the streets.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Gift Horse

It must be the Year of the Horse - I assume that is why ponies of every description have been galloping in here since last December.  After a  few years forced hiatus (forced by lack of time, and/or energy) from the Barenforum New Years Card Exchange, I decided to again participate.  But, January, February, March and now most of April have come and gone and I have yet to produce a pony.

We've seen Trojan horses, galloping horses, dancing horses, prancing horses, rocking horses, stick horses, horses of many colors, chess piece horses (that was the one I had in mind and then Andrew did it first and better which really ticked me off! Especially the "better" part), and you name it, that kind of horse has been through here.  Henceforth, and to wit and all that, it was really hard to come up with something everyone hasn't already seen.  And then I had a flash of brilliance.  Truthfully, that may be a bit overstated, but suddenly I remembered this little horse on wheels that my granddaughters had when they were toddlers.  They rode that horse all over the house until their legs got too long for it.  Their mother tells me it is a "hand me down horse" from Kmart.  So, I decided to call it the Gift Horse.

Pre-launch of the gift horse I was going to post moment by moment progress, however I was several moments into it before I remembered that that was the plan.  It started with a plain yellow background, followed by a stencil of green circles, another stencil of kind of orangy circles, then those seemed too bright, so another drop of lemon yellow and then I remembered that this was going to be step by step.
But, before I managed to scan it I plunged into the blue body which required two drops to get a bright blue.

Up until this point it really looked pretty much like a beagle with round legs anyway, so you didn't miss much. And then I realized that I really should have printed the purple so I could tell if things were lining up properly.  Guess it has been awhile since I printed this way.  Today the purple is going down and we can see that  registration is going pretty well:

So, this is where we are today - about half way through the purple.  When we move to the next color I'll let you know.  But, a funny thing happened on the way to this print.  I started cutting paper and apparently didn't know when to stop because I have about 68 of these things and it takes a while for me to get through the pile.  Sometimes it is two days to get one color down.  Therefore, don't hold your breath for the next sign of progress.  Easter is coming and there are eggs to prepare and other forms of foolishness and fun.  Happy Easter, Passover, Solstice (a few days late, but hey! any excuse to party) or whatever you may be celebrating this weekend!  We will be having our annual Geriatric Egg Hunt at son and daughter-in-law's house this year.  The age range of hunters is 4 - 80+.  We are heavily slanted on the over 60 end of this thing.  The bunny hides about 150 eggs and it is every man or woman for themselves when the starting whistle is blown!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Starfish in trouble

Insanity seems to be King around here and was apparently waving his scepter and demanding allegiance about last January, when in a fit of fealty I signed up for yet another exchange.  Albeit, this one is a small one - paper size is a petite 5" X 7",  it has a large theme: Let This Be A Sign.  Say, what? Immediately after sign up I realized that the dizziness I was feeling was caused by the million and one questions rotating in my mind, trying to land on something substantial that I could evolve an image from.  But, nothing was happening - it was like when the little whirling circle on the computer just keeps whirling and never stops until you force quit.  This unfortunate state of being lasted for approximately two months.  Then there was a miracle, I kid you not.

On the news one night there was a segment on the status of starfish, some people know them as sea stars, and their perilous fight for survival.  Or fight for something.  They are dying up and down both coasts of the US. and probably other places, too, but those two for sure.  Furthermore. they were exhibiting very unusual behavior such as tearing their own arms off and eating them.  Ewww.  These poor things are in peril big time.  And, then it hit:  OMG that has to be a sign of something, pollution, change in water temperature or salinity due to the polar ice cap melting, no one seems to know what.  But, wait a minute!  Did I say "a sign of something"?  Yes, yes!  It is a SIGN!  And, to add to the festivities, there is a zen tangle drawing in my sketchbook that might be just what I need.  Ahh, but which sketchbook?  I found it without too much sleuthing:

There it is in the lower half of the page!  Next I traced it onto a piece of acetate and exposed it onto a Solarplate™.  Now, a normal person would have just printed it black on white and been perfectly happy with it.  But, we are speaking about moi.  The first thing I thought was, rainbow roll behind the image - yes I could do that - so I did.

Ummmm, she kind of gets lost in the background - maybe a little chine collé.  After trying a pink and a purple I landed on yellow - most of the starfish I've seen on our coast have been a bright yellow, so that was a winner.  I made an acetate stencil to lay down after the black ink and before the rainbow roll.

