screens

A delicious blur of pastries and studio time

Friday morning deserves mentioning simply because it was the last day of my uninterrupted art month. It required strong Oso coffee and a breakfast bun made by the gorgeous Rew (toasted croissant, scrambled egg, alfalfa sprouts, tomato, melted cheddar and Antoinette's Salt Spring dip). I went down to the old brick building that was Ellison's grain mill and is now Ellison's Market, a general store for the health-foodie, gardener, pet owner and tea lover, to get cat kibble and vegetables. Usually I bring home a little food each day but working at home has meant the fridge running low, very low in between town days.

The rest of the day was a blur of silkscreening and sewing.

Oooh, I wish I could write that every day. The rest of the day was a blur of silkscreening and sewing. Yes.

I am happy to report there is a giant vat of walnut dye on my stovetop with a duvet cover transitioning through various shades of coffee over the weekend. With the lid on, it really smells okay.

Somehow during the afternoon I gained the audacity to finally print a few years worth of  "poetry" which will make its way onto a screen and then merge with the leaves and birds on my fabrics.

All in all, it was a successful last day to my art month. I have loved my freedom immensely and will seek out more in the spring. For now I'll squeeze my hemming and printing and various processing into the hidden moments between work and dinner and sleep.

Saturday was something else entirely. It was the birthday of wonderful Cor, and was fittingly devoted to baked goods. Wise girl that she is, she requested that all her guests bring pie. To start off the day on the right foot, I whipped up some raspberry peach chocolate muffins using a blend of prairie grown ancient grains, and coffee of course. Then I traipsed through the drizzly rain to Cor's house and we talked baking over some more coffee and then we made a sour cherry-black cherry pie and an apple cake, drank cherry juice and flipped through recipes. Then the pies and celebrators began to arrive and we feasted. True to style, it was a glorious spread. Particularly of note was Gavin's "Kootenay Lime Pie" which seemed to be a particularly excellent rendition of traditional key lime pie.

I think I've hit on a new technique for parents. You see, I ate nothing but baked goods all day and around seven o'clock was struck with a strong urge to eat salad. Hefty winter greens salad comprised of rainbow chard and lacatino kale, the kale "massaged" as I have been couseled (impatiently, however, so it was more of rough toussle). The intense greenness of the greens were balanced by sliced carrot, chopped roasted almonds and cubed rocky mountain cheddar. I like to make salad in my favorite metal mixing bowl, whisking the dressing in the bottom (olive and flax oils, crushed garlic, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, tamari, maple syrup, grainy mustard, tumeric, marjoram, poultry seasoning and pepper). When it's just me eating the salad, which it generally is around here, Jeremy's reaction to kale being to give it to the mice, I will sometimes (read: yesterday, often) eat it out of the giant silver bowl. I will say in my defense, that it's an excellent bowl, handy for not spilling salad when vigorously tossing it, also handy for washing dishes in, with the added benefit of chiming charmingly when clanged into something.

Working with light, and a house show

I would like to catch up with myself, my real person studio self, on this blog before I begin what might be called printing week. Last week was the week of screens.

Here is where I was on Thursday:

After a less than productive day in (or out) of the studio, I am reminded of my options. Dishes, for instance, or futzing about on this blog. I spent all day waiting for my screens to dry.

On Friday, a few things happened. The screens dried. I nervously set in motion my rickety light table set up and hoped for the best.

Incredibly, it worked!!!! I have always found getting my screens perfect to be nerve racking and difficult, and hadn't attempted it at home until now. It went flawlessly, with some of my most detailed screens rinsing out best of all.

A quick overview of the process:

Screens have beeen cleaned, then coated with light sensitive photo emulsion (I used Macdermid Autosol 8000), then left to dry in a dark space. When they were dry and non-tacky to the touch, I covered the windows in the spaces I was working in so I had just enough light to see what I was doing and put one screen at a time in a garbage bag, to transport them across the slightly lit hallway. I used a combination of books, or foam, or other screens (most of my screens are different sizes), covered in white paper, to completely fill the inside of the screen, so there was no space underneath. I grabbed my transparancy with the corresponding number to the one I had marked on my screen, and laid it on top, then placed a thick sheet of glass on top of that, and turned on my photobulb (a BBA photoflood) which was um cleverly rigged with a pie plate and latched onto a kitchen stool, on a suitcase. This set up has inspired my partner to draw up a design for a solid, adjustable light table and stand.

