Hand Pulled Prints, Books, Drawings and More

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Studio Changes and Stone Lithography

my messy new space
 Oxbow Press has become Oxboo Press. After a lot of hard work and difficult decisions my studio will no longer be pursuing a non-profit status and has become a private studio space. Mostly this means that I will have to get a business license in order to continue teaching but I will still have access to the workshop and my own private working area.This is going to be a change, but not a bad one. We will still be hosting many events, both social and creative, during the local Artown and NADA DADA festivals this summer. More info and dates will come soon for those events.

My Closeable Door and I!

In the mean time I am in the process of moving (again) to a slightly different studio space. Candace moved out of her office and I moved in! The space is perfect for me because it allows me to be in a social environment without being approachable if I need privacy. Vicki's giant piece of cork broke apart so I carved some stuff out of it to use myself. I'm pretty happy with the design I achieved - what do you think?

some of the litho stones resting
this one is backed with slate
Over this past week we were lucky enough to hold the truly amazing, talented and amicable Kathryn Polk. Check out her inspiring website - Non Indigenous Woman. Kathryn's specialty is stone lithography, an ancient and beautiful printmaking technique which has enthralled me for years. I was very lucky to be asked to create an image on one of our recently acquired stones as well as treat and print the stone! It was a truly fantastic experience which has re-awakened my love of printmaking in new ways. Kathryn was very generous to allow myself and a few others to observe her and Ann Hoff printing as well as allowing us to print ourselves. My heartfelt thanks go out to her. I had dreams about sponging stone after the first day!

my images after printing and etching
closeup of one stone
Traditional stone lithography teaches artists to use the LAW - Lithotene, Asphaltum, and Water - to achieve the "etch" that adheres an image drawn or transferred in grease pencil to the stone. However the genius George Roberts, who created many fantastic new non-toxic printmaking techniques including polyester plate lithography, and others discovered a way of using a certain kind of paste wax in place of the LAW. This was a monumental step forward from traditional chemicals which required respirators, ridiculous ventilation and were linked to cancer in artists who routinely used such substances.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Compare and Contrast

A lot of people don't understand what I mean when I tell them the at I am a book binder in addition to being an artist. They think "oh yea, because they used to sew books together - what antiquated technology!" and this is true. WHAT?! (one may exclaim at this juncture) Why would I admit one of the techniques I use is out-dated? The simple answer is that mass-produced adhesive bindings are much cheaper than traditional sewn bindings. If glue bindings mean that more people have the chance to learn then by all means - glue away!

Adhesive has it's proper place in the archival and traditional book world. If I didn't have my PVA I wouldn't be able to bind anything except the very simplest of cloth or paper-covered sewn books. No glue means no leather hard covers, nothing more than five signatures at the most to a book, and a weaker binding at that. The show How It's Made did segments on different book bindings. Watching these two videos highlighted the basic differences between adhesive and traditional sewn bindings and were very informational.

"Modern" Books made with adhesive

"Traditional" Book Binding done by a Master Binder

Check out your local area for book binderies and book artists. Many practitioners of the traditional western European book binding and repair trade are not big online or even in the yellow pages. No matter where you are, there is probably a book artist studio or bindery somewhat near you. I can't speak for small towns, but even in Reno and more rural places in Nevada there are nimble fingers at work on well-lit work benches. However, I have only ever met these wonderful people by chance or through a person-to-person connection. Renaissance fairs, outdoor markets, and (of course)  book making conventions like CBAA are great places to look. Definitely don't spend money or time at a conventions without a little information about what you are looking for and who you'd like to meet. Chances are that if they came to the convention the artists there will be happy to talk to you.

You might not even have to travel! You could be living down the street or only an hour away from a shop. Not everyone teaches classes and supplies in this trade are very expensive, so if you are lucky enough to find a Master Binder in the studio always call first to set up an appointment IF they are willing to let you see their studio. Aretha got it right, R-E-S-P-E-C-T! As with anyone, you will get a better response if you are respectful of space, materials, and time. Good luck!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gramma's Book

Alphonse poses with the book
Created a guest book this afternoon for Gramma Gloria's rosary service this evening and her mass on Friday. It's hard to think that she's left us but she was strong and had a great life. I hope people write some good memories of her in this book. It was good to be in the shop and this is a really simple hard cover multiple signature book structure. I think the paper is really pretty, and imagine this would have looked quite at home next to her cook books in the family kitchen.

Tries to read - it's blank right now!
Front inside cover

Stitches through the spine
front outside cover
Nice to be around people again too. My awesome friend at Oxbow gave me a super-cool Stonehenge Paper sketchpad when I freaked after realizing my current one was full.  The covers are beautiful thick blank board so I HAD to start drawing on them. Notice the happy little monster? Monsters make everything more fun. More to come for this journal, there is.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Explore! It's worth it, I promise

Seattle alleyway
Had a great time visiting the north west of the United States this past weekend. Put over 1600 miles on my car driving from Reno to Washington state to see one of my best friends graduation with her B.A. in English from the University of Puget Sound. Believe it or not, the weather was sunny and nice until the last day - the day that she walked across the stage to receive her diploma. Regardless of the weather, which I was anticipating, my partner and I enjoyed exploring Tacoma's Glass Museum and the city center of Seattle.

