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cutting up nice things

October 16, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Finally I get my act together to make some three dimensional letters. This has been a written-down goal on the list for about 3 years now.

Three-dimensional letters, version one:

  • freehand-cut slightly ‘wacky’ letters out of overlapping test print
  • cut meticulous z-axis part out of screenprinted paper, with lots of lil tabs, tiny folds, & vigorous cursing
  • glue z-axis part to back of letter with white glue, toothpick, bone folder, and more cursing
  • glue traced/cut copy of letter (out of orange paper) to the back of the z-axis part to complete ‘box’ of letter
  • realize they look cooler incomplete, also this is taking WAY too darn long, so leave a bunch incomplete (for now)

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three-dimensional letters, version two:

  • take an old print of which you have a lot of non-edition/”slightly messed up” copies that have been sitting around in the studio for 3+ years
  • cut letters out of it, slice slice! selecting for cool color/pattern moments
  • use a little template card to get the angle and widths consistent, curves are by eye/hand
  • cut up a lot of cardboard pieces, don’t cut yourself or hurt your wrist, ok?
  • stack stack stack!

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(template guy, knife for scale)

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Okay!

traveling — locally

July 17, 2013 at 4:21 pm

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While sitting outside on the bridge and working on the drawing for the Manchester St. Power Station image (actual print on paper on slight pause right now, totebags are in production and I think I’ll be seeing them soon?) I became aware that every day I was drawing outside I would come home and say “drawing outside! it’s the best! I love it! I feel great!” etc.

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So, when making a big to-do list / plan with Emmy a couple of weeks ago, I made sure to put “sunny days: go draw outside” on the list. Gotta put it on the list if you wanna get to do it! And too many summers have gone by when I’ve had a strong intention to sit outside & draw, that has never turned into actually taking the time to do that…

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After getting the tote bag design done (which ended up being a lot of adobe illustrator work on minute adjustments to vector points, driving me totally crazy) I was like “get me outside now” and started doing a bunch of bike riding & exploration & looking for cool stuff & sitting down & drawing it. Also taking pictures of buildings, hand-painted or otherwise interesting signs, and other things…

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Basically I feel like I am “traveling” in my own city. Not “traveling” like “on vacation”, but “traveling” as in letting your open-eyed-ness become acute, seeing things for the first time as you do when you are in a new place… being an alert observer of what is around you, looking for the patterns and noticing the ordinary. It’s pretty great to be able to open my eyes really intentionally to the place where I have lived for 14 years.

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Also I’m pushing myself to explore further & go places I haven’t been before, see things that I have never seen, that are hiding just around the corner from me in Cumberland or East Prov or Cranston or West Warwick… Bike is obviously the best vehicle for this kind of exploration…

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So there are no drawings in this post cause I haven’t scanned them yet! and partially because they are a little ‘fragile’, not physically but in my understanding of them, they’re still practice / process, not ‘product’ yet… which they maybe never have to be? or maybe what makes them interesting is because they are a record of the discovery that is taking place while they are being made… ? But I’ll put some scans up soon, promise…

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These photos are all from one day exploring in Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls, Cumberland, and Lincoln, with the always awesome Meg Turner, who also loves bike riding and exploring, who can be recognized by her catchphrase re. abandoned buildings: “There’s always a way to get inside”. I didn’t finish my drawing yet… have to go back to the building & look at the light again…. !

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some linkssss:

Valley Falls Company (site of the first photograph). Also, the Blackstone River Valley is where all these photos are from & it’s beautiful!

Meg’s print of the Pawtucket/CF train station

The Club Juventude Lusitana in Cumberland…

Festa de São João


okay finally I got someone to take a picture of me next to this graffiti on North Main St (photo by Meg). I still have serious ambivalence about my representation in photos, so it goes… but I guess I can put this out in the world… !

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pushing away from certainty

May 15, 2013 at 7:22 am

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I’m teaching this silkscreen class, on transparent colors & rubylith, now for the second time at the AS220 Community Printshop, and for my fourth time overall. I think it’s become clear that the crucial component of the class is that the people who are learning get to try stuff out, try a lot of things, and try doing those things different ways — a whole bunch of different ways.

I can say “a good way to tape off the screen is like so” or “you might have more success getting good coverage with the flood if you hold the squeegee at a shallower angle”, and I might have some authority on those things being “right” — but even so, none of that stuff will solidify until you do it a bunch of times.

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(I will quickly note that at the same time as I definitely *do* have methods & techniques that I teach or recommend, I also maintain that there is no objective “right” in screenprinting, just a lot of collections of widely varying strategies for getting various desired results…!)

