Hell Roarin' Print Shop

Hell Roarin' Print Shop
1897 Chandler & Price at the Museum's Print Shop

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Vintage halftone portrait plates

I feel like I'm cheating a little bit by proofing these letterpress plates from the WMM on an etching press instead of a letterpress, but c'est la vie. They aren't printing as perfectly as I would like them to, but I think I have to chalk this up to the fact that the plates are quite old and sometimes warped or the halftone is damaged in areas.

Overall they are quite difficult to ink, especially on the medium gray halftones, because I cannot tell if I have inked the whole plate, low spots and all. It is also very easy to over ink a halftone plate and accidentally fill in the dots, so I can't just mash the brayer onto the surface. I actually can't really think of a time where a printmaker would ever want to mash their brayer/roller onto their printing matrix...

I found it really exciting to see the plates on the press like this, so I wanted to share them with you all.

This portrait is currently my favorite of all of them, I enjoy the how ghostly the image is and how she fades into the background. 

Some of these plates have names written on the back in gorgeous script writing that I can barely read. I'm hoping to enlist some help of the generations before me who are accustomed to reading very loopy handwriting so we can decipher who some of these women are!


Monday, March 7, 2016

"Watershed" portfolio exchange

  1. 1.
    an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas.
    "the Mackenzie River watershed"
  2. 2.
    an event or period marking a turning point in a course of action or state of affairs.
    "these works mark a watershed in the history of music"
    synonyms:turning point, milestone, landmark
    "a watershed in the party's history"

First, what is a portfolio exchange? An exchange is usually organized by an individual or group (i.e. SGCI or MAPC conferences). The artist has to address the theme of the portfolio, such as: dreamland, flux, sphere, watershed, communities west, navigating currents, etc... the theme can be about whatever the organizer wants the artists to think about and make artwork about. Each artist will be invited into the exchange and be expected to make a certain edition of prints. In the case of "Watershed" the forty participating printmakers were required to make 42 prints and will then receive 40 different prints back (well I guess 39 since I do receive one of my own back). The other two prints or sets of prints will be housed permanently in the Boise State University's special collections and exhibited at the Katherine Albertson Library at Boise State University in April 2016.

Exchange portfolios are a great way to build your exhibition resume and grow your art collection. Plus you get to see what other contemporary printmakers are doing and create relationships with them.

The requirements for Watershed were this:
  •  -Hand process printmaking media only (intaglio, relief, monotype, lithography, collagraph and/or photographic variations of these processes are welcome). Please no ink jet prints or photography.
  •  Paper size: 11” x 14” (horizontal or vertical orientation)
  •  Edition Size: 42
  •  Interleaving: Glassine wrapped around each print (like a taco shell)

Here is my print for it, all made on the line-o-scribe at the IBRC. All the image pieces are from the WMM.

Final print "Superfund"

Metallic copper ink is my jam right now

Old image of the Berkeley Pit


First sketch and design

Second design, the final result was pretty close to this

Hand stenciled the copper wave on the type for each print!

My artist statement for "Superfund"

The Berkeley Pit is a former open pit copper mine which operated from 1955 until its closure on Earth Day in 1982. It is over a mile wide and is filled with water that is heavily acidic and laden with heavy metals and chemicals that threaten to pollute the surrounding groundwater. It is rare that the pit is ever out of eyesight when in Butte because it is so massive. I have been living next to this toxic body of water for years, albeit not as close to it as I am now. My outsiderness to Butte has not let me glance over this looming disaster; it threatens all westerners through an actual trickle down effect. In seven years, the threat of contamination could become a major turning point for communities in the surrounding area. My print functions as an in-your-face reminder that The Berkeley Pit is a problem that needs to be solved sooner rather than later. 


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Type Twofers

Wood type will sometimes come with a two-for-one deal. This means that occasionally a letter (which usually has a flat back) will actually have another letter on its back or sometimes even an image. These have been coined Type Twofers and they are a fun thing to discover.

Most type, according to Hatch Show Print, "will not be carved on both sides, mainly because if a letter was needed, it would just be ordered as a sort from the type manufacturer, or, one of the designers could carve a sort using a piece of the type-high wood that was always on hand (for designing poster imagery)."

I own a set of wood type that came with 3 type twofers.

O=5, ffi=N, H=A
I feel no preciousness to this font because it's actually quite banged up and I've had to make great efforts for it print, mostly because a lot of the letters are not type high (0.918"). So when I needed one more "e" in order to spell something correctly, it was not heart wrenching to pick a letter that was the same width and carve my own. If it was a nicer set/font I probably would not carve it on the back of a letter, but would grab a piece of linoleum and make it that way. 

I chose an "S" to carve the new "e" in. The green tape is to bump up the original "e" to type high.

In the process of carving it. 

Final result, it ended up printing OK
I definitely did not match the "e" with the finesse that the original had, but it worked for the print I was doing!

If you would like to see more examples of twofers you can search Instagram for #typetwofers