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November 07, 2008
Twitter broke my blog. Spending my days typing light little ditties of 140 characters or less has brought on a massive case of the lazy. I don't want to think, don't want to write. I just want to make my noise all day. In wee little blurbs, leaving pictures of rutabagas at the top of my blog for whole weeks. Can I even muster up the energy to craft one of my trademark ridiculously run-on sentences anymore? Dunno. Srsly. @somebody.
So: this week. Of course we spent Tuesday glued to the tee vee like the rest of the free world. Drinking beers, hoping, hoping, then rejoicing. The trouncing of South Dakota's proposed abortion ban is a victory for all who believe that women's health doesn't belong in derisive air quotes. My heart does hurt for all the people who had their constitutional rights stomped on by a bigoted majority (isn't the state supposed to protect people from this?), but I have hope. Bigots will all die off someday. And, Mormon church: go fuck yourself.
I've started a new routine of spending every weekday morning working in the studio even if I'm working on something that I could just as easily do at home. It probably goes without saying that I get a lot more work done when I can't check the blogs and the twitter and the facebook and the flickr and the e-mail and the goddamned games and the rest of it. Just in the last few days I finished up a pile of drum leaf journals and put them up in the shop and got a couple of copper plates ready to print. At home in the afternoons I've been working on some new drawings that I'm pretty excited about. I'll show you those tomorrow morning, maybe. We're well into the days where there's only a short window of opportunity for taking decently-lit photos in the house.
This morning I spent some time with a couple of other people fixing a broken press at the studio, and as a result pretty much the whole day the Judas Priest song "Breaking the Law" was stuck in my head, only with the words "fixing the PRESS fixing the PRESS fixing the PRESS". The mental juke box can be such a pain in the arse.
Tonight Peter told me that he'd rather listen to The Who than Judas Priest (for context: we hate The Who. And I like Judas Priest). It caused me to wonder how the two of us are even compatible. But then I pretended that my yoghurt was cum shots on my face and he responded by pretending to deep throat his banana, and I was reassured. We're clearly meant for each other. Cue romantic music and chirpy bird sounds.
I almost forgot. Here's your Soctober Surprise:
For anyone who knows me, the surprise is not that I failed to finish the Soctoberfest mystery socks. Y'all may have noticed I'm not a very good -alonger. I knit the cuffs and then decided to knit a bigger size, then took the yarn with me for Thanksgiving weekend family-visiting, but I somehow only brought three needles so I had to knit the cuffs flat and couldn't start the legs until I got back home. Ah, there's one of those excruciating sentences. Still got the touch. So the leg pattern in the sock wasn't very intuitive at first and I hate looking at charts and the Dream in Colour Smooshy yarn, while it's lovely and lives up to its name in comfy smooshiness, is a pain in the arse to cable-without-a-cable-needle, and then it all got set aside in favour of some work knitting I'm doing. Finally, the pattern clicked in my head and I was able to set aside the chart and just knit the thing just in time for October to end and for me to really have to focus on the work knitting now. So it goes on the half-socks pile for now. In the meantime, I've just been seized by an intense desire to rip out my nearly-finished Noro Kureyon knee sock and make the Ziggy socks instead. At the end of Soctoberfest. Don't even bring up Norovember, it's just not gonna happen.
Normally Little Miss Picky who can't send text messages because I'm all hung up on grammar and spelling and complete sentences, I'm not even going to proofread this. Going to watch some Trailer Park Boys instead. That's the way she goes, boys.
June 02, 2008
Peter and I spent the weekend completely rearranging the furniture in three of the four rooms on the main floor of our house (all but the kitchen, which doesn't really have furniture) in order to make the front room into my work space. The living room shifted around to accommodate some things from the dining room which in turn made way for the piano to vacate a space in the front room for my sewing table. It's been exciting and exhausting and the whole place is a mess, but we got rid of 80% of our books, our living room is charming and cozy and I have a space to sew and design and draw, with a big work table and lots of room. The dining room table is covered with piles of stuff we don't know what to do with, but as it's now warm enough to eat our meals on the porch, that's a small thing.
And this morning I brewed myself a big travel mug of tea, walked over to the Windsor Printmaker's Forum and set up all of my stuff in the little desk space I get with my studio rental, making it nice and homey (if y'all haven't noticed, homey and studio-ey are pretty much the same thing to me after all these years of working in my home/living in my studio):
I'm not quite ready to print yet, so I spent a few hours sitting at the desk polishing up a bunch of copper etching plates that I'd abandoned in progress over the last few years, allowing them to get grossly oxidized and covered in verdigris. But they're all shiny now and ready to be reworked.
While packing up my Athens studio to bring it all home I came across some rejected knit design sketches that, after not looking at them for a while and sort of forgetting what they look like, I still think are pretty cool. So I'm going to start working on a few of those in hopes of self publishing the patterns later on. I've also got a design in progress that I abandoned sometime last year that I'm going to try to finish up over the next month or so. In the midst of all this I need to somehow make some money (that first student loan repayment date creeps up fast) but I've certainly got a lot to keep me busy.
Sometime over the next couple of days I'll have a wee little pattern to share, just as soon as I get around to writing down what I did. It's a present for somebody that I haven't put in the mail yet, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't read this, so it'll be safe to show. Stay tuned!
May 26, 2008
I'm trying to get some space carved out in the front room to set up a work area for myself, since it seems all the bedrooms will be occupied next year and there's really no other space in the house for me to have a studio. It's slow going, and today I'll be shunting around the huge piles of books that Peter and I have decided to get rid of (and the smaller pile that we're keeping) in hopes that I can pull the last of the shelves out of there and bring in my work table. We pretty much have to get rid of 80% of the stuff we own in order to have a habitable house. It's hard work, agonizing and freeing at the same time, and is going to take a long, long time. But if I can just get the table in place to spread my work out on I'll be satisfied for now.
Coming home from the Printmaker's Forum the other day (I got my key! and as soon as they tell me where I can store my ink and stuff I can get down to work) I found a young bird flapping around in my hollyhocks trying (unsuccessfully) to fly. As I crouched down to take its picture
it got spooked and flapped and crawled its way up onto my shoulder, where it proceeded to work itself up into a panicked frenzy. Silly thing.
November 26, 2007
NOV 25 2007, woodblock print on Rives BFK, 24 x 24 inches
Left: sketch, dress #7 state 3, inkjet and drawing on Rives BFK, 22 x 30 inches
Right: sketch, dress #12 state 2, inkjet and drawing on Rives BFK, 22 x 30 inches
Sorry the last three images are so tiny; click on them to view larger in flickr.
September 29, 2007
i can't stop writing punk rock because i am stuck in a ghetto of folkies
Still here. The thesis weblog is sucking away most of my blogging energies these days, and the three-year mark of my writing here came and went without a whisper. Tonight's no different, I'm afraid: I printed for six hours today and then came home and cut and half-sewed five dresses, and I've got just about enough energy left to sit here on my arse watching a video while I turn four sets of spaghetti straps right-side-out.
I had studio visits with three of my four committee members this week, and it left me feeling pretty confident that I'm on the right track with the work that I'm doing. I have struggled a lot during my time at UGA with feeling like maybe I don't belong in grad school, like I'm too attached to craft to be taken seriously here, and I've taken some shit from a couple of people here about the way that I work (while I work constantly and make a lot of stuff, my work doesn't always resolve itself quickly, but rather grows and evolves out of itself almost while I'm not paying attention, absorbed in the doing of it). I'm realizing now that there's nothing wrong with the way I work, and that I do belong in grad school. And the path by which I'll leave here, degree in hand, and get back home where I really belong is pretty straight and clear before me now.
I've also had a couple of exciting exhibition and publication opportunities come my way in the last week or so, which I'll tell y'all about as they become more solid realities. And my thesis project was featured on Whipup.net last week, which has brought a lot of new people around the blog and generated a lot of great dialogue in the comments.
Here are some of the things I've been working on lately, with little comment and in no particular order:
Oh, look. I meant to just toss up a couple of pictures and I ended up sticking around chatting. I guess I miss this place.
September 03, 2007
Yesterday I printed another layer of woodcut over three of the skirts I've been wearing:
My goal is to make a change to each garment in between each wearing. The ink on these is already dry, so I'll be wearing one tomorrow.
I also printed up a small batch of shirts for the shop:
Tonight is my last night of dogsitting, so tomorrow I'll be back on the sewing machine and hope to make some progress on a few more new dresses. This week I'm also going to get the knitting machine set up and start working on the knit portion of my thesis project. Although the days are still hot, these last few mornings have been cooler, giving me hope that I may actually need the sweaters sometime soon (but not too soon).
August 09, 2007
what we've been working on this week
I needed to check out the undergrad litho shop since I'll be teaching a class in there starting next week, so I've been teaching Peter lithography! Here's his first print, finished today:
It's a four-colour reduction, printed in process colours (yellow, cyan, magenta, black), with a cyan tint base layer dropped on top of the whole thing at the end.
Here's a close-up of that beautiful water wash in the clouds:
The fact that he enjoyed doing this and wants to do more thrills me to pieces; I've been wanting to get him into the print shop for a long, long time. And I think he could soon be better at this than I am, because he actually cares about knowing what's happening in all of the chemical magicalness, whereas I am usually content to just toss stuff around and see what happens (ahem! I won't be teaching that way, though. Honest).
I've stayed away from lithography since coming to grad school, mostly because I don't like the press we have at Green Street. But forcing myself to bone up before plunging into teaching it next week has fired up my enthusiasm for this medium all over again, and I'm burning to get back on the litho press. I'm going to be that totally absorbed and crazy studio teacher who is always SO EXCITED about what she's teaching. I hope my students are going to be able to handle that.
April 03, 2007
on a less bitchy note
I had studio visits with two of my professors today, and one of them picked me this violet on his way in:
March 31, 2007
there must be some sort of balance between playing hard to get and coming on too strong, but i don't seem to have found it yet
I just had to show y'all this awesome thing I printed today. I burned this image onto a silkscreen way back in the fall and haven't been able to order t-shirts since. So I printed it on an overdyed bedsheet instead:
I made a bunch of small panels (only two of which are really usable, this thing is a bitch to register) for pillows, and one larger piece which will become the centre front panel of a knee-length skirt. Because "come over here and smell this" is apparently the sort of message I feel I need to have printed on the front of my skirt.
am i boring you?
I've been busy but for some reason haven't felt like I have anything to record here. I'm working on some new etching plates, and started printing one:
This is a detail of the plate: soft ground linework with tonnes of foul biting created by carrying the grounded plate around under my arm while walking Billie the dog, letting the soft ground get scuffed up and damaged by my hands. This has been etched once, and after I print it a few times I'll scrape out some areas and draw into them some more.
Here is the first print off the plate:
After the plate is reworked I'll print it again on top of this. I've also got another plate to layer in with this, plus two new shina woodblocks I ordered in the same size to layer underneath.
Some random annoyances:
I hate how flickr resizes images so that you can upload two photos that are the same size and the medium sizes are not the same. It makes my blog look all jinky. Also, I hate that the people at flickr have some sort of absurd bias against artists. While they seem to have stopped marking people's photostreams "private" if there are more artworks than photos in the stream, they have now come up with a "safe search" option that blocks images of people's art from coming up in searches. This is the default, by the way, so all you flickr users should go turn off the safe search so you can look at art. I'd love to know just what their problem is, when a lot of the people who post their art are paying for this service. Arseholes.
This morning my roommate got out of bed at 9:00 to ask me to please not make so much noise while I (quietly) washed my dishes in the kitchen. This is the same roommate who wakes me up every single night, slamming into the house between one and three a.m., banging pots, sending things crashing into the recycling box, stomping around with shoes on outside my bedroom door and watching t.v. with the volume cranked up louder than my semi-deaf relatives crank up the queen's address at xmas. It is to fucking laugh.
We had originally planned for Peter to be down here visiting me this week, but we pushed that visit back until next week so as to take advantage of the stat day next weekend. I'm so glad he's not here right now: it's pollen time, and the entire town is coated in a thick yellow dust. My eyes feel full of grit every time I bike anywhere, the piles of pollen-covered wormy-looking flower things rolling around in the streets get stirred up every time a car goes by, and the air is filled with the holiest of stenches. I hope it's settled down a bit by the time he gets here.
March 11, 2007
feast or famine
You can't shut me up all of a sudden.
