Sunday, July 31, 2011

365 Day 212

new project...and accepting physical limitations

Several months ago my fellow artist friend Juana Moore gave me a 48-inch long hard cardboard tube when I started collecting cardboard tubes for my Studio Snake. The tube Juana gave me was way too good to use for the Studio Snake, but I layered it with plaster cloth back then and set it aside with no specific idea in mind...other than I knew I wanted to make something big with it.

trying to show how l-o-n-g this tube is

I am working on starting my Studio Snake (I wrapped a huge basketful of cardboard tubes with masking tape a few nights ago), but in the meantime I had a minor brainstorm and was inspired by this little guy that sits on my cable modem.

this little inspirational guy is posing on the plaster cloth layered tube

Obviously I am going to make a snake with this tube as the main part...but I will show more later as it develops.

Okay...onto other stuff.

I need to pull good prints of two carvings for that upcoming show in Detroit. I am not having very good luck. I am fully aware that I need to learn by doing and keep practicing until I "get" the feel of printing and understand more about using various inks and carving materials and, there are SO many kinds of paper!

But I also learned tonight that I need to accept that I may not be a printmaker. I really really love carving the blocks. I really enjoy finding creatures and images in the "automatic drawings" in my sketch book. However, after going meticulously through each step of the printmaking process tonight...over and over and over again...being very careful and keeping all of my work areas clean, etc. -- like Shaqe taught us in class -- I have to admit to myself that this is just plain physically painful for me. I made over 20 prints tonight...not one of them was acceptable. There is a major flaw in each one...some are better than others...but each one is too flawed to frame up and submit for the show.

This is one of my designs that was accepted for the show -- and I cannot pull a good print from it to save my life. I even tried cleaning up the carving. I tried to tidy up the lines of the leaves. It just isn't happening.

These are the worst two prints.

These are the best four prints.

I just need more practice. I need to do this a billion more times.

I know I will get better at it, but it is just too soon for this show. That, and I am not happy with the way the carving has been altered slightly by the clean up of the lines.

I'm not complaining or making excuses. I'm just stating facts. It's a learning process and I am a beginner. Period.

This is a detail from the best of the tree guy prints. You can see that even though I tried to re-carve some of the leaves, the lines of the branches are flooded with ink and it is just a mess.

And yes, I did clean the block a couple of times during the printings...LOL.

I had to scrap the printing of the other design that I originally submitted to the show. I got the okay to choose a different print, and these are the three best prints from tonight...but none of these are good enough for my liking.

I will try this one again tomorrow, and maybe I will be able to pull a decent one after a good restful night's sleep. I hope so anyway.

This was the best one of the three. Wow...I went through SO much good paper tonight...this is getting pricey...sheesh.

Juana helped me name this piece. I knew it was a fox-creature and we came up with "Kitsune"...a Japanese fox spirit.

This print is almost good enough...

...but the face isn't printed well enough.

Fingers crossed for a successful print tomorrow!

It absolutely kills my back to stand and work on the prints at the table. At the printmaking class the table was a little bit shorter and it was even harder (physically). Tomorrow I will try some at the marble table in the kitchen, which is slightly taller than the long dining room table. I will also try the kitchen counter by the dishwasher...there is room over there and it is the tallest surface in the house...maybe that will help. I have a couple other physical problems that are getting in on the act, too...but hey...I am doing pretty well for someone my age who has never been physically fit. I will manage to overcome I need to practice more!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

365 Day 211

almost ready to ship

I got farther than I expected to today in the process of preparing the Penciled In blocks and boxes for shipping to Artists in Cellophane, aka Art-o-mat HQ. I actually only need to put on the cellophane/acetate and put them in a shipping box...and take the boxes to the post office.

close up on the labels

Last night I ran the pages that I printed the label images on through the Xyron machine to be made into stickers. Last night I also trimmed them and put half of them onto boxes.

This morning I put the other fifty on the boxes and bundled them all up.

There are 20 characters with 5 coloring variations of each. Because I already scanned them for the Penciled In blog and also posted the photos as entries with numbers on that blog I decided to do one more labeling step. It was a little tedious but in the long run it will make things easier for Carol when she pulls my artpacks for orders. She will be able to tell what is in the box and that will make it easier for her to give a host an assortment rather than possibly ending up with say 4 out of 5 of the cats with crowns in one order.

So I made a label that says in general what is in the box (young rabbit in this case). I also wanted to make it easier for new owners to identify their characters on the I made a label for that as well, leaving a blank spot for me to fill in as I packed the boxes.

ooh...pretty colors of tissue paper and cool mini moo cards

A Penciled In artpack labeled and ready to be stuffed with the block, info insert and mini moo card...all wrapped in tissue.

the five "big dog" art packs stuffed, and numbered/labeled

the box is starting to fill up...

THAT'S what I like to see -- 100 artpacks ready for acetate. I think I will probably do that tomorrow.

