Friday, April 21, 2017

The case of the case

A little something for my Baren friends

I am coordinating's Exchange #72 and decided to make some glorified paper holders for my fellow printmakers. This way all the prints are nice and neat in a "keepable" folio. Why not?!
Incidentally coordinating an exchange is most exciting and probably a lot of work but the good kind of work. The coordinator gets to see all the images first hand and often gets extra prints and cool cards and notes along with the prints. 

Anyhow, here is the case construction in pictures for anyone who wants to make their own. I got the design from a book-binding book I own (one of many) and modified it to hold the 30 prints of this exchange.

neat linen paper

start out with clean sheet

a couple of prototypes

winning design cut in matboard
serves as a template

31 times cut along the border
cut pattern

few folds with a bone folder


all ready to glue

I buy glue by the gallon!

some inserts to stiffen up the folder

covered up in matching paper

burnishing with bone folder

back finished

another insert for the front flap

brushed glue with sponge brush

folded and burnished

inner pocket for the prints

final touch!

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Advancing on Two Fronts, Must Be Spring!

Energy! Two Studio Tricks

I love it when I'm full of energy...mostly because some (other) times I have to "make" myself work, ups and downs, you know...
Anyhow, I am fully enjoying a flurry of self-inflicted activity, and making progress on a long project and a short-ish project.

The Long: Ghost Town

About a week ago I finished carving not only the 20 small woodcuts for the Ghost Town project but also a medium size View block. The 20 4x6 inch blocks are ready to print and so I started mulling how to make a big project not so big. Turns out, a sheet of 22x30 inch paper will print 9 at a time with generous margins.
I have printed multiple blocks before, all this trick necessitates is a "jig" that holds the blocks in place while a large sheet of paper is placed on a few blocks simultaneously. The "lock" (in letterpress called a chase) has to be slightly lower than the blocks so that I can ink away without removing the blocks each print. I construct these from foam-board, mat-board and/or gator-board, whatever thickness combination gives me the ideal height to hold the blocks in place just above the jig surface.
Here are pictures, better than descriptions!
First laying out the blocks and finding the spacing

Some calculations on the sizes of spacers needed
(I'm good at math!)
Spacers cut on left, glue and square ready

I place the blocks as I go to make sure they fit

Each block held at the right height by gator-board

Presto! The completed chase, blocks in place
Ink and paper required, After the blocks are printed
I can trim the paper to size

The Short: Wings Exchange, the Flying Maple Seeds

Also made the final adjustments on the Seeds are Sown, Life is Grown print for the 72nd print exchange. I will detail the complete process in next post, but here are the photos and the video:

First vs second proofs

block and print

Last few details and cleaning up
require my magnifying lamp

Detail of my tiniest tool doing some
delicate carving

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ghost Town, Red Barn from the North

YouTube video of carving

This was fun! Not the video making, that is tedious and boring but I appreciate every YouTube video I see so much more after making a few of these slide shows. Carving was fun; always enjoyable to see the image "appear" as my knives take out the wood.
All done sweeping the wood curls too!

Views from North and East

Death Valley view

Endless road to Death Valley
On to the West, view from Death Valley road. First I have to "be there" if only in spirit. As I recall, this was my longest walk because the Westward road lost sight of the Barn almost immediately, so I had to travel the highway. Shortly, up a hill, the funky Welcome to Nevada sign and a perfect window to view the Barn. Point of curiosity: the signs have now been replaced with a more "modern" look so we are recording history.
Again, I mix man-made with nature and I may just enhance the current drawing with a few road-side flowers which are the highlight of the Death Valley roads.
Welcome to our state!

Can you spot the diminutive Red Barn?
 How about the entire ghost town in the background?!

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Ghost Town Progress

20 Sketches

The 5 sketches for each of the cardinal point walks have been carved and are waiting for me to print them. I am working on a "jig" that will hold a few of them at once. This way I can print a bunch at a time on a large sheet of paper and then trim to size. I am planning an edition of 100 for these smaller blocks. I will post update on the "jig" as soon as construction begins, usually I make these out of foamboard, just a bit below the height of the block. 