Even though I have a lot of work I want to get done, since it's spring break I'm taking things a little easier than usual and only worked five hours in the studio today. I did three separate dyebaths each with both plain cotton fabric and pieces of old flowered bedsheets, orange, teal, green. Later this week I will print on some of them: I'm going to try to figure out how to silkscreen (and perhaps also block print) with dye, as well as just running some of the fabric through the press while I do my regular printing with oil-based inks. The fabrics that come out stiff will become pillows, the softer ones, clothes.
I also put together a few more books, and now have enough to last me until the end of the semester all stacked up waiting for their covers. Here's what some of the pages look like:
Some of these will be a lot easier to draw in than the book I chose to work in first. I'm going to be making my knitting notes in these as well, all part of my big project to fully integrate my art, my knit and design work, the things I make to wear and for my home, and my everyday life. I used to always carry a hand bound book around to write notes in and when I got bored with bookbinding I fell out of that habit.
unrelated: Billie (the dog I'm babysitting) and I found a path today that cuts straight through the woods from the engineering building (which is right next to my studio) all the way to the family and graduate housing. So when I move in there next year I won't even have to walk on the road at all to get to studio. Woo!
further unrelated: daylight savings time is a stupid idea. It takes days to recover from the shift, and I resent having my week off, in which I need to be extra productive, messed up just so that the American capitalist machine can make a buck off all the extra shopping people will do just because we all switched our clocks three weeks earlier than normal.
also: you know that feeling you get behind your eyes on hot summer days when the sun is high, high in the sky at that angle that makes everything black appear to be red when you stare at it? It's pretty unsettling to have that happen in March when you're used to it only happening in July. This twelve hundred miles closer to the equator is the thing that makes this place feel the least like home.
I suppose if my goal is for my art and my life to be one seamless whole then a regulated amount of kvetching about my life does, in fact, belong here in this journal. Gah. This is why I try not to make resolutions: you see how long they'd last. Mere hours. In fact, mere hours minus one, since I didn't remember to reset the clocks until four-thirty-feels-like-three-thirty in the afternoon. And why is it that as soon as I realized I'd lost an hour, I fell asleep? And when the clock says three-thirty and you change it to four-thirty, at what time is it then proper to have your tea?
March 10, 2007
the longer i stay away, the harder it is to come back and write here
the all about me stuff
I wanted this web page to be a creative journal and a place to record my work in progress and my thoughts around that work, but when people started reading it and leaving me nice comments and becoming my friends and stroking my tender ego, somehow it turned into just another self absorbed diaristic wank session. I don't want that, and so when I have a week as rotten and stressful and unproductive as last week was, I'm going to do my best to just avoid this place rather than fall into the bad old habit of wanky autolocution. So, forget last week like it never happened; I'm just going to pretend that the transition between Peter's visit and spring break was seamless. And this week will be productive, and I will have things to say.
I'm babysitting a dog this week for a faculty member, so even though I'm spending the entire spring break working in the studio (and writing an art history midterm paper) it feels like a holiday because I get to stay in someone else's place and shake up my routine. Oh, the wonderful sleeps I'm going to have with no roommates coming home in the middle of the night and waking me up with the slamming doors and clonky shoes! That alone is worth cleaning up a week's worth of doggy poop.
the studio stuff
One of my goals for this semester was to do away with all of the ugly, horrible prints that I started during my first year of grad school, when I was floundering around miserably and ruining everything I touched (I was really grateful for that project grant at the time, but looking back I realize that having a free thousand dollars worth of paper made me reckless with it, and I have an entire print drawer packed full of wasted paper). Today I cut up a large portion of those prints (slightly more than half) and started making small books out of them. I'm going to start carrying them around instead of the moleskine to draw in. I put together eight or nine books today and cut and folded paper for about a dozen more; none have covers yet but I brought one home with me anyway to start drawing in. Each book has twenty two-page spreads and I'm going to shoot for filling a book each week.
I forgot to take any pictures of the (almost) finished books, but here's the before shot:
In the morning I'll put up some scans of the three pages I drew tonight.
Tomorrow I'm going to dye a big pile of fabric that's later going to be printed and made into clothes. I'm also going to etch my big copper plate this week, and finish up a bunch of print editions that have been left hanging for a while (an edition a week has fallen by the wayside, but I'm going to be caught up and a little bit ahead by next week, which is another week off because we're leaving Wednesday morning for the Southern Graphics conference.
the wonderful friends I have
Mama E sent me this lovely gift in the mail, some merino (my favourite!) to spin and a bag to carry my knitting in (it's the one from her shop that I wanted, too, and she knew without asking that this was the one I would like best). Thanks, Erin! I'm torn between greedily spinning up this fibre right away and setting it aside until I get a little better, especially with plying. I'll probably end up going with option #1, because I'm not very good at being patient.
And look how beautifully Margene's colourway co-ordinates with that quilt that I (ahem) haven't worked in in a long, long time. Receiving this fibre actually inspired me to get the quilt out from under the pile of prints and do some sewing on it. I wish I hadn't decided to do this thing by hand (see above re: patience, and me not having any).
the knitty stuff
I have lots of knitty show and tell just as soon as either my life quiets down to where I can take some time off (and thus be home during daylight photography hours) or the sun starts coming up earlier so I can get some decent photos before my 8 am bike ride to studio. I've got a Wicked sweater that y'all probably didn't even know I was making that's been languishing on the nearly-finished pile (right on top of Forecast) for a couple of weeks. I've got a couple of other sweaters on the go as well, but of course we're already past wool sweater weather in Georgia, so those may get tossed aside for a while yet. I got a good chunk of the spring Interweave lace nightie completed during Peter's visit, and hope to be finished and wearing it by the time he comes again. I'm at the part where I have to do some math, though, since I don't really want the deeply plunging back that we don't get to see a photo of.
Here is something I think I can show you now:
Two spring designs I did for JCA Crafts; the one on the left is Artful Yarns Flora, the one on the right Artful Yarns Marine. (photos courtesy JCA Crafts)
February 26, 2007
a studio day in pictures
I don't really possess the self control required to leave the spinning wheel alone for a day and do my other work instead, so I've begun writing in my day book how many hours each day I need to work on my printing and drawing projects, and only the time left over is allowed to be spinning time. I think perhaps what I need to do instead is bring the wheel home so that it can cut into my knitting and internet time instead of my studio time. Since I ran out of Naruto episodes to watch (Peter is bringing me the final 20), I've been watching way too many Nine Inch Nails videos on YouTube instead (I tend to binge on music and other things the same way I binge on food: all I want to eat, every day, is edamame. All I listen to at studio right now is Sarah Harmer, all I listen to at the house is Nine Inch Nails. It's sad, really).
Last week's print is not quite finished because it's got more than one layer of intaglio, and I hate printing intaglio wet on wet. Since they're almost done, there will be no cake: Jessica is also only almost-done, having made eight pairs of small trace monotypes that she still wants to wax and sew together. The cake is only a treat if you have it rarely, and neither of us is all that fond of sweets, actually. So nearly-done is done enough for this week, as this exercise is only meant to boost our productivity, not boost our girth.
how to fix a boring image
I started with a digital printout of the same image I've been using a lot lately, a photo of the back side of an applique in which you can see the floral pattern of the original (bedsheet) fabric, a silkscreen image seeping through from the right side of the piece (that would be the circle pattern, printed in white) and meandering lines of stitching. The plate I printed on top of it isn't finished but I want to squeeze as many editions out of this batch of plates as possible (partly just because I can't afford more copper right now), so I went ahead with it. This is how it looked on Saturday night when I left it to dry: boring.
On Sunday morning I began by doing a bit of drawing on the prints: I'd gotten into the habit of putting down the same pattern of linework in sumi ink every time I draw on prints, and this is really the first time I realized that I can use other materials, things I more often use in my drawings. So I started by rubbing some graphite into the open rectangles inside the form:
Then I rubbed iron oxide powder into the space around the form to give it a bit of depth:
Finally, I threw the paper in water to soak (an excuse to spin on the wheel for forty minutes!) and printed another copper plate on top, this one with a portion of the Mariah sleeve cable chart etched into it:
This is the stage at which they had to be left alone to dry. Next I think I'll rub in some gesso, then I don't know. Probably print a few more times.
like a record, baby
I also did some plying, some of it pretty and some not.
I started by plying some of the orange merino and red mohair together, but it just wasn't coming together as well as I'd hoped. About halfway through I realized that if I wasn't happy with the yarn there was no rule stating that I had to continue to ply it thus, so I stopped. And because monogamy is for boring people, I'm plying them with each other, with themselves and with other things as well. Here is the orange merino in a straight up two-ply:
I had about 20 yards of singles left over from this, so I plied that up with the nearest thing on hand, some olive green recycled cotton that was sitting on the desk waiting to be turned into litho rags. I think it's sort of ugly, but according to my flickr buddies that's an unpopular opinion. I don't know; I'm just glad I only have 20 yards of it.
And now, I fear if I don't leave the house this very instant I shall be late to teach my class. I hate Fridays. Oh, wait, this is Monday. Well, I hate Mondays then. Wait, but Peter's coming today! I love Mondays!
February 22, 2007
This is a long-term drawing project that will include a performance element later on: I'm writing out, stitch by stitch, my first published knitting pattern on a roll of kitakata paper. This piece is a prototype (it was one of those swatches that is actually the beginning of a sleeve, but in this case it stopped at just the swatch stage); I cut it off the roll to start again because I want to make some changes, making the writing smaller, adding commas between the words, and changing the wording a little so it flows more smoothly. What you see here is about the first eighteen rows of a sleeve. Why, yes, I am a little crazy, why do you ask?
This cut-off piece won't go to waste; I may draw or print on it, but likely it will end up cut into strips and worked into my spinning project.
While I draw (write) this piece I place a sheet of rag paper beneath the kitakata in order to collect the marks that seep through the paper as my hand pauses or presses harder with the marker. So far I've got four such sheets, and have begun drawings on two of them:
The vertical rows of freckle-like dots are the marks that come through from the Mariah drawing. On top of that is graphite, iron oxide powder and tea wash. These have a long way to go yet, I just wanted y'all to see them because I haven't made drawings in so long, I'm a little excited. These are mostly to help me think about a series of copper etchings I'm working on that will include these dress-pattern shapes, cable charts, fragments of knitted cloth and more written-out pattern instructions.
I also made this today, with some madder-dyed merino top roving I found languishing, forgotten along with a big bag of "Texas mohair", in the bottom of my drop-spindling basket:
The orange is the madder colour the roving had when I bought it, and the other colours are some Kool-Aid I threw on: cherry, grape and ice blue raspberry. And now I know that even the butt-ugliest roving can still make pretty yarn.
Okay, I need some advice/reassurance on this. I spun this fairly thin, just to see if I could do a nice consistently thin thread (practicing for my first spinning commission: a colleague needs 300 yards of singles to sew a handmade paper wall installation together with for her MFA exit show next month). When the bobbin was more than half full I remembered something Sandy and Mouse told me, that I would only have to switch the gears with the drive band thingy if I needed to make a thinner yarn. I don't understand this ratio thing at all (if anybody wants to try explaining it to me, please be kind and dumb it down as much as possible), but is my yarn going to be crappy because I spun too thin on the wrong gear? Is the twist going to be all wrong, and will it all end in tears? I spent a lot of time nurturing this wool today, and it's grown up so strong and pretty, that I'm afraid I won't handle it well if it turns out to have some sort of fatal flaw. But, is this ratio thing all that big a deal? It's not like the drop spindle is all that precise. Not that I've ever managed to make a thread so lovely on the spindle, mind you.
February 17, 2007
spinning no jutsu!
So, Mouse and Sandy came up for the afternoon and got me all set up to spin on my loaner wheel, and after some frustration with the number of moving parts and doo-dads that have to be strapped and tightened and how to get the treadles to make the wheel go in the direction I wanted, I rocked that thing, if not like an old pro then at least like some kind of would-be prodigy with an inflated ego. I was even able to throw gang signs without missing a beat, and nobody could defeat my top secret whirlwind ninja technique!
Now. How will I get any of my other work done with a spinning wheel in my studio?
January 23, 2007
week one editions
These were finished up on Sunday afternoon; I don't really have much to say about them right now, but I'm messing around with imagery ideas for a book I'll begin working on soon, and using the editioning challenge as an opportunity to try out some of those ideas. By necessity, many of the prints for this challenge will be small, in order that the constant need to make editions not overshadow my other work (which is all larger and more labour-intensive). These two prints are approximately six by nine inches.
