Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Quilt for the Letterpress

"Hot off the press" takes on a different meaning here. Sorry, couldn't resist. It's not that the press needs a quilt to stay warm in the winter (which is when I finally quilted the top and bound it) but it is handy to keep the dust off, especially if you don't print for weeks, possibly months at a time.

Okay, perhaps extravagant for a dust cover.

Some time ago I had pieced some patches taken from a worn pair of linen pants, parts of a canvas drop cloth, and a burlap bag packaging some sherry (Dry Sack), stenciled with white and black gesso onto them with pre-made letters and homemade images and had just been draping the cloth over the press anyway. The edges were raveling a bit. It seemed like time to finish it. The border and back are made from good parts of a threadbare flannel sheet, the binding is commercially bought, yet found around our house. I quilted it with embroidery thread to echo some of the patterns in the images, which seemed to be groupings of rectangles like censored words.

I know it's Spring, but that's what I did on my Winter vacation.
Just catching up.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Instructions: A Version of the Gallery Book

 There's a little flurry of excitement as the 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland, Oregon is getting ready for an exhibition of books inspired by Hedi Kyle called "Hello Hedi." Although I can't find definitive provenance, I believe that one of Hedi Kyle's book structures is the Gallery Book. It is quite sculptural and works well for display. I've looked around for this structure, and after studying a picture of one on Cheryl Moote's website, here are the instructions I came up with and things I discovered along the way. It is slightly related to an accordion I was playing with several years ago here.

Left to right: my first model with soft Cave Paper covers only and ribbon tie; 
Parched with narrow hardcovers; Aura with wider hardcovers

This is a rather small sixteen-panel accordion that needs to have the folds parallel to the grain. To work from a piece of 22 x 30 printmaking paper such as Stonehenge or Lenox (which are usually grained long), a strip that is 6" x 22" works well. You can paint each side a different color, as I did for this tutorial, or leave blank and add tiny pictures before you glue it together, which is what I did with the books in the photo, above. 

The only other materials I recommend are two pieces of museum board cut to 1 1/4" x 6" (grained long) OR two pieces 2 1/2" x 6" for the version that closes completely flat and protected. You first may want to cover these wider boards with two pieces of decorative paper, 4" x 7 1/2" (grained long).

Tools: bone folder; pencil; 30" metal ruler; X-Acto knife and large cutting mat; circle cutter or large rectangular or 1" square punch (optional); PVA or heavy gel medium; brush or piece of scrap cardboard for gluing; magazines for waste sheets

Paper is face up. 
Fold in half, the short way.

Fold ends in to center fold.

Match fold to fold so you have eight, even segments, all valley folds.

Close the first panel along its fold, and then match that fold to the second fold to begin the accordion. A mountain fold is between them.

Continue to align the sections as you fold the mountains.

At this point you must decide which kind of book you want.
You can leave it like this if you want to make it with wider covers.

Or you can make it with narrower covers.

I like how it looks displayed with the narrower covers, so I will proceed by folding those last panels as well. Note that this accordion now begins with mountain folds.

Measure and mark down along the first and last valley folds at two-inch intervals.

Align the ruler with the marks and make two long horizontal slits.

Choose a circle cutter or a punch, or you can cut out shapes freehand for the next part.
The holes need to be one inch or less in diameter.

I made a template so I could align the circles in the panels.
It has a drawing of the outline of the circle cutter itself for placement.

Cut out at panels 4 - 8 - 12
top and bottom rows

Cut out at panels 5 - 9 - 13
for the center row

Fold up top and bottom rows so they face right with the background showing behind them.
This means that for top and bottom, you fold back the panels that are after the holes.
For the center, you fold back the panels that are before the holes.
You could glue little pictures under the windows here.

With heavy gel medium or PVA, glue down the edges of the windows to the backgrounds.
Center row faces left. (Like a flag book.)

Getting ready to glue the cover boards into place.

Turn the book over. I've put heavy gel medium on the two end panels on the back.
The gel medium works well as an adhesive when the paper has been painted; the ink/paint makes the paper less absorbent and less likely to accept the PVA.

Pinch together the paper around the board for a few minutes, or put the ends under a heavy book or weight until it is dry.