"Skylight" picture taken from underneath the sidewalk
We decided to take a tour of "underground Seattle" which was incredibly informative and lots of fun. Our guide knew loads about the history of Seattle and the general northwest region. She even directed us to an outstanding book bindery in a restored section of these underground areas called Ars Obscura Book Binding. There I met the patient and fascinating Master Bookbinder Radcliffe who gave me great information about his illustrious profession.

shaping red-hot glass
artists using blowtorches

By then it was lunch time so we scarfed some delicious gyros and headed down to the Tacoma Glass Museum. At the Glass Museum we were able to watch an artist creating work in their studio space called the Hot Shop. It was amazing how quickly these people had to work shaping and molding the glass as soon as it came out of the 2300F degree machines.
Hot Shop from the outside - I couldn't fit it in the frame!

Experiencing different artistic environments is important. Don't think you know "how things are" just because that's the way the cookie crumbles wherever you live. Always strive to seek out the new, the old and the different together. I'm trying to teach myself this lesson and I want to pass it to you before you get into a rut!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Family Matters

Our time on this earth is transient, and whether we know the end is near or not we must always take advantage of opportunities to appreciate those people in our lives who are important to us. My wonderful grandmother, Gloria Meyer, is almost 95 years old. She was born in Reno to the Oppio family newly moved from Cinqueterra, Genova, Italy and lived on the family ranch while attending school here in Reno with her six siblings. Gloria was the second person in her family to get an education after high school, and she obtained the equivalent of an associates degree in business from a school in California before returning to Reno, and her family, to open the Dinner Bell restaurant which she ran for many years. She cooks like a fiend, has a self-castigating and aggressive sense of humor, and nothing is more important to her than family. My parents, brothers and I cared for her as her health began to fail almost ten years ago, and last night we were told she may not have much longer than a few days left with us. Gloria has an amazing story. She is an amazing woman.
My paternal grandmother, Phyllis Kaiser, passed away in 2009 and her death left an emptiness in me that I could not have forseen. I am trying to learn from these experiences, but it is difficult. I did a short series of small books about Phyllis and her impact on my life. One of my sharpest memories as a child was of visiting her home and shyly asking to watch her type on her "fancy electric typewriter," listening to the clicking of the keys and watching the physical impact of each letter on the page. I was enraptured. And as I got older she allowed me to type a few words, then a poem, then one day I began typing and was so absorbed that I didn't realize she had left the room and almost an hour had passed as I worked amid stacks of paper and possessions in her study. I have recently acquired a Selectric typewriter. Perhaps I can combine the memories of both matriarchs in a new line of work. 

Please remember, even if you already tell your loved ones how important they are, and how they matter to you take a moment to tell them one more time. Feel in your heart that connection and understand how much it can mean to someone to know that they are cherished.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Learn Box Making!

How cool is box-making? VERY!
We will make boxes like this in my workshop!
Make beautiful enclosures for your most precious of treasures or a unique creation for a friend or loved one. I will be teaching an introductory course on box making on May 28th. Students are encouraged to bring decorative elements such as buttons, special paper or cards, ribbons, photos, jem-stones and more to embellish their boxes. Oxbow Press will supply all necessary materials, but it would be so much fun to brighten up your box with things that have personal meaning.

This is only a One-Day workshop and will take place Saturday, May 28th.
Sign up at http://oxbowpressclasses.blogspot.com/p/book-arts.html

Class fee is $65 for Oxbow Press Members
$75 for Non-Members

Don't want to attend, but still want a lovely box? Check out my Etsy store online! Velesia's Bindery & Prints Or you can always buy books, art, boxes and cards from me at Oxbow Press - just come by on Thursdays between 10am and 5pm .
Hand Bound Recycled Journals
Peacock inspired screen printed Cards

This box is an example, but it is also for sale
with the lid closed

Lotus Flower Card on lavender paper
Look at that pretty Coptic stitch!
Just click on an image to view it larger!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lessons from the RMPAS

Enclosures, Structures, Protection
Direction, Planning, Technique
Identity, Individuality, Emotion

Familiarity, Challenge, Definitions
If I learned anything from the Rocky Mountain Printmaking Alliance Symposium that I attended last week, it's that perspective matters. There were some very talented printmakers giving presentations at the Symposium, from Kathryn Polk's multi-color stone and polyester plate lithography to Justin Diggle's large copper etching and aquatints. The student's open portfolio was interesting as well, and a good opportunity for me to see where I was on the scale of amateur work. I don't consider myself a professional artist since I don't earn any money from my artistic efforts, but I'm beginning to go in a different direction. Artists are not people who like to be nailed down into one technique or stereotype. Just because money is an important part of my life that dictates what I can and cannot do (as far as travel, art supplies, studio space, etc.) doesn't mean that it defines who I am.
In my family who we are individually is described more heavily by our professions than our gender, skin color, or age. My mother is a teacher, a scientist, a mother and an activist. My father is a leader, teacher, father and activist. My grandmothers were mother, musician, volunteer and nurse - business woman, negotiator, cook and parent. I could drown in all the nouns that describe the people who inspire and affect my life.
This symposium showed me that I have a lot of growing ahead of me. My partner has shown me that I got a good start. My teachers have shown me that I have the potential to go far.

Wear gloves when cleaning wood blocks

Don't freak out if they don't have your name at Registration.

They are just people, don't be scared!

Drinking can be good for you.

Costume Bowling is even better.

Especially when everyone participates!

Have a good time no matter where you are.

Heavy machinery can be very exciting; contain yourself.

Any excuse to make friends is a good one.

Especially when they give you flowers - thanks Stephanie!