And, psst. . . the spring Interweave preview is up. You can't see my project (or some of the others) very well, but it looks like a good issue overall. First in the queue, I think, will be Eunny's socks, because only Eunny can make frumpy old entrelac look so freaking HOT.
January 11, 2007
an edition a week
CONTRACT No. 00000000001
AGREEMENT BETWEEN JODI LEE GREEN and JESSICA ANN MILLS
THIS AGREEMENT, made on the 11th day of January 2007 between Jodi Lee Green [hereafter referred to as “Affiliate #1”] and Jessica Ann Mills [hereafter referred to as “Affiliate #2”] covers the period from January 11th, 2007 to May 7th, 2007 [hereafter referred to as “Spring Semester 2007”].
WHEREAS Affiliate #1 and Affiliate #2 agree to complete one edition of prints each calendar week for the duration of Spring Semester 2007.
WHEREAS each calendar week is defined for the purposes of this agreement as beginning on Monday and concluding on Sunday.
WHEREAS the first calendar week for the purposes of this agreement begins on January 15th 2007.
WHEREAS the week of March 19th to March 26th is not to be considered a “week” for the terms of this agreement due to expected attendance of Affiliate #1 and Affiliate #2 at Southern Graphics Council 2007 Conference [hereafter referred to as “SGC”].
WHEREAS Affiliates #1 and #2 agree, in lieu of completing one edition between March 19th and March 26th, to take part in Open Portfolio at SGC and to otherwise avail themselves of any and all marketing and networking opportunities offered therewithin.
WHEREAS “edition” is defined for the purposes of this document as consisting of no fewer than five  prints of any acceptable print medium.
WHEREAS “print” is defined for the purposes of this document as being a reproducible work on paper of any size.
WHEREAS “acceptable print media” include intaglio, lithography, relief, digital output printing, silkscreen, trace monotype, xerography and collagraph. Drawing will be accepted for the purposes of this agreement if used in combination with any one or more of the above media and every attempt is made to maintain consistency throughout the edition.
WHEREAS if either Affiliate fails to meet the terms of this agreement for any given week that person will be mocked mercilessly and be forced to listen to the other Affiliate’s music without complaint for the calendar week immediately following the transgression being punished, and further must purchase for the other Affiliate one  slice of Vegan Chocolate Death Cake [hereafter referred to as “the Cake”] or a suitable substitute if the Cake is not available that week. Acceptable Substitutes will be agreed to by the parties concerned at the time of the payment. If the Affiliate receiving the Cake prefers to have pudding instead even if the Cake is available this is at the discretion of said Affiliate.
Signed on this day, the 11th day of January 2007, in the presence of witnesses.
January 07, 2007
brought to you by the letter "p"
projects. promises. and a little procrastination.
Yesterday we spent the better part of the day cleaning out the undergraduate printmaking studio to prepare for the new term; I had thought it was going to rain all day so I accepted my colleague's offer of a ride, and it turned out to be sunny and 70 degrees, perfect for bike riding. Today it's rainy and cold, so instead of going in to the studio as I'd planned, to write and print out a syllabus for the course I'm teaching, I'm staying in the house. So, have I been responsible and written my syllabus already? Yeah, right. I slept off a migraine all morning, now I'm going to knit and watch some Naruto.
I have decided to make a resolution, of sorts, after all. As I was saying earlier, this is the semester when I could really allow myself to slack off if I'm not careful. But instead it should be the semester in which I experiment and play and just make prints like crazy. So Jessica and I are going to sign a contract with each other, to complete an edition of prints (minimum edition size: 5) every week, starting next week and ending when the semester ends. This means we'll each have about seventeen editions of prints by the middle of May, although we'll probably give ourselves the week off when we go to SGC, so let's say sixteen. I think this should be doable, especially considering the way I work, reusing the same woodblocks and layering the same elements in new combinations. I'm also going to re-establish my relationship with my old boyfriend, lithography, and he's an instant gratification kind of guy, quick and dirty. I've been bad lately for finishing up one print for critique and leaving the rest of the edition to finish later (which means never), and this might break me of that habit.
The other old love I'm going to be rekindling is etching. I've got two shiny new 24 x 36 inch copper plates waiting for me in the studio and I'm pretty excited; I've never really done a lot of copper etching before, only zinc. If I'm going to slack off and watch anime rather than prepare my syllabus then I should at least put the sweater down and knit something that I can soft ground transfer onto a plate instead. I think I can handle that even with the extra laziness brought on by the rain and my aching head.
Here's the last finished piece for 2006, my grandma's birthday scarf (yes, the one I was supposed to have finished for her birthday at the end of July):
It's about 3/4 of a skein of Misti Alpaca, and the pattern is a chevron lace (from our old friend Barbara Walker) in the end panels and something art deco-ish that I made up as I went along in the centre panel. I've been meaning to write up the pattern and post it here since xmas, but didn't want to take time out from my precious schedule of doing nothing all day with Peter by my side; now that I'm back at school, I'll try to get it done before the reading for my art history class gets too heavy.
I've all but finished Forecast, she's just waiting for buttons before she's unveiled. I'm itching for a photo shoot so if I can't get buttons soon I'll safety pin her up and show her to y'all anyway. I only had enough yarn for 3/4 sleeves, so I'm hoping it doesn't look funny; there's a chance there may be one more ball stuck in the yarn lockers somewhere but if so, it hasn't turned up yet (yes, I keep my yarn in lockers. Not full size school lockers, more the size of the ones at the bus station. They look more like school lockers though. Garbage-picked furniture is THE BEST).
After Forecast was off the needles, the night before I flew back to Athens I cast on for a new cardigan of my own design:
Of course, I foolishly believed that not only would I finish Forecast, finish my grandma's scarf and knit a pair of socks for Claire over the break, I also thought I would not only start this sweater but get so much work done on it that I felt the need to bring all the yarn for it home with me. I really ought to know by now, don't you think? I cast on for this the night before I left home, and all I really needed was one ball to get me through the airport (the ribbing) and knitting on the plane (one full repeat of the pattern, or one zig and one zag). Ah well. I didn't even open up the roll of Japanese paper I so carefully toted home on the plane, thinking I'd just start a 30 foot drawing in my free time over the break. Hah. Peter pretty much ordered me to list all of the projects I think I'll get done over the summer break and then only bring half of that home with me; I'm thinking a quarter might be more appropriate.
So, you want specs on the new sweater? It's Jo Sharp dk wool, wool that I bought so long ago I'd forgotten I had it so when it fell out of a locker one day it was like magic! The wobbly lace-and-cable stitch is one I've wanted to do for a long time: I had an awful, ugly, droopy cotton, frumpy, boxy pullover in this stitch (oh, and it was baby-poo beige, too, and long enough to cover my arse and then pull in at the hem so the belly bouffed out like a big ball; sex-ay!) that I wore anyway because I loved the pattern so much. I recently got paid for a design project and right away ordered Barbara Walker's stitch anthology #2 (having decided to pick up one more every time I get paid for a sweater until I have them all) and, lo and behold, this stitch was in it! And I was so excited!! The book showed up on the doorstep about 30 minutes before I left town to go home for the holiday and as I was flipping through it I squealed out loud, scribbled the pattern down in my pocket notebook and crammed the Jo Sharp yarn and some needles into my already overstuffed suitcase. I was nearly peeing my pants with excitement, let me tell ya: I can finally have this stitch I love in a sweater that doesn't make me look like some matronly refugee from a Wham video.
This will be a fitted little cardigan, with 3/4 sleeves, nice deep ribbing all around and a ribbed foldover collar. And big buttons to offset a wide ribbed button band. Some may say that lace in wool is a tad impractical, but I think for the south it will be perfect, especially during those months when they air-condition every building to such frigid temperatures that when you walk inside your teeth and skull ache and when you walk outside the heat hits you like a brick wall hits a crash test dummy and the sweat practically flies from your pores like great watery ribbons. Oh yeah, this sweater will be perfect for indoors on those days. When I get back home to a more reasonable climate, it'll be perfect for those late August evenings when you desperately want to keep eating supper out on the porch even though it's not really quite warm enough once the sun gets behind the tree. Not that I'll be sitting on my own porch in late August again until, oh, 2008. Sigh. But when August 2008 comes, baby, I'll be dressed for it.
November 10, 2006
nothing but pretty pictures
November 07, 2006
5 hours: 68 prints today. I might have printed more if we had another one of these racks, but I pretty much filled this one (the last print had to be hung up in my studio to dry; no room!).
Working intuitively rather than pre-planning prints makes for self-doubt at every step of the process, and I'm not as excited about most of these prints right now as I was when I put the last layer on them. In general I'm not really feeling as confident in this work as I was, oh, say last week. It's not due to a bad critique or anything anyone said or did, or even the fact that my review is a week and a half away, just that pendulum that constantly swings between raging ego and crushing self-doubt, picking up speed in the other direction again. I'll be okay, I just need to crank out this work and move forward on some of the large, labour-intensive projects I'm in the middle of. And fast.
November 05, 2006
chipping away at the flesh
November 03, 2006
with aching hands
November 01, 2006
I've decided to participate in NaBloGAH!Mo this November. You know, that thing where you try desperately to keep up with reading the weblogs of all of your friends who are crazy fool enough to be composing blog fodder every single day for the entire month. And, you know, resist the temptation to skim it all, and actually read, all the while cheering on those other friends who are writing novels (y'all are nuts).
I'm not sure who I'm trying to kid. My continuance examination is scheduled for the 20th; I'm not too stressed about how it's going to go, but here's a list of what I need to have finished for it:
* finish this dress
* make a second dress of woodblock and letterpress printed Japanese paper; so far I've only done the woodblock printing, and the paper will have to be folded and refolded to print a small section of text over a large surface (I'll be printing the text both in iron oxide powder and transparent ink). Then after that it needs to be cut and sewn into a dress.
* a bunch of pillows (I'm shooting for six), appliqued, woodblock printed and embroidered. I'm working on the applique now and it's going fairly quickly.
* more prints. I don't know how many, six maybe? eight? These all have several layers printed already and just need to be resolved somehow.
* a new wall installation similar to the one I exhibited last week, only different. I'll reuse some of the components and make some new stuff.
* a small grouping (six or eight) of these drawings. I don't want to spend too much effort on these because while they're quick and easy I'm tiring of them; I really like them aesthetically but conceptually they're pretty one-dimensional, and I'm sort of over them already.
Can that really be all? It's so much work, and yet it all fits so neatly into six little bullet points. Those of you who knew me two years ago know just how crazy I am, and also how much I can pull off. So, let's wait and see. At any rate, reading will be a rare luxury for the next few weeks, so if you love me, post a few pictures I can skim to, eh?
My last knit design job for this fall has been delivered, and once I've finished up the math for the sizes I've got nothing new on the horizon; I haven't been submitting designs because I have to get through this hump of studio work first. Next semester will be much easier in the studio, and so I likely will have the time for knitting work. But I can't spare the time to put submissions together right now, so I can't see myself lining up any new work in the next little while. These two jobs are tough to balance because they both use the same mental skills and the same muscle groups, so when I burn out creatively from one, or give myself hand cramps with one, it's impossible to just take a break and turn to the other for a while. So. I have a few things coming out in the spring and then, I don't know. Perhaps I'll take a break, perhaps I'll start work on some things to self-publish (looser deadline, there) or perhaps I'll spend the entire Americanthanksgiving weekend swatching new designs and line up some new work. But don't all hold your breath, just in case.
While Peter was here over the weekend I indulged in a little bit of non-deadline knitting; I finished a pair of socks for myself and a matching pair for a friend, but can't show them off until my friend's socks have been received (so as not to spoil any surprises). I started a new pair as well and am 2/3 through the first, thanks to my three-times-weekly bus ride across campus to teach my class. At the rate I'm going perhaps I can wear them to my review on the 20th, if the applique-ing doesn't chew all of the skin off my fingertips first.
October 22, 2006
better than the Boomerang at La Ronde
This month has been crazy. I'm getting a lot of work done, and it's work I'm excited about, but everything else seems to be just on the verge of falling apart. This is that point in the semester where I get sick to death of everything I'm doing and just want it to end so I can start fresh, a cycle I'll have to break myself of when I'm no longer in school (incidentally, Peter recently informed me that thus far I have spent 24 of my 34 years in school, including this year. I'm really looking forward to being finished with school forever).
