Tuesday, December 9, 2014

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. https://contemprints.org/  I've always wanted to participate in this juried show and I find I actually have time to do so. https://contemprints.org/images/2015_MiniPrint_PROSPECTUS-2.pdf 

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 http://littlestprintexchange.com/ and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of producing an edition of 50 tiny prints http://hardpressed-treetopstudio.blogspot.com/2011/09/one-size-fits-all.html 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.

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