Blogs tagged with "printmaking"

I'm back to pool swimming much to my dismay after my last post, but there aren't any open water opportunities in Cleveland in the winter. I've been logging as many days of swimming as possible while still working on my art and doing contract work in programming. I've also been running and biking (indoors) because old habits refuse to die. Frankly, sometimes, my mind just needs to get out and run. Fortunately, during my runs, I've been finding random natural things in the Cuyahoga Valley to use in printmaking. It must look silly to people driving by as I'm running along with handfuls of dry grass and twigs trying not to break them.

My playlist lately centers around one album: Turin Brakes new release called Lost Property. In fact, even when I don't want to run, this album gets me out the door with my headphones. Because it sounds so great with headphones.
As for my printmaking... I've been trying my hand at collagraphs. It started with printing things I found while running in the valley and then I decided to try printing water, or, more precisely, the effects of water. These are all artistic experiments at the moment. I glued my found natural objects to cardboard or matboard plates and made water patterns on plastic or primed cardboard plates using sand and carborundum grit (and water, obviously). I've had a little success - but each one is more of a learning experience than a finished piece. Now there are an infinite number of things I want to try using grit to hold ink and there doesn't seem to be enough time in a day. But, for kicks, here are my favorites of the collagraph prints I've done so far - they're all black and white proofs, but soon will be experimenting with color (I hope):

I'm back to pool swimming much to my dismay after my last post, but there aren't any open water opportunities in Cleveland in the winter. I've been logging as many days of swimming as possible while still working on my art and doing contract work in programming.

These days, soaking in ink is my usual state of being.

Just because I've not posted in a while - not posted in this blog space, that is - doesn't mean I don't have something to post. In fact, I'm crazy busy. But I'm desperately trying to be LESS crazy busy. I'm trying to get to a place where I can sleep at night without worrying about how I'm going to get everything done. And strangely, the things that I worry about getting done are things like my art and my training. I worry about work too. But my "work" worries have become things like: "How am I going to make it through the day on four hours of sleep?" and "Is there anything in my programming future that's more exciting than what I'm doing now?"

Thus, my work worries are also worrying me.

It's a vicious cycle that needs to stop.

The print production process

Anyway, I HAVE been posting...

I may be quiet these days but I'm certainly not idle. My training has taken a backseat during the holiday season because of personal commitments and also to try again to heal my injured hamstring tendon with modern medical procedures.

Thus, I had my third PRP shot about a month ago and it was more painful than ever. I was in agony for several hours and then sore for several days afterward. The good thing about the pain is that it probably means my doctor hit the "right spot" with the injection. The bad thing about the pain is that I couldn't use any anti-inflammatory methods to make it go away because the inflammatory response is exactly what we wanted (more blood = healing).

After Thanksgiving, I jumped into my yearly design and printing of Christmas cards. This year, the design dictated the choice of methods -- the colors were very flat and bold, and the design was very hard-edged, so I chose to attempt a hand-cut stencil with screenprinting once again (after 10 years of lino-cuts). Unlike usual, the screenprinting process started out great with color registration working well. Then after printing three colors quickly and without incident, I botched the last color and the whole thing almost ended up in disaster.

Here are some photos of the process.

I started out by putting all the stencils on one screen
which was great until the last one with the largest print area
(stencil in the foreground). By that time, the screen tension
had decreased, causing ink to bleed under the stencil.
The first color (smallest area) was red. It took about an hour to print 106 cards. My husband Jim and I measure the time we spend on each color in terms of number of albums that we listen to while printing. Red was a one-album color. I think we listened to a Counting Crows CD. Red also had a near-disaster as I tried to fix one part of the stencil and accidentally stuck my exacto knife right through the screen itself. Lucky for us (and unusual), it held up until the last card was printed.

The second color was yellow. Yellow was also a one-album deal. I think yellow was printed to OK Go.

