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“bread bread bread bread bread”

March 6, 2014 at 8:31 pm

a drawing of a mixing bowl and flour with instructions for mixing bread

So local weirdo, friend, genius Jacob published the “tasty bread” recipe, from my 2008 zine & 2010 print, in the center spread of January’s Mothers News newspaper. I sent him the old illustrator files & he laid it out in a nice layout & mailed/distributed it to hundreds (possibly thousands?) of people all over the U.S. / world.

hand holding a sheet of newspaper with an illustrated bread recipe on it

I was excited, it’s pretty cool to have those graphics back in circulation (and to have them reach such a varied audience)! But I was also like, hmm, I have been changing & experimenting with this recipe a good deal since 2008, and that’s a long time ago now. I make bread often, and sometimes very publicly (last year I was selling loaves at a weekly coffee-shop/social-gathering thingy I was running, and through my friends’ farm CSA… and I’ll be making bread for the Providence Provision dinner this weekend, Sunday March 9th!). Thus there are a decent amount of people in town who have put this bread into their mouths… and later asked for the recipe…

So, when people ask me if the recipe on the poster is the same recipe as the bread I make now, I do say “Yes, but… I am always modifying it! and I’ve changed the proportions to make 5 (or 9) loaves at a time… but it’s the same core recipe”. This is true. But it’s also true that I haven’t made the 2-loaf version from the zine / print / MN centerspread in quite a long time…

Well, this week finds me in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY hanging out with my brother, his partner, and their baby, my super-new niece! I’m washing lots of dishes, shopping, cooking, letting a small life form sleep in a frog-like position on my chest so she will stay chill while her parents do other things, etc. Today the bread selection at the nearby store was a little limited… AND look what’s on the wall in their apartment:

a horizontal, blue screenprinted poster in a frame

So I decided to test the recipe. My initial intention was to follow it “exactly” from the poster… but… there was some leftover rice kicking around… and my brother & his partner have all these weird seeds & nuts & dried fruits in their kitchen, & by weird I mean awesome (and that I don’t have them in my kitchen)… so I varied it just a little…

a closeup of the bread poster showing mixing the ingredients

There’s no real suspense here, it still works great! What did I expect? Though I would recommend making it in “medium” loaf pans — 1.5 quart, 5″x8″ish — in “large” pans I got flatter rather than higher loaves, which is no big issue except maybe aesthetically. Also — this version of the recipe is prettty sweet, maybe there’s a little too much molasses, you could probably cut it down to 1/3 or even 1/4 cup.

Alternately… one thing I’ve realized only recently, after seven (!) years of making this bread recipe, is that you can let it do that first rise for a long time. Like, you can knead it & set it aside in a big bowl under some plastic wrap, & go out and do all your errands and go to the art opening and run into your friends and drink a whiskey and actually *forget* about the bread, & come back and make it into loaves and let them rise and bake them, & it will be FINE. The longer you let it rise, the less sweet it gets as the sugars in the molasses are consumed by the yeast… so if you like it less sweet, just let it rise longer! (there is a limit to the above; I would say maybe 6-8 hours is gonna start pushing it on the rising time? but yaknow, if it looks over-risen, might as well make loaves & bake it anyways, the worst that can happen is that you’ll get a weirdly-textured but most likely still tasty baked item…!)

closeup of bread poster showing preparation of the dough

I also stirred up one egg white & brushed it on top with some more sunflower seeds… which looked pretty, and was tasty, but the egg white also slid down the sides of the pan and made it a little difficult to get the loaves out?

part of the bread loaf stuck to the pan

Or maybe that is just because these pans aren’t coated with a permanent layer of baked-on oil… like the pans at my house… which I strategically never really scrub that hard… shhhh….

two loaves of bread

Looks pretty good, right? This recipe is the same as the one you can read/get a pdf of here (the progress description is an un-updated snapshot of the stage of this project from 2008 sometime? ha ha! oh, my sad website), with these changes: instead of 4.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, I used 2 c. a-p flour, 2 c. whole wheat flour, and 1/2 c. wheat germ… I added 1/2 cup of leftover, cooked rice to the oatmeal cooking mush… and 1/3 cup of sunflower seeds to the middle of the kneading stage (and the above-mentioned egg white glaze with more seeds on top).

Here are some more past updates about bread-baking, bread poster layout, etc. (including this one of course)…

You can also buy the blue, horizontal, screenprinted bread recipe poster here… AND/OR if you SUBSCRIBE to Mothers News for 2014, you’ll get the back issues including the bread-recipe one, so you’ll have a sparse, black-and-white newsprint copy of the recipe as well. And I just got my automatic stapler back from a long-term loan, so the long-promised third edition of the recipe zine, with detailed instructions, might be re-released someday possibly…

… someday.

ps. Bonus photo! here’s the kiddo! The Downtown Boys‘ newest fan…

baby resting against a pink shirt for the band Downtown Boys

pps. “Bread bread bread bread bread” (etc) is what my friends used to claim was the internal monologue of the almost-wordless baker character in Kiki’s Delivery Service… Now, sometimes, I think that to myself while I am baking… does that mean that this is me?

drawing of the baker, Studio Ghibli

*finishing* prints, part I.

