Thursday, September 14, 2017

Working smaller and smarter

Its been a while since I've made time to do some large fine-art monoprints as it requires quite a bit of planning and preparation.

So in between fine-art prints, I like to do small ones, A6 size up to A5 size, at home on my portable etching press or my Xcut DieCut Machine.   I also do a few prints when demonstrating at my workshops, but often those ones don't work out as I'm rushing it with an audience looking on.

My small prints are great for selling in my local shop outlets, as I can keep the price reasonable, under $100 framed.

As the prints are small, I find that the photo-ready frames (with mats) at local shops are great.  I source these frames from department stores (BIG W, Kmart), homewares shops (Freedom Furniture), and stationary shops (Officeworks).  For larger prints, I always use professional framers, as I've found from experience that cheap frames tend to warp in larger sizes and its difficult to attach D rings without damaging the frame.

Sometimes I don't bother framing the small prints.  I just mount them on a piece of stiff white cardboard, sometimes using a precut mat to 'frame' it, and finally wrapping it cellophane.

I've found that presenting smaller works for sale doesn't always have to be expensive.  And keeping the price down means that more people can enjoy my work :-)

My work for sale at a local show.  Cards in boxes, small works
in cellophane on stands at the back of the table,
hanging works on the wall
"Bodhi" monoprint.
This one's between A6 and A5 size.

Feather monoprint.

Feather monoprint again.
I used a black mat for this one,
it really brought out the moodiness of the
dark tips of the feather.
You can see it in the first picture of my display at the local show.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Kayaking for inspiration

I enjoy getting out of the studio to enjoy some sunshine.   I've recently done a couple of kayaking trips around our local waterways, providing precious time to mindfully observe the trees, wildlife and geography as well as listening to bird calls and the soothing sound of wind moving through the tree canopy.

These journeys might not directly result in the production of art as I'm not there to sketch or print, but they provide me with some headspace to enjoy and observe, and more importantly, to think.  I love my thinking time, something unfortunately rare to achieve at home with all the usual day-to-day demands.

I think we all need some time like this to keep our art connected to what we're passionate about.

I love my selfie stick!

Here we are, our kayaks resting on a sandbank whilst we enjoyed morning tea.
We're in  Schulzs Canal - a man-made river and recreational haven.
The amount of rubbish that Craig picked up at this spot is an indication
of the Canal's popularity and location near urbanised areas.

Pied Oyster Catchers - one of my favourite shore birds.
You almost always see them in pairs, I think its very romantic!

You can't help but admire the architecture of mangroves and
coastal vegetation - a view that can only be appreciated by boat.

I enjoyed the rippled reflections on the outgoing tide, serenaded by the
mangrove honeyeaters.   Shame about the regular roar of planes taking off
at the nearby airport!

We lost count of how many old tyres we saw in Jacksons Creek -
we wondered how they all got there.
Unfortunately too big and too many to strap to the kayaks!

Craig and I gliding up a tidal creek out of the wind.
What a beautiful day for appreciating this small
piece of natural area right next to the airport.

We spotted a pelican gliding past, such an amazing bird.
As a young girl, I remember feeding them left over fish during family boating trips.
I still haven't forgiven the one who nipped my finger with its long beak!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Eco-Dyeing on Paper Play Day

I recently had a play day in my studio with eco-dyeing on paper.  I'd just returned home from running weekend workshops in Bundaberg (4 hours north of Brisbane), and had some left over red cabbage, so I decided not to waste it and have some brewing fun.

Using the red cabbage / alum / copper sulphate mix, I achieved some lovely results.  I collected some eucalypt leaves from my local park, but also tried a few plants from my garden.

I'll use the resulting eco-prints to make notebooks to sell at markets later this year.  I also intend to make a concertina artist book with the large pieces.

Eucalypt leaves
My stash of rusty metal bits

The brew - I cut up the red cabbage and put it into a laundry
bag to get the colour started. I removed the bag before dyeing
to make space for my bundles.
And it looks purple, but dyes blue/green/grey.
Making a bundle.
My technique is usually stuff in as much as you can,
but I decided to be a bit more conservative!

My bundles ready to go into the pot.
  I use large 'paddle-pop' sticks (also known as tongue depressers I think?)
and rubber bands.  I sometimes use tiles and clips but
that takes up too much room in the pot.
After 45 minutes simmering and maybe a bit of 'sitting' time,
I remove my bundles from the brew to cool before I unwrap them.
Patience is the key!
Unbundling - the best part of the process!

I love the dark marks that the rusty bottletop has made.
It contrasts really well with the brew colour (greeny/blue/grey)
and the leaf print.

The prints lighten as they darken -this one is still wet.
The purples lightened somewhat but still a beautiful print.

Wonderful marks and moody darks.

A clear leaf print.  The advantage of the cabbage brew
is that the brew colour doesn't dominate
like an iron brew (my favourite).

Lots of prints for notebooks.
Might be hard to part with them though!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Playing with Monotypes

Yesterday I enjoyed a printmaking play day with art friends where we explored a couple of different monoprinting techniques.

My favourite monoprinting technique is using stencils, leaves and objects to create layered imagery, but I wanted to explore some more traditional monotype techniques, so we tried subtractive, additive, trace, and pressure printing.

I also wanted to test my Akua inks to see how they performed, instead of my usual oil based etching inks.

Subtractive Monotype - we inked up our plates using rollers, then wiped back the ink off the plate to create our images.  The best results for a quick image were using plastic stencils, where we held onto the stencil and wiped out the ink from the stencil design.  We also played with cotton tips and other mark making tools.