Here is the piece I worked all day Friday and a few hours on Saturday installing for this week's exhibition:
It's not at all what I intended but I think I'm happy with it. You can see a few more images at my flickr page, and I'll put up some more after the reception on Tuesday. Here's a detail of the birds flying home:
I'm feeling desperate to go home, and little things keep adding to that desperation. Things like the temperature going back up to 85 just when I think it might finally be fall, running out of money on the first of the month (a record for me, I think) and my colleagues not knowing who the Group of Seven are. But Peter will be here for a visit in three days, and I know winter break's not that far off. And then, this will be half over.
October 16, 2006
Yesterday morning was spent entertaining a charming crowd of firefighters and campus police, who happily joined with Nara and I (the only crazies who come in and work at 8:30 on a Sunday morning) in a rousing game of "what's that burning smell?"; had I known they would all be so much fun and stay until lunchtime I would have ordered pizza or something. Tab the electrician was also called in, and despite having been to our building five days last week and now Sunday morning as well, turned down my offer to set up a nice cozy cot for him in the hall. Go figure.
As blogging hasn't been in the top of my mind of late, I didn't think to get the camera out until after they were gone. But let me tell you: I've never been the sort of girl to get all wet and bothered over a man or woman in uniform (except maybe a hockey school uniform), but hell some of those people were hot! You'll just have to imagine it instead. And imagine jackets coming off, releasing the acrid scent of the last fire as they fall to the floor; little slivers of hot firefighter and cop belly showing as they stand on a ladder with their heads in the ceiling, turning 360 degrees while sniffing to see what direction the burning was coming from. I must say I was not as impressed by this technology as I was with the heat seeking camera.
At any rate, they finally left and then I spent the afternoon putting the first applique layer on this quilt:
September 26, 2006
MAPC made me want to get back in the studio and print like a machine, all day long.
September 13, 2006
Woodcut on dyed cotton. I also printed some of these on lighter shades of blue cotton to use as the base for some appliqued quilts, but I think I'll just put a backing and a little rolled hem on this one and call it done. Maybe I'll quilt it just a little bit.
September 09, 2006
you'll never guess what I did today
More printing, of course. I'm a machine. But first, here's a new woodblock I started cutting this afternoon:
It's not at all what I meant to cut when I started, but I think it'll be fun and a bit of a departure from what I have been doing. I used to work a lot with nonrepresentational forms (although they always stood in for the body and often read as body parts), and while bringing the figure into my work was a big breakthrough and really necessary at the time, I need to get away from it for a while; this last year I've felt like the figure was just bogging me down. And as these prints are all "sketches" for bigger projects, I can be free to play a bit with decorative forms and not worry so much about meaning, because I know that the works are conceptually linked to my larger body of work even if it's not apparent in each and every print. That's something I'd lost sight of, and I'm happy for the time being to just make prints that I like, knowing that some of the things that come out of these prints will wind up as larger, print-based installations later on.
So, I had planned to cut out a few of these circle shapes in order to float them randomly over the stencil prints, but something else happened. I'll still do those others, maybe tomorrow. But I think this will make a good print on its own, with colour reduction. It's hard to see, but there are tiny hatch marks inside the thick concentric lines; they will look like these shapes that I was drawing in my sketchbook all the time last year. I'm hoping these shapes, when combined with the map/self portrait images, will read as targets and as topographical map lines, and also as tree rings: things that mark a place, or a treasure, or the passing of time. Right now on this block I think they just look like frying pan bottoms, though. Heh.
Today I made stencils for eight different images 15cm/6" by 22.5cm/9" and printed a whole bunch of those (forcing myself to work even smaller!). Then I made a few more (very few; I'm perilously close to being out of paper, and somehow that always seems to coincide with being out of money for more) larger prints
I also have to confess that I broke down and did a bit of printing on top of older prints, but only a few at a time. It's liberating to work only on new paper for a change but I feel I need to keep cycling through some of the hundreds of half-finished prints as well, just to get them out of my "in progress" drawer. Here's one from the other day, with part of the self portrait block printed in creamy white, upside down on top of an older print of the same block in orange.
I'm going to try really hard not to go overboard with these. But it just comes so naturally to me.
If you're only here for the knitting and have somehow read this far in hopes of getting some satisfaction, don't despair! I have been flinging the sticks a wee bit in amongst all of this other work, and will try to post pictures tomorrow. I've been working on the lovely Alice/Bridie, still convinced that this sweater might change my life if only I can get it finished, and also started two (TWO! that's how much I love it!) of Stefanie's latest design. Alas, fall sweaters for me will have to move over a bit to make room for next spring's knitting, as the yarn for my next design contract has arrived.
September 07, 2006
just a few more. . .
Transparent cream-coloured ink on cream-coloured kitakata paper. I'll keep all the layers transparent on these ones; some of these will wind up being cut up and sewn into garments later. And I swear I'm almost finished with printing these same images over and over! Just a few more sheets of kitakata and then some smaller prints, and I'll finally be ready to alter the blocks and move on.
I love the way the paper looked on the block as I was printing:
The block is stained orange from a previous printing, and the paper is so transparent that you can see the entire image through it. I wish I could make some of the prints look like this.
Tomorrow will be a day off (other than going in during the afternoon to teach my drawing class). I'll do some laundry and some pattern writing, both long overdue. And some knitting: perhaps I'll finish a few things, perhaps I'll start a few. I've been working a bit on Bridie, so maybe I'll just sit down and spend some time with her for a while. We'll see.
September 05, 2006
some stuff in progress.
I can't type, I can't use the mouse. I've printed all but one day for the last week, I'm exhausted, my forearms are killing me and I've dug out the tensor bandage. I skipped out on something tonight that I really should have attended, saying that I would plead too tired if asked why I wasn't there. Riding home I realized that I really WAS too tired, and felt like I could barely hold myself upright on the bike with my sad, aching arms by the time I reached the house; that's my penance for being such a slack ass, I suppose. Here are some things not yet finished, more of the same and something different; I've posted tonnes more on my flickr photostream. Enjoy.
Tomorrow: no printing.
September 03, 2006
a full day of printing
I'm still working on first press runs on more new prints from the same two woodblocks; just a few more full days in the print shop and I'll be ready to start cutting more wood out of the blocks; each of the prints below will need one more run to fill up the other side, and then I've got about thirty sheets of kitakata to print as well.
First I made 15 of these. It's basically the same as the prints I showed you two days ago, except that two days ago I was showing you two separate prints that I photoshopped together. When I looked at them on screen I really liked the way they looked together and made my decisions about how to orient the images based on how they looked next to each other, even though I was only putting them together like that for the blog. Then when Peter saw the image he said that would make a good finished print on its own; since this was exactly in line with my own feelings about how these two images worked together, I went with it. When the beige is dry I'll put the blue on the other side, then pull out some to leave as a finished edition and continue printing on the rest.
Since this was working out so well I thought I'd try the same thing with last week's green and yellow prints:
I made 15 of these also. Unfortunately, none can be left as is because there is some nasty crap all through my yellow that I will have to cover up with more printing. I couldn't figure out where it was coming from but it looked like gray-blue dots spread randomly through the ink. I checked my tools and my stencil and thoroughly cleaned my block twice and still it kept coming up. I have a theory about what it is but I only thought of it later: when I was mixing the yellow there was a little bit of something blue-ish on top of the white ink. I assumed that some slob had left blue ink in the white and didn't worry about it, knowing that there was hardly any and it would mix into my colour and disappear. But I think it may be cobalt drier that some slob left in the white ink, and because it was on top it was too dry to mix in properly so it distributed itself in little chunks (I've seen drier do that before). Arrgh. So listen, assholes, clean your fucking utensils so you don't wreck other people's work. (I suppose I should have cleaned up the ink and mixed some new, but I'm stubborn, and also the ink looked totally clean, so I didn't think the problem was in there).
Still, by the end of the day I had a pretty satisfying sight in front of me:
A drying rack filled with new prints, all neatly stacked. Yeah!
I also ran a huge amount of cotton linters through the hollander beater, enough to fill three totes and a bucket. They're all crammed into my studio right now, so I may make paper tomorrow instead of printing. Depends which shop is less filled with pesky undergrads*, I guess.
*they're not really pesky, and they certainly have every right to be there. I'm just territorial, and a bitch.
September 01, 2006
tidied up my point of view
If you can guess what song today's title comes from (no cheating!) I will tell you a story about what that stupid song means to me: it has to do with high school mornings and a sense of urgency. And because I can't ever just tell a story without tangents, it also has to do with the fearful possibility of WWII-style air-raids, factory workers, hurried meals and a very famous dog.
But for now I'd rather tell you about how my new regimen is going. Today is day three: so far, so good.
As I mentioned the other day, I have slacked in my studio work so far this fall. I'm doing independant studio work instead of taking classes, so I should have long stretches of unbroken studio time. But the class I teach is from 1:25 to 3:20 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon, and since I'm a daytime worker this cuts a vast swath across the middle of what would otherwise be my most productive days (Tuesdays and Thursdays there are two simultaneous undergrad book arts classes going on at Green St, and I've never worked very well with a bunch of people in my way, preferring the studio to myself so I can spread out my work and centre myself and think clearly). I also like to do a lot of printing at once, spending eight to ten hours in the shop at a time. Clearly this isn't going to happen this semester, so I've had to adjust my routine somewhat.
I am very good at setting goals for myself and not so good at sticking to them; we'll see what a long weekend will do to shake up the new routine. So far I've done pretty well: Wednesday morning I made about forty prints before taking the bus up to Lamar Dodd to teach my drawing class (this bus ride will provide me with two little ten-minute sock knitting sessions three times a week, which seems a small thing but contributes greatly to maintaining my sanity). On returning to the studio after class I was a little less productive, but we're taking baby steps here, right? Thursday I again got up early, did yoga and was in the studio by nine. I worked through the morning ignoring the letterpress students as best I could (did I mention what a territorial princess I am? If not, you've probably figured it out on your own), and ended up with a first press run on twenty-six of each of these two new prints (the separate colours are separate images):
They look pretty funny right now, I know, but there will be several reductions in the wood block, plus a second block and some collage elements. Possibly also some drawing. I've been feeling like I'm getting away from printmaking a little too much lately, with all of these grandiose textile projects and little embroidered drawings and printed paper sewn into garments and crazy print-based installation ideas. I need to get back to the basics of what it is I do, and I need to be continuously working out all of these ideas in the small scale, in print. So my goal here is twofold: I want to spend some time concentrating on pure printmaking again and produce a new body of printmakerly work, at the same time using these prints as sketches for my larger mixed media projects.
And because I can't just make one radical change at a time, I'm also forcing myself out of my security circle: first of all, I'm only printing these images on brand new paper. This is something I rarely do, preferring to build complex images over time, printing on top of the mistakes that came before and creating a dense web of imagery that's nearly impossible for a viewer to penetrate. Yes, I still have hundreds of sheets of printed paper in my drawer and I will still use it, I'm just going to take a break from it for a while (although I am going to do some cutting and pasting in these new prints with pieces of the old ones, I want to let go of the baggage that's attached to that old work. Especially since I'm still using old woodblocks). I am also forcing myself to leave a lot of white space, something I fear although I'm not sure why. I am forcing myself to work in editions again, and to work small. These prints I've made this week are fifteen by twenty inches, smaller than I've worked for a very long time.
Today I spent my before-teaching time dyeing some fabric for a quilt piece I'm working on,
tearing down a roll of kitakata paper to be printed this weekend, soaking and flattening out the twelve sheets of BFK I found in my studio that have been rolled up for months, tearing up and soaking cotton linters for a batch of handmade paper, and generally puttering around getting things ready for next week's work. As tomorrow is the first home football game of the season, I'm taking a day off, avoiding campus (there's some sort of new rule against tailgate parties starting before seven a.m., and any place where a rule like that needs to be enforced is not a place I'm biking through to get to my studio, thanks). Tonight I have some pattern writing to do, and then my day tomorrow will be free. I'm going to do a little work on some neglected knits (Ms Marigold just needs her neckband sewn down and her ends woven in, Orangina needs a few more inches, and poor Cleo needs to be taken apart and sewn back together so that my boobs don't plop out of her). I'm going to set up my sewing machine work area and sew together some of the very large pile of skirts I cut out a while ago. I may sew up a few pairs of cute new underpants out of old t-shirts, just so that I can put off laundry a couple more days. Then Sunday, back to the studio by nine a.m. And with luck it won't be full of undergrads, and I can be a territorial princess. Print-cess. Har.
August 31, 2006
a colleague just informed me that the semester is one-eighth over
Yes, this strikes fear into my heart. Let's not discuss it again.
