Monday, March 31, 2008

Caterpillar & Warrior Bear - plus continued adventures and misadventures in print

Recently, I think by using Shop Local on Etsy, I discovered She has really beautiful and unique prints, among other things. We did a sort of bartering arrangement and I got this print I had been eyeing:

Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar

And also this:

Warrior Bear Magnet

I love these! And I know I'll see at least one of those caterpillars show up again this year when the fennel gets going. I doubt I'll see a warrior bear in person, but you never know.

For local people, go check out Julia's work, currently at the Visual Arts Studio and upcoming on May 17th at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden's art & craft show

* * *

So, this weekend I dropped in on a print making open house at Visual Arts Center (not to be confused with Visual Arts Studio), which I still very much want to call the Hand Work Shop

To make a long story short, once again I have concluded that print making (in most forms) takes a lot of prep and is messy and time consuming (none of which I'm saying is a negative thing). It's just difficult to get into if you're not prepared.

I thought I finally learned the difference between monotype and monoprint, although here it is explained in a way that makes me think I'm still not quite certain. I'm constantly getting hung up on terminology, I think because I like getting hung up on terminology. I love finding out what all the materials and implements and machinery parts are called. Anyway, I made a very simple monotype. One was the result of drawing with a stick on top of the paper on top of the plate, the other (the one with the red background) went through the press.
Comparing the outcome to last week's project, I think I prefer drypoint, though that is even more press-reliant. I also found out some things about the wood block class they have, and that's really the class I'd want to take the most, although I fear my carving strengths would not be adequate.

So, for now it's just screenprinting for me. The most recent episode involved my attempt to use the leftover photo emulsion which had been in refrigerator since last time I used it. It looked usable as I was pouring it onto the screen. But it smelled gross, and I'm thinking I should have thrown it out. Too late though. The next day, after I left it to burn the image all night, the screen's surface was all globby and uneven. Then when I tried to wash it out at first nothing was happening and then the edges of the images started to crumble off. Lesson (learned?) once again: stop taking short cuts and stop trying to use materials that are past their prime. Oh yeah, but I filled in the chunked off parts with screen filler and I'm going to try and see if I can still get some prints from it.

In other news, my upcoming "reveal" (if this was a reality show) involves the following sneak peek:

eye - sneak peek

Monday, March 24, 2008

bird skull, bug skin, potatoes with long eyes, milking a Bosnian cow and tarlatan

Reports from the backyard:

bird skull and bug skin
I'm not sure what the moral of the story is, but I found these two things outside today. And somehow they seemed to go together.

seed potatoes
Seed potatoes. I know potatoes grow underground but I didn't realize "seed potatoes" existed and could be purchased by the pound out of wooden barrels. But now I got some and they are hopefully doing their thing out in the dirt. I did use legit yukon gold seed potatoes and also some red potatoes from the grocery store that grew eyes. We'll see if this potato experiment results in any clear conclusions on potato culture.

I got two old tires from my dad, to use as a potato-planting area. Thanks to T.K. and folks at the Y.L. for giving me the idea. I also used some plastic garden edging to create another area, because once I cut the potatoes I had too many to fit in the tire space. I'm trying really hard not to crowd plants, because I'm still having trouble coming to terms with the idea of thinning plants. I guess that's really the way you grow healthy plants, but I don't actually know how to do it. And it seems like a waste. But I'm just being sentimental, I guess.

On the topic of printing (with a hodgepodge of links)

In other news, this weekend I attended a dry point workshop at Gallery 5 put on by a local org called Art on Wheels. It was fun and the people were very nice. And I probably asked too many questions, but that seems to be my way.

I brought this photo as a reference from which to make the image.
This is one of my favorite photos from Bosnia. This lady was a neighbor of the people I was staying with and she was very excited to show me her milking station (located in a sort of stone room under a barn) and also a horse and a manure field. She was extremely enthusiastic.

So, what did I learn about dry point? Well, like all other printmaking techniques I've attempted so far, this one is also relatively complicated, messy and time consuming.

First we scratch our image (which will print in reverse) on a plate. Traditionally it would be metal, but we used plastic, which enabled tracing from a photo.
drypoint plate

Then there's this whole long step where you apply and then rub off ink. You rub it off with a stiff cheesecloth called a tarlatan. I like that word. On a side note, I just read that tutus used to be made out of tarlatan until that was replaced with tulle.

Anyway, then place the rubbed off ink plate on the press, over which you place a dampened sheet of the paper, and then you run it through. Turning the press wheel took a lot more physical gusto than I was prepared for. At any rate, if you don't totally screw it up, your print will be ready on the other end of the press.

(paper isn't really that color, my camera is just pretending it is).

So, how do I feel about drypoint vs. screenprinting? Well, for one the way we did this there wasn't any talk of using more than black ink, and my great downfall in screen printing is failure to follow rules and register inks properly. So in that way, drypoint was less taxing on my brain. But then again, screen printing can be done without owning a press and overall it is less tiring as far as arms and wrists and hands go. (And that's always one of my issues).

So, I was just reading that drypoint is part of the intaglio family. I'm not quite sure I can remember the differences in each type of printing. But here's some discussion that explains the "dry" in drypoint referring to no acid being involved. In addition, I don't know how to get myself to pronounce things like intaglio (pronounced in-TAL-yo, IPA: [ɪn'tælɪəʊ] correctly. Lastly, does the twisted etching tool Whistler's Needle refer to James McNeill Whistler, son of Whistler's Mother? Apparently so.

So, I'm going to think this over and return to explore printing techniques at a later date.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Strawberry Kids

Strawberry Kids

Quite a while ago, I posted a photo of Strawberry Boy under the title Naked Strawberry, because he had no clothes.