Subtractive Monotype using two stencils

Additive Monotype - well......we didn't have much success using the Akua Inks with this one, perhaps too much blending medium?   More work required, but we decided that we had plenty of other creative techniques to explore.

Trace Monotype - this was an easy one that didn't require the press.  We inked up our plates, placed a piece of paper on top and drew our designs on the back of the paper.  It produced a crisp line when we used pencils, but we could also create tone with our fingers.  A simple technique that I used in conjunction with a paper stencil.

Trace Monotype

Printing from the Trace Monotype plate, using a
bird stencil as a resist
Stratograph or Pressure Printing - this is a technique that I read about being used in letterpress printing, but I wanted to try it to see if I could use it with my Xcut press.  This technique is essentially 'upside down' printing.  We inked up our plates, placed a piece of paper on top, then some dried pressed leaves on top of that, before running it through the Xcut press.  The pressure of the press prints the image of the leaves onto the paper from behind.  We had a lot of fun with this one, so I'll be exploring its possibilities in the coming months.

Wendy's Stratograph (or Pressure Print)
using banksia leaves on handmade paper

My Stratograph print

Print from the Stratograph Plate

I was pleased with the performance of the Akua inks, and they were super easy to clean up.  My intention over the next 12 months is to fully explore their possibilities with the intention of phasing out my oil based etching inks in the long term.  Fun times ahead!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Paper - its good for the Seoul

I've recently returned from holidays in Japan (again) as well as a few days in Seoul, the capital of South Korea.

I was interested in visiting Seoul, given South Korea's reputation for its paper, Hanji.  I found a couple of shops in the Insa-dong area, amongst the tacky tourist shops and restauranteurs touting for business.

The best shop I found is known as Ilsindang.  As usual, its hard to find places using street addresses, but luckily I had walking instructions from another blogger (thanks!).  Find Starbucks (easy), look across the road and up, and there it is.  I could see the paper lanterns alight in the window....magic!

The shop was full of paper goodies - hanji papers, glues, brushes, templates.  Unfortunately for me the people in the shop only spoke Korean, so I just had to help myself.  I've still got a large stash of Japanese papers from my last trip so I had to restrict myself to just a few goodies.

I loved the lanterns, so have included a few photos here (I was thinking of you Ngaire....!).

paper, paper, paper

more paper, almost overwhelming....!

I bought one of the plastic templates for this lantern,
to work on at home

Detail showing the beautiful paper

Like a beautiful rich pumpkin!

The pinholes in this lantern make a beautiful effect.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Monoprinting on Fabric

I've previously blogged about my experiments with monoprinting on fabric, particularly t-shirts and art aprons.   I recently ran a workshop with the Warwick Artists Group and I'd like to share some photos and experiences from the workshop.

We explored sun printing using Dala Sun Colour Paints, gelatine monoprinting and stencil printing with an etching press.

We had heaps of fun with some great results and near misses.  I always enjoy running workshops with art groups, there's a great vibe and lots of light hearted laughter and jokes.  It really makes tutoring less of a 'job' !

Jo's black scarf with white repeated design -
monoprinted but looks like block printing

Jill making a plastic stencil using a
mini-soldering iron.
It melts the edges of the plastic (instead of cutting with a scalpel)
which makes an interesting effect when printed.

Printing using ferns and other pressed plant material,
using oil based etching inks and the etching press.

Jo with her printed tea towel.
It looked like she bought it
from an expensive homewares shop,
just beautiful.
The happy artists with some of their pieces from the workshop,
with 'Presston' the etching press.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Day of Papermaking

Yesterday I gathered together with members of Papermakers of Queensland (POQ) on the Sunshine Coast to make paper.  These papermaking days - known as 'Hands on Paper' (HOP) days -  are a POQ tradition spanning 25 years.

Making paper from botanical sources (ie plants) rather than recycled papers is a labour of love. Here's a rough guide to how its done:

1.  Collect fibre - prunings from plants, chop up into small pieces.
2.  Put into old pillow cases.
3.  Boil in a solution of caustic soda (or soda ash) for several hours to break down the fibres.
4.  Rinse, rinse, rinse in water until it runs clear.  I usually do this over several days using a soak then rinse method.
5.  Beat the fibres to break them down into a pulp.  This can be done by hand with a mallet, a garbage disposal unit, a blender, or (the best option) a hollander beater.

The fibre is then ready to be put into vats of water and sheets pulled.

I had the opportunity yesterday to use a hollander beater for the first time, and Helga kindly showed me how it worked.  It was great to see my chunky fibres gradually beaten down to a fine fluffy fibre which hung suspended in the water beautifully.

Our HOP day consisted of members sharing vats of different fibres including Hamil grass, cane, banana, philodendron, lemon grass, and my mixed vat of daylilly, geranium and pineapple leaves.  I also like to add a bit of recycled printmaking paper pulp to my papers to reduce shrinkage when drying.

Once the sheets are formed and the couching stack is high, the sheets are pressed with a hydraulic press to extract the water and compress the fibres.  Then the papers are laid out on boards until dry, then ironed and pressed under weights to get them flat.

Phew!  Lots of hard work but the papers are beautiful and yesterday there was a great vibe of energetic fun making paper with a group of like-minded papermakers.

The Hollander Beater

Lemon Grass fibre n the beater

The Lemon Grass fibre is ready!
Pulling a sheet of mixed fibres, using a mould & deckle

Here I am couchng a sheet

Pressing the couched sheets using a
hydraulic press
Laying the sheets onto boards to dry
The happy papermakers !