I let the light do its magic for ten or so minutes, and then again in the semi-dark, removed the glass and transparancy and stuffed the screen back in the garbage bag so as to not expose the area where the image was. Next, outside, back to the garden hose, in the rain, with gumboots. I turned the hose on full and (taking the screen out of the bag) sprayed the front and back of the screen. I continued to spray the back until my image was nice and clear, all the unwanted emulsion gone. Then, I let it dry and voila, I have 19 new screens to print with. I am thrilled, and relieved.

Friday evening brought with it excitement of another type. We had a house concert.

It is so nice to have talented musicians in one's living room.

One of the nicest audiences ever filled the house, and our cats wove their way through everyone, getting pats.

Here are the folks we were lucky enough to have over for a night of "Swoon Tunes"

Susu Robin http://www.myspace.com/susurobin

Will Klatte Spoken Word

Kindredheart http://soundcloud.com/kindredheart http://kindredheart1.bandcamp.com/

Daniel Bloom http://soundcloud.com/wreninthethicket

What fun! Beautiful music, beautiful people, and all put together by the lovely La Marie of Kindredheart.

Also very enjoyable this weekend was a bike ride in the beautiful fall woods. The wet roots weren't  scary like I thought they might be. We ended up only going for a short ride as the logging road to the trail we wanted to go down was already under far too much snow!

This cozy, drizzly weekend was finished off nicely wih an afternoon of baking apple cinnamon swirl bread and making homemade pasta with good friends, and a few board games. Lovely.

Now, silkscreening!

The not-so glamarous aka grunt work portion

Safety glasses make me incognito, right? I hope so, because I spent three hours yesterday afternoon kneeling in the backyard scrubbing silkscreens with a yellow duckie nailbrush, while decked out in a respirator, snowboard jacket, green nitrile gloves and gumboots. Not the fun part of art month. I learned many things. Scrub screens in summer, or at least before it gets really cold. Scrubbing harder does not result in warm fingers. I am otherwise enjoying the cold weather. Yesterday morning, there was a dusting of snow on the mountains. Today, there's a lot more of it. It's raining in a light mist and the sky is a white cloud.

After three years of using the same screens, I've been collecting plant matter and mining my sketchbooks and journals, as well as stretching silk onto new frames in preparation of a fresh selection of prints. Herein lies some of the hidden, less creative work. I've assigned the images to the screens, degreased the screens with a little dishsoap, and have taken over the bedroom closet as a temporary darkroom. Right now, I'm waiting on a fresh quart of photo-emulsion to arrive by bus. My last quart is six years old, and it's finally gotten too rubbery to spread, which leads me to conclude that it has indeed expired. This stuff is only guaranteed for a year, so the fact that it worked at the ripe age of three is rather impressive.

Aren't hams funny? I brought home a little plaid one from the fabric store. It'll be a solid assistant to my tea cozy making, which is what I plan to work on until my emulsion arrives.

So far, this studio time experiment has been both easier and harder than anticipated. A little overwhelming at times, but this is remedied by getting to work. The possibility of drinking too much coffee (is that possible?) has been eliminated by the rationing of milk to avoid a trip to town. My main challenge is one I gave little thought to: finding a christmas craft market to sell my stuff at! (Maybe everyone signed up in August and I got shafted by not reading the paper? I've searched on google, and checked recent papers. Perhaps the Nelson craft fair scene is so hip and underground that they don't need to advertise? We shall see...)

We shall also see if tomorrow brings snow! I hope it might, because it will be beautiful, and cozy to sit sewing in my studio, watching snowflakes whirl outside the window. Honestly though, art month stretches into cold November and I'm sure I'll see some snow. Hopefully it waits until Thursday because I want to get at least one more bike ride in!