December 20, 2009 at 9:30 pm

taking you Back In Time!!! … a whole pile of process images from printing the Durruti/Ruins posters. Process work from the Industrial Trust Building prints is coming in the next update, this one got way too long.

Mixing colors. a) they’re not all oranges and blues (!) , b) look at that nice set of blond-beiges, moving right-to-left, getting ever closer to the beige in the sky on the yellow-gold Durruti print.

beige assortment

Green-sky Durruti print, seen through the screen that is about to print the blue shadow. The pink of the QTX emulsion and the yellow of the screen fabric always make such weird and awesome colors. Maybe someday I’ll make a print that is as eye-breaking as this.

looking through the screen, about to print.

Trying out transparent colors for the blue shadow on the green-sky prints. The transparent inks have to be printed through the screen to show their density and hue accurately… At left is the first attempt (too purple). The final color was somewhere between the two on the right. I am excited to do some more experimental stuff with transparent colors; they can be a little bit of a hassle to print, but the way they lie in the paper (instead of on it like the solid colors) is so beautiful.

transparent colors testing…

When you are setting up your transparency on the screen prior to shooting it, remember to think carefully about how the image you are going to print will fit on the paper and how the paper will fit on your table under the screen! Or else you will end up with your screen sticking halfway off your printing table like this. In the background, AO is keeping me company, or rather, checking his email while I grumble & rant about making stupid mistakes like this one.

poor planning

Also here, as Mr. Punch would say, this is *not* the way to do it.

clamped print

Use caution when you open the door to unshaven young men who have moved into thin-walled schoolbuses for the winter; pretty soon they’ll be running up your electric bill in their desperate struggle to stay warm.

personal heating system
[a hairdryer in the studio? yup, for speed-drying color test swatches. They only show their true color when the ink is dry.]

After all that hassle, it actually works!

before & after.

This moment is always pretty magical. In this case, it was extra exciting: I’ve been trying to finish / thinking about / talking about re-printing these Durruti prints since last fall. A stack of paper with just the sky color printed on them has been sittiing around the studio since last December. I’m not sure why it took me so long: there were even a bunch of people who wanted to buy a copy, who I had been emailing back & forth with saying “if you can just wait a couple of weeks! I am about to finish printing them!”, also since last fall.

As I got to the point in the above photos — actually seeing the third and last color on the paper — a large weight lifted from my shoulders, and (not to over-dramatize it) there was a deep feeling of relief. I was antsy to print so I printed, not really thinking about it too much… but in the ensuing days, wondering why it had taken me SO LONG to get back to printing this thing, I realized that I had been completely afraid of it — that it had been pretty much PURE FEAR that was keeping me from working on it.

Fear of what? I am pretty sure it was just fear “that it was going to be really hard”. And in the end, printing it with tricky alignment, mixing the transparent color which I thought was gonna be super difficult… not that hard. Not easy, but interesting, lots of fun, and ultimately successful. I was really scared of color matching to the original prints — and I didn’t get the color totally matched — but the color that I mixed was better than the original color: better contrast, better looking, better overall. Answer: Nothing to be scared of.

Hey, what the heck is going on here? Why is the emulsion two different colors and all patchy-looking?

messing with the screen

When I initially conceived the Durruti print, I wanted the sky to be lighter than the paper. I had bought this yellow-gold paper, and wanted to print white over it for the sky and the bright details in the ruined building. So, I printed the white layer, and then went ahead and printed the blue shadow over it. Then, I began to have doubts: the text in the sky wasn’t readable enough. In the building, where the white areas were separated from the yellow by outlines, it looked great — I liked the way it popped out. But the sky, and thus the message of the poster, were too subtle. What to do?

To get the contrast I wanted in the letters, I needed to somehow print a darker color on the sky, without changing the white in the building or covering up the blue shadows. I didn’t want to cut up or modify the transparency itself, because I knew I would want to use it again to print other versions of the poster. Also, at that moment (over a year ago now), I didn’t have time to re-shoot the screen, or a free screen to shoot… There was a lot of argle bargle-ing… but eventually…

Using the screen through which I had printed the white ink, and placing it over a misprinted copy of the print for ‘tracing’ purposes, I took some of the emulsion and painted in all the white areas on the building that I wanted to keep, or areas of blue shadow that I didn’t want to print over. I re-shot the screen so that emulsion would harden… then a beige color (which can be seen being mixed at the top of this post) was printed through that screen.

yellow/gold Durruti final print

The photo doesn’t quite show the contrast as it is in real life, but I’m pretty psyched about how it came out. And — more color variations & experimentations will happen in the future!

Vibration pattern on the surface of my un-drunk coffee:

coffee frequency

It was sitting on the print table while I was printing. The main axis of the pattern (lower left – upper right in this photo) is parallel to the direction in which the screen moves up & down.

Jori Ketten, a local artist/photographer/teacher/co-conspirator (etc), helped me out immeasurably by taking documentation pictures of my prints — soon to be seen here. She also did photoshop magic on them (which would have taken me many, many hours). They look great, & she deserves a million shout-outs. Hopefully you won’t get sick of them. Thank you Jori!

this work is copyright to jean cozzens | Secret Door Projects

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