The successful print

Thursday I went in to the studio before my work shift started, intent on making one large plate. Maybe a print too, but for sure a plate.

I cleaned the plate maker, clean glass, new transparency.

Deep breath.

Light coating of baby powder on the plate and giving the vacuum table time to run and settle before flipping it over for exposure.

62 light units for the aquatint screen.

3.7 light units for the image.

One of the students followed me into the darkroom to watch the plate develop.

15 seconds of just water swishing. 40 seconds of brush washing. Blotted dry with smooth newsprint.

“I’m so excited!!”, the student watching said.

Yeah, me too.

I dried the plate. Time for post exposure. This time I taped it to the outside of the glass so nothing could stick to it.

“Are you going to print it!?”, I’m asked. Looking at the clock, I have just enough time.

I ink it, and pull one print before I am scheduled to work.

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It is the best print I have gotten since starting this project with this medium and this plate burner. No, it isn’t perfect, there are areas I want to tweak, and make a new transparency and a new plate and try again. But this is the first that doesn’t have the spots, the splotchy-ness, the fuzzy edges, the uneven exposure. I know the steps, I know what I have to do. Now I just need to work on the images.

Stay tuned! Those are coming!

Progress! Sweet progress!

There was a lot of testing done. And over the last two weeks I have spent a lot of time with this little machine.


After spending many hours one Sunday making test strips out of polymer plates, I knew I was close with the exposure times.


Results like this kept me going. Not perfect, but better. I started testing plates that were just a little larger. I know that this series will have layered images. But I was uncertain how that would translate to this medium. I realized there were two approaches I could use. 1. To make the layered image in Photoshop and print a transparency with them layered like I want, and make a plate from that. Though I figured that would be challenging due to the fact that layering images in Photoshop can make some areas very dense, making a difficult image to make a plate from. Option 2. would be to split up the two images, make a separate transparency and separate plate of each and do the image layering on the press. I knew this would be a challenge to get the images to blend together smoothly, and registration of plates so they lined up during printing could be a night mare.

I started playing with images, and trying both ideas. It also gave me a chance to play with ink tones and colors a bit. Everything was helping, and getting me closer to what I wanted. I could see that. But nothing was “it”. ┬áThe exposures were decent, but the images were fuzzy, and spotty. I started doing more research through blogs to troubleshoot what was happening.

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Once I had learned more about what could be going wrong, and after a pretty rough week, I decided to try one more plate. I was somewhat confident that I knew what was happening, that my aquatint screen and my image transparency were not making good enough contact, due in part to the fact that I was using a smaller plate to test, but not necessarily using a smaller screen or image. I was trying to save money in plate material to test, but it wasn’t necessarily giving me proper tests.

So I took a deep breath, and jumped in. Stay tuned for how that turned out!

A new project start

It has been a bit quiet around here lately.

For good reason this time. In May my artwork was on display at Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts along with photography by Eileen Cohen. I am really happy with how the work for that show turned out. We had a blast at the reception, and I am thrilled that I was part of that!

Right away after that show opened, I started focusing on the next project. This one is a doozy!

I have been accepted to have a solo show at the Octagon Center for the Arts in Ames, Iowa next summer!

This series will be a departure from my recent work. Instead of ink jet prints, the final print version of these images will be made using a technique called ‘photo polymer photogravure’. It is a modern version of a very old printmaking technique, being much like copperplate photo etching, but using polymer plates that are developed in water instead of acid.

I am very lucky that between local artists I admire that let me ask hundreds of questions, and many blog posts by many other practitioners of this medium, I have been able to make a lot of progress. I have used this printmaking medium before, but it has been awhile. But when I used it before, it was not my primary medium to work in. So of course there are many people who know more than me.

I am also very lucky that I work at a community college in the art department, and my coworkers have given me permission to use the equipment at school to work on this project. Of course this means that I have to become very proficient with using the NuArc exposure unit that no one else has had time to become proficient with. This has involved a lot of testing, note taking, and trial and error.

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Thanks to one blog post, I learned about making a test strip on a polymer plate. This is a technique I had suspected might be possible, but wasn’t 100% certain if I was on the right track. After a long session of going in to test on my day off, I am much closer to a good baseline exposure. Next is test printing.

Those test prints will be done on one of these beautiful presses. You can see two of the three (!!!) amazing etching presses we have in our art department. I’m almost giddy!

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More soon!

Summers that are everything

I have not been letting my days of my break from work slip by unnoticed. Each day I have been steadily working towards two goals: getting the rooms in our house painted (I hit the halfway point last week!) and most importantly, creating new artwork. I have slowly been creating and editing new compilation images using some of the photos I took during our trip to Okinawa last winter.

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This image is one of about 6 new pieces I have been working with. Everything is still a work-in-progress. Some of these images end up on my Instagram account if I feel like they are close to being complete.

Last week I had the idea to pick up some screen printing equipment. Thanks to a conversation over beers and dinner with a very awesome, smart friend, I heard of a technique I had not thought of (this happens quite often when I am around certain friends). I started playing with it, and have been pleasantly surprised with the results.

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I am able to create colored backgrounds, and then ink jet print images over them.

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It needs a lot of tweaking, and many new decisions to be made on colors, and color density, and how it works with each image, but I am thrilled that it worked!! I’m excited to keep experimenting with this throughout the summer.

Last week I was thinking about how many of the images I take don’t get printed, don’t end up in any compilation images, and basically aren’t seen by anyone but me. After recently teaching a class on creating a one-sheet book, I decided to play with that medium, and created this little book.

