May 16, 2013
After a looooooong absence, I finally made it back to Trükimuuseum in Tartu for another residency stint. If you’ve been following along, ‘part one’ was all about linocut, but it soon became apparent to me (see my post titled ‘problem-solving 101′) that linocut would not work well for the thin and delicate drawings I needed to reproduce. I wanted something non-toxic, which ruled out a lot of printmaking techniques, but not drypoint. With drypoint there is a plate and ink and paper and a press. It is the simplest printmaking method, and there is no acid bath. It does, however, take a rather long time to produce one print.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. As I mentioned in ‘problem-solving 101′, I wanted to try a plate made of illustration board coated with wood varnish. Partially because I really like working with all things paper, and because it is a cheap option and it’s less upsetting if I have to trash a plate and start over. So I bought two large sheets of illustration board when I was in Austin, which my father cut into smaller plates for me. I brought the plates to Tallinn and began the hunt for wood varnish. Considering the ample forests in this country and the common use of wood for both home interiors and exteriors, I assumed it would be a short hunt. But no. I visited store after store, but could not find simple glossy water-based wood varnish. I finally settled on Le Tonkinois, though a small tin cost 10€.
I brushed a layer of this varnish on 16 plates in preparation for my trip. They were dry by morning, so I packed them up and headed to Tartu. I worried that the normal method of transferring images would damage the varnish, so I wanted to try a type of carbon copying, but couldn’t find the materials I needed in the studio. So I focused on other aspects of the project until I figured out what to do about that.
When I had wondered aloud to a friend how I should produce the text, he right away suggested typing. I thought it was a brilliant idea, so I used one of the typewriters at the Trükimuuseum (one that previously belonged to Jaan Kaplinski) to type out the text. Man, what a pain in the ass. Not to mention I felt a little weird writing such a simple story with a typewriter that had been used for important writing in the past. In any case, I had to press the keys hard, and it was weird not working with a flat keyboard like I’m used to with my laptop. I also chose a difficult method for typing. Instead of just typing letter after letter, I decided that the book would look better if I s p a c e d o u t t h e l e t t e r s l i k e t h i s . So a single space between each letter and a double space between each word. All lowercase, with only a minimal use of punctuation. Any mistakes and I had to start over with a new sheet. Eventually I got into a rhythm with it and got it all done. And then I realized an hour later that I should have the book in a horizontal layout and not vertical. Pff. I’m figuring out most of this as I go along, obviously. So I retyped everything. And then an hour later I realized that the method of binding I’m going to use (a Japanese stab binding called Kikko Toji or Tortoise Shell Binding) requires larger margins, so there are a few pages I need to retype. But the text part is basically done. Yay!
With that (mostly) done, I needed to get back to the plates. So I transferred the image from a paper printed with an office printer by applying a liquid (causing the black printer ink to liquify and transfer), and the varnish wasn’t damaged. I then scratched the image onto the plate and started to ink it up. And the whole plate turned black and I couldn’t remove much of the excess ink, so I was left with a black plate. I don’t know if the varnish wasn’t thick enough or what, but that experiment was a failure. I added an additional layer of varnish to some of the remaining plates and left them to dry overnight. I left the studio quite frustrated that evening, but that’s part of the learning process.
So the next day, I grabbed one of the double-varnished plates and transferred the image as before. This time the varnish was damaged, so I guess it wasn’t fully dried or was too thick. But I thought that it could be a beautiful mistake, so I’d still try to use the plate. But scratching removed large chunks of the varnish and I had to admit defeat. I was disappointed that this method I had somewhat been counting on for four months didn’t work out in the end, although the most annoying part is not knowing exactly what didn’t work (since the method has worked for other artists).
The studio uses polyester plates for drypoint, so I finally gave that a try. And, surprisingly, I like it. Maybe I like it because it actually works, but the ease and fluidity of drawing on the plates also felt really nice. And because the plates are clear, I can simply have the image to trace underneath. Very simple.
I put the paper to soak before I started making the plate, since the drypoint paper needs to be wet before printing. Then I took the paper out of the water to dry slightly before I started inking the plate. Inking a plate takes a while. Or rather, removing the excess ink takes a while. And it’s messy. I’m still figuring out the best method for that, but again that is part of the learning process and I’ve managed just fine so far.
So after preparing the paper and inking/de-inking the plate, I made my first print. I wanted some of the lines to be darker, so I worked on the plate a bit more. And then another print. And then I worked on the plate some more. And then another print. At this point, I decided I didn’t like the pouch pattern and tried a traditional cross-hatch (which had actually been my first instinct that I had promptly ignored). But the previous pattern still showed up. So, that’s a test plate and I will make a new plate (with the image reversed, so the final print is as the artist drew it). I’m a little nervous that Beryl (the artist) isn’t going to like the textures/patterns I added to her images, though I think it’s normal for printmakers to add their own touch to images they work with.