Third was blue. The blue was a two-color blend, and surprisingly, NOT a disaster as expected (because any time you mix two colors in real-time during printing, something goes horrifically wrong). Blue was also a one-album color - I think it was Travis's "Where You Stand."
And finally green. It took two tries, and two stencils, and two screens. And several albums. Too many to be sure. Here's the can of green and the wrecked first screen which I just tore off the frame and threw away because it had already become a victim of the exacto-knife faux pas.
And... the finished product. It took an additional cut stencil and a brand new screen to get through the green. We lost about 20 cards and about 20 more were barely salvageable. The design is based on the Tree of Life window/sculpture that is part of the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.

My other art project of late was a new drypoint print that I wanted to make to give away as part of a Facebook "pay-it-forward" post I made in early 2014. I decided to try out a new very thin plastic plate made by Akua that I bought earlier this year. Here is the plate and the finished print, titled "Scenes from the Towpath: Fitzwater Bridge View."

I may be quiet these days but I'm certainly not idle. My training has taken a backseat during the holiday season because of personal commitments and also to try again to heal my injured hamstring tendon with modern medical procedures.

While in England for the 2013 ITU Age Group World Championship last year, Jim and I did our usual jaunt around London-town, especially to familiar spots to purchase gifts for family and friends. One of our favorite places is 

A few months ago, I hooked up with another printmaker on Tumblr, Antiquated Press. One of their posts was about

The springs, screws, and roller hooks soaking in one of those solvents, something called "PB Blaster":
The chase - which was in very good shape and the inking plate which had dried ink from God-knows-what-century on it:

The body of the press after cleaning it up:

The super-clean inking plate after scraping ink off and and steel-wooling, and the other parts nicely de-rusted and cleaned:

The sorted type (don't even ask how long it took me to sort type with my old blurry eyes and a tweezer after it was delivered in a plastic baggie):

The final task would be to find or make a new roller. Thank heavens for e-bay. Would you believe that someone actually builds these things? I purchased a brand new roller for a Baltimore No. 9 press on e-bay. It had new trucks and rubber that didn't look shriveled up like an old tree.
New roller next to shaft of old roller (after carving off what was left of the old rubber):
And then came the final assembly. The only thing I was afraid of was if everything would actually fit together with the new roller. Much to my surprise, it fit like a dream. Here are two shots of the roller in different positions - on the inking plate and along the chase - perfectly flush:

Stay tuned to see what I manage to print with this thing. The only thing I can guarantee is that any prints will be rather tiny since the platen (the plate that holds the paper) is not much larger than a business card. But I just got my first delivery of letterpress ink, and a friend at the museum is digging up additional artifacts (printing blocks and tools for positioning the printing plate and type in the chase) from his old letterpress printing days.

While in England for the 2013 ITU Age Group World Championship last year, Jim and I did our usual jaunt around London-town, especially to familiar spots to purchase gifts for family and friends.

No, this blog is not about my 2014 racing season. It's about finding inspiration for my art while [attempting] running. The other day, I dug out my trail shoes and went for a run after a soaking rain. The trail was lonely, but I was moved by all the footprints and bike tire prints in the mud, despite the bleak landscape created by winter rain in Cleveland. I tried to capture it in my latest print, titled "Scenes from the Towpath: Signs of Life" (this one is much bigger than all my others - it's 8 in x10 in, and it's the largest I've ever printed with my tiny etching press). It took about three evenings of work to produce - using an acrylic plate and only my drypoint needle:

No, this blog is not about my 2014 racing season. It's about finding inspiration for my art while [attempting] running. The other day, I dug out my trail shoes and went for a run after a soaking rain.

Meet my little etching press.

I've been dwelling on a new blog post for so long that I can't remember when my last one happened or what it was about. But I feel a brain-dump coming on so I'll just start writing.

Several times since creating this blog, my first post of the new year has been a recommitment to personal athletic goals. It usually comes after the realization that spending most of my time trying to please others (family, friends, peers, bosses) is a losing battle, that hard work rarely pays off in the workplace, and that I am crap at office politics (well,.. politics in general). After the realization, I crawl in a hole and bash myself to pieces, then crawl out, stand up (slowly), and recommit myself to a new season of running or triathlon. This has been the only thing that depends entirely on me.. and the one way for me to reap the benefits of goal-setting and hard work.

