Saturday, March 31, 2012

Valley Artisans' TODAY!!!!

My First Display at Valley Artisans' Gallery
We have been very busy over the past week! On Monday my husband François drove me down to the US border at Prescott, so I could be "flagpoled" and officially enter Canada and begin my time as a PERMANENT RESIDENT!!! This means I can sell work in Canada and get a job if I am able. It is a glorious change for me after 18  months of being in limbo.

This morning I hung my work in the Valley Artisans' Co-op Gallery in Deep River. It is such a marvelous feeling to have been invited to be part of this wonderful Co-op that is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year! I will be selling large calligraphy pieces, letterpress prints, hand-made books and journals, and my new line of Ducks in a Row Press note cards that have original art and photographic reproductions of my work. The greeting cards are all suitable for framing too!

In addition to selling my own art productions in the gallery, I will be working two shifts per month to staff the gallery. It will be a great way for me to become more connected to the greater Deep River community.
In preparation for creating all these new images for my Ducks in a Row Press Note Card line, I have been working on the 8x12 Challenge Gordon Press non-stop for the past two weeks. I have really been enjoying the time I have had on press.

Collage letterpress over brush calligraphy image
I have been experimenting with collage letterpress printing techniques. I made several large brush calligraphy broadsides with gouache and while the paint was still somewhat damp, I imprinted a collage alphabet type form onto the page. My heart has been racing with anticipation for doing prints like these for years. I am really pleased with the outcome for my greeting card line. It is my hope to continue making larger collage prints of this type in the weeks to come. The card prints are approximately 5x7 to fit on a larger card base.

My larger prints will most likely need to be printed on the Vandercook 01 proofing press, as the alphabet type form I have in mind is much too large for the 8x12 bed of the Challenge Gordon. For now, I am going to continue to work with the type form I have in my 8x12 platen press, nicknamed Ned.

Collage letterpress over glossy magazine pap
In order to get some variations in background colour for the collage prints I have begun printing on colour gloss pages from magazines. This coated substrate is thin but tough, and allows the type to bite into the paper ever so slightly.

I am really loving the changes in visual depth that appear when collage printing on all the different papers I have in the shop. The experimentation part of all of this has my creative verve soaring like a hawk. I want to be up in the studio at 5 a.m. and at 9:30 p.m. François is calling down into the grotto for me to "close the shop for today" and come upstairs. I have not had this kind of creative flow since we moved to Deep River, and it feels glorious!

Alphabet collage type form in chase and bed of 8x12

As I look back over the prints, both the ones I have been saving and using, and the ones that are in the recycle bin, I am struck by the beauty of the space between the letters. Fitting lead type into spaces creatively, as in a collage, on the press bed is a challenge. I find each turn of the type "sort" brings a new view to the piece as a whole.  Working carefuly to layout the type on the composing stone, I always must have an eye to the formal "lock up" of the chase so that I can actually print what I see. It is  wonder to me that I am now able to move the type into places instinctively in a way that will allow me to add quads and thins to make sure everything remains locked up and tight once the quoins are turned.

Life is like that for me. The pieces don't always fit together neatly, but they do come together in a good way that reflects our hopes and desires. We may not always see the finished page before us while we are trying to "sort it all out" but when the final page comes through life's press, we can see the intricacies of shapes-thick against thin, round against square, and rectangle against arch. Those thin spaces betwixt and between are where I find God in my creative world. The distance between being born into this world and born into the next through death is very, very thin, like the spaces between shapes in my type form.

We are about to embark on Holy Week, the week where we walk with Jesus again through those thin spaces of the last week of his earthly life. During this week, with each breath I make, and each step I take, I will be reminded of that thin space where we can find God in our lives each and every day.

And I am reminded that it is in the thin spaces when we pray, that we offer our hearts, our souls, and our minds to God. If we offer all that we are and all that we have to God, all will be well, and all will be well, and with the grace and peace of the thin-ness of the distance between us, all will be well.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Work In Progress

I am working today on some collage printing with Hamilton Wood Type. I am printing on my 8x12 Challenge Gordon Press and having a blast.

The layers created between the letters when I overprint really intrigues me. These are works in progress as I work out ideas in my head for layered letters. Thought it would be fun to share! My intention is to create these with 3 and 4 colours to the impressions. I will post photos when I get to that point.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ned is up and running!

Stephen and Gayle with Ned
Stephen and Gayle Quick from Weathervane Press in Ottawa joined François and me for lunch on Thursday. Stephen helped to calibrate my new 8x12 Challenge Gordon Letterpress while Gayle hung out in my calligraphy studio. It was an absolutely marvelous day. Stephen was able to work on the throw-off lever and get it mostly working, as well as raise and level the platen for me. I was worried about trying to do this on my own and am very, very thankful for his gracious help in getting Ned up and running.

 I have been having a wonderful time learning about my press since they left. It inks up beautifully. The rails had to be taped, as most older presses, in order to get 3/32 stripe on the roller gauge. After about 10 strips of tape I had the 3/32 stripe and was ready to try and pull some prints. My good friend Rhonda came over to check out the press and arrived just in time to take some photos!

My old prop card form
It has simply been AMAZING to have Ned up and running. I have pulled proofs of the standing type from my former "prop" card.  The term “prop” is short for “proprietor,” stressing the individuality of the private press owner and operator, exercising freedom of the press. The prop’s card, or prop card, is akin to a calling card and contains all the pertinent information about the press and the proprietor. It is normally printed on a 3"x5" card which can easily be filed in a card box.