Friday, July 29, 2011

365 Day 210

coffee, conversation, roller derby and Art-o-mat

What a delightful time -- I met up with Jennifer Lenardon this morning for coffee at Tuscan Cafe in Northville to talk about her upcoming is nearly ready!

You may remember I was a volunteer for the Detroit Derby Girls for a few years. At one point I was also a DDG Sponsor with Michigan Art-o-mat. During that time period several skaters and another volunteer became interested in Art-o-mat and expressed a desire to make art for the project but no one had time to do an entire 50-piece series of their own. We put our heads together, cleared it with Artists in Cellophane, and I curated a group series for DDG.

One of the participating skater/artists in that series was Seoul Slayer -- a blocker with D-Funk Allstars. Seoul enjoyed making her pieces so much
that she decided to do her own series.

Seoul Slayer is also Jennifer Lenardon, an 8th Grade English teacher at Pierre Toussaint Academy in southwest Detroit. As you can well imagine, between her career as a teacher and her skating/practice/training schedule with DDG, it doesn't leave a whole lot of free time.

Well, Seoul managed to get her prototype made and accepted by Artists in Cellophane but then things got put on hold for a bit. She initially started her series in mid-summer 2010 but then she had to go back to work and "that cut 8 hours out of my day." In September of that year she was also back in school herself, taking two classes. And now this summer is almost over and she is back at school/work in 2 weeks...BUT Seoul has set aside a block of time for production of her series. YAY!

Seoul Slayer is coming up on her 5th season skating as a blocker for D-Funk Allstars, one of

DDG's five home teams.

Seoul's solo series for Art-o-mat is called "Block and Chain". She wanted to keep her design simple but symbolize roller derby.

"I'm a word queen, not a technical person."

"Block and Chain" consists of a mini star and four blocks that feature the image of a skate joined together with jump rings. It can be worn as a piece of jewelry or hung as a tiny piece of art.

"The image of the skate is my actual first pair of skates I used for roller derby."

"The background on the info card comes from my 15 minutes of fame in a newspaper article in the Redford Observer."

The article was about DDG's first Championship Bout at Cobo and it was also D-Funk's first Championship win. Seoul was quoted in the article and you can see her name in the print on the design on the card.

"It was cool how it all worked itself together."

info side of the info card

some of the mini moo cards that are included in Seoul's series

The art pieces come in several different colors and you can see there are a number of different mini card designs...why not collect them all?

The process for making "Block and Chain" is pretty time consuming and can be a bit tedious. Seoul says the precision that is required is challenging. Here is what is involved in making her series:
  • create the image as a word document and make sure the colors are right
  • print out images onto shrinky dink paper
  • cut the 2" square 4-part images
  • use a corner punch to round off the corners of the images
  • use a template for the placement of the holes in each of the squares
  • bake all the pieces together for 3-4 minutes (each batch)
  • make the the mini star and then bake/shrink it down
  • join the 4 squares with jump rings at each corner and add 2 rings to the top for hanging
  • attach the tiny star with a jump ring
  • print the info card
  • attach the assembled piece to the info card
  • pack the box with the art, mini moo card and filler/box weight
  • label the boxes
  • wrap the boxes with cellophane/acetate
  • pack up and ship the boxes to Artists in Cellophane

Yes, it IS a lot of work...but what drew Seoul Slayer/Jennifer Lenardon to Art-o-mat?

"It's a fun thing to do and I like that it is portable art. And maybe someone will get into roller derby."

Seoul is also curious what people will do with their "Block and Chain" art pieces, besides wearing them as jewelry. She is very interested to hear from her customers and hopes they will drop her a note...make a connection.

Watch for "Block and Chain" by Jennifer Lenardon/Seoul Slayer coming SOON to an Art-o-mat machine near you!

365 Day 209 -- ooops missed my deadline!

we were having too much fun --

Juana came over this evening and we looked through a box of Magic: the Gathering cards that I got from eBay.

Then we looked at the variations I came up with for a new label for our collaborative Art-o-mat series called Penciled In. We ended up with this one.

Then we went to dinner at Mr. Thai in Northville, then we came back and I fed the cats and then we started playing Magic. We played two games and we were mildly aware of the time.

When we started playing the third game it still felt fairly early.

We were having so much fun that by the end of the game it was a shock to both of us that it was after midnight! I decided it was a good trade off and that I'd just write about what happened.

Before we went to dinner, Juana agreed to help me think up titles for three of my pieces that were accepted for an upcoming show in Detroit. So after we played the last game of Magic we had a piece of Zingerman's coffee cake and started brainstorming. Mostly we laughed and goofed off, but we finally arrived at suitable titles. Oh man...did we laugh!

And that is why I missed my midnight posting deadline.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

365 Day 208

not much to see today

Prep work day. And errands day. Now a big thunderstorm is rolling in with lots of lightning.