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Then there are things that I actually have no idea how to teach or what to recommend, as when the question comes up: “What colors will look good together?” It’s up to you as the printer, and as the learner, to determine this. The way you would figure it out is the same way I would start to address the question: try out lots of different colors and combinations of colors, try things you wouldn’t think would look good, allow yourself to be surprised, don’t rule out options…

There *are* some principles that we can work from. In this scenario where we’re printing two layers of transparent color over each other to get three separate areas of color, one thing we’ve learned is that overlapping complementary colors (blue-orange, red-green, etc) produce a color that is the most *different* from each color by itself…

…as seen in these newsprint tests from Lara’s print:

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This can be extrapolated into subtle strategy like “if you want two grays to overlap and make a very different gray where they overlap, push one of them a little into the orange zone & one of them a little into the blue zone”… But it’s not a hard-and-fast rule, just a potentially useful tactic. (The only actual hard-and-fast color rule I know of (and it only applies in the US & Europe, maybe?) is: “If you put red & green together, people will think ‘Christmas’ even if they try their hardest not to.”)

Sometimes when I’m working on a print, I make a small color test strip — in some kind of layout that will show me how each color will combine with each other color — and print that beforehand with a bunch of different potential color combinations. Here, we’re making a small-ish image, and using the image itself as a way to test colors. This removes the necessity of imagining the tested colors onto the image, and makes the process that much more direct.

Everybody prints four or so copies each of four colors…

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… and then prints four *different* transparent colors over those — ideally ending up with sixteen different color combinations. That’s enough to begin thinking about, to get some surprises as well as some blah ones…

An unexpected color combination (ink still wet) from Lara’s work:

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In Buck’s prints, the same transparent green printed over three different colors:

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Different color combinations produce different “forest lighting effects”:

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A table of Buck’s test prints; one of Katie’s two-layer test prints is visible in the foreground (sorry I don’t have a better picture of it!!):

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Some combinations that Lara picked out from her test prints:

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Here we are (except for Jeremy the awesome T.A. who is taking the picture) looking at and talking about what’s happening with all these colors (so many colors!). This class is small (people dropped out at the last minute, and one of the students was out sick this week as well…) so it’s nice, we get to take time for lots of questions / digressions which in a larger class we might have to gloss over. It’s the end of the long evening in this photo so we all look kinda exhausted, and as Buck said a couple minutes later, it was basically “bedtime”.

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It’s truly difficult, when you’re striving to a) be “successful” in carrying out a process and b) get a result that looks satisfyingly “good”, usually on c) a timeframe (a “timeframe”?) of some kind, to give yourself a chance to try weird stuff / dead ends / potentially non-useful options. What I’ve learned in teaching these classes, what I’ve heard so far as feedback from folks in the classes, and what I’ve gathered in paying attention to “what’s the fun part?” of my own work, is that those moments of testing and experimentation, the moments where we’re not sure what’s gonna happen, are often what is indeed most fun about the process.

They are the moments of delight, they’re where we get the best new ideas from, and the strange color combinations look odd at first but might turn out to be the ones we use in the end. And hopefully, the next time the question comes up: “Try something weird, or go for the known option?”, the remembered delight will push us in the direction that leads away from a comfortable certainty…


personal note personal note:

This morning I woke up frantically from a dream that, as is standard with my dreams, had me wandering with an unknown-but-imperative purpose around a cryptically organized and/or disintegrating building… but then it also somehow managed to be an anxiety dream about an unprecedented number of stressful things, in sequence or nested within each other in the story of the dream. I texted this to myself in the bleary moments after waking, to exorcise / to remember (edited slightly for coherence):

winter bikeriding on treacherous streets; social rejection for unperceivable reasons; inability to hold tiny pieces of paper and/or fabric in place while trying to do a precision task with them; seeing someone I made out with, out in public, with their significant other, who can never know we made out; realizing that a friend had command of a craft that I had persuaded myself to not try because it would be “impossible for me to learn”; having great difficulty climbing an avant-garde-ly deconstructed/redesigned flight of stairs; romantic rejection because of being trans and pointless arguments about body determinism with the people rejecting me; deep confusion over how to redesign my website to best represent my work *and* to be logically navigable; deciding not to do something I enjoy doing because of being afraid that old friends didn’t like me anymore; the uneasy certainty that I am not working on the most important task, but still unsure of how to know which is the task to work on…

The day got better from then out, obviously. Upcoming-project cellphone-camera blurry snapshot….

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alison is the coolest

January 26, 2012 at 10:30 am

I am super psyched about having an intern. Even if Alison & I weren’t getting anything done, it would be super helpful to me just to have to figure my schedule & projects out every day that we are going to meet up, and to be pushed to articulate & plan what I want to work on & what my next steps are. So that’s great in itself… BUT AND! we are getting a lot of stuff done, and working on projects together that I probably wouldn’t have had the impetus to work on on my own, and she’s also helping me with some stuff like studio organization and finishing the reprints of the “queers” posters

Also having another person around is great for me to be able to look at my process & see where I’m not so organized or putting things off to ill effect, and to be aware of how I’m focusing or failing to focus… Also Alison is good at seeing where distraction and chaos come into the space we’re working in, and good at saying “hey, let’s take steps to take this distraction away”… Which, sometimes, it’s hard for me to say about my own time/space… but when I’m working with somebody else, it legitimizes creating clear space for us to work in, and then gives me an example of how to create that space for myself in the future / when I’m working alone. Hmmm. The upshot is, Alison is great & I feel lucky to get to work with her!

