Friday, August 30, 2013

Printshop Tours of the Northeast

Why hello there again! I am back from my whirlwind trips and moving out of St Louis, interviewing, visiting family, friends and printshops back east, more interviews and settling down in Cincy….Yikes! So let's start with a recap of the tour of printmaking goodness from a few weeks ago…

Combining family AND printshops, my parents first drive us to the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester.

Here is the main entrance into the library, which has a huge collection of anything in print through 1876.

The lovely Ms Jackie Penny! (and I, with Lauren Hewes in the background). I met both of them at the American Historical Print Collectors Conference in Cincinnati back in May. They were kind enough to pull several items from the collection for us to peruse. Jackie also did an interview with me (details will be in the next post).

This is the fascinating notebook of a wood engraver with meticulous notes- down to the hours it took to carve each piece!

Details on the miseries of Cincinnati vices, ha! We all know you have to go across the river to Kentucky for fun...

an amazing mid-1800s paper doll collection of the circus

and now a tour of the vaults- amazingly, if the fire alarm goes off, all oxygen is immediately sucked out of the rooms. Run for your life! Save the documents!

Could it really be tea from the Boston Tea Party? Skeptical,'s a good story.

Looking down from the balcony at folks who come to study the collection

Here is the wooden hand press of the founder, Isaiah Thomas, who dragged it all the way from Boston to Worcester and re-assembled it (luckily it's not all made of iron!)

some set type on the press and a newsletter

Isaiah, the founder himself!

My next opportunity is to return to the fabulous Zea Mays printshop in Florence, MA. This is where I've learned most everything I know about non-toxic etching, via correspondence with the director.

The shop downstairs

In the gallery- FINALLY I get to meet director Liz Chalfin. What a pleasant surprise! (for more details you can check out my post from last year)

Now to  Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, MA

downstairs is a show from their collection. Nam June Paik video work!

One of my favorite ladies, Lee Bontecou

Leonard Baskin, of course

Gregory Gillespie

And now onto their very unique Psychedelic Poster show. Dad sure enjoyed this!

Lovely trippy ladies

Hehe, the White Rabbit

That was more than enough for one day! So back to our hotel and starting fresh in the morning. Next we drove up to the border of New Hampshire to see Wingate Studio with the amazing Peter Pettengill. Since last summer, I've met several folks who have been interns in his shop, and especially after seeing the video on Art 21 some years ago about Walton Ford, I had to see it for myself!

Here is Peter with his fabulous etching press from Paris

Close-up of the make and pressure screws

His registration system, similar to Crown Point, but removable from the bed (using brackets rather than being fixed to the surface)

and the other work beast, the American French Tool

Here he shows us a book of photographs of Crown Point Press, from Sol LeWitt 

a guide for overlapping colors of various aquatints- to get the most out of the least number of inks!

A drawing and notes from Sol

Fabulous Sol LeWitt portfolio

the aquatint version

the numbered guide for etching each tone

even more complicated- color versions with notes by the artist! I can't imagine making the plates, let alone registraion

Here we go, bringing out the Walton Fords!

Telling us the stories behind each one- so many historical references in both the imagery and writing on the plates

Can you believe this is all color aquatint? What an amazing draughtsman- and printers!

The owl with squirrels, and the turkey- Ben Franklin's bird

now-extinct passenger pigeons

Some of Walton's smaller but equally-beautiful prints

His famous limited-edition print for the Rolling Stones. Even better, Peter and Walton get an article IN Rolling Stone Magazine- check it out!

Moving on to other work, an artist I quite liked at the Baltimore Print Fair, Ambreen Butt

The very subtle spit-bite (but my goodness, the control!) of Richard Ryan- Garlic Scapes

an artist who came in and drew the studio from different angles- Gideon Bok

Now to quickly document the rest of the studio- inking area and warming tables

close-up of the table with copper surface for even heating

very serious rosin box

the rosin melting oven, to the specs of Crown Point Press- the plate sits on metal rods on the bottom, so the heat flows evenly around its entirety rather than bowing it. It's also insulated and the rosin is melted by timing and precise heating.

back of the shop- acid/etching area

solvent table, complete with Walton Ford poster

very cute stove and chair

Here's the front of the shop

Next to an old house and organic farm. Such a beautiful place! Thanks to Peter and his wife Deb for all their time and hospitality!

Still running, it's straight back to Northampton to compare notes with Asst Prof Lindsey Clark-Ryan on all of her etching experiments

the entrance to the fine art building at Smith

Wah, no printing- it's still summertime!

Lindsey and I catch up in the school shop

she shows me her aquatint test strips with copper sulfate on aluminum

the students seem to be taking to it, working on large plates

the copper sulfate storage area- she uses a fluorescent light fixture cover for the bottom grid. Genius!

Later that night, we also catch up with Lauren Bennett, who's been the TA there for years. But sadly, no pictures were taken! But off to bed, as in the morning- more travels and printshops!

Driving through upstate New York- such a beautiful landscape!

We arrive at the Sheesley's- complete with a lovely pond and greetings by the dog, Body

Karen's garden is still looking good- she and I used to weed together back when I worked in the shop

and the blueberry bushes

Tim and Karen (left) host us for a most fabulous lunch out on the deck. Delicious salads, gazpacho and homemade bread, yum!

And now to the printshop, hooray!! This is the giant Takach that I learned on (almost 10!) years ago here at Corridor Press, with Tamarind Master Printer, Tim Sheesley

And his serious (I'm assuming previously steam-powered) embossing press

ye olde graining sink- oh the memories!

Now Tim shows us some of his recent work

Ooh, mummified cat lithos!

brilliantly-colored fish

love the catfish! crayon and toner washes

Tim also did a fabulous project at SUNY Oneonta where he works running the galleries. He scanned a number of old lantern slides and made photopolymer plates from them. He will donate this series to the library.

gold miners in Peru

Salt workers in NY state. Phew, bet it was hot in there! There were many other prints for a series of 10, but 1,000s of original slides to look through!

Tim tells my dad and I more stories. Aww, what a wonderful visit and so great to reconnect!

Now it's time to drive through Pennsylvania on my way back to Cincinnati. But of course, I've got to stop in and check on gramma!
The ole power lines of New Millport, PA

But check this out- now I have proof that gramma has the same floor tile patterns as Trenton Doyle Hancock's gramma, Twitty. So how perfect that I got to spend the summer cutting and gluing those shapes at Island Press! Different color scheme, though…

Well thanks and keep on reading!! Next will be a post on a wonderful interview I got to do for the American Historical Print Collectors Newsletter AND…gasp…details on the new job. Hooray!! That's right Cincinnati- I'm BACK!

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