Here are a few of the latest small blocks:
Walking to the North

Walking to the West
Walking to the West, Death Valley is just West of here

Walking to the South



On to the Views of the Barn

The next step is to work on the medium blocks, the views of the Red Barn from the four cardinal points. A while back I finished the View from the East, on deck are the Views from the West and North. In each case, I found a "window" natural or man-made from which a distant Red Barn could be seen.
Red Barn Viewed from the East

Red Barn Viewed from the North (left) and the West (right)

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Artist Roles: Supporting My Art Habit

Roles of the Artist

In my view, the productive printmaker needs an outlet for created works. As you may know, my very favorite venues are art festivals. I have been an active art festival artist for almost 20 years! Through the years I have tried a variety of approaches to festivals, from going on the road almost full-time and attending 30 per year to a very comfortable 5-8 per year. Of those some are local but most are "the big ones," that is, well attended, well established, proven successful festivals.

Yeah...that was LAST year! This year I am attending a grand total of zero festivals. My first "year off" since I began this crazy adventure. Why, you ask? I have unfinished art projects every place I look in the studio. Carved blocks waiting to be printed, drawn blocks waiting to be carved, half-started books waiting to be written, new ideas waiting to come to life, this and that...
I am making a firm commitment to attempt to finish at least some of them, how's that for a hazy promise!

Sales Continue Online

But reality is that there are all those prints in my flat files and, after a busy festival year, some leftover matted and framed works begging to be shown. And so I turn to online sales to continue to support my art habit.
One art carrier at a time, I have been uploading framed works and blocks. Next week I begin with matted works.
To spur sales along, I will conduct a "special" each month. This blustery March I begin by offering either:
25% OFF with checkout code MARCHLION25
free shipping with code FREESHIPPING

My shop:

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Back to the Ghost Town

The Red Barn (Part I)

Once upon a time (2008) I went to Rhyolite, a most fascinating Nevada ghost town. My quest was to complete a residency kindly offered by the Goldwell Open Air Museum. The setting was the Red Barn, a spacious studio set amid silence and ghosts in the town of Rhyolite, just East of Beatty Nevada, home to the Museum.

Orienting myself with a compass
I built with native rock at basecamp

Sanding my precious cherry blocks (en plein air)
by the Red Barn
Every day I would set off in one cardinal direction, sketching along the way directly on one of 20 little blocks. I would walk one, two, perhaps three miles off into the desert, mountains, washes and canyons and at the furthest point, look back to the amazing Red Barn.

A Simple Formula

My quest was to portray (in woodcuts of course!) the Red Barn as the Center of the Universe and so I ended up with four larger woodcuts (24x30 inches), four smaller (12x24 inches) and twenty tiny ones (4x6 inches). The larger four are views FROM the Red Barn looking out toward the four cardinal points, the smaller four are views OF the Red Barn, each from a natural "window" located at the four cardinal points. The tiny woodcuts recorded random observations along my walks. 
Sketching the South
old ice house by my shoulder

Inside the "studio" sketching larger blocks
from reference photos

The eight larger blocks

Tiny Observations

And so I have (finally, finally!) begun carving the smaller woodcuts. There is a narrative too; I wrote a diary of my musings as I walked and later in the perfect silence of the desert nights. Once I have all the woodcuts carved and prints printed, a book will come together...this year, I'm feeling it!

Here are some of the sketches, 5 East, 5 West, 5 North and 5 South, for a total of 20 4x6 inch blocks.
The West, looking toward some of the ghost town

The North and the mysterious open mines

An old post office, looking at the red barn through
the window

Two of the medium "windows" blocks 24" x 12"
Left Red Barn Viewed from the North
Right Red Barn Viewed from the East

Top Bank building in Rhyolite at dusk
Bottom View of Rhyolite from the South

More to come as wood chips fly.

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