So, with these out of the way*:
I can now get down to the work I came here to do. My 30-hour review is coming up this semester, where my committee looks at my work and rakes me over the coals and then decides whether I'm good enough to stay in the programme and get my degree. I'm not too worried, but I do need to get a lot of new work done. So now that I've finally shaken the sickness (the coughing seemed to drag on forever) and am between design commissions (with luck it will be a few days yet before the next box of yarn arrives), it's time to get down to work. I've been avoiding the studio so far, working at the house and just biking in to campus to teach my class. Yesterday was the first day of my new regimen: get up at 6:30, half an hour of yoga, into the studio before 9 and work all morning before going to the main art building to teach. Then, back to the studio. I got a lot of printing done yesterday morning:
I'm pretty excited about these so far. I'm forcing myself to print only on new paper rather than working overtop of old prints like I normally do. I will still use up the several hundred pieces of already printed paper I've got, but for the time being I need to do some work without all of that old baggage underneath it. These are printed from one of my old woodblocks using stencils to only ink up certain portions. Leaving white space in a print is also a new thing for me, and I like it.
*this is all I can show, since these are for JCA. Both of the yarns are new and I forget what they're called but I'll find out soon if anybody is burning to know. The stuff in the top piece especially is absolutely gorgeous and really nice to work with. This doubles as my neutral-coloured crafty project for Project Spectrum this time around, as it's all I've been working on outside of studio work. Now that I have a bit of time when I don't have a design project to work on, I'm trying to finish up a few older Spectrum projects that were oh-so-close when I abandoned them: Ms Marigold, Orangina and my gramma's alpaca scarf. Ms Marigold will be done by the weekend, so stay tuned.
April 29, 2006
Studio Saturday, at long last
First let me show you some new prints from last night, then I'll tell you about a decision I've made that has changed my whole outlook on life (or at least on grad school). This week was really emotionally draining, and I felt so sick and miserable on Wednesday that I was ready to quit school and go home; I just felt completely at a loss to define why I'm making art and why I'm here in grad school a thousand miles from home when I'm clearly just a fraud. I didn't talk about those feelings here partly because I promised a long time ago that this wasn't going to be a personal diary, and partly because I didn't want to appear to be fishing for compliments and I really couldn't stand for people to comment telling me that I'm a good artist and blah blah blah. Because I know that I've been fucking around for the last nine months, wasting my time and not growing artistically. I've made a few decisions that I think will help with that. But first, some new prints:
This one is a combination of monoprinting from a sintra plate, monoprinting from a carved wood block using paper stencils, and a life sized linocut that I carved last year and haven't really made many prints from yet. I really like this one and wish I could have editioned it, but I'm not going to; it would be too much of a pain to reproduce the monoprint background. So it'll be one of a kind.
Those of you who know me won't believe I can leave a print this minimal. Surprise! It might get a bit of stitching, but no more ink. It's hard to tell in the photo but the entire surface of the paper is embossed with the texture of the lines. The image was printed using paper stencils, from a wood block that has this pattern carved all over (the same block I was using to cover up stuff before).
Now. Remember this?
This print has become the bane of my existence. When I got to grad school I felt that my final undergrad work had been pretty accomplished, and while I felt the need to break with the past and not repeat the same work, I also felt that maybe I hadn't said all that I had to say about it. So I set about starting a huge project that I thought would be bigger and better than the work I exhibited the year before. Well, it was bigger but it certainly isn't better. It was foolish of me to start a project like this at that time; your first year of graduate school should be about opening up and exploring new ideas, not closing down and expending all of your creative energy on one huge misguided project. I had all of these other idea nagging at me for pieces I wanted to start and ideas I wanted to explore, but felt like I needed to focus on this thing to get it done, and the result has been that I now feel trapped by this project, I desperately want to work on something, ANYTHING else, and I've begun to resent it for keeping me from all of those other ideas I have and want to pursue. And because of this resentment I've let the project languish until it's become something I can hardly bear to look at, something that makes me feel ashamed and useless every time I walk into my studio and see it, ugly and unfinished, on the wall. So I've taken it down, and pulled all of the pieces of it out of my print drawer:
A hundred and twenty sheets of Rives BFK, and all for only 15 prints. Argh. It's clear to me now that I need to let this piece die and move on. I'd been moving in that direction over the last few weeks, first by finally starting to work on some of the new things I've been wanting to do (like the maps, and some other things you'll see images of soon), then by taking all of my old work (except for the wretched woodcut) down off the studio walls and putting up the map images and a bunch of other things meant to inspire me for my new projects. The last thing I needed to do to free myself and feel like maybe I do belong in grad school is this:
Turning all 120 wasted pieces of paper on their sides and beginning to print new things on them. This particular one will be torn down into little rectangles and run through the letterpress, then added to my sewing project. More on that next week. And of course, I can't throw anything away, so I'll be reworking the woodblocks and continuing to print from them, and I think it's okay that there will be little bits of a body still visible in them. I can hardly wait to begin hacking away at them, but unfortunately this week is for printing. And I'm on my way back to printing right now.
April 03, 2006
Pictures of some new things I'm working on, sans commentary
March 26, 2006
Saturday Sunday night
Did you miss me? I didn't croak or go into political exile or burn my house down and have to go live on the streets or anything. Although it's interesting to note that the same smoke detector (or "meep", as it was always called in my household) that goes off at the faintest whiff of well-done toast or from steaming couscous over a large pot of water apparently doesn't even flinch when you actually get a real honest-to-goodness grease fire blazing on top of your stove. I'm not so sure I trust that little plastic traitor with my life so much, anymore.
It's not that I have nothing to say (insert a chorus of "duh"s from those who know me well,here). Friends, I'm having a spot of trouble with time management right now. If I owe you an e-mail, please be patient, and I will try my best to get to it in the next few days. Now that I've taken the time to delete about twelve hundred superfluous messages from my inbox, the ones I really really need to respond to are easy to find.
There was some action in the studio on Saturday, even if I couldn't be arsed to show it on time. I took some of the huge stacks of monoprints that I did last week and dropped one of the steel plates on top of them (the one that I've been calling the "background" plate, although since it's just sparse linework and the other is deeply bitten tone it would make more sense for it to be the foreground plate but to change now would be needlessly confusing, no?) in graphite and white. Here are a few:
These will all be cut into squares and printed in the letterpress, and then I'm going to sew something with them.
That orange reject print from last week looks a lot better whitewashed:
That's all I've got for you. Tomorrow I'm going to start the letterpress printing, but I also want to get a new woodcut started. A new woodcut that (gasp) isn't a picture of my naked arse. Hard to believe, I know. Stay tuned for all the craziness.
The downside of all the fabulous publishing opportunities is that knitting isn't as fun as it used to be, and I'm aching to make something, just one little thing, for me. So, with the lovely Koigu that the AmpuT gifted me, I started a pair of Badcaul socks, just to take the edge off. Don't expect quick progress, these are only for times when I absolutely can't work on anything more pressing, like the fifteen minutes a day I spend riding the bus.
Okay, that's all you're getting. If I'm going to get to bed before midnight (a rare treat, these days), then that means now.
March 18, 2006
Studio Saturday: my aching back (and feet)
Here's the main plate, all ready to print tomorrow. I finished etching it and its companion yesterday, then printed late last night and all day today. I laid down a ton of monoprint backgrounds for these and then started printing my background plate on a few. I forgot to count how many prints I did but I'm guessing close to sixty. None of them are finished, of course, although some of them might be close.
I was worried, looking at the plate I'd made, that I had managed to stylize the figure so that it didn't look the way I wanted it to anymore. But now that I look at it from this distance, in a photo on my monitor rather than up close to the plate, I can see that the rolls of fat on the belly are very much present, and really look fatty and rolly, the breasts look like they're just beginning to sag and the hands look like they work hard and maybe don't get treated all that well. Hooray! This is what I was hoping for. I want age and flaws to be apparent in this image. We'll see how well that translates into the final print.
This is the background plate, which right now just has a basic line drawing of the figure and lots and lots of gorgeous false bite:
I'll etch this one some more later, after I've printed with it for a while; probably I'll put some sort of texture or repeat pattern over the figure and also the background (different patterns). I quite like the simple sketchy lines coupled with the very messy false biting, so I'll be printing a lot from it before it goes back into the acid.
This one's got so far: a layer of text, printed digitally (more of the same, my chat logs with Peter from our first five months apart), red monoprint background, and the background plate printed on top in blue.
March 11, 2006
No new studio progress to show. I did do some printing but didn't get any new photos, and this weekend I'm staying home and finishing up some knit-related stuff so that I can spend the whole week in the studio getting some major work done. It's a beautiful day that I wish I could spend outside, but instead I'm sitting indoors with an almost-done sweater in my lap, DNTO on and the windows and door wide open. Although I'm eager to get into the studio, this is nicer because the studio has no windows. Here's the view from my kitchen sink this afternoon:
February 25, 2006
Studio Saturday: balancing acts
Deadlines converge yet again; work on the steel plates is sailing along,
the Knitting Olympics ends tomorrow (and, not unexpectedly, I won't be bringing home gold for Canada. But I've got a lot done, and will have even more done by tomorrow. I just have to figure out a way to photograph my progress without giving anything away about the nature of my event). And I have a short paper due for a class that needs to be posted online by midnight tomorrow. Now, normally I would leave something like that until the last few hours, but tomorrow is also the day that Peter is arriving to stay with me for a week (so of course, in the middle of all this other stuff I have to clean up the shack before he gets here, because it's a pigsty, as usual). So there's no way I'm going to still be writing (or knitting) tomorrow evening. Although Peter SAYS he doesn't mind if I have to keep knitting after he gets here; here's some of last night's chat on that topic:
Me [right after forcing Peter to go and read Stephanie's hilarious blog post from yesterday, even though I know it pains him to read about knitting]: it's also heartening to me to know that she is so far from finishing. but of course, she will pull through in the end. I won't
Peter: of course
Me: of course, i won't finish?
Peter: no, of course she will... got interleaved wrong there
Peter: I'm sure you will too. The olympics are over, what, tomorrow?
Me: I will, but not by the end of the olympics.
Me: tomorrow i am going to stay home and finish as much as i can though. should be able to get the body pieces to the blocking stage but i haven't started the sleeves yet.
Peter: well, i don't mind if you have to knit constantly until midnight sunday
Me: as if
Peter: no really
Me: i don't have to finish for the olympics. I'm young, I'll train hard for four years and come back fighting
Peter: I mean, what's more important, me or knitting?
Me: knitting doesn't give me as many great orgasms
Peter: it's a good thing, considering all the places you'll do it
Ahem. That's probably enough sharing. For one day.
So. Peter will be here tomorrow. Exciting things are afoot in the studio in the next few weeks; those plates will be ready to print soon, I've got a few new letterpress projects in the works, and my silkscreens arrived!
Also, because I've got deadlines slapping and scratching at each other all trying to get at me first, I spent some of my precious time this afternoon putting all of my badges and stuff into my new etsy shop. Check it out! And I promise, in a couple of weeks there will be t-shirts. Really this time.
February 18, 2006
Studio Saturday: something new
Jessica and I ordered some steel plates to etch, because they are way cheaper than zinc or copper. I've never etched steel before but I've heard it's pretty gross and messy; we're going over to the undergrad studio tomorrow to mix up a nitric bath (which will be marked "grads only", although I doubt anyone would want to use it once we've filled it up with rust and gunk from the steel) and to etch these bad girls. I'm starting with some simple line drawings taken from some photos I shot last night; keeping it minimal because I plan to use these plates more than once and keep etching them until they fall apart.
Printing out nekkid pictures of myself on the big Epson printer. This printer is really slow, so here's what I did while I waited:
One of the plates:
More tomorrow, after we etch.
February 11, 2006
Studio Saturday : exhausted, and spending a few days thinking about anything but the studio
1. Most of my week was spent working on some letterpress projects that had to be done by Thursday, and the grad print class spent two afternoons over in the gallery critiquing our show. Jessica and I were up until 3 on Tuesday night trying to get the @#$%^&* Epson printer to work properly for us (and I had to get up at 6 the next morning to get on the Vandercook to print my text). Gah. Some images of the letterpress stuff are over on my flickr page, but I'm just too lazy right now to upload them here.
Here is the recipe for butter tarts that I promised you ages ago and then forgot about. It's the one my mom always makes, and comes from the Five Roses Cookbook. I guess I'm probably not supposed to publish a recipe from a book, but I like to live on the edge. Heh.
