As mentioned before, the inspiration for this piece was a documentary I watched on paper folding as well as participating in my grandson’s bedtime routine. What I did not mention in that post was my longtime fascination depicting people of different ethnic and racial groups together. This manifested itself with multicolored circles that represented faces; this was one of those personal symbols that showed up in my work off and on over time. So the various color papers used above are my current way of representing the tradition of bedtime routines throughout the many cultures of the world. It also struck me after this piece was put together that the people also resemble houses, another long time symbol in my work. Hmmmm….
I do not make book recommendations lightly. The first one of these gems I came across was when I was meandering through a book store killing time. I was struck by the title Show Your Work. Aside from the very bare bones but effective design, I liked the idea that it was not a “how to” book. I am not a fan of “how to” books because they often present themselves with the assumption that everyone is approaching a problem from the same situation, which is never the case.
These books can either function for the reader as a pep talk or a giant kick in the ass, depending on the reader’s frame of mind and immediate needs. They are extremely short (an average reader can probably complete any of the three in one evening) but I choose to savor them and only read a chapter or two a day. When I really enjoy a book, I want it to last awhile. They books are full of great quotes, fun and relevant artwork, and lots of common sense suggestions.
I had taken all three out of my local library but I have decided the information they contain will be useful at other points in my life and I will want to pick them up and page through them, if not read them again entirely. So I am purchasing all three books. For anyone who knows me and knows I am not a person who purchases things lightly, this is a testament for how essential I feel these books are for any practicing artist.
If you have ever had the experience of seeing a really old document, you may notice that the edges look kind of “raggy”. This is what is called a deckled edge. It is called that because the uneven edge of the paper is formed by the part of the paper mould called the deckle, which is the frame like structure in the photo above.
In my post on making the book Bedtime Story, I had mentioned using a beautiful handmade paper I purchase several years ago. The paper measures approximately 6″ x 8″ but I also needed a few pieces that were about 3″ x 6″. If I were to get out scissors or an Exacto knife, I could easily make a smaller piece of paper but it would like sort of odd with three deckled edges and one straight edge. So how do you go about getting a false decked edge? It is pretty simple but first a bit about paper.
The piece pictured above is western handmade paper. What that means is that the paper has very short fibers. If is also a relatively weak paper compared to Eastern style papers (often misnamed ‘rice’ paper) that are long fiber papers. So the technique I am about to describe works best with western style papers because the short fibers break apart easily when wet.
After measuring where you want the edge to be, you take a soft brush soaked with water and brush it along the ruler edge. If the paper is very thick (which was the case with this paper) you need to do this several times until the water soaks through. Then you pick up the paper and very slowly and carefully start to tear from top to bottom. The result is a false deckle that should serve your purpose.
In my last post I talked about a print that was not successful and asked for feedback. One comment I just absolutely loved from my friend Julie was she was struggling with what the girl was holding and thought is was a broken golf club. I busted out laughing and decided that will be the working title for this piece and any follow up efforts. Thanks Julie!
It is important that I share my work that does not come out as planned as well as the work I am happy with. Let’s face it, for every good piece of work, artists (I know this is true for myself) make a few crappy ones. Sometimes I just rework the same thing and other times I abandon the idea altogether or just put it on pause. Below is a print that did not come out the way I had planned and I will talk about how it came to be and why I think it basically is not so hot.
The original idea for this is pretty much as pictured, a girl sitting on a hill over a stream looking at a big starry sky. The other things this work originally was going to include were a full moon, then a crescent moon, and a cat. But for some reason, I removed the cat and made a different piece of work with a cat. But that is another story. So I decided the focus should be on the girl.
I also wanted to do a reduction linocut, which is a way to print in color. It has been a long time since I have made one and I wanted to see if I could still register my blocks properly. So what is wrong with this print? Basically, it is too dark. The one I photographed is a bit lighter but in the majority of them the ink is even darker than the one pictured. So I decided to add some hand coloring to see if that perked it up.
It did perk it up a bit but not enough to my liking. So now what? Basically, I love problems like this. I will probably make this piece again as a drawing but I may also cut it again and print it in lighter colors.
The point is this: failure is a great thing. Making art is problem solving. My thoughts are lighter colors but if this was your work, what would you change?
Not long ago after getting tired of sharpening my lino cutting tool every three seconds and still not having it sharp I decided “Enough!” I have been cutting with the same old tools for 30 years and had gotten used to their quirks so much that it never even occurred to me to look for something else. But it did on that wonderful day a week or two ago.
So I called up the wonderful people at McClain’s printmaking supplies and asked a bunch of questions, thought about the information over the weekend, then called back on Monday and placed my order. Today, packaged with great care, were my supplies, some samples of blocks, technical information print outs, and their beautiful catalogue. The catalogue is such a treat because it contains artwork submitted by printmakers from everywhere.
I have come to realize that dealing with specialty stores for something that is really important to you is really the only way to go. Great service and expert advice are priceless. And a bonus: going through he catalogue, I came across one of my linocuts reprinted!
Several months ago, I watched a wonderful video called Between the Folds which went into great and surprising detail on the art of paper folding, also known as origami. The video covers way beyond what we traditionally think of and even gets into how the art form is also being used by scientists to study complicated problems. So of course after the show was over, I got a piece of paper and started to fold it. The form that I liked the most is pictured below. It reminded me of a mother holding a baby.
I saw this video not long after visiting my grandson. One of the things I enjoy most about my visits is participating in his elaborate and nurturing bedtime routine. I started to think of lots of parents and their children and bedtime routines, remembering the one we had with our daughter. It quickly came to me that this was the making of a “bedtime story”. So I started to experiment with coloring papers and different types of papers thinking of a quilt like form to play with.
After deciding on the colors I would use and folding a number of the squares, I pieced things together as seen below.
While this may look nice, it was clearly not going to work. My overall idea was to have this structure fold up into one square that could be stored in a box, sort of like folding up a quilt and storing it and taking it out when you use it. The other problem was that I wanted to add stitching and it was very difficult to stitch in this form. So after wresting with this for several weeks, putting it away and taking it out to think about it some more, I decided it needed to come apart.
Maybe I am putting too much emphasis on the ‘quilt’ idea and not enough on the ‘story’ idea. Perhaps putting equal emphasis on both: the quilt and the story? I found some handmade paper I purchased a few years ago that spoke to me for no reason except that I knew they would be perfect for something someday. That day came today. So here is the current version of the Bedtime Story, though it is still far from finished. The smaller squares are not yet glued down so this is a layout pictured below. I will post the piece when it is finished. I am also documenting this via short (1 minute) videos on my Instagram account.