Now he has clothes, and his friend Strawberry Girl is out and about as well. Maybe there will be more Strawberry Kids, but only time will tell. These two are now residing in the Toys and Doodads section of my shop.

I attempted to make a stop motion with these two, and I think it would have been pretty cute, but unfortunately it came out all pixelated and funky. The weird thing is - one single frame was clear, and I have no idea why. Nevertheless, I put in on YouTube. I think I'm just going to have to do the digital movie thing as a trial and error work in progress. Once I figure out what I'm doing maybe I'll do remakes or an epic or something.

Monday, March 17, 2008

snake charmer and other backyard sideshows

Or perhaps, Snake C(harmer)

snake charmer

Today's episode of Fun with Neighborhood Cats featured thrilling hunt by feline vs. reptile. The snake charmer photo above reminds me of those cute photos you see of things like a hippo hanging out with a turtle, or a mouse playing with a parakeet, or a baby alligator swimming with a baby manatee. So I'm going to pretend this photo is all about peace and love of a sweet cat and a mild mannered snake, and maybe it really is after all, even if one of them had to play dead. (I'm pretty sure this snake was injured or just extremely stressed out. But later I moved him and I think he managed to get away, because he wasn't in the same place when I checked back).

In less charming back yard undertakings, I had a container for collecting grubs and another for worms. The grubs are for the birds (and to get them out of the garden), and the worms go back in after weeding and such.


So far in the garden, the peas are doing the best.

Unfortunately, once again I convinced myself after planting a row of something and leaving it unmarked that "Oh, I'll remember what I planted there." And now I can't remember.

For example:


The choices are: arugula, mesclun, lettuce, swiss chard, and something else I forgot. I think it's arugula. Someday I'll be the kind of wise person who can recognize plants (even seedlings) by sight.

Other things I planted and did not mark were: turnips, rhutabaga, kohlrabi. I know where these all are, I just don't know which row is which.

The things I marked include: carrots, spinach, radish (2-3 kinds), maybe something else I forgot.

pear blossoms?

And this was exciting: for the first time since whenever I planted it, this fruit tree is blooming. My memory must be shot, because not only do I not remember how long it's been there, I also don't know for 100% sure what it is... but I think it's pear. Maybe it will someday have pears?

Stay tuned for: non-edible strawberries.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

freakish animals from far and wide

Some time ago, some freakish animals named Craylamb, Two-headed flying Panther, Ram Roach and Lizard-tailed Frogbra went out into the world via my etsy shop.

These daring pioneers joined my friend D. in New York, where they soon became inhabitants of some premium display cases.

Freaky animals display by nolegacy

And now I've gotten word from a great customer named boogi child that her freakish animals - White-collared Horsadile and Bumble Monkey - are now proud wall occupants in these wonderful hanging dioramas she created.

boogi child's freakish animal diorama

boogi child's freakish animal diorama

boogi child's freakish animal diorama

It's great to see where the freakish animals make their homes and I'm so glad they keep in touch.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

choice etsy embroidery aggregated for your convenience

embroidery on etsy

embroidery on etsy

Larger version is here.

So, speaking of embroidery (which there's often time to speak of), I recently went on an etsy hunt to find some of the coolest embroidery. And since I never even try to get treasuries anymore, I just made one using poster sketch.

Some of this stuff is amazing. I tried to stick to hand done embroidery, not that I'm against machinery... but I guess I just have a soft spot for people with achy fingers.

Here are the links:
unirabbit - the frog bag
fat cat - meowstro
nature's garbageman - jilldrapermakesstuff
the meditation - chatnoirstudios
what i look like - wildethyme
woop woop - rebeccajaynedagger
redwork elf - cornflowercreations
i hart wayne - crumpart
swans - indianablue
dancer - sarahgail
squeaky wheel - couchdesign
cityscape - ramblinworker
lumberjack underpants - rosieok
what a manly pouch - MABbymorgan
happy utensils - melysbaby
fat cat - aronlowe

I purchased some things from thefrogbag a while back. I really love thefrogbag's goods. I got a trilobite cat toy for Patches and a tadpole bag for myself.

As for my embroidery... well, I'm still working on taking forever project as well as more embroidered-headed dolls. I'll have to give an update on these things at a later date.

I had another topic to post, but I think I'll wait on that one for next time.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Karee Raisu and a Crochet Tongue

karee raisu pincushion

Karee raisu is the Japanese "katakana English" word for curry rice. And that's Japanese curry rice (quite different than an Indian or other Southeast Asian curry). It's kind of like a thick curry gravy stew served with sticky white rice. It's one of my favorites!

karee raisu pincushion

So, I had been planning this for some while, since I bought some tiny little china "bowls" at the thrift store. This is a curry rice pincushion. I was scared the curry rice pincushion in my head wasn't going to come out... but I'm very pleased that it worked out pretty much as I imagined it.

I need to get to the post office before it closes in the late morning. I have a postmark deadline to meet, and if anything is a form of motivation, it's a postmark deadline.

If I make the deadline, I'm planning on entering the curry rice pincushion and a re-worked toothy pincushion into the Interweave Press Pincushion Contest. Thanks to my friend Catherine for telling me about it quite a while ago - of course I waited until a week before the deadline to get these going.

I had to "learn" to crochet as a technique which would fulfill the requirements. So I crocheted a tongue for a toothy pincushion.

toothy pincushion - crocheted tongue

Previous incarnations of the toothy pincushion have been sewn velvety fabric. It's much much more difficult to crochet a pincushion tongue than it is to sew one.

toothy pincushion - crocheted tongue

It's been a hectic week, craft-wise. Let alone organization/cleaning/yardwork-wise. There's just too much I need to do. As crazed as they make me, deadlines really are helpful.