It was a bummer to have such a short stay in Tartu (I really only had three days in the studio), but that’s how it goes. I’m so grateful that the good people of Trükimuuseum are flexible and patient regarding my schedule. I will go again in June, but in the meantime I really don’t want to lose the momentum, so I will look for a press in Tallinn (and perhaps in Ghent, as I will be there for a bit soon) to continue my work.
On another note, I met some really great people in Tartu and was busy with activities every evening. And the home where I stayed this time is in a good location for walking to the studio. Hopefully I can stay there again in June. Can’t wait!
April 17, 2013
I may have finally finished The Unknowable, but I’m rarely working on just one project at a time. And I’m always keeping my eyes and ears open for inspiration (to enrichen whatever I’m working on and generate new ideas). So, without further ado, a few things that I’ve been listening to and reading/studying of late:
Composer/pianist David Burge passed away…
I’ve also been listening to Lubomyr Melnyk’s new album, though I can’t find it streaming online anymore. :( Really lovely continuous piano.
I’m liking Abigail Doan’s new post series called Make It Monday, which is basically a dose of what she’s working on and what’s inspiring her.
I’ve also been reading through The Art of Balance, a series of short interviews with artists who are parents. And, similarly, We Who Are About To Breed, a series of short interviews with writers who are parents. I’m thinking of starting something similar.
And this slightly off-topic bit: I was very pleasantly surprised to see The Unknowable featured on the Feeling Stitchy blog. So sweet!
Comments (0) | Tags: art, drypoint, embroidery, inspiration, music, piano, reading
November 21, 2012
My linocut residency at Trükimuuseum in Tartu, Estonia, started this week. It will be lasting for several months as I’ll be going back and forth between Tallinn and Tartu to complete my project, so this was just the first part it. I met the good people who run the place, familiarized myself with the space, learned the linocut process, and even tried carving and printing a few lino plates.
And yes, I’ve got the injuries to prove it. I was smart enough to keep my hand out of the path of the carving tools, but I didn’t realize that the edges of the linoleum are so sharp. I’m sure I’ll develop a good technique to avoid those cuts in the future.
I’ll be heading back there in two weeks if I have any illustrations for the project to work on by that time. Carving is of course the most time-consuming part, but it’s also the part I enjoy the most (thus far). My plan is to do most of the carving at home, and head to Tartu with the plates to print them. This time I made three prints (but my phone/camera died before I got a pic of the third one).
It is totally possible to use linoleum flooring for linocut. Everything I’ve read said it’s too hard, blah blah blah, but that’s what Trükimuuseum uses so that’s what I used. Maybe “special” linoleum for linocut is better/easier. I’m sure I’ll find out eventually. To make this linoleum easier to work with, I heated it up a bit with a hair dryer. That made it much softer and more pliable. Providing leverage also helps. You don’t necessarily have to buy a bench hook. Any kind of resistance will help (a wall, a block of wood on a table that’s against a wall, etc.).
Oh, and any ideas I had about using letterpress for the text of the book are gone. For the cover, sure. But there’s too much interior text for that to be realistic. Oh well. I’ll figure something else out. But let’s end on a happy note:
November 13, 2012
A few pieces of news:
I finished a big illustration project called FIFTY THINGS at the end of September. I was so thrilled with the results and am exceedingly grateful to the 39 illustrators who contributed to the project. It was also the first big anything I have completed in years, so it was both encouraging and gave me momentum to keep going. You can check it out on facebook or pinterest.
And with that momentum, I have begun a new project. I have written a story that is being illustrated by Beryl Foo, one of the artists who contributed to FIFTY THINGS. Next week I begin a linocut residency at the Trükimuuseum in Tartu, Estonia, where I will be hand-carving linoleum plates, relief printing the pages in an old press, and hand-binding the pages into a book. I’m really excited!
I also joined Women Printmakers of Austin. I don’t live in Austin, but I am there for an extended period every year and this way I have access to their studio. My mother is working on prints of four of my drawings, which will be part of WPA’s Multiple Originals exhibition beginning in December.
I have also finally updated all the pages of my website. Yes, all four pages! Can you believe it?
March 30, 2012
I need your help! I’m collecting words for my next project, currently titled whatever you say. Specific words: words of criticism directed towards mothers — things you have been told or overheard or said yourself (either to someone else or silently to yourself). I’m working on a performance piece to convey the effects of these words, and what you share with me will be the foundation and will direct the course of the project. Head over to the Submit page to participate.
Your involvement (whether you submit a few words or share this project with your friends) is crucial and much appreciated!
September 08, 2010
I picked my logo, with the help of feedback received here and on facebook. My site is complete and you can view it (and the logo) here: http://rjkg.com
I’m thinking about restructuring fade theory. There will still be (a rarely updated) blog, but it’s going to be moved to its own directory so that it will be only one component of the site. I have a few creative projects I’m working on that I’d like to host somewhere once complete, so I’m thinking this is the place. I also have one project that requires submissions, so I’ll use fade theory for that too. I don’t know how long this will take, but you can expect a new site within the next few months! I think.