Here is some of her work, just my snapshots of the slightly random selection that happened to be within thirty feet of my desk…

A poster she designed & printed for a show at Witch Club, the mill space she helped create & run this past summer & fall (a slightly mis-printed version, I believe):

A typography zine that she made this fall (cover & selections from internal pages):





She drew the fonts & letterforms for this poster collaboration with Julia Moses:

And this is the flyer she made for the dance party we had at the beginning of January:

She also does “non-poster” CMYK silkscreen work based on her photography… here’s her tumblr page… oh wait & did I mention she’s a radical femme, with at least one secret scheme up her sleeve, and an outspoken queer feminist at RISD (which is an institution that sometimes feels very lacking in queerness or feminism, & can be a difficult place to be either of those things)? Anyways, SO AWESOME.

Right now we’re collaborating on a poster for the *next* queer dance party (second Saturday in February, mark those calendars!).

Some thumbnails & sketches & color test & figuring out the action steps:

Drawing elements for the poster, being combined…

Combined sketch & beginning of letters (& look at that glossy black paper we are going to be attempting to print on, ha ha!):

Okay, well needless to say perhaps, I would most likely have not thought of using this color scheme or this kind of imagery if I were not working with Alison. But I’m generally excited these days about pushing myself in a different direction, or in a bunch of different directions… and I’m reminded again about how collaboration is super useful as a spur to get you to try things you’ve been nervous about tackling….. !

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drawing in new orleans!

February 17, 2010 at 8:15 am

I got stuck in New Orleans for five extra days last week, because of the many feet of snow that fell on the mid-atlantic cities, blocking all airport connections. So I got some extra time down there to draw, watch the Saints win the super bowl, build a loft with Meg in her room, and work a little bit more on a new print. It wasn’t really *warm*, but we did get some good sunny days, and it was really good to be there.

post breakfast
[looking skeptical, but actually feeling great, on a typical street in the Bywater neighborhood… my facial expressions rarely correspond to the internal emotions!]

Going through the photos of this trip and my visit in December, I realized there are way too many to put up here, and I should probably finally bite the bullet and make an account on flickr or something like that… but for now, here are just a couple of pictures/notes.

My experience with metal-plate-based printing is very slim: I made a couple of drypoints back in 2002 as part of a wintersession class that I partially audited before fleeing Providence (heartbroken!) on a two-week greyhound-bus Punch & Judy tour. Now, Meg is running a community printshop at an arts non-profit in New Orleans, and they have two large etching presses… so one of my goals for visiting was to print those drypoints again, and to work on a new plate… or two… or however far I got.

meg’s favorite factory

I’ve been really drawn towards just looking & drawing, as I’ve written about here before, and I had an idea about drawing directly on the printing plate… Well, this was more complicated than I thought it would be, because it’s very hard to see what you are drawing in the shiny metal, and even harder to understand how it’s going to print.

Sitting outside and drawing the factory was really rewarding, but the technical demands of the plate made those rewards fewer and farther between. You scratch a line in the metal – it feels like it was deep enough – but it might print really lightly, or really darkly — it’s hard to tell… and you can’t tell for sure until you pull a print from it, which is a bike ride and 45 minutes of work (at least) away.

preliminary pencil drawing and metal plate with tools…
[left: preliminary drawing on paper, and right: beginning to transfer it to the plate]

I guess I should say that it’s hard to tell *for me*, a beginner. Also, it’s really hard for me to feel like a total beginner at something: and the learning curve is pretty steep here, at the point where I am, and in this process which is ancient and demanding. Right? So, I can go easy on myself. Or, I would like to be able to…

reflection & scratched lines…
[out-of-focus scratched lines in the plate…]

The initial proofs look good, but I’ve got a ways to go… somewhat like all my other projects right now… argh. I don’t know why I expect anything different, at this point. My friend Sandy, who recently moved to New Orleans, brought up the idea of doing a series of prints about the city… I would like to… maybe studies of building details, especially of awnings and overhangs… I took some pictures while I was there for source material… but there are so many things I am trying to do!


Here’s Meg’s loft under construction (for some reason there are no pictures of it completed – yet):

meg with the drill
[yeah, we know you are supposed to use nails and not screws to hold joist hangers — but she wants to be able to take the whole thing apart and re-assemble it, if need be…]
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