Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year.

Even though this days end is like any other, one can't help having thoughts this evening that are different from the other 365 nights. The thin veil between the old year and the new offers a profound opportunity for reflecting upon all that has been accomplished in the past year and to contemplate new challenges and fresh beginnings in the year to come; hopefully using all of your past experiences to move forward with renewed energy and bold confidence.

I wish everyone the very best for a happy, healthy and creative 2015.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

It was a busy but wonderful holiday. Decking the halls, getting together with friends and family and best off all ... seeing Christmas anew through my grand children's eyes.

I even dug out the count-down tree that I had made for my daughter when she was small and passed it along to her little ones. Pressing on one embroidered piece a day, until all the Velcro dots are covered, seems to help the children mark time. But I'm sure that time still didn't pass quickly enough for them.

With all the gifts unwrapped, cookies devoured, and children departed, Christmas 2014 is now part of our collective memories. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. Best wishes to you all.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A few new minatures.

Unraveled (2" x 2")

Lineup (1" x 4")

Attitude (2" x 2")

Ho, Ho, Ho!

My focus this week was on making a second stocking. Time has been flying by so quickly and with Christmas day bearing down on me, there was no more procrastinating.

Just finished my granddaughter's stocking today. (Made my grandson's last year.) Now the little ones each have their own, which I hope they will enjoy for years.

One of my fondest childhood memories is waking up on Christmas morning to find my stocking hanging on my bedpost. All sorts of little gifts were hidden inside and it was so much fun to sit in bed and explore those treasures.

I'm looking forward to filling these this year.

Their stockings are hung by the chimney with care ......

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Continuing Miniature Prints

Today I finished making film positives for the rest of my sketches.

Positives on light box.
Feeling a little cocky after yesterdays successful plate making I decided to lay several positives on one larger sheet of Solarplate and expose them all at once. I know I was taking a chance but I was pretty confident that the exposure and wash-out times would work for all of
the images.

Processed Solarplate with multiple images.

Once the plate was dried and cured, I carefully cut each plate to size. The advantage to doing it this way was that it made it much easier to work with the tiny compositions on one large plate, as opposed to doing them individually. Of course, it saved time as well; just two exposures.

These are my favorites from today's session. (Please excuse the quality of the photos which were taken quickly at the end of the day's printing.)

This one measures 2" X 2". There's so much information crammed into such a small space that it actually feels larger than it actually is.

 This one's 1"x 4". I have a series of rock studies that I did while at the beach when we were re-doing the dune after super storm Sandy. I liked this one little slice and decided to hit the one tiny rock in the center with a bit of watercolor.

Standing Spaniel

Another 2" square print from my Springer series. The last two I did of the dogs were roughly 14" x 16" so I thought it would be interesting to see what I could come up with in miniature. I like this composition a lot.

There's an unfortunate light streak across the background, probably from when I squeegeed the plate off when I finished developing it. It kind of looks like he's standing up to pee.

Sit. Stay.
Simple composition with no background. Again, I think it works in this case. This measures 2.75" x 1.5".

Yesterdays favorites are below.


Long bath


I played around with adding machine stitching to this piece and I like it much better than the hand stitching I tried yesterday. I need to be patient and wait until the prints are dry though or the machine's foot smudges the print as seen here around the nest section.

Now I have to decide which three to send to the miniature print competition. With the exception of the dogs, the prints are all so different. Is it better to send a variety or a series of related pieces? If I go in that direction, I'll need to come up with a few more pieces. What to do, what to do?

I'll have a bit of time to think about it because tomorrow it's back to mundane chores and holiday preparations.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Small, really small.

Printing tiny plates can be challenging; not what one would assume at first glance. Basically, the hardest part is holding on to the darn plate as you wipe the ink off. This is what I ended up doing.

I picked up a package of magnetic sheets from my local office supply store. I slipped one under a page of an old phone book and the tiny Solarplates stayed put (pretty much), as I applied the ink and wiped the plate. To keep things neat, I just flipped to a clean page each time I re-inked and wiped.

Registration guides for the different sized plates I made were laid out on a sheet of newsprint sized to match the printing paper. I slipped this under the Lexan sheet that I have on the bed of my press.

Once the plates were inked and wiped, they were lifted into place using an angled palette knife and I carefully "scooched" the plates into position.

For some reason, I thought it would be interesting to create a tiny diptych. One plate measures 1.5" x 1  3/16", its mate 1.5" x 1.5". To add to the challenge, I decided to do chine colle' on one plate; talk about crazy! Anyway, this is what I ended up with and I like the effect.

Considering whether or not to add some stitching, I took one of my trial proofs, pierced some holes and hand stitched across the two images. I like the idea of the added thread since it plays into the netting and cats cradle and I want to carry that across to the nest.

However, after my initial try, I'm not happy with the hand stitching so tomorrow I'll try some machine stitching instead.

I also realized that if the stitches are too closely spaced, the holes create a perforation effect and I worry that the print might split along the stitched line.

Lots to consider before I call this one finished.

Making studio time.

The weather outside is frightful, but the studio's so delightful ... so with that holiday tune in mind I decided there's no better way to spend a gray, rainy, cold day than hibernating in my favorite space. With the decking of the halls well under way, I put the garland aside and spent the day at the press.

My focus was on an upcoming international miniature print exhibition hosted by Norwalk, Connecticut's Center for Contemporary Printmaking.  I've always wanted to participate in this juried show and I find I actually have time to do so. 

For some reason, I've always been intrigued by the challenge of working small. A few years back I  participated in The Littlest Print Exchange and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of producing an edition of 50 tiny prints and in return, receiving a collection of 50 prints, perfectly presented, from the other participants.

2009-2012 Littlest Print collections.

The CCP exhibition is a similar challenge but the prints are even tinier; no more than 4 square inches! My assorted plates measure 1"x 4", 2"x 2" and 1.5"x 2.75".

I've been accumulating a series of ideas and sketches and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get down to business and focus on tiny compositions. The images were so small I was able to arrange several of them on a sheet of drafting Mylar, run them through my printer, and then cut them apart. I print two copies on the Mylar because I've found that I get better results when I double up the transparencies before exposing the plates; denser blacks foster better plates.

The advantage of working so small is that its a great way to use up Solarplate scraps and play around with exposure times. If something doesn't come out quite right, it's not a big loss. After making several plates, I spent the day printing.

Today's experimentation's also provided the perfect opportunity to try out new printmaking paper  sent to me by Speedball after I had participated in a test for the company's new water based relief ink.

Arnhem 1618 is a 100% rag, acid free paper made in Holland. It has a beautiful surface, lovely color (both white and warm white) and comes in two weights. I used Akua intaglio ink,  printed on dry paper and was really pleased with the results; beautiful surface quality which accepted the ink perfectly. If you're looking to try a new paper, you won't be disappointed.

Sample pack of Arnhem paper.
By the end of the day I had a nice collection of working proofs to assess and decide which ones had the most potential. Tomorrow I'll single out my favorites, play around with inking options and decide whether any are worth submitting to CCP.