Prize Butter Tarts (Five Roses Cookbook Edition 24)
1 pastry recipe
1/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup raisins, currants or chopped pecans (optional; my mom often leaves them plain and they're fantastic that way, and I've never tried a butter tart with currants. It sounds gross, though)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Put pastry in tart pan.
Mix all ingredients together, fill tart shells 2/3 full. Bake in a hot oven (450) for 8 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until pastry is delicately brown.
And that's it! Butter tarts are pretty similar to pecan pie, but are way better without the pecans. Also, because they're small you get a much nicer ratio of crust to filling. You could also try them with maple syrup if you want to ramp up the Canadianness a little. Mmm!
I'm using the handspun cashmere that Claudia sent me last spring, with some bits of Kool-Aid dyed recycled lambswool as accents. This yarn is so soft and so lovely; when I had the first half of the scarf off the needles I wore it around the house for a while and I can't believe the feeling of it around my neck. When Peter first felt the yarn he suggested making underpants, and although I still think that's kind of silly, I also sort of wish I had made underpants now that I know what cashmere feels like against skin. Um, sorry. TMI.
4. I've started dividing up my huge stash of badges into sets of four and photographing them, and as soon as I hit "post" here I'll be uploading them onto flickr, as well as some shrink plastic bracelets and hair pins. We're still working on banging out the shop pages, so for the time being I'll put merchandise up on flickr so people can e-mail me to purchase; I accept paypal, but am willing to make other arrangements as well. Also, for those of you still patiently waiting for the shirts, I'm ordering some new silkscreens this week. So there really WILL be shirts here, and soon.
5. My evil plan to convert everyone I know to the dark side is chugging along at a marvelous pace. I'm teaching some of my colleagues to knit, and we've started meeting up and knitting at Hot Corner on Monday nights. Apparently there are some people who knit on Mondays around the corner at the Manhattan, and we'd only been meeting for three weeks when someone from that group said to someone from our group, "oh, you're one of the Hot Corner knitters". How they knew about us I haven't a clue, but it might be fun to start up a rivalry. We're going to need to get matching bowling shirts, and a logo. Heh. All will be assimilated! So if you're in or around Athens Georgia, come knit with us, Monday nights around 7-7:30 at Hot Corner. You know you want to.
Here's Jenn last week, wearing her newly finished scarf:
And Euni had only known how to knit for about twenty minutes when the photo was taken; look at her hands fly! She's one of those fibre people who can do anything, so I'm sure she'll be putting me to shame in no time.
6. There is olive bread in the oven, nearly done. The smell in this apartment right now is divine.
February 04, 2006
Studio Saturday: late at night, so tired
I am so, so tired. Last night was the first night in weeks that I've been able to stay in bed more than six hours, and although I didn't sleep all that well for some of it, still it felt glorious to lie in bed for nine hours straight. I didn't end up going to the Hold Steady show (sorry, Cari!) because I had a migraine coming on and was just too exhausted to go out; while I'm sorry I didn't get to see them, I needed the early(ish) night. Tonight was another late night; we went to the international market in Dekalb, where I found lots of treats that are either impossible to find in Athens or a pain in the arse to get to without a car (sumac! besan flour! tamarind! edamame! and yes. . . middle eastern pita bread!!). I was so excited about the sumac in particular that I tried to get a mosh pit going in the spice section, but the first guy I bounced off didn't seem all that into it so I gave up. Then we went to Eyedrum for Audrey, Danielle and Erin's show, some photos of which I'll upload tomorrow morning.
I'm very grateful for this ability to falsely backdate posts, because it means you can drag your arse in the door four minutes into Sunday and fiddle with the dates, and everyone will think you posted on Saturday like you promised to. Unless you tell them.
Here's the current state of last week's piece, finished just in time to install for our spring print show. You can see a few crappy installation shots over at my flickr page, along with some of the other printmaking graduate work.
Now, off to bed, and I'm leaving the alarm unset and allowing myself to sleep in a little before heading in to the studio tomorrow. I've got a far less hectic week ahead than the last two have been, and I'm looking forward to spending some time doing the work I've been putting off.
January 29, 2006
Saturday Sunday morning
It's just a restless feeling. . .
I spent all evening yesterday making 5 months of my chat log with Peter into .gif images, printing them out on top of these litho/woodcuts, then covering them all with a layer of transparent base to protect the inkjet ink from wiping off. The text is impossible to see until you get up close:
There are five panels (it looks like ten above, but they'll be sewn together in pairs). I had a bunch of pronto plate stuff I was going to print on here as well, but the prints are way too busy already, the text is obscured already to the point where half of it is unreadable (this is what I wanted), and I'm really digging the surface of these just the way they are. So I'm just going to skip ahead to what I'd planned to be the last run, and layer the Venus Prodigiosa block over them tomorrow, in white. Now that I've taken the background off, she won't cover much.
I also started cutting away at this block again, clearing out the background like the others.
I think I'll just cut out a rough sort of halo around the figure and carve some patterns into the background, then pull some prints with her that way before clearing it out completely. This was originally supposed to be a companion piece for the Thirteen Girls, but then I decided that wasn't necessary, and I haven't made many prints from this block yet.
Tomorrow I'm going to print out the chat logs on some new paper, and maybe some other prints that aren't so heavy, so I'm starting with more visible text to print my pronto plates onto. I'm also going to do some letterpress printing, and maybe play around a little with our brand new wacom tablet, if I can wrest it from Jessica's hands (she did some awesome stuff with it last night). It's way fun, and is on its way to becoming the most sought-after tool in our shop.
Here's the promised close-up of the vintage wooden buttons I used on my Must Have cardigan. I think I can call them vintage, since these days that just means "old". I cut them off an old sweater about ten years ago, and have been hoarding them ever since.
There will be more knitting news tomorrow, and some of it's exciting, so stay tuned. No time now, though; I've got plates to draw.
January 21, 2006
Studio Saturday: distractions
I'm taking the letterpress class this semester, and I'm pretty excited about it; it's been about fifteen years since I've printed on the letterpress, and the school I was at back then only had one of those little hand crank proofing presses, on which all the printing was done. Here's my first sample, in 18pt Garamond bold (which I guess I won't be using for anything, since it took ALL the lower case "e"s in the tray to set up these two lines):
In case y'all can't make out the immortal words of the bard backwards, here's the proof I pulled.
Yup. Ketchup loves potatoes.
Although I did a bit of hacking on panel #2 of the woodcut,
not a lot of progress was made this week, for a number of reasons. I'm taking two classes that have a brutal amount of reading, and didn't really budget my time for it very well, which I'll have to get better at. We had a visiting artist, Mark Hosford, at Green St. this week and we editioned a silk screen print with him. I didn't think to take any photos in the studio but next week I'll show you the print we made.
The other distraction is my new badge maker. I've been using it so much that I already know exactly which part of my hand my next repetitive stress injury will occur in. But, look!
This is some of my first batch, which I've been carrying around all week in a baggie so I can hand them out to people. They're all made from found paper: old maps, blueprints and other papers I dug out of garbage cans. Today I walked over to Potter's House and bought a bunch of old popular science books, and here's some of today's batch:
Most of these are from the books, some are from a woodcut print that one of my professors threw in the garbage, and I also tried some fabric (the pink jaguar print) and stretch lace. The only ones I printed are the forty-five record inserts, and they're printed on found paper too.
These will be available in my shop (soon! I promise!), as soon as I can get arsed to send Peter some good photos so he can finish up the style sheets for the shop pages.
January 14, 2006
Studio Saturday: bring out your dead
Here I am, trying to put one over on y'all and pass off the same old wood block as new work. This is what I did this week, started hacking the background off the blocks to get rid of the horrible wood grain. I also spent a great deal of time sharpening my tools, which I didn't think to get a picture of. You'll just have to trust me that they're good and sharp, except for the one I've been cutting this block with, because, jeez. Such crappy wood.
I started cutting into one of the new blocks of the same image; just little lines for the first colour, then both blocks will be reduced in stages and printed on top of each other, back and forth. I'm thinking about putting a wallpaper-ish pattern in the background on the new blocks. I was thinking of using a William Morris wallpaper pattern but couldn't find one that was exactly what I wanted, but he did do a carpet with a lotus flower that is clearly designed to be a repeating pattern, so I'm going to print that out from the computer repeated and see how I like it. I wanted a lotus design because of the Buddha-esque pose, but it's also a cunty little flower, which is a very nice bonus.
Speaking of the naughty bits, I dug out this old thing today:
I put the ground on this plate over a year ago and haven't gotten around to etching it yet, but I hope to soon (and the four other plates that make up the rest of the figure, too). It's just sort of a pain in the arse, because we don't have good enough ventilation at Green St. to have a nitric acid bath, so we have to take zinc plates up to the undergrad studio to bite them. Wah. It's not like there isn't a bus right from one front door to the other, I've just felt way too lazy to do it.
So the reason I got the plates out was to trace the images onto Pronto plates so that I can do a couple of Sharpie drawings to print on top of or underneath the zinc plates. This is basically the same image as the thirteen girls, so I'll have lots of options for printing these: the etchings, the old lino block and as many Pronto plates as I feel like making.
That's right. I dug out old unfinished work from a year ago and traced it onto a piece of plastic and I'm showing it to y'all like it's new work. For shame.
For those of you who only come here for the knitty, I should have a finished Must Have Cardigan to show off in a couple of days. It's been put together for a week, but needs a wee mistake fixed up before I do the button band (I've decided to go for the buttons rather than a zipper, since the vintage wooden buttons I've been saving are just too perfect for this sweater not to use). I'm aiming to wear it on Tuesday; stay tuned.
January 07, 2006
Studio Saturday: swatching for my supper
I've been putting together a submission package of design ideas all this week, and my work space has been the kitchen table, the bed, across a coffeeshop table from Peter, the passenger seat of the car, and the folding table I use as a computer desk. I had to have it all finished for this morning, so that Peter could take it home with him and ship it from there, since it's going to an address in Canada. Now that that's done, I can seam up my Must Have and move on to finishing up the Urban Aran, then maybe start something new.
I'm looking forward to getting back into the studio; last semester I had a lot of trouble settling in, but I need to put that behind me and get down to work. My productivity always seems to follow the same seasonal pattern: I always experience a slump in the fall, followed by renewed energy after the new year and a smoking, productive spring. It's time to stop moping around and start doing the work I came here to do. Tomorrow I'll go in to the studio and do some cleaning up, and get the shop ready for the new semester. And then get to work.
Peter left this morning, and is probably somewhere in North Carolina by now. I'm hoping he'll be back sometime in February but that's not set in stone. He says it'll be easier for us to be apart this time, since we both know what to expect and we've already survived one term apart (one down, five to go!). But after he drove away this morning I still cried a little, then wandered around the shack feeling lost, not knowing what to do with myself. I took a bath, read my book, caught up on blogs and tried to feel normal again, but just now one of the Neil Young songs that Peter likes to play on his guitar came on, and there go the floodgates again, wide open. Gah.
Thankfully we had beautiful weather for our week in Athens, for a change. Until now it's been cold and rainy pretty much every time Peter came here. But this week was like late spring, warm and sunny (two days in a row that felt like about eighteen celcius!). We walked downtown every day, feeling the air and marveling, is it really December 31st today? Is it really January 3rd? Eight hundred miles south make a huge difference, the sun is much higher in the sky here than it is at home. And while it makes my body feel messed up, like I've gone to sleep and awakened in the wrong season, it felt wonderful to go for walks with Peter, shedding jackets and sweaters, relaxing shoulder and neck muscles that become habitually tensed from the cold. Now I can see the benefits of moving south. If I could feel like this and still have snow, life here would be perfect.
December 24, 2005
I uploaded some more sketchbook pages today, but have already been missing days and slacking off. If I can't make the time to do this every day while I'm on vacation then I don't know how I'll do it when I'm working every day again. Then again, maybe when I'm back in the studio I'll feel more like drawing.
These pages don't handle getting wet as well as I'd hoped; I don't mind the images bleeding through but when I tried to use a Crayola marker overtop of an area still a little damp with watercolour, the surface of the paper started coming off. Ah well; this exercise is about making a mess anyway, so I guess I shouldn't worry too much when it gets messy. I just heard from Melanie that there's a watercolour Moleskine coming out soon, so that might be the way to go. I don't like that the pages are perforated to tear out though; I'm pretty rough on my book and I'd probably be ripping those all the time.
