Friday, August 28, 2015

Where Do the Defunct Literary Magazines Go?

I was cleaning up my links on my list of literary publications page on my website when I clicked on Stone Highway Review and ended up with a website for air compressors. That couldn't be right. Maybe I typed it incorrectly? Nope. Still air compressors. Through a search in which I added "Duotrope" after the name, I found it was listed with a warning banner: "Do not submit here! This project is believed to be defunct."

If that magazine was gone, what happened to my story "Revolver Is," published in Issue 3.3, July 2014? What happened to everyone's stories and poems? And were they still published if the magazine is invisible?

Thanks to, the magazine remains. Our stories are still published, but it takes some searching to find them. When I typed "stone" into the Wayback Machine and poked around a little, I found the issue here. As I scanned the contents, I discovered I've published two of the contributors in *82 Review as well: Deonte Osayande (3.1) and Jess L. Bryant (2.2).

Yay, Brewster Kahle and his team! Kahle is the founder of Internet Archive, "a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, and more." Through the Archive, these otherwise ephemeral digital magazines and web pages are saved. Where do all the defunct literary  magazines go? Gone to Archive, every one.

This certainly raises questions about longevity and some things to continue thinking about:

  • How long do you want the work to last?
  • What is the best medium?
  • Why not paper?
  • If it is on paper do any libraries collect it/subscribe to it?
  • If you are putting in time and energy on a project, why not use archival materials?
If you can't find something on the web that was once there, it is very possible that has captured it and it is still alive in some form, after all.

A side note: Brewster Kahle's wife Mary Austin is one of the founders of the San Francisco Center for the Book.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Monotypes & Monoprints with Gelli Plates

In the early 2000s I made dozens of monotypes, maybe even hundreds. But eventually, the water-based Createx inks I was using changed or my method changed; in any case, something happened, the ink started sticking to the Plexi-glass plates and wouldn't come off, and I just couldn't get a good print anymore. So I stopped. I was sorry to let the process go.

My friend, artist Liz Maxwell, told me about printing from gelatin plates, and I rushed off to buy the 2002 book, Making Monotypes Using a Gelatin Plate: Printmaking Without a Press by Nancy Marculewicz that told how to do this. I read it several times, nodding, but as a vegetarian, could never get myself to buy a large quantity of gelatin to make the plate.

So I was ready when Gelli Plates arrived in the art-supply stores. They are pricey; I bought a small 3 x 5" plate for about $13.00. But they are reusable. I wanted to see how easy they were to use and to clean, and if they would yield a satisfactory creative process and final print.

Here are my first attempts. You get to see them as I experimented with this process for the first time.

You can use any water-soluble ink or paint
(but not dyes or stamp pads). Shown here are
a water-soluble block printing ink, a brayer, 
and a baren, for rubbing the back
(You can use the back of a spoon if you don't have a baren.)

Acrylic paints and brushes were what I ended up using.

Apply paint to the Gelli.

I cut out some letters from paper and pressed them on
the painted plate. 
Flipped them over so they would read correctly after printing.

Put a piece of Stonehenge paper on top of the plate 
(other printmaking papers work well, such as: 
Rives BFK, Arches Cover, and mulberry paper. 
I'm sure other papers would work, too.)
Press and rub gently with the baren.

Pulled the print (top)
Gelli plate with the letters still stuck on (bottom)
At this point, this would be called a monotype.
One plate, one print.
You could actually paint an entire scene with multiple colors and print from that.

The second print is the ghost.
The plate is nearly clean now.

I decided to add more color and more letters.
Painted the plate blue.

You can see that the lowercase n stuck to the plate (bottom).
Printed over the top print.
Now it is a monoprint.
Multiple plates, one print.
I'm not worrying about registration,
although it's pretty easy to center it
with this small paper (approx. 3 3/4" x 6").

Printed the ghost (center).
Plate is nearly clean again.
I decide to keep the residue on the plate 
as texture for my next print.

I painted over the residue,
added paper cutouts of fish and some threads.

First print and its plate.
Not printing a ghost this time.

Painted green, moved the fish cutouts.

It's off-register, but I'll keep going.

