Monday, June 30, 2014

Phase 3 redux - Colorado round up

my coin!!!

Last week, I promised to reveal the results of a fellowship studying the art of engraving as part of the American Numismatic Association's summer seminar... (drumroll) :)

I am so proud of my coin! And (and, and!) it has the buffalo from an actual buffalo nickel on the back (which I find very funny - something I made says "United States of America/ E Pluribus Unum" on it - as if I have an official stamp of approval for my artwork - lol!).

steel die

[sidenote: The edge identifies it as a novelty coin printed at the money museum, so no worries - it can't accidentally go into circulation.]

A little more about the process: I engraved a steel die with sharp steel tools in the negative
My thumb post-engraving
 (Don't try this at home, kids!)

Me at the screw press
disclosure - I didn't press most of the coins
.(safer that way - I am pretty clumsy - 
see previous shot of thumb :p )
 Thanks goes to Joe Paonessa of Badger Mint
One steel die is placed in the top of a screw press and the other near the base. A disc of pewter is placed on top of the lower die. Handle turns, top die descends - boom - pewter becomes the peanut butter between two slices of steel bread. Because it's softer, the pewter "fills in" the negative space left by carving out the steel die, creating a positive image.
More Colorado loveliness
I'm humbled by the dedication and knowledge of the numismatists I met in Colorado.
I love learning about new materials, techniques, and tools, but I was thinking that I'm an outlier at the summer seminar because I don't know much about coins. As I thought about this some more (it's a long plane ride ;) ), the more I think that it's both true and not exactly true.  

I appreciate coins in a particular way. I relate to coins as something to look at, instead of as something to know about. Because I'm not as interested in their history or facts about them (yet), I think it might seem like I'm enthusiastic but clueless because knowing to look at comes out in pictures, where as knowing about comes out in words.

It's hard for me to articulate, but I have been paying close attention to the way certain coins look. As with other things I like to look at (Greek vases, tapestries, manuscripts, architectural sculpture) when I see coins that show a balance of living things and patterning, I think they are beautiful, and I remember them.  

A few weeks ago, I noticed the similarity of my bird tiny print to an image from a Greek coin, so I decided to do a little scavenger hunt of pieces from the last year...

The eerie thing is - I don't know when/where I saw these coins. Most of them aren't in the coin book I got in Colorado last summer, but there are weird similarities - like the the water line matching the narrowing of the ankles on the elephant or the shape of the horses tail. Going back to Colorado and learning more about engraving had been on my mind as something I was looking forward too, but I didn't realize how much "coin-ness" had seeped into my artwork and my mind.

I find it a little creepy - not bad exactly, but it feels like opening the fridge to find a plate of cookies that I can't remember baking or buying - I like cookies, and it would be nice to come across something delicious, but it would still be weird to find a plate of cookies in the fridge without knowing how they got there. (big hmmmm.)

Look Mom, Red Dot!!!
framed and on the wall (whew!)
Once back home, I visited the Still life with Sculpture show at Thompson Giroux, which opened while I was away.

Picking back up with the skull theme from 2 weeks ago, my art-reaction to coming home was: "Quick, I should carve something big and complicated immediately, because anything in linoleum will seem easy after working on a tiny piece of steel."


I carved, printed, cut out this 9 x 11" skull block on Sunday...I may not become an expert engraver, but the experience has already sped up my relief printing :).
hand printed on gray paper
drawing on block

print with drawing, cut out and mounted on blue paper

close up of the drawing on print
In non-art news - my plants are doing well, and I celebrated the arrival of summer by making this little patio near the herb garden, planted in April.

Now that there's been art, (simile) cookies, and a home project, the only thing missing from this post is a picture of the beloved feline assistants
As we can see, my absence was a source of much distress ;)
This is a long entry (whew!), but I haven't forgotten the theme of phase 3. An "algorithm based mini-project" is in the works ... more to come next week :)