I spent close to two hours covering these cardboard tubes with masking tape for use on the upcoming Studio Snake.

Also tonight I allowed my computer to do an update and now I can no longer use my old photo editing program that I am used to...the one I use to modify scans and photos. And it looks like I don't have access to the old items either. Juana is coming over tomorrow to play M:tG...perhaps she can help me figure this doubt there is a simple solution. I was GOING to try to work on labels for Penciled In tonight. Oh well. I can't even print the OLD ones. Gah!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

365 Day 207

the taxidermy eyes arrived!

I am very excited -- the taxidermy eyes I ordered from Van Dyke's Taxidermy arrived on Monday in the late afternoon. I have been playing around with placing them on several of the plaster cloth guys that are still under construction. They may or may not end up where I placed them -- especially the large clear ones.

I will need to add color to all of the clear ones. They are actually sold as "black pupil flint fish eyes" and this is what Van Dyke's has to say in general about them: Flint fish eyes feature only a painted pupil. This enables the taxidermist to create the design that best fits their individual needs.

in this photo:
36mm black pupil flint fish eyes
30mm large pupil leopard eyes
20mm dark coyote eye
19mm black pupil flint fish eyes (2 pr)
14mm black pupil flint fish eyes (2 pr)

I think that from now on I will not order any eyes under 19mm. The two 14mm pairs are just barely big enough to work with but kind of /sort of fit the two plaster cloth guys they will end up on...although the faces of those two guys may change a bit.

Another pair of the smallest fish eyes.

One of the 19mm pairs of clear fish eyes.

the 20mm dark coyote eyes...they seem quite a bit larger than the 19mm clear fish eyes. They are a lot more a half of a marble. The fish eyes are flatter.

These are the 30mm leopard eyes (large pupil version).
Again, these eyes are quite round.

Now look at how different the same 36mm clear fish eyes look on these three guys...

This bear-ish guy with the twirly lawn sprinkler crown will get a much nicer face eventually.

This sight hound-type guy will also look different when he is completed. The eyes look to be a good size for him.

Three different placements of the same eyes on the same guy.

I haven't decided whether this guy (and his twin...and perhaps more relatives) will get glass eyes or painted on eyes.

See how the expression changes when you move the eyes?

I like this placement the best out of the three (so far)...but they may end up with painted on eyes so that they look more like toys...I don't know what they are yet, though.

Van Dyke's has SO many wonderful choices of eyes in SO many sizes. I want to start buying a few every so often and stockpiling some.

Monday, July 25, 2011

365 Day 206

awww...our last session of relief printmaking

Tonight was our last session in the eight-week course of relief printmaking taught by Shaqe Kalaj at Art & Ideas Gallery in Plymouth, MI. Wow...the time really passed quickly!

Tonight we completed our 2-color ink printing process. Last week we printed the first color and then took our blocks home to carve out the other areas during the week. Tonight we learned to register the blocks and then print with black over the base color.

Shaqe started with Carla's print. (I missed shooting Shaqe showing us how to line the block up.)

Shaqe is re-inking a spot here.

Now Shaqe and Carla are looking at the print that Shaqe just pulled.

Next comes the demo with my prints. I used red as my color and that ink was a lot more watery than the blue. It was a teensy bit frustrating to work with last week and my prints show it...LOL. But this is a learning exercise and I DID learn a lot from all the steps!

Getting ready for Shaqe to come and print one of mine.

Shaqe inking up my Blick Golden-cut block.

In the meantime, Carla has pulled a great print!

Shaqe getting ready to line up the inked block on the first print.

Shaqe registering the block on the print.

Shaqe burnishing the paper with a plastic spoon.

Close can see the red ink through the paper but you can also see the black coming through where Shaqe has rubbed it with the spoon.

Checking to see how it looks...does it need more ink?

Yep, it needed more ink!


Shaqe pulls the completed print off the block.

Not too bad (considering how icky the print looked to begin with)!

The block after I washed it off.

Carla and Shaqe looking over Carla's prints.

ALL of Carla's prints...pretty successful, I'd say!

Shaqe looking over my prints.

Shaqe agreeing that was the most successful of mine.

LOL -- my least successful...I hit the paper with the inky brayer when I was re-inking...I knew I did it so I didn't bother with trying to fix the ink around the edges...other than that it actually lined up pretty well.

My most successful 2-color ink print.

I really enjoyed this relief printmaking class. We got a great overview of many kinds of printmaking processes. We tried out 3 types of carving materials, we got a chance to try out hand tools and electric tools on two types of wood, we pulled a print that was included in the all ages student show at the gallery, we learned a method for 2-color printing...and we got individual attention, coaching and suggestions throughout the eight weeks. Oh, we also did some critiquing and got some help with artist statements and writing about our work.

I know I definitely want to take more classes from Shaqe at Art & Ideas -- she is a really great teacher. I learned a lot about printmaking and carving and also about drawing and thinking about things in new ways.
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