Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nn for nest

This is the final version of the collaborative print done with Sami's 3rd grade class.
I cut a color block for the background but kept it simple and deliberately left the squares of the children's drawings white. My creative contribution is the purple letters to the top Left and the choice of blue for the background. I found a nice dark blue mat and frame at the local art store and will drop it off tomorrow.

Printing a big, damp sheet of Washi was much harder than I expected and there is some spotting of ink to the print that is the result of it just being harder to manipulate and print a big sheet of paper.

I printed a total of 7 copies. Three on Shin Torinoko ( a machine made paper made of linen and acid-free pine pulp and 4 on Masa Dosa, a handmade Japanese paper that is a very bright white and rougher in texture. There are 2-3 less-than perfect impressions and one that I printed on the wrong side of the paper leaving 3 pretty good copies.
Hopefully they'll find homes soon.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nest Egg

The local elementary school is holding an "arts" auction to benefit the arts program for the school. I was asked to volunteer to help the class work on a group project that could then be auctioned (ransomed?) off to the parents at the upcoming evening event. Some classes have done some pottery work, another is working on a tiled fountain, others, refrigerator magnets.
As the class is working extensively on birds as a topic I had the children do drawings of something about the bird they had chosen to study and to do some preparatory sketches to collage together. The idea was to collage them together in an interesting way leaving me to carve the drawing out in the calm of my studio and then print them together in the classroom.

I got lots and lots of neat drawings. But in the end I had to do two collages. One with a drawing from each student. It turned out much more varied and lively, but very cluttered and I feared would be very hard and time consuming to carve.
The other pulled out all the larger drawings that coincidentally (mostly drawn by the girls) were of the nests. Those that included tree branches/trunks I was able to link visually and I collaged them all together in a more spare and open composition. To add a little Male energy I included a small drawing of a raptor carrying a fresh kill to its young done by one of the boys. Still, it took a long time to carve all the kids' energetic and swirling pencil lines.

Today we printed the proofs in class. I managed in teams to get the class of 21 together to brush out rice paste and Sumi on the board and pull a few prints using all the barens I have ( there were a few moments that seemed more like air hockey than printing with two kids on each side of the board printing burnishing away. But, they got a good idea of the process and as I brought in the original collage, a xerox copy and then the printed image they were able to compare the level of fidelity or loss inherent in the process.

The Shina plywood board is 22" X 28" and the paper size of the proof I pulled in class today is 19 "X28" This is the key block and it will have a background color block cut and trialed this weekend. Surprisingly, the whole class liked all the horizontal lines that I left by incompletely clearing the block before printing and voted to leave them in.

At the end of the class one child innocently asked, "but what happens if no one wants to buy it?" I suppose we'll just donate it to the local hospital children's ward or maternity wing.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pizza Oven taking form

Well, I haven't been printmaking much because my simple "2 weekend" project has stretched on and on.

Mostly my part for making it bigger than we probably need for a home "test" oven. It finished out at 27-28" in interior diameter which seems small but requires a lot of material. Last weekend we gathered sand from the beach and from a friend's creekbed (13 five-gallon buckets total) and I dug another 4 of mud/soil/dirt from the yard.
We built a little test dome of wet sand to see if it held, I made a few test bricks of my mud and when all looked good we charged ahead.

First day of round III: I got up early and layered a 1/2" layer of sand over the dense mud base. Then I carefully placed my firebrick hearth on the sand getting them tight together and all flat (I needed two tries).

Then I mixed a bit of mud to "mortar in place the brick floor of the opening. Then, once I got a few neighborhood kids together we built the sand hemisphere which serves as the form for the clay shell. It took a lot of sand and a lot longer than I imagined. 6 Buckets of sand later we had a nice smooth sand dome.

Day 2 of round III: Get a tarp. Put out 4 buckets of sand in a circle, 2 buckets of soil/clay in the middle, add a bit of water from the hose and mix. We mixed with our shoed/booted feet (some sharp stones in the sand). It took about an hour to mix up half of the mix for the shell. Jumping and grinding the sand into the clayey/dirt. We started building the clay shell packing it carefully around the dome of wet sand (which we had covered with wet newspaper to keep it separate from the mud.

We should have finished the dome the same day. But we were too slow and my helpers all abandoned me to play outside.

Day 3 of round III: We finished the clay shell once the kids got out of school. We built up and in and over the top of the dome trying to get 4 inches thick layer over the sand. We finished just before dark and I evened it all out with a wooden board.
Now it looked a bit like Jabba the Hut in Star Wars.

Day 4 of round III:
Now the hard part. I need to carefully scoop out the wet sand from the doorway and not have the clay oven collapse. I waited a bit too long and a big crack opened up as the walls of the dome slumped a bit over the rigid sand form. It closed once I dug out the sand and shouldn't be a problem. But it didn't collapse! Now, with the sand out it will dry faster.

While not finished (I need to add an insulating layer around the clay and smooth it all out so it looks nice) but it will be useable once it dries for pizza at least. Tomorrow we'll light a little fire in it to help dry out the clay.

No pizza tonight. From building the sand dome to finishing the clay shell should all have been done on the same day but it took us 4 days. It would go faster if I have to do it again but the real key is to get help and do it as a group project.