Painted over with dark blue, added the fish cutouts and threads again.

The layering is starting to look interesting.
Threads stuck to the plate.

I pulled off the threads. Here's a ghost from the plate.

I'll work with the ghost now.
Painted yellow and orange on the plate.
The plate still had blue residue on it.

The blue left around the threads created an interesting effect,
especially against the orange.

I need to add a focal point. (In this case, fish.)
Instead of using the cutout fish as masks,
I'll use the paper I cut them out of as stencils.
Painted blue on the plate where I think the fish will go.

Apply the stencils.

And…print. You can see the edges where I painted
but didn't cover the blue paint. 
Not sure how I feel about this, yet.
I'm going to wait and go back to my first fish print.

Cleaning the plate with water and a paper towel.
Apparently you can also use hand sanitizer or baby wipes.
If necessary, you can use warm water and soap.
Imagine taking acrylic paint tubes in your gallon ziploc 
and making prints on a long airplane trip.
But I digress.

My first print seems very dark. 
It needs a main focus.
A splash of red, perhaps?

Another fish stencil.

Print and plate.
Happy with this look, I'm going back to my second
fish print to add more red and another fish.

Choosing the red areas.

Placing the stencil.

Print and plate.

Two fish prints, quite different.
I'm hooked.

This is way too much fun.

I feel the urge to get a larger plate, maybe a 5 x 7," to use together with the 3 x 5". Some things to try: printing on museum board for book covers, and printing on thinner paper or book cloth used to wrap boards.

The book mentioned above, Making Monotypes Using a Gelatin Plate: Printmaking Without a Press, is a great resource for ideas. One thing you can do with gelatin that you cannot do with the Gelli is cut out shapes from the plate. The Gelli must be stored flat and the surface needs to stay smooth. But I see they've begun creating Gelli plates in shapes: currently they have rectangles, squares, and circles available.

Go Print!

Friday, August 21, 2015

And I Thought It Was A Feminist

I took a picture of this plant in April to illustrate my Reading Judy Chicago post. It seemed to be very "female-centered," and reminded me of her feminist work.

I walked by a couple days ago. It's August, four months later.

First I laughed out loud. It even has its own fire hydrant.

But looking at it another way, feminism can come in many forms, and does. I've known men, both gay and straight, who call themselves feminists. Why not?

Interesting that Taylor Swift said that feminism is important because "it's basically another word for equality." (reported in the New York Times 5/19/15) It shouldn't have to take until you are affected to realize what it's about.

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Mystery of Academia

Last year, I went into my local art supply store and bought paper on the school account for my class. "You're a professor?" asked the young man who rang up my purchases. "That's my goal, it's the dream, right?" I told him I was not a professor exactly; I was an adjunct professor, which meant that I didn't know from semester to semester if I would be rehired. "How long have you been there, teaching?" I told him ten years. He was surprised. At the time, I told him I was lucky, in a way, because in the past four year I've been assigned a class each semester. Now, it seems reasonable to expect I'll continue, but still hard to know for sure. I told him that my first job out of college was in an art supply store. "What you probably want is to be a tenured professor." Those are hard jobs to get.

Fall 2014, the non-ranked faculty (all of whom are non-tenured) at our school voted to join the union SEIU Local 1021, and we are negotiating a contract in the hopes that we can be compensated for our unpaid work and time (prep, meetings, extra events, panels, exhibitions, etc.), health care, and can be guaranteed job security, among other things. Is this so much to ask?

When I worked at the art supply store, and later at a bookstore, I could pay half and get health care. I got a 40% discount on things I needed and/or wanted. I knew my schedule, got regular reviews and raises, and knew I would be working there as long as I liked, pretty much. I had more job security then. But that was in the 1980s. 

Something has changed. Workers are not as valued: some are seen as interchangeable or disposable. Schedules are flung about. Human rights are not as important as profit. And many people can barely subsist on their pay. It's easy to ignore when it isn't you or someone you love. But it isn't right. 

I'm thinking now about the future generation of teachers. What happens when art students want to become professors? What will their working conditions be like? Social Justice is touted as a new cause. Let's see it in action.