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This one was so much fun to make, and I plan on making many more. I see them more as ‘zines’ than fine-books. Zines are something I have wanted to make for quite a while, but was struggling with an idea for. I think these making these simple little books will help with that craving.

Each day I have off of my day job, I try to savor. I know all too well that the summer can go by in an instant. So far, it has felt like a wonderful, long break, and I still have many days left to come. I have already done more creating that I ever hoped to, and I have no intention to stop.

May you all enjoy the summer and warm weather as much as you can, whether you are working or not!

Made Here launch and on to summer

The Made Here MN launch party was Wednesday night…and it was amazing!

I enjoyed meeting the other artists, catching up with a few I have known. We went on a walking tour of all the installation sites, ending with a lovely continuation of the party at the new Mayo Clinic Square. It was so much fun! I loved the chance to catch up with friends and fellow artists I have not seen in a while, meeting new, interesting people, and seeing a slice of the creative energy that exists in this city. I have said it before, but being a part of this installation project has been amazing and exciting for me!

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photo taken by Shannon Hady!

 

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Photo taken by a lovely tourist walking the bridge at the same time!

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We parked on the other side of the river, and had a lovely walk back to our cars at the end of the evening. I love the view of our city, and especially our river at night.

Escapes, the site-specific image I made for my Made Here installation is now up in my Etsy shop in print form.

This was one of the last big events I have planned for this summer break from work. I have thought a lot about the directions my work is going in, and what is next. More musings about this in another blog post. I still have a lot to work out in my head…but the future is bright.

 

My images for Made Here are up!

It actually happened! My work for the Made Here MN installation is up! If you are near 10th and Hennepin in downtown Minneapolis, check out the old National Camera building (930 Hennepin Ave). My images are on the 10th Ave side of the building! There will be more installations going up very soon by some other amazing artists, so keep checking back.

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My images were printed by a local company called Color Space. They were so great to work with! I never print my images this large, and I almost always print everything myself. But I am so happy with how these prints turned out! I’m planning on having Color Space print more for me in the future. Maybe nothing quite this big though…I don’t find myself with four windows to fill up very often!

This truly has been an amazing spring with the opportunities I have been given.

The reception for Made Here is on June 3rd, from 6-9pm.

In between now and then is Art-a-Whirl! I hope a few of you will have a chance to find me there! I will have prints of all four of the images I have up in my Made Here exhibit, including this brand new one titled Escapes! This is truly the most site-specific piece I have made, and I am pretty happy with how it turned out.

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I will have my new Mississippi book at Art-a-Whirl as well, though I may not have enough copies completed to actually have it for sale. I will be doing a little demo of how I’m binding it throughout the weekend though, so stop by!

Hopefully, now that I am actually getting caught up on deadlines, I will get back into blogging a bit more as well!

Thanks for stopping by and reading!

Just a little post of flowers

I have spent a lot of time with my laptop, working on artwork every waking minute that I am not at work. Which isn’t horrible – at this time of year I usually get antsy to get out and start working on our yard, which makes my spring allergies even worse. This year, there just isn’t time for that. But yesterday I did let myself out of the house for a few minutes to see what is going on out there. I’m worried about our little crab-apple tree, but everything else appears to be growing and flowering and making the bumble bees around here happy.

I still don’t have a working camera on my phone…but I really haven’t missed that much. It takes me a bit longer to get my #100DaysProject photos posted to Instagram, but that isn’t really a big deal anyway.

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Made Here images off to the printers!

Because the images I will be displaying for Made Here are larger than I can print on my own, for one of the first times ever, I get to take my images to a printing service. The coordinators of Made Here worked it out for us to use a local company called Color Space Art and Imaging. I can’t wait to see the prints when they are done! This is the first time I will see my work printed that large.

My installation goes up May 10th. I will share photos here on my blog of how everything looks displayed in the windows. I’m quite excited to see it myself!

I did make one brand new image, specific for this installation. I have shared photographs that I took around the area, bits that would possibly go into the finished compilation. Well, my new piece is finished, but I am going to keep it a bit of a surprise for now!

You will be able to see it in the display windows next month. You can also come find me at FK Art Glass for Art-a-Whirl, and I will have a few prints of that image with me for sale, though they will be much smaller than the one displayed for Made Here!

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New things

New this year, my first tattoo! This is inspired by my Mamiya C330, the first medium format camera I bought in college, the first medium format camera I photographed with, and one that I still use today. I have thought about this tattoo for a very long time…and I am thrilled with how it turned out!

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*tattoo by Poohki at Evolution Tattoo. I am not getting any sort of compensation for posting about this here….I’m just super excited about my new tattoo!

One can’t survive on photos alone

I used to be a very stressed out and high-strung person. I still can be at times. But this is something that I promised John I would work on, and he is one of the first people to say I have gotten better over the last couple of years.

Sure, a lot of it is attitude. Training my brain to let go of the things I can’t control, the changes I can’t stop, and taking one thing at a time. To let go of things that aren’t working, which sometimes has included certain people as well. That last one hasn’t been easy.

I have been changing my diet in small ways. I have stopped critiquing my body. I have stopped listening to people telling me what I should do, unless I have asked for their opinion.

I keep creating, because I have to, and because I want to. I have changed my definition of creating.

I go to yoga and I meditate as many days as I can, and every day I remind myself that I know how to breathe.

I am noticing more. And stopping to notice more often.

I am forgiving more. Trying to. Sometimes this takes more time than I would like it to.

Am I perfect at all of this? Hell no. Are there still times when I get super stressed out and un-wrapped and need to be reminded of these things? Sure. But I am trying. And it is helping me. It is making a difference.

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