As you can see, when it is closed, this version looks a little awkward as a book.

But it is proportioned nicely for a sculpture.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Star 82 Review Spring Issue 3.1 Is Live!

The ninth issue of Star 82 Review, the art and literary magazine I design, edit, and produce is now available online and in print. It is 66 pages and features the fogginess of relationships with one another and with the places where we find ourselves.

Online: http://star82review.com/3.1/contents.html
Print: https://www.createspace.com/5286736

This particular issue features artwork by three of my California College of the Arts colleagues: scratchboard art by Nance O'Banion; a rolling ball pen drawing by Tim Sharman; and a memorial tribute to painter Yee Jan Bao, in addition to some inspiring, smart, and heartfelt work by these wonderful new and returning contributors.

José Angel Araguz
Steven Babin
Yee Jan Bao
Micki Blenkush
Tommy Dean
J.J. Deur
Reannon Dykehouse
Karen George
Alisa Golden
Charles Hansmann
A.D. Hurley
Allan M. Jalon
Allison Jensen
Lee Kisling
Catherine B. Krause
Ethan Leonard
Chris Mink
Gary Moshimer
Logan Murphy
Abra Deering Norton
Nance O'Banion
Olivia Olson
Deonte Osayande
Xan L. Roberti
Tim Sharman
Louis Staeble
Heather Steinmann
Shelton Walsmith
Luke Warm Water
Chila Woychik
Yuxing Xia

This is a beautiful, full-color magazine.
Please help support it by buying a print copy!
For your convenience, Star 82 Review 3.1 is also available on Amazon.

Monday, March 9, 2015

What Brand Are You?

Many years ago, when I looked over all the art I had been doing, I thought I might want to show a portfolio to a local gallery. Actually, a painter friend had recommended the gallery to me, thinking the owner might like my work. I gathered tight watercolor paintings painted from photographs; looser, more expressionistic acrylic paintings on paper; some of my book art, prints, and drawings, and made an appointment with the gallery. 

As I carried the work up the flight of stairs just off of a street in an upscale shopping district, I examined the work on the walls. It was pretty, well-crafted, and in a variety of styles. I could fit in, here, I thought. The owner was with a friend or client, and I waited until the other visitor left before I introduced myself. I showed her my work, propping it up here and there, walking between the different stacks. Another visitor appeared, but the owner seemed to want me to wait, actually to talk to me about writing (this was before I had gotten my writing degree). She kept me about an hour. Finally, she asked, "In which direction are you headed?"

I paused. I looked at the paintings, drawings, the different forms. "Well, I'm trying to get a feel for what would fit here," I answered. She pressed me. "I could pursue any of these directions," I managed to say. I liked experimenting and exploring. Which did she like? She never answered my question.

On the wall was a huge photo of a textured wall, mounted to look like a painting. I knew it was a photo because I had advised the photographer on a book she wanted to make. The owner loved this piece and spoke glowingly of the artist. It was nice, I agreed.

She got a phone call. I packed up and left, wondering why she could not answer my question.

But I understand now. She wanted a brand. What WAS I? What would I reliably make? If someone liked it, could she count on more? She wanted a body of work. Each piece looking like the next. That was when I realized that being a gallery artist was probably not for me.

A style is different. I didn't realize that until a friend who was familiar with my print and book work looked at a small watercolor and said it was obvious I had done it. How? I was baffled. She said it just looked like my hand. If that is so, why should a gallery want only one medium? Because labels make people feel better, more secure. Which is not the kind of art I want to make.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Drive By Press at CCA

Plein air printing, anyone? The Printmaking Program at California College of the Arts hosted the folks from Drive By Press on Thursday, February 26, 2015 on the Oakland campus from 9am to 4pm. Kate Dedlow and Taylor McClure gave a slide lecture and showed relief and screen prints from printmakers from across the country. Their specialty is woodcut printing (a form of relief printing) and after a pizza lunch, they set up their etching press outside and printed on a t-shirt with the block of your choice using the oil-based textile ink they developed with Gamblin: Drive By Black.