May 12, 2010
Phase three it is! I need to figure a few things out before I can say “Full steam ahead!” Such as what kind of music I’ll blog about (everything and anything? focus on a niche?), what kinds of posts to have (videos, reviews, cover art critiques?), etc. But in the meantime, I’ll be posting some music videos and links over at my Tumblr page: http://fadetheory.tumblr.com/
So, what kind of music do you listen to?
May 05, 2010
I am ready to set aside my denial and admit that fade theory is in a possibly irreversible coma. I see two options: pull the plug or enter phase three. Phase three would be the music phase. It would still involve books, to a degree, but I don’t really have much time for reading and I feel increasingly disconnected from the book world the longer I’m in Estonia. Music, on the other hand, still plays a significant role in my life and I have easy access to it.
Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me.
October 22, 2009
I changed the permalinks structure today because I’ve been having some trouble with the header links in the new theme here. Well, it made things worse, but at the very least I figured folks should know that the RSS feed for fade theory is http://feeds.feedburner.com/fadetheory
Hopefully I get things figured out soon! Feel free to chime in if you have a solution. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Comments (0) | Tags: blog feed, rss feed
June 21, 2009
I’m attempting to upgrade WordPress today. So if fade theory disappears, you’ll know why.
June 08, 2009
I’m a bad blog mama. fade theory turned 4 on June 1st, and I completely forgot! ft has waxed and waned and changed focus (slightly) a few times, but I’m glad it’s still here. I’ve met some amazing people (yes, I’m talking about YOU) through this blog, and it’s been a fun journey. Here’s to 4+ more years!
April 27, 2009
You’ve probably noticed things have been quiet around here. I’m not happy about that. Maybe you aren’t, either. So I’d like to conduct an informal poll. Should I:
a) indefinitely shut down fade theory and let the archives speak for themselves,
b) do one, hopefully-substantial post each week, or
c) kill myself trying to get back to my regular posting schedule?
Yeah, I’m hoping you’ll go with b. Books and publishing and text and art are still such huge and important parts of my life, and I’d really like to continue sharing what I find, think, and read. In fact, those things are perhaps even more important to me now that I have a son to share them with. Some women fear “losing their identity” when they become parents, but I’m more myself than I’ve ever been and my identity has only expanded to include motherhood. Unfortunately, that expansion also takes a lot of my time, and some things (like fade theory) needed to be pushed to the margins for a bit. And I’m mostly okay with that, but not in regards to fade theory. So, I hereby aim to post something real, not rushed, at least once per week.
Can you do me a favor? If I don’t post, shoot me a comment or an email. Yes, be a nudge. Thanks.
March 10, 2009
My jaw dropped today when I saw it’s been a month since my last post. Where does the time go? Well, lately it’s been going to work, Mo, and apartment hunting. After 2.5 years of sitting on the couch while I work, it’s just time to get a bigger place so I can have a home office (and a dining table). It’s amazing I’ve been able to get anything done! And now that I’ve got a crawling baby whose favorite thing in the whole world is my MacBook, I just can’t have it in his sight, so no more working while he plays quietly on the floor. Sigh.
Even though things have been quiet around fade theory, I’ve been a little bit better on twitter (@fadetheory, fyi). Not much, but somewhat. And I’ve certainly been coming across interesting things to share. So here’s a quick round-up:
Â°Apparently lots of people lie about what books they’ve read. Or at least people in the UK. 65%, according to this article. Do/have you? (As an aside, someone could ask me questions about lots of books I’ve read and I’d draw a blank on details. I read lots of classics before I was even a teenager, which was a while ago now.)
Â°Everyone’s favorite Oxford Etymologist asks, “Why Donâ€™t We Know the Origin of the Word Ghetto?”
Â°Cologne’s archives building collapsed and many priceless documents are gone forever. I totally missed this until Angie sent me a link today. I appreciate the email, but man am I bummed.
February 05, 2009
It’s the latest chapter in the convoluted recent history of a grand old Boston name, a publishing institution since 1832. As recently as 2001, Houghton was a strong independent company with thriving K-12 and college textbook businesses and a stable of such best-selling authors as Roger Tory Peterson, JRR Tolkien, Philip Roth, and Rachel Carson. It has had three owners since then, none of them book publishers. Although it’s unlikely that Houghton would disappear, default on its debt could mean a fire-sale breakup and a new owner or owners who could move all or parts of it from Boston.
A lot of publishers are reeling from circumstances out of their control, but in some cases it’s ignorance of the industry and mismanagement. Such a shame! (via Angie)
January 30, 2009
Just a note that I’ve finally created a Friday Artist category, so anyone interested in checking out all the Friday Artists to date can do so easily here:Archives Â» Category Â» friday artist (or by clicking the link in the sidebar). And suggestions for artists to feature are always welcome!