Friday, May 20, 2016

More new prints

This series continues. I'm calling the entire series Division, named for Division Street. The series is becoming about the contrast between gentrification and impoverishment.

Monday, April 18, 2016


Some new pieces recently completed. Woodcuts on Sekishu, chine colle'd onto found wallpaper. Click on the images for enlarged view. Inspired in part by my recent pieces for NIAD.

To see some of the making of these prints, check out my Instagram page.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Win Win 4 at NIAD

NIAD Art Center has a benefit to support their programs every year, called Win Win. Since they started four years ago, I've donated every year. Not only is it a great cause to support, the chance to do these little experiments each spring always really opens up some ideas that find ways into my current work in progress. This year was no exception.

Actually, I think I like these more than any other year. The pieces are called Distance I-III, with I above and II and III in descending order below. Click on the images for a larger viewing size.

NIAD has some great exhibitions coming up - including a show curated by Robert in March, and a solo show by yours truly in their Annex Gallery in June!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Dipped versus Wrapped

In papermaking, there is a type of paper sculpture that uses "overbeaten" abaca. This term, which some say should really mean that the fiber is beaten "just enough," refers to the fibers spending a long time in the beater, sometimes as long as 6-8 hours. This long beating allows the fibers to absorb a great deal of water, and when draped over an armature made of wire or reeds, the fibers shrink dramatically. I swoon over sculptures like this. Papermakers like Rhiannon, Megan, and Helen are amazing at using this technique their work.

Despite assisting Rhiannon when she has taught this technique, I haven't explored it that much in my own work. I've been more a cast paper person myself. Rhiannon usually has students start by making small armatures to use, before working up to something larger. During one of our workshops, she mentioned when she started exploring this technique that she made a whole series of little forms to see what high-shrinkage abaca could do. I decided to try this myself.

Two techniques for working with armatures and high shrinkage abaca are dipping and wrapping. When dipping, an armature is made, then dipped in the vat and fiber is allowed to collect over the structure. When formation aid is added to the vat, the paper sculptor can dip multiple times to build up more fiber.

Wraping requires a papermaker to pull sheets first, then press them. The pressing gives the handmade paper almost a "wet-noodle" quality, so it's easily handled while draping over an armature. Wire and reeds will give different affects, and there is a whole variety of gauges and reeds to select from that will also vary the end result.

I decided to make pairs of similar forms to try both dipping and wrapping, and see which I liked better. I wasn't too exacting, so there are some differences in the forms, but they were close enough for my purposes. The armatures are made from 24 gauge wire from Dick Blick. I chose that wire because I had it around, and after seeing the results, I think they might have been more interesting with something finer.

I also realized that I failed to photograph these with something for scale. The pieces below are all around the size of the palm of my hand, so not that big. For the four photos below, the wrapping is on the left, and the dipped is on the right. For the fifth, my tired brain confused this order, so the wrapped is on the right. Click on the images to see them larger.

A few I dipped and immediately didn't like the results, so just ended up wrapping them, like these:

While playing with the wire, I ended up coming up with this form, which after the experiments above I chose to wrap. I'm not sure what I think of it right now, or even if it's a finished piece or a study for something larger, not sure.

These forms were inspired in part by Nami Yamamoto and Allison Smith. The cut paper projects linked seem to me about how the act of isolating an object transforms it into a specimen, a representative, or a fetish object. Yet, it's out of context. So much of my work is always about site, location, hereness, considering the opposite direction is raising some interesting questions that I find myself thinking about.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Banff Recollections, Part 2

Work continues on my print about the mountains around Banff. Each panel is a reduction print, first two layers are the uppermost image, with the addition of the third layer for the bottom. The imagery with this third layer of color doesn't quite make sense yet, but it will soon.

While at Banff, I had the fortune of watching an Islamic World papermaking demo by Radha Pandey. She pointed out that there is nothing particularly Islamic about this style of papermaking, it's the technique that was developed in the Middle East by papermaker prisoners of war, adapted from the traditions that had developed in East Asia.

Her demo took place in the paper studio, which I described in a previous post.

Like a su in Japanese papermaking, Islamic world paper is made on a flexible screen called a chapri. In India they are woven from grass. Radha here is showing the chapri she wove herself, adapted from bamboo splints. She writes about her experience making her own chapri here.

The chapri rests on a frame, and then deckle sticks are place on either side of the chapri, which fit against the wooden dowels at either end of the chapri.

Seeing this contraption, it was easy to see how, as the craft of papermaking spread from East to West, the tools adapted as well. Instead of using deckle sticks, Western papermakers transitioned to using a full deckle.

The process of pulling a sheet also suggests the shift in papermaking from Eastern to Western. Rather than the multi-dip system of nagashizuki or webal tteugi in Japanese or Korean papermaking, or the single dip method of Western (tamezuki), Islamic World paper is made in systematic, controlled, double dip system.

In her demo, Radha said she was using a cotton-abaca fiber blend with no formation aid. To use the chapri, the papermaker first dips into the vat, much like a Western-style dip. After pulling the sheet, the chapri is then placed on the surface of the water and carefully pressed down until the fiber just floats off the surface of the chapri. Then the papermaker lifts the chapri. The chapri is then dipped to make a second collection of fiber. According to Radha, traditionally, a second float is not performed, however; she has added that to her practice of the process.

She has a video of the process here.

In India where Radha has done her research, water is limited, so papermakers use vats that are angled at the bottom to lessen water usage. She compensated for this by placing a block under the vats. Coming from California where we may just be starting to recover from the drought, I thought this was a brilliant idea.

I tried this recently while pulling sheets Western style, and it worked amazingly. In fact, I think it actually worked a little better than with the vat flat on the table.

Radha also gave a presentation about her research, and discussed how the mill operates in detail. Some of what she discussed can be seen here. She also described their intricate system of cleaning and recycling their water, which I scribbled down in my notes but my description just doesn't do it justice.

I'm interested how Radha's artwork is going to develop as she incorporates this research. I'm also thinking about how crafts can build bridges, and wondering how Islamic World papermaking could develop understanding when Muslim intolerance appears on the rise in this country. One demo does not make me an expert in this tradition, but I wonder how this tradition could open up conversations. Something to think about.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Collaboration is...

I've been working on an article for the upcoming issue of The California Printmaker. The issue has a focus on collaboration, and I'm writing about Book Bombs!

Collaboration is such an important part of my work. Not only have I collaborated with Mary, I also have collaborated several times with Marie Elcin, and am currently working on a collaborative project with Anne Beck. And I can't forget my recent collaboration with Robert! The image above is from one of Anne's and my tests. In fact, one of the first artist books I ever made, which convinced me what I really wanted to do was make books, was a collaboration between sixteen artists.

As I was writing about Book Bombs, I was trying to capture the essence of what a collaboration really is. It's more than just working with others to make art in some way. As I was brainstorming, I ended up with the following list, which I decided to share here.

Collaboration is working together
Collaboration is an environment for growth
Collaboration is a loss of ego
Collaboration is exciting
Collaboration is a form of evolution
Collaboration is learning to listen
Collaboration is embracing the process
Collaboration is opening up
Collaboration is new insights
Collaboration is unexpected turns
Collaboration is a form of giving
Collaboration is a form of receiving
Collaboration is a form of gratitude
Collaboration is an act of love