Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Teaching week at WSW

A very busy week in Artlandia!

Look at that drying rack filled with workshop participant's work!
Last week I taught a 5 day workshop on linocut, Indirect Magic, at Women's Studio Workshop.  I had 5 terrific students, many of whom were carving for the first time. There was a lot of information, and I did my best to approach it step by step so that it wouldn't be too overwhelming. They persevered and did some amazing work (so proud!).  With their permission I'm showing their work below:

I love that they had such a range of subjects and after demonstrating some inking and printing techniques, they each went on to do some very interesting things with their blocks:


I am so proud!  I'd like to get back into my own work now, but I am truly exhausted.  I did manage to deliver the small chimera for the Strange Figurations show at Limner Gallery, opening Sept. 8th the day after I got back (gold star!) and apart from that, I've been doing some moving and cleaning in the studio. 

It seems like my creature family were all fine and well cared for in my absence. Naturally, I missed them and was happy to come to their purrs and smiling faces.
My 2 kitten audience while I mow the lawn. 
Haha - I thought this was so funny - I feel you Mini, I also love and want to touch all our art books at once.
Awww - I think each kitty wanted to lay across my prints as soon as I got home to show me
how much they missed helping in the studio while I was away.
I did have the opportunity to take some nice photos this week. Before leaving for the workshop, I went to see Anna & Elizabeth in concert at Hancock Shaker Village with a friend and it was an amazing concert and such a perfect location for their music - thumbs up!

Along the way we passed this odd scene - the railroad crossing bar is tiny, right?
I was proud that I timed the shot perfectly (don't worry - I was in the passenger seat O:) ). 
A pretty sunset in Rosendale, NY
A natural/industrial shot from Hudson
A no filter sunset from Hudson

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Teaching week

A busy week in Artlandia - teaching a workshop on relief printing at Women’s Studio Workshop - back with more next week. 👍🙂

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


 A busy week in Artlandia!

So...I make a lot of things and sometimes they don't go according to plan.  This week started off with one of those times.  After having good results transferring a polyester lithography plate to aluminum and etching with copper sulfate for the mini deer, I wanted to make the borders for the unicorn pseudo-tapestry with a similar technique. However, things did not go according to plan.

Here's what the  aluminum plate looked like when I gave up -
on the left, the gaps in the red BIG ground are visible, and
on the right, fewer gaps, but very thin gound.
I prepared the only plate I have that is large enough by filing the edges, polishing, and degreasing (so far, so good).  I made polyester lithography plates based on inverses of combined scans of my relief prints (so far so good). The trouble came with getting the polyester lithography plates to print on the aluminum.  Basically, they didn't print cleanly enough - there were gaps and thin spots in the BIG ground. This was a problem because every time the print on the aluminum didn't turn out, I had to clean off and degrease the plate again.  That wouldn't have been so bad if it was only a single polyester print, but the point was to combine them to get a longer section.  So even if I got a decent transfer once, if the second section wasn't perfect, I ended up losing both of them when I degreased the plate.

I tried again and again, but ultimately it was a waste of time and resources, I couldn't get the polyester plate to print darkly and cleanly enough on the aluminum plate. The area of the plate that was complete, but less dense, on the right in the photo, may actually have held up in an etching bath, but ultimately, I didn't want to waste so large a plate in order to find out, so I wiped the whole thing down and gave up for the night.
MDF block printed with
Polyester lithography plate as
a carving template.

Before the polyester plates wore out, I decided to print them onto a block as a template in case I decided that the best way to get the borders was to carve them and to confirm that the issue wasn't caused by the polyester plates being spotty (nope - they printed perfectly onto an MDF block on the first try.)

Poor Honey!  Pre-bath
At that point, after more than 8 hours of working on this I was pretty frustrated, and Honey, being a very good dog, came over to lay across my feet.  I always like having her near me. At some point while I was cleaning up, I must have dropped a paper with ink on it because I looked down, and there were two spots of ink on her beautiful coat. The ink spots were small and on the ends of her fur, so in hindsight (always so helpful - doh.), I probably should have cut off the ink-stained fur right away, but instead, I panicked and tried to wipe it off. Of course this just made the ink spread. Poor Honey! She was her usual, sweet self as I washed her with her shampoo. After a bath, even though the ink no longer came off on my fingers (I had been worried about Honey licking it), it left giant light gray spots on her fur. And that is when the human cried. Since by then it was after midnight, we all went to bed.