We had a surprise visit from some old chums who showed up in town on Tuesday, so I went to see that Narnia movie with them and then Peter joined us for supper at Marathon (twice in two weeks! that's a major treat for me) after. The movie was better than I thought it would be, and they actually left a lot of the religious propagandizing out, which was nice. I took pictures but then Dru told me that it's illegal to do that, so I'm not putting any up here. You can see them on my Flickr page though. And, Lucy's sweater from the beginning? I'm totally making that. I'll put up the pattern as soon as I've worked it out, but I suspect I won't be the only person working on it, so I may not be the first to the finish line.
For the gee-I-can't-shut-up-about-how-happy-I-am-to-be-in-Canada files: yesterday in the car when the National Research Council official time signal came on, I was so happy to hear it that I cranked the volume way up in order to hear (the beginning of) the long dash (after ten seconds of silence) REALLY LOUD. One o'clock, Eastern Standard Time! I'm such a damned geek.
December 17, 2005
Studio Saturday: some catching up to do
I bought myself a nice moleskine sketchbook and I've resolved to draw a page a day. I haven't been doing a lot of drawing lately, and it's painful how much that shows. So far I've been doing a lot of doodling and colouring but no real drawing. But because I'm a glutton for punishment I'm putting all of the pages up in a Flickr folder; forcing myself to draw every day again is the only way to regain the skills I've lost, and having a public record of these feeble attempts will serve to remind me why not to slack off again.
December 10, 2005
Studio Saturday: a beauty way to go
In less than eight hours I'll be back in Canada. I like hanging out here at Sandy and Bob's place, but still, this day just isn't going to go fast enough. I still can't really believe that there's a way to get to Detroit from here in two hours; I have never flown in a big airplane before. Really! So expect to see some very boring out-the-plane-window pictures later on, because I'm just a small-town hick girl who is all amazed at the big old airplanes and how fast they can go. Also, this will be the first time ever that I have remembered NOT to wear my chain mail belt when I'm going to be walking through a metal detector, so this time (unlike that time at the Library of Congress) the security people won't have to make fun of me and call me Britney Spears.
So. Here are some details of a drawing I worked on this week.
I started this figure drawing and sort of pooped out after I had the basic gesture down, then as I was sitting in the studio doodling in my sketch book I thought maybe I should just doodle on the drawing instead. So now the figure has these marker and pen map-like lines on it, and it looks pretty funny. I'll probably print on it later, because I can never just leave something alone, I always have to overdo it with the covering up.
Like this. These are some of the prints with the chatter on them. The one in the bottom right corner I'm going to pull out and put in the "done (for now)" pile, since I have two of them. The rest will have more layers.
I'm starting a second set of blocks for this image, with a smoother wood this time so that the final prints won't have so much of the rough wood grain in them (this will also make me look like a less shitty printer, since right now the printing on this image is just downright crap). Now that my big shipment of paper has arrived, I'm going to do at least 20 more of these(for a total of 30) so I'll have the option of filling a room with them.
A break from this stuff is going to do me good, I think. I decided at the last minute not to pack my woodcutting tools, and I'm just going to have a vacation from making art; the only work-related thing I'm going to do while I'm at home is to draw a page every day (starting today) in my brand new Moleskine sketchbook. I need to get back in the habit, so I'm going to set myself the challenge to do a page a day, and I'll put them all up on my Flickr page.
So what did I pack to work on? The Must Have. The Urban Aran (progress pictures tomorrow). A top-down green cardigan that's just past the armpits, and I just realized I forgot to pack any more of the green wool. I plan to switch to brown for the bottom half, so if I happen to get the other two done I'll just have to cast on for the brown section (I did remember to pack lots of the brown yarn, at least) and graft them together after. Also the graduation socks, which are virtually done except for one toe graft. So I'll have FO photos tomorrow too, if I can tear myself away from Peter and the Fats and the snow outside and, you know, hugging the walls and floor in my dorky gratitude to be home in our very own house, long enough to take photos.
December 03, 2005
Studio Saturday: wasting time
I've been meaning to show you this:
This is my self portrait from back in August; it's been reworked by Jeremy Hughes, a grad student in painting, as a project in our drawing class. I'm really happy with the improvements he made, and I'm glad that I'm the one who gets to keep it. I didn't do this good a job on Claire's drawing.
So far this weekend I've done nothing but waste time in the studio, first methodically cutting up a large image in photoshop so that I could print it in sections on 8.5 by 11 paper, then realizing that the image was the wrong size and having to resize and cut it all up again, then painstakingly putting 43 little pieces back together. Then I decided to scrap the whole thing and get my image onto the woodblocks a different way, so I came home to cool off from that and to work on some drawing instead. So, no new woodblocks to show. And no drawings yet either, since I'm still dicking around with gluing down my little woven maps and sewing lines over them before I staple it all up on the wall to draw on.
Two shipments came in this week, 500 sheets of Rives BFK and a box of almost 50 t-shirts. I've swapped a hundred sheets of the paper to a colleague for some Pronto plates, and just watch how quickly I can burn through 400 pieces of paper. Expect to see t-shirts up in the shop by the end of January.
November 19, 2005
Studio Saturday: getting it done (finally)
I spent the week printing the woodcut chatter block, and have decided that what I need to do for now is print this block on everything I own, including the large woodcut self-portrait. I need to build up a relationship with all of this clean, new paper, and the best way to do that is to start putting down layers of ink on it and waiting for them to build up into something I can work with. Here's some of what I've done so far:
So far this has litho (the Green Lady image in orange and red), linocut (black), a solid layer of white ink, more linocut (yellow) and a layer of woodcut chatter in orange.
This one is pretty much obliterated, but it'll make a great surface to start something new on. It starts with the Green Lady image in purple, then a layer of solid red, a layer of solid white, a layer of knitted fabric in green, a layer of my messed-up litho (of my belly and lace underpants) in green, a layer of woodcut chatter in green and a layer of woodcut chatter in brown.
The messed-up litho in dirt red, a layer of woodcut chatter in blue and a layer of woodcut chatter in green. Once the woodcut lines are layered in opposite directions, a really nice surface starts to happen.
Most of my prints are smaller than the printing matrix, and instead of using waste paper to blot the extra ink I use prints. Thus there are a lot that look like this, with strips of pattern over part of the image. I mostly used the 20 sheets of extra prints from the large woodcut image to do this. I've also been blotting with the 200 strips of paper (4 to 6 inches wide) that were left over when I tore the sheets to size for the big woodcut, and those will all get sewn together later and then printed on some more. By next week I'll probably have some of those to show.
Chatter in blue (border only) and dark green (all over) on top of a panel of one of those two drawings of legs with the sintra plate printed on top of it.
I rearranged my studio furniture this week, moving the large drawing table from the side wall to the back under the shelves, and the two little drawer units fit nicely right beside it. This has opened up a lot of space, making it feel a lot less cramped. Also I won't have to stand on the table anymore to pin things on the wall. I will, however, have to stand on the table to reach the higher shelves.
I've also done some furniture rearranging in the Shack in order to make my bedroom double as a drawing studio. First I moved the bed and tables around so that the large wall that runs between the kitchen and bedroom is empty, and now I can staple paper up there to draw on. I haven't really been using the large living room area very much because I still don't have any living room-type furniture, so really I've only been going in that room to sew or to lay things out on the floor. Because my computer set-up is in the bedroom I've been spending most of my time in there, working on things that I can do in front of the computer, and the other night I found myself sitting on the bedroom floor weaving strips of paper together instead of doing it comfortably on the big work table in the other room. So I've moved the computer and its table into the living room as well, making an L-shaped work space out of the large work table and the computer table. This also means that there's now a second big wall empty in the bedroom, so now I'll have room to work on up to four drawings at once. Yaay! Pictures of my fabulous new bedroom/studio next week, once I've got some drawings started.
Today is the last home football game of the season, which means the last Saturday I'll be stuck working at home rather than fighting my way through the crowds of drunken tailgaters to get to the studio. This is what I'm working on at home today:
November 12, 2005
Studio Saturday: cover up
I'm not finished cutting this piece of wood yet but since the cut area is bigger than my paper now I went ahead and started printing it.
Here's what it looks like on white paper. I find it really hard to print on fresh, blank paper, so it helps to lay down a layer of colour or pattern first and then work on top of that.
It's also handy for covering up ugly, messed-up lithos. Now I can work on these without that horrible mess staring me in the face.
I put it on some of the discarded prints from the first panel of the big woodcut self portrait.
Here's a close up of the texture on the block, after printing.
And while I feel like I'm not getting any work done, I must be doing something because my apron is filthy.
November 05, 2005
Studio Saturday: slump
Here's the first colour all put together. I know I look really bitchy, but that will change. I promise the next time I show a picture of this there will actually have been some change to it. I used a crappy rough plywood for this image because I wanted the woodgrain to show, but now that I've printed one colour of all four panels, I'm sick of looking at that texture. I'm going to get some more, better quality wood, and make some other blocks to print with this, to shake up that surface texture a little.
I'm in a bit of a slump right now, and don't really feel like I'm producing much. This often happens to me in the fall for some reason, and I know I just have to work through it. This time last year I was productive because I had to be, because I had a big deadline to meet and also because I had been working on some things for a long time and they were all coming together. Now. . . I'm drifting, a bit. But I think the solution is just to keep plugging away and not worry about it too much (easier said than done, of course), work intuitively and let it happen.
Here's a wood block I've been carving away at, putting down an all-over texture of short lines to mimic the chatter that forms in a large cleared-out area of a relief print. I'm going to use it just as a layer of texture in between other press runs and underneath things. I had to stop working on it for about a week and a half to let my blister heal, then the other day I carved on it again for about half an hour and the skin where the blister had been started getting all loose again. So this may take a while. I probably need to sharpen my tools.
October 29, 2005
Studio Saturday: being cold makes me lazy
Also: being warm makes me lazy. Being hungry makes me lazy. Eating too much makes me lazy. Being happy makes me lazy. Being miserable makes me lazy. But for now, the excuse is my below-ten-Celcius Shack.
Here's two panels of the woodcut placed side by side. Are you getting sick of seeing woodcuts printed to look just like wood yet? Too bad, because I'm not!
Did I mention that it's going to cost me eighty sheets of BFK just to make ten of these prints? Well, I've decided to re-print the first panel (the one on the right), so now it's going to use up a hundred sheets. Don't worry, I can still use the twenty scrapped sheets as a bottom layer under some other prints. When I printed that panel I overlapped the two pieces of paper, and you can see the line in the print (it's a little more heavily inked). I thought this looked kind of crappy so for the rest of the blocks I tore the paper down so it wouldn't overlap, and now the sheets of the first panel don't line up nicely with the rest, so even if I tore the underlapping edge off it would still look wonky. Ah well. If I'm going to use this much paper for ten measly prints then they have to be worth it.
On Thursday night I printed the third panel, but forgot to take any pictures; trust me, they look exactly like the others except with a boob and half a head instead of a leg and half a torso. This process will get a lot more exciting when I get to the next colour.
Yesterday I wimped out and stayed in my bed all day with the laptop, using my amazing chat skills to distract other, less lazy people, from doing their work (first Peter, then my brother Dave, then Sandy and Bob). Because laziness loves company. Or something.
When my arse got too sore to stay in bed any longer I moved to the kitchen and worked on finishing up my Glampyre boobholder (finally) while finishing the novel I've been reading, Umberto Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. It's about a rare book dealer (Yambo) who, on awakening from a coma, has forgotten everything about his life but can remember the text of every book he's ever read. I'm still digesting so I won't discuss it too much today, but the ending (while not disappointing, exactly) left me feeling like the middle section of the book had been far too long, even though it didn't seem too long to me while I was reading it. Oddly enough, when I was about thirty pages or so from the end, I inexplicably started to daydream about Hagar Shipley, and specifically the note on which her story ended. And wouldn't you know it, it turns out that Yambo's story ended in a (superficially) similar way. It's one of those weird jokes your brain plays on you; as well, throughout the second section of the book in which Yambo searches for his past in the boxes of books, newspapers and records of his youth, every time the lyrics of popular wartime love songs were reproduced next to the lyrics of Fascist anthems, my brain automatically inserted the word "war" for the word "love". It wasn't on purpose, it just happened.
In other studio news, I haven't made any more progress on my plastic dress. I've been given a huge pile of plastic bags, though (the Target ones are especially pretty) and I'm going to start a crocheted dress as well, because I think that will be more sturdy and more likely to stand up on its own, and also it will be much faster. Because I'm all about the instant gratification (which is why I do lithography; it's not because I'm, you know, good at it or anything).