Type form on composing stone
Composing the type for my new prop card has been a real challenge. I decided to try some of the type that came in the Hamilton Cabinet Morris gave me with the press. I selected a font called "Bradley" and began to set the type in my composing stick. When I transferred the type to the stone, it became apparent that I did not have enough of the proper spacing material to make the form lock up tight in the chase for printing.  My goal for the week is to reset this form and pull some good prints.

I am very pleased with the impression I am getting with the press. I have adjusted the packing several times for different cuts I have in house and have had no difficulty getting clear even prints. It is early days yet, and I have so very much to learn, but it is WONDERFUL to have the press working at last. My head is swimming with ideas for projects! I will be patient and gentle on myself, however, and try to learn the proper composing procedure. I am working at keeping my press room tidy-makes it easier to find tools and materials when you need them.

Yesterday I went to Canadian Tire to get my jug of Hand Cleaner and a good stainless steel garbage can, and found one on sale! The hand cleaner is amazing for getting ink and grease completely off your hands at the end of the printing day. It is going to take a while, but I am starting to feel like an apprentice printer again! I have this small poster hanging in my studio that came from The Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA. My goals for being able to print are not to be a truly "fine letterpress printer" but rather to use the type and the press creatively to produce collage printed images of the alphabet for my books. It is going to be a spectacular journey, and I am enjoying the first steps!

My press is nicknamed Ned in honor of my teacher, and my friend, the late Father Edward Michael Catich, the world renown expert on Trajan Letters. Before Father was a priest, he was a signwriter and sometimes trumpet player in Chicago, where he picked up the nickname. He game me my nickname, Sadie, when I studied with him. I thought since he too was a letterpress printer early in his career I would name my first standing floor press after him.

It has been an amazing week here in the Grotto Studio. The snow is starting to melt, we have had some rain, and the flowering bushes that surround our home are beginning to show the tiniest of spring buds. Life is returning to the land. The air smells sweet and damp in the mornings and the redwing blackbirds are signing their song. My heart soars like a hawk when I think about the abundance that has come into my studio with all the materials and equipment that has been brought to me. My creative verve is soaring high, looking towards the sunrise, ready for the new day, with new challenges and work to complete. I look to celebrate this creativity by opening my heart and my hand to those around me who also wish to create and to share.

I know in my heart that through God's great gift of creativity and joy, my understanding of UBUNTO (I am a human being because  belong. I participate. I share.) will grow stronger, and that all will be well, and all will be well, and with the grace of God's holy spirit within us, all will be well.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

LENT and "Taking Up" Making New Books

Inside Front Cover Opening-Standing Book
The latter part off this week I began making new artist's books and also blank journal book structures. A dear friend, Dea Fischer, has published a new DVD , "Handmade Book Essentials." This is a wonderful DVD with basic and some advanced instruction on making folded books, side stitched books, and multiple signature books. You can order the DVD or a download a copy of the DVD from the link above. I have had great fun following the class and making books along with Dea.

Fully open folded book broadside view
 This is my first folded book based on instruction from Dea. It has calligraphic, type stamps, brush watercolour and pen elements. I completed the brush calligraphy and type stamps prior to folding the paper and cutting the pages. I added the pen calligraphy after the final cuts and folds were completed.

This book is intended to either be held in the hand, stood for a display, or laid out open, as a broadside, for viewing. This was a test run for me and I hope to be making more through next week.

Side Stitched Blank Journal, rice paper flyleaf
I have also been working on a book structure that is new to me, the side-stitched open sewn book. This is a marvelous structure for journals, albums, and scrap books. The one shown here is 8.5" x 11". I added silk screened Japanese rice paper to the inside of both covers, and also as an exterior decoration to the front cover. This cover is board and quite sturdy.

I am really am enjoying this particular book structure I will be exploring more forms in the weeks to come. I have posted a slide show here to illustrate my progress.

My creative verve for unique as well as  small edition artist's books is surging through the roof. In particular, I am considering a small letterpress edition of quotes and cuts from my collection, with hand coloured elements. For the next week, however, I will be concentrating on calligraphic folded books, and also some calligraphic side sewn collections of calligraphy illustrated with watercolour images. You can see a sample of Dea's instructional DVD by clicking HERE.

We are ending the first week of Lent tonight. (If you need a crash course in Lent, check out this video from Busted Halo by clicking HERE.) I find Lent and the prayer discipline that comes with it uniquely suited to my workshop practice of making calligraphic books and blank journals. For me Lent is not so much a time of "giving up" but of "taking up" something as part of my prayer practice. This Lent I have taken up trying to be in the studio by 7:00 a.m. every morning for pages and praying online with Sacred Space. I find the quiet of the house, and the heater warming the cool of the grotto studio, welcoming to my writing and praying.

I also am finding the quiet of the early morning conducive to listening to my heart and soul as I pray. Sometimes we can get so busy making sure we get all our own thoughts into our prayers, that we forget to rest a bit, open our hearts and get the wax out of our ears (both physical and spiritual) and listen to what God, in her infinite wisdom, is trying to share with us. In the quiet of the early morning I find that I am more aware than ever that the distance from this world to the next is very thin, and paying attention to that thin-ness is very important in bringing us closer to God.

More than ever, I feel called to create the artist's books and calligraphs that have been living in my heart and head all these years. Each letter I write, each stitch I take for binding, and each book I create and hold in my hand, reminds me that I have been called to do this creative work and to share it with others as my way of sharing my faith in God.

Each breath I take, each stroke I make, reminds me that if we open our hearts to  the infinite creativity, joy, and impassioned love that God wishes to share with us, that all will be well, and all will be well, and with the blessed love of God moving through the thin-ness of eternity, all will be well.