Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Fabulous Trip with Fabulous Prints

Why hello again lovelies. Time for another post here and so much has happened! I am still busy working at various presses, teaching a bit and putting serious hours in the studio each day for Jay (and oy, it's getting to be a warm studio right now!) I'm doing some pretty darned tedious registration and hopefully getting buff in the print muscles while I'm at it. But in the meantime, I was able to go on a fantastic trip to PA and parts beyond last week to see many of my favorite friends and family. Oh, if only there was time for everybody!

So firstly, I went with my good photographer friends Katie and Alison to an amazing old coal breaker up near Wilkes-Barre. It's to be torn down this year...supposedly! So we had to get in. A bit scary at first as there were scrappers on the prowl, but we ignored them as they ignored us, and they went on their merry way in a little car loaded down with metal.

Side of the coal breaker

Inside- old conveyors

One certainly wouldn't want to stand right underneath a lot of it! But such amazing imagery- I am definitely inspired to make new work.

Afterwards we all got together with one of our favorite professors, Evan Summer, at his studio. He showed us some amazing new work, and proofs of his frog prints, soon to be completed at Corridor Press.

Froggie lithos

After many more amazing adventures during the week, my folks and I got to go to the Baltimore Print Fair at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Firstly, there was a most fabulous talk by the 3 fellows of Printeresting (the best news site for print news and miscellany- I read it every morning with the NY Times!). They spoke of contemporary artists and the fine line between the print word/fine art and the commercial realm. I loved the example of Rob Matthews who printed out all of Wikipedia at one point- that one book is only a small part of it! They also spoke of artists that connected with styles of the past, so in a way 'updating' the medium. The dark and beautiful work of Peeter Allik was a great example.

After the talk, we moved onto the print fair itself. I was excited to see Mr. Mark of Clay St Press at his booth. Funny to travel this far to see another Cincinnatian. He had the work of the famous (an especially amazing portfolio of Nam June Paik), of several good friends, and Jay's enormous woodcut movie portfolio.

Clay St Press booth with Mark

Moving on to other printshops, I really enjoyed the work of Amy Cutler at ULAE. Very mysterious and a bit Victorian- all beautiful etchings in a great style of line and color.

Amy Cutler, Casting Lots, 2011

Of course it it always a treat to see Judy Pfaff at Tandem Press. She is still one of my most favorite visiting artists during grad school. And oh Tandem- perhaps I can come visit and drool over the enormous presses again some day...

Judy Pfaff

Other works of interest were lithographs by Chloe Piene at Highpoint Editions. They were lovely gestural line drawings in litho, printed on different layers of translucent papers. Very delicate, yet dark and mysterious.

Chloe Piene litho (apologies for the poor photo)

Another amazing artist was shown at David Krut. They were called 'smoke screens' by Diane Victor. I could hardly comprehend how they might be made, but she really truly just drew with candles and smoke! To see these amazing portraits, just check out Krut's site and there is also a wonderful video of how she made them.

After the print fair, our next destination was informed by Linotype the Film, which we had seen earlier in the week at the Ware Center in Lancaster, PA. Such a wonderful movie! It has me hooked on the notion of going to Linotype University in Iowa- free tuition, 90-some linotype machines, and for fun, you can learn to drive a train while you're at it! My goodness, hopefully I can do that next year.

So our stop at the Baltimore Museum of Industry was because we found out that linotype operator Ray Loomis demonstrates on the machine every Saturday. How sad we were that we couldn't make it until Sunday, but alas- we thought it would be worth a shot just to see the machine.

Museum 'print shop'

But gasp, my goodness- there he was!! Ray came special on a Sunday just to get ready for the movie screening there in a few days- plus he got there late because several streets had been shut down for a marathon. Oh coincidences! Sometimes they can end up as a good thing.

Ray Loomis at the linotype

The machine!

Close-up of the keyboard

Ray generously showed us pictures of himself as an operator at age 16, read us entertaining printmaking limericks (should have copied those!) and demonstrated some of the other equipment. Here is a newspaper stereotype taken from a bed of set type. This makes the impression for a rounded cast (once again in positive) for high-speed printing on a cylinder.

Stereotype- mold made of stiff paper

Now here is a machine that still boggles me. The monotype? My goodness- such a complex machine that uses binary code punches to send to another machine that casts each letter separately. If you'd like to see a video of this sort of beast in operation, watch here.

The monotype

Of course the printshop was just full of all sorts of equipment for letterpress, litho, and intaglio printing. Really a great exhibit.

 Clamshell presses

And hey, what's a trip to Baltimore without a huge table full of crabs? Mmm...

Tasty Maryland blue crabs covered in Old Bay- a childhood favorite! Seriously, I was raised on these things.

And lastly, I am still working on that plate! I think it's about finished, but I'm still stuck on what happened when pulling it out of the etching bath- all of that copper sludge looked like flames along the edges. I must find a way to replicate this on paper! Perhaps monotype (intaglio-manner, not the machine!) or hand coloring?

Zinc plate with copper sulfate sludge

Well next time I will have more tales of my contract printing adventures. Till then- stay cool out there! 

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