October 22, 2005
Studio Saturday: this episode is brought to you by the colour brown
The graduate printmakers had a show this week (we installed on Thursday and the opening was last night) so most of my time was spent trying to get a few things finished for it. Because y'all know, I don't work very quickly, and never create finished work in a month. I printed the large sintra plate on top of the two drawings of legs that you saw the other day, and while one of them was so terrible that they can no longer be companion pieces, I think the other one is done. Sorry the photo is so dark; the quality of the lighting where the piece was installed is kind of shite.
I also did some more sewing on this piece, which I'll call finished for now. Again, sorry for the photo quality and the nasty glare; this piece is not nearly as shiny in person, but it's impossible to photograph.
To see images of all the works in the show, check out my colleague Jessica's Flickr page.
I started working on a new piece, and even took it to stitch and bitch with my girls in Atlanta on Wednesday instead of a real knitting project. It will be a dress, I'm thinking floor length with long sleeves and a fitted bodice, and maybe some kind of flouncy action in the skirt. I'm working it from the top down, using white garbage bags cut into strips. Knitting with this stuff SUCKS OUT LOUD; while it's fairly easy to work with, it feels really, really gross.
In knitting news, not much has happened. I did go and check out the yarn shop in Watkinsville yesterday with one of my colleagues who wants to learn how to knit. While I tried to spend conservatively, only getting the things I needed - 2 copies of Knitscene, one for me and one for Anna (Anna, let me know where to send it), something for a baby gift and something I needed for some pattern-related swatching - since both my mom and my gramma sent me money this week I splurged a bit and got one skein of Manos del Uruguay just because I had to have it, and also some cheapo Lamb's Pride for the Kittyville hat.
I've often fondled the Manos in shops but have never tried it before, so this morning at the laundromat, while watching the clothes go 'round, I popped my Manos cherry. And it was good, for both of us.
I started a simple stockinette hat from the top down, and it's halfway finished already. I'm totally in love with this yarn; I think it may be my new favourite. The colours are gorgeous, and that little jolt of happiness every time the colour changes while I'm knitting just never gets old. I found that with every yarn Jenn and I looked at in the shop yesterday, I was gravitating towards the brown shades. Must have been my mood, and probably had something to do with how I spent my morning. Boys and girls, give your greetings to the new brunette:
It's a little darker than I'd expected (I was trying to get back to my natural brown) but I think I like it. Some of my curl disappeared when I bleached my hair back in June, and not all of it has come back. After I dyed it the curl seemed to be gone completely, although I'm pretty sure that enough will come back to make it puffy and weird. But for now, this is as close as I'm ever likely to get to that bitchin' Joan Jett shag I always wanted. So I'm not complaining.
October 15, 2005
Studio Saturday: frustrating day
First of all, if you're waiting for an e-mail from me, I apologize for my slowness. It seems I cannot send e-mail with my craptastic new Bell South dial up service, and had I known this last night I would have done more e-mailing from school. So please be patient while I begin the long and frustrating process of changing my service with these jokers, who already took two weeks longer than they were supposed to to get my phone hooked up, and then when I tried to set up the dial up I discovered that the day before, the billing department had cancelled my order for the dial up service because I didn't have a valid phone number. Because they had not hooked up my phone. Last week when Peter told me that a Bell South worker had left a note in my door saying it was going to be another three days, I shouted "goddamn these southerners! Why can't they be more uptight?", which Pete repeated all weekend because he thought it was so funny. But, really. Is it too much to ask for people to do their job, and on time? You don't even want to hear the story of the month-long wait for the Office of International Education to pull a form letter out of a file and photocopy it and write my name in with a pen. Really, you don't.
Ahem. So this is supposed to be about what's going on in the studio.
First, this big bitch. I decided to change the image on this plate, and carved it on Thursday. Yesterday, with just the lines carved, I pulled a proof just to see where to sand it. Wiping this plate took me an hour, and my shoulder hurt afterwards. Oh, and the proof looked like shit, uneven and way overwiped, but I stapled it up on the wall to draw on after it dries. I may not be quite so in love with sintra now that I know what a colossal pain in the arse it is to wipe.
After that I tried to print the litho, which was a total disaster. The prints were so bad, I swear they were worse than some of the big screw-ups I've seen intro litho students do. It's so hard to get into a groove of making work here, when every single thing is different. I'm in a new town, new school, new apartment, new studio, using a new press and a new stone and dealing with totally different humidity conditions, and also a different kind of gum arabic, different lithotine (it smells different, which is really disconcerting). If only one thing were not new, if I had my beloved Griffin press instead of this infernal Takach, if I had Josie to print with or Peter to come home to, or even just some lithotine that didn't smell unfamiliar and weird, maybe I wouldn't be fucking up all my prints. Maybe.
Anyway, something sort of bad might have happened to that litho image. Here's a hint:
So after a nice long break to read blogs, I went back into the studio and printed the first colour of one of my woodcut panels.
Finally, something that looks exactly the way I wanted it to look. There's a lot of woodgrain showing, but that's why I'm using cheap plywood, to get that look. I like for the process to show, as long as the prints aren't CRAP. Like, you know, everything else I did yesterday.
There are four panels to this image, and each one takes two sheets of paper to print. Last night I made ten prints of this block, and then realized while counting out sheets to tear down for the other blocks that this means I will be using eighty sheets of paper to make ten prints. At two dollars a sheet (a phenomenal price, less than half of what I would pay in a store for the same paper) that gets kind of expensive. I did want to make more than ten but I'm not sure I can afford to use that much paper for this project. I have to decide soon though, because this is a reduction woodcut so once I change the block, there's no going back. Argh. I really need to find more funding.
I guess it's my own fault that I insist on working so BIG, but what can I say. I'm a size queen.
Here's the block after printing:
I feel like I need to come clean about Tuesday's self portrait image. Thanks, everybody, for the compliments on my legs, but I have to tell you that my legs don't really look like that. I was lying on my side on the floor, and somehow all of my thigh fat was pulled by gravity away from the camera and hidden from view. My legs are a lot fatter and a lot lumpier than they looked there. Sort of more like these drawings in progress:
Griffin, I really miss you.
October 08, 2005
Studio Saturday: weekend off
So our pagan festival thing fell through for this weekend and we're just hanging around Athens instead, which is just as well really. It's been raining, and we've been sleeping in and being lazy; if we'd gone away we would have been busy-busy the whole time, and I can really use a lazy weekend.
Here's the litho image, redrawn and etched. It's crazy the difference that climate makes; in Windsor I was using 35 drops of acid per ounce of gum to etch a heavy lithotine wash on limestone, and twice that on marble. For this one I used ten drops. Really. It's kind of like learning litho all over again.
I drew the same image on a sintra plate just to get a feel for the material before cutting into my big piece. Here it is with a hastily-pulled (and very badly wiped) proof. There'll be a lot more drawing on this before it's done, and I'll be printing it as a layer on top of or underneath the litho image.
My paper order came in this week, so I'll finally be able to start printing this stuff, as well as that woodcut that's been sitting in the corner all ready to go for weeks now. I also just found out that I got a small research grant for materials, so I'll be able to get more paper and more sintra plates, enough to get me through the winter at least.
I got a package in the mail from Erin in Taiwan the other day. She sent me some cool maps that are all in Mandarin, this funky tea mug with rainbow-striped yoni shapes on it, and cute little socks:
October 01, 2005
Studio Saturday: moving day
Some things I'm working on this week. I started sketching on the big Sintra plate with a dirty eraser but haven't cut into it yet; I've started an image on a smaller piece first just to get a feel for the material. I've got to be careful with it because I'm used to carving wood, and PVC foam is a hell of a lot softer.
I like how in this picture, with the big photocopied picture of me on the wall behind the Sintra plate, it looks like a big gross brain coming out of my waist. Yeah, I know, small minds, small pleasures. . .
I cut the background off the Venus block (on the floor) and was going to print her again on top of some other things. Then Daniel came in yesterday and saw it and talked about how much he liked the block as an object now that the dirty, inky figure is floating on the clean, creamy lino. So I said, maybe I could take my extra piece of wood and carve away a layer to mimic the chatter in the large cleared-out areas of the lino and then print that in the creamy colour and print the Venus figure on top of it in a dirty gray; then the print would look just like the block. That sort of anal geekiness reminds me of an artist Daniel was just telling me about last week (I can't remember his name!) who does lithos with meticulously drawn renditions of masking tape in #7 crayon and prints them so they look just like tape on the print. Anyway, it might be fun just as an exercise.
I tried out the big Epson printer at Green St the other day; you can see the image I printed at the top right on the wall in this picture. This thing makes a really nice print, although the black doesn't really get very black. But the black has no printer lines in it. I'm excited about putting litho and intaglio on top of the digital prints, because unlike the Epson printer I used to use at Windsor, this one can take printmaking paper. Whee!
As for last week's minor litho disaster, I can fix it. I counteretched the stone and started drawing on top of what's already there, and I'll consult with Daniel or Carmon before etching it. It makes sense that because of the difference in humidity between here and Windsor the stone has a lot more moisture in it than I'm used to, and also the gum we use here is a slightly different kind than what we had in Windsor. I just have to etch really, really light and see what happens.
Tomorrow: shack pictures.
September 24, 2005
Studio Saturday: life's too good
Notice I didn't say "litho's too good".
Here's the new image on the stone; I printed the first colour yesterday (about ten prints leaf green and ten prints dirt orange) and it looks like shite, but I'm not too worried. It'll all come together. After I burned a ton of my lovely water wash off with a measly three drops of acid per ounce of gum, Carmon told me that everything etches hotter in this climate than it does in Windsor and I have to adjust for that. Great.
So me and my new squeeze, the Takach press, went on our first date yesterday and I have to say that so far I don't like him as much as my old boyfriend Griffin. He definitely has some traits that bug me, most notably one of those stupid little knobs you have to turn to disengage the bed, when I prefer presses with the big handle underneath so you actually have to pull it and hear it go kachung. We'll be spending the next three years together, so I'm sure he'll grow on me. It's just that Griffin and I knew each other intimately, and he knew how to please me. Takach, he's just a fumbler by comparison.
But I don't really want to talk about the studio today. Because, this just in: the BEST THING that could possibly happen for me and the people I love has happened.
Four years ago Peter and I moved to Windsor when he got his job at the university, which meant that we were not living in the same town as his kids anymore. When we all lived in the same town he would have the kids every other weekend but also see them all the time in between, visiting and going out for supper and taking them to their sports things, and just general dad stuff. Now that we live two hours away he only sees them every other weekend, and it's been really, really hard. This month Pete's son Dylan moved in to our house in order to finish his last year of high school in Windsor, but Claire and her mom are still two hours away in London.
Peter's ex-wife just received her Master of Divinity in the spring and has been waiting to get a placement in a parish, and desperately hoping (we all have) that it would not be any further from Peter than she already is. Well, she got a parish, and it's a half an hour drive from our house. So as of November first Pete will be able to see Claire more often than every two weeks again, and just know that she is closer. Also, Claire has just had her older brother move away from home, and it will be great for her to be closer to him again too. I can't even tell you how ecstatic I am. It's just the best thing that could happen. Congratulations, Loretta.
September 17, 2005
Studio Saturday, falsely backdated because that's just the kind of slackass I am
And it's not like I didn't spend all day Saturday in front of the computer and still couldn't be arsed to upload one stinking picture.
Here's the print seen in the rack last week, all pinned together. Sorry about the glare from the fluorescent light, but this thing is hanging pretty close to the ceiling in my studio.
This is just an in-between layer, and will likely be mostly covered up. Right now it's several lithographs covered in a layer of white ink with the figure (linocut) printed on top in yellow. Which was supposed to look sort of beige, like the background in a road map, but guess what? When you mix up an obnoxiously bright opaque yellow and print it on top of mostly green and white, that doesn't make beige. Who knew? (pleasefortheloveofgod don't let them make me teach colour theory next year, because the seat-of-the-pants method is probably not what they want people to learn).
So I don't have a lot else to show; the four woodcut panels are all cut out for the first colour, and I carved off all the background from the Venus Prodigiosa block so that she looks like a cutout doll. I also blew up the self portrait Tuesday image from two weeks ago to about 1.5 times life size and transferred it onto a litho stone but couldn't be bothered to pull a proof from any of those. Yes, the biggest obstacle between me and all my life's dreams is LAZINESS. Could you tell?
Instead here's a very exciting photo of another one of the woodblocks, so remarkably different from the last one you saw. Hah.