Kate began the lively lecture by telling of her own influences in Los Angeles and New York, mentioning the Mexican woodcut artist Posada who had his works printed in newspapers, and the street artist Swoon, who printed onto paper and wheat-pasted her works to the walls, sometimes hand coloring them. She spoke about how woodcut street art can communicate to a larger community and "the power of the multiple" that can make art accessible. She also talked about the "impermanence of printmaking" as newspapers get thrown out, walls get painted and papered over. Another way to make printmaking accessible is the printing of t-shirts, which is what Drive By Press does. She listed a whirlwind of names that I could hardly scribble down correctly: Wolf Bat Studio; a print called"Apache Ice Cream Massacre"; Martin Mazorra and Cannonball Press; John Hancock; Evil Prints; Non Grata—a print and performance group. It was exciting to hear about these printmakers and their communities, their collaborations, their desire to communicate.

Taylor took over about halfway through; he's from Dallas, and met Kate about a week ago, which was surprising to learn, although they had corresponded for longer. Drive By Press was founded by Joseph Velasquez and Greg Nanney when they were in grad school at the University of Wisconsin at Madison about ten years ago as their thesis project. It has become a collective of artists, based in Texas/West Coast and New York, with a storefront just opened in Brooklyn in September called The Shop - Drive By Press - Fine Art Printing. Different printmakers operate under the Drive By Press name across the country, but basically all branches from the DBP Family Tree stem from connections to Joseph and Greg.

Taylor, who is from Dallas, was first captivated by Japanese Ukiyo-e prints (there's an exhibition of these at the Asian Art Museum in SF right now), which he colorfully described in his lecture as "Painting with knives almost—that's kind of badass." He went to Frogman's, a printmaking camp in South Dakota where he "sowed the seeds of community." Shortly thereafter, Drive By Press came to his college, and he met Joseph. Taylor had already begun participating in "teamwork to make the dream work" and realizing that printmaking was "greater than the sum of its parts." Joseph's visit added fuel to the creative fire. Another eye-opener for Taylor was Cannonball Press, who made a huge print that was "kind of like seeing pyramids for the first time," which inspired him to "Go Big or Go Home." 

Ultimately, he and friends were able to clear out a space that was part of a bar they frequented and create Meme Gallery (now closed), where undergrads could show art. After two years, he finished college, then contacted Joseph, telling him he was ready to go on the road, and he became a part of DBP, learning "how to make art on the fly…where it's not comfortable." He learned to adapt so he could make art anywhere, even in an excruciatingly hot summer driving in a car with no air conditioning.

He loves traveling and sharing his love of print, "like bees do with pollen" and coming in, doing the Drive By thing, and moving on like "a gorilla in the mist."

After Joseph and Greg graduated, they continued to tour, primarily to academic settings, and were eventually contacted by Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza, and various bands, including Spoon. Kate was part of the touring at one point, now she has a shop in Oakland on San Pablo Ave near The Compound Gallery, and she will be teaching a workshop at the San Francisco Center for the Book in May. All that travel, said Kate meant, "lots of motels and lots of Burger King." She concluded the talk with a slide "Sleep Is the Cousin of Death," and said she stays up late carving. She encouraged the students to work hard because it takes "dedication to get there."

Drive By Press parked on our campus between the photo building and Macky Hall, our admin building. They have a Facebook page where they've posted one of their own pictures of our shop from this day. The page says they are promoting "growth and democratization of art through printmaking." Yes! (Addendum: CCA Printmaking now has a Facebook page, too!)

So hard to choose!

There is a thick felt pad on the bed of the press. The t-shirt is placed faced up, the block, inked by Kate with that large black roller (in the picture between them in the background), is placed face down. Presssure is applied as the shirt rolls through. This was a leisurely day for them; they often do events such as rock concerts, where they have two presses going and they print as fast as they can. $20 for a t-shirt they provide / $10 for a t-shirt you provide.

CCA Printmaking Co-Chairs: Michelle Murillo and Thomas Wojak
in front of a huge print on canvas brought by Drive By Press.

(detail from top, left)

Taylor rolled the t-shirt up with newsprint where, we were told it could stay for about two days or "put it on the dashboard of your car in the sun." The little direction card says it needs to be hung up to dry for 48 hours. You can see more designs on their website. 
I unwrapped the shirt the next morning.

The sun began coming out as I unwrapped it…

Zoe always thinks everything is for her.