Never one to quit before it's too late, if one chine collé is good, how about two?  I just happened to have something perfect in the "white decorate papers" drawer.  So, a wonderful paper with streaks of silver undulating through it seemed to me to be the perfect complement.

The only problem was that the silver from the wonder paper would be forced onto the plate after every trip through the press and it would not come off with anything.  I tried baby oil, turps, mineral spirits, water (which is really not a good thing on solar plate). and finally, in a fit of desperation, De-Solv-It.  Which fortunately did not dissolve the plate, but did get rid of the silver residue, and that stuff had to go because it wanted to collect black ink on the next print and that certainly would not do.  After that problem was solved (no pun intended) I could go on to the last step: a blind embossing of the name STARFISH. (You may have to click on the image and enlarge it to see the embossing.) To my demented mind this signified the disappearance of this oceanic life form, if we humans don't do something to help them out.  Without them how and what will the anemones eat?  

The answer to the theme "Let This Be A Sign" was held in one little news segment on the Nightly News Report.  Who would have guessed?  Well, I'm very glad to have that out of the way and now it is on to the next quandary.  What am I going to do for my Year of the Horse card for the exchange on the Barenforum site?  I'll be watching the news for inspiration.  And, I'm thinking it will be a woodblock print - just for a change of pace and because the fingers are actually feeling pretty good these days!  Just will be keeping those fingers crossed that Arthur Itis doesn't rear his ugly head before I'm finished.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Ampersand Project

Sometimes I sign up for things for which there is no rational explanation.  This was one of those times.  And then, to make matters a little worse I had a genius idea for the project: an Ampersand Chicken.  I considered her to be absolutely the most gorgeous Ampersand Chick I had ever seen - the only one, as a matter of fact.  The only problem was that no one I showed it to could find the ampersand.  You be the judge:

I thought the tail was a dead giveaway, but alas, no one else I came in contact with agreed.  So, under a coat of paint she went.  The end product is pretty lack luster and not near as comely as my chick, but there was a deadline and this could not go on forever.  The final submission was:

And that is the end of the ampersand project.  If you look closely you will see one red boot - all that is left of the Ampersand Chick.  Bless her soul, she is resting in peace.

It was a rush to get the above project finished and in the mail before the floor refinishers arrived on the scene to correct the mess from the water leak last October - the one I came back from Turkey to discover.  The restoration company brought a carload of boxes and we started loading them, two or three a day, and carting them to the studio.  Eventually, they showed up and moved the dining room furniture out and we started piling boxes on top of it.  Then they moved the living room out to whatever room was still available in the first studio room and what wouldn't fit there went into the garage.  Boxes of books and family memorabilia were everywhere.

Next was our move to the remaining rooms of the studio, where we were to reside for a week.  I thought, "This will be a piece of cake! I have an edition to print and we can go out to dinner every night courtesy of our insurance premiums."  HA! WRONG - O!  As soon as we were firmly ensconced it started to snow and the following week was nothing but snow and ice.  We were, effectively, snowed in.  It doesn't take much in the Northwest.  We didn't want to go out and have one of those crazy drivers who don't slow down for anything slamming into us, so we just stayed put until the roads were clear.   My edition was pulled and then some.  This is for the Soltice exchange that Charles Morgan curates - the theme is Making a Difference. 

The Winds of Change
Image size  8" x 7" 
Multi plate intaglio a la poupee
Edition of 30
Somerset Satin paper Gamblin Etching Inks

The image is based, loosely, on the wheat fields of Eastern Oregon  which, in recent years, have been sprouting wind turbines right and left.  We have a choice on our electric bill to opt for renewable resources for a certain percentage of the bill, which we do.  I hope we are making a difference in our own tiny way.

We are now almost totally moved back in to the house and everything put away where it belongs, or close to it, anyway.  The only thing left is removing the cardboard from under chair and table legs and putting the carpets back down.  That is due to happen tomorrow and when it is complete I'm cracking a bottle of champaign and possibly downing it single handed.  (Hopefully not! I am a terrible drunk - going from tipsy to sickly somewhere between two and three glasses.)

Now it is time to tackle the next project and I am determined to KISS (keep it simple, Stupid) as this last one turned out to be a monster to print cleanly.  After trying everything this side of Mars to allow me to wipe a Solarplate™ cleanly, I finally opted for acetate masks.  They worked, but between the delicate inking and getting the masks to stay in place during their trips through the press, the kill rate was very high!  We'll see if the lesson has been learned….