The next morning, first thing, I washed and brushed the spots again, and then Honey and I went to her favorite swimming place. After lots of swimming and brushing, the ink was (almost completely) gone (whew!) Honey was at maximum happy and her human got in the water with her.

With Honey safe and clean, I took a time out from working on the borders to re-think my approach.  I could have printed the blocks I already had in sections and combined them, but that wouldn't add to the stability of the piece. I could have printed the blocks I already had on a single or two sheets by running the paper through the press multiple times, but to get a good result, I would have to register the block perfectly and ink them evenly every single time (and that's not something I thought I could do 12 - 15 times in a row).  I could have carved a new block of a longer section, but having already carved all the elements, I really didn't want to commit the time and energy to re-carving the whole combined thing. I could have tried again to print the polyester lithography plate onto an aluminum plate with BIG ground to etch, but since this is a much larger plate than I've ever made with that technique before and it went so spectacularly badly the first time, I didn't think it was likely to lead to a better result on a second go round right now.
Polyester lithography plate before printing.

What I eventually decided to do was sort of a compromise between the other options - I decided to forget about etching for now and try to get successful polyester lithography prints on paper. The border is 48" long, so I made a 12" polyester lithography plate with the goal of registering and printing it twice per page for a 24" print.  I put two borders per page so that they can be cut out for either a matching top and bottom of 24" borders, or the right and left side of a single 48" border. I re-worked the digital file and made a new polyester lithography plate and prepared the paper with a registration line.

A close up of a good one (the division between the rounds of
printing is just above the square element).

The plate looked great, but I was nervous. I cleaned everything completely and the printing went well.  There was a little bit of fingerprinting in the plate near the bottom edge (that's the smudges to the left of center in the photo below), but because it's all outside the image and they're going to be cut out, I decided not to worry about it.  Likewise, there is a tiny mark or gap on a few of the prints between the first and second round of printing (which is about a third of the way down in the photo below), but I think it's also minor enough that I can make it near-undetectable with mixed media before collaging the borders in. Overall, I'm going to declare it a victory - thumbs up!


Max and Mo both on the press.
As you might imagine, that took most of my (art) week, but I did work on my photo mission to try to capture the cute fluffiness that is Max.  At first, I still captured him mostly looking like a kitten-shaped spot, but then we had a break through when Max and Mo discovered how to jump into the bathtub (where it must have been nice and cool).  The white background and reflected light helped, but I think the angle is still a little awkward. Finally, I got a good Max photo in the black and white bed (there may have been minor treat bribery involved). *As you may have noticed, "Max photos," usually means "Max and Mo photos" since they are rarely apart - I didn't separate them to take Max's photo - Mo was there, just out of frame requesting a belly rub.  

A good Max photo! Look at his little lynx tips, nice ear puffs, and soft double coat :).
And it wouldn't be a complete kitten photo-shoot without Momiji!
Apart from kitty photos, I also came across tiny creatures.

There's been so much rain that there are mushrooms everywhere and still dramatic skies.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

more chess knights and borders

new smaller block
A busy week in Artlandia! Work continues on the chess knight demo blocks - this week I carved and proofed a smaller and smallest (for now) blocks of the chess knight:  

new smallest (for now) block

Proof of smaller chess knight block
proof of new smallest block
 Other block projects in the works - I proofed the square ornament block from last week.  I then scanned the block and combined it with a scan of the border block to make a digital version of repeating borders. They look good in digital form...but I still need to get them onto a plate... (hmmmmm). 

 In creature news - I think Honey and Mo are successfully bonded.  Mo has also learned from Mini that kitties help the human with flowers. 

I feel a little bad that I don't have as many cute pictures of Max - this is my failing as a photographer. Max is equally adorable and beloved, but I've had trouble capturing photos that do him justice - he tends to look like a (cute and fluffy) little blob in my pictures, so I'll have to keep working in this.  Still, a group photo on the foot of the bed (Mini is just out of frame watching from the top of the wardrobe, her preferred spot from which to oversee her domain.)  Mini has been a little elusive this week, and I think the heat is hard on her and has been making her a little bit grumpy. 

And to close - a no-filter sunset and flowers from the yard.

Check out my green zinnia and black cosmos! :)