This year, part of me so desperately wants to write that athletic recommitment blog, but I can't. I can't put my "all" into training when I know damn well that my hamstring tendon is still injured. Lately I've had to remove myself from social media because most friends and those I follow are runners and triathletes. After reading and celebrating everyone else's successes for the last few months, I now find myself, not inspired by them, but feeling like a bigger loser, viewing my 2013 season as a huge fail, and declaring my 2014 season a failure before it even happens.

Before racing in London, I had the injury diagnosis. And after returning, I was forced to take time off and focus on healing. Then I survived a car accident. Then I survived buying a new car - which was, perhaps, more stressful than the accident. To avoid going insane, I started compulsively drawing again.

And then came an unexpected light at the end of the tunnel that had nothing to do with training. Somewhere in the mess of the interwebs, I landed upon several artists' websites describing intaglio printmaking with an acrylic plate. I was instantly hooked. My etching press (bought to expedite the process of making Christmas cards) would no longer have to sit in a corner unused for eleven months out of the year. Almost immediately, I was digging out tools, impulse-buying plastic plates and ink, and pulling my old printmaking studio books off the shelf.

This was mid-November - in the midst of the pre-holiday rush. Still hanging over my head was my yearly "other" creative endeavor: block-printing my 2013 card (which due to my procrastination, became its own fiasco of a time crunch). But, I don't f*ck with inspiration. Especially when it is artistic inspiration. I must drop everything and follow it.

And now, after a couple months, I am able to relax a bit and write about it.

For my first prints, I used random photographs I shot on my iPhone. And I couldn't even wait for the purchased materials to arrive. In desperation to get started, I scrounged up some old scraps of plexiglass from an old picture frame and secretly cut it into rectangles at 5:00 a.m. in the farthest corner of the basement to avoid waking up my husband Jim. (If you've ever scored and cut plexiglass, you already know it sounds like a gunshot.)

My first print was average at best, and more impulse purchases were required to find the right ink and all the right tools. I'm still developing my techniques, but I'm seeing improvement (there's that hard-work thing again...). In the even that I never race again, I hope I've found something that keeps me creatively and energetically engaged and has future development and growth potential.

2014 now seems like a new direction. I have some new art and I'm hopeful about my future artistic possibilities for the first time in about ten years. Creating stuff is giving me a sense of internal fulfillment, and if I can no longer compete at the level I'd like to as an athlete, all does not seem lost.

Anyway.. below are a few of the new intaglio prints - starting with the first one - made from a photo of my headlights while I was driving at night. The method I'm using is called "drypoint" - scratching the image into the plate directly instead of etching it with acid (and thus avoiding the hazardous-materials-in-the-house issue). In the future, I would like to switch the imagery and use some of my drawings for inspiration, but my photos are giving me ideas for now.

"Headlights on Boston Mills Road"
"Riverfront Trail Scene 2"
"Le Canal"
"Scenes from the Towpath I"
"Afternoon Near Corn Hill"

(More spoilers, don't read if you want my xmas card to be a surprise) I ran out of time to draw (who knew it would be this hard?) yesterday (and today). But, again, I did do something creative - both days. Yesterday, Jim and I finished printing the second color on the xmas cards. And today, I actually did some major development work AT work.

With the prints, registration of the colors worked amazingly well this year and now we only have to pray that printing the lighter colors over the darker color works. Well, that and also that I can pull off a good lino carving so it actually looks like something.

The second color was supposed to be a plum-color, but I really liked the color I mixed first - it was closer to purple - so I went with it. Jim wasn't sure at first, but I hope he sees my point when the next two colors are printed - I think they will work better over a bluer background. Here are some photos - the rolling and printing of color number 2:

(More spoilers, don't read if you want my xmas card to be a surprise) I ran out of time to draw (who knew it would be this hard?) yesterday (and today). But, again, I did do something creative - both days. Yesterday, Jim and I finished printing the second color on the xmas cards.

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