Sunday, February 28, 2010

Acid alternative etching

In the print studio with Candace Nicol, I am learning about an acid alternative etching process. Rather than Nitric or Hydrochloric acid, we are working with salts. The salt, ferric chloride, has none of the disadvantages associated with the other two acid etching solutions: it does not produce dangerous fumes, is odourless and, though corrosive, is not absorbed through the skin.

It does take ages to bite though. You can put the plate in, nip to the coffee shop, take in a sandwich, venti latte, chat, check mail, walk back to the plate and still consider if the bite is deep enough.

That could be a plus on the social front though.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

6 Sides 2 Every Story

“Six Sides 2 Every Story” is a large, collaborative international woodblock print piece that is part of a touring printmaking exhibit of which I am a participant. It has just finished a stint in Carson City, Nevada, and is now in New Mexico. Here is the latest info:

Printmaking Exhibit in Burris Hall Gallery Through March 13

A free printmaking exhibit featuring national and international artists is on display at New Mexico Highlands University’s Burris Hall Gallery, 903 National Ave, through March 13.

“The exhibit covers a huge variety of printmaking techniques, including woodcuts, silk screens, lithography, etchings, linoleum cuts, and more,” said Todd Christensen, the Department of Fine Arts professor who organized the exhibit. “The exhibit is an opportunity to see the work of accomplished U.S. printmakers along with international artists.”

Christensen organized this printmaking exhibit, as well as a first-time printmaking conference earlier this month for fine arts students and the community. The conference included guest artists presenting lectures, demonstrations and open studios.

“It brings excitement, energy and experimentation to our students’ work when they get to participate in a conference like this, and see this caliber of printmaking exhibit,” Christensen said. “It’s good for students to learn different techniques from a variety of artists. It gives them a lot of new ideas.”

A large collaborative wood block print piece that displays the international flavor of the exhibit is “6 Sides 2 Every Story.” Nearly 600 artists cut wood blocks for the piece, each drawing inspiration from international news stories. “Six Sides 2 Every Story” is touring the United States.

“This piece shows how art can be collaborative and community based,” Christensen said.

Christensen, a professor at the university since 2008, teaches printmaking, painting and drawing. His printmaking work is also included in the exhibit.

Christensen said the Department of Fine Arts’ annual Iron Tribe event inspired him to create a similar event for printmaking. Iron Tribe features an iron art exhibit, art foundry performance casting, an iron art symposium, and more.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The copper plate was dipped into salts for a about an hour after I finished the first round of scratching. The bite was good enough to get an idea of where I want to work on the plate next. I wanted only a light touch on the faces, more a suggestion than anything, so I stopped out the face area before exposing.

I am playing around with a character that journeys to far flung places, making observations or finding momentos along the way. It is this character that will fill her anthropological notes into the hand made book I made. In this first copper matrix, I am having the character join Philius Fogg in an air balloon. I still need to figure out what her name is to help me get to know her better.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

print blots

I spent all day carving out and printing from the reduction cut. I am pretty much done with the reduction/suicide prints, I only need to insert the circle block into the main image to finish it. I took a deep breath and cut away the face and other areas. I was nervous about reaching the end with this block. There is no going back, but hey, that is why it is a suicide block! Not for the faint of heart.

Here is one of the prints, minus the circle block that is yet to be added:

The Yellow Wallpaper

I am reworking the blockcut to print the patten in yellow. While I was working on this piece I thought about "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It is a short story I read in college in relation to early feminist work. The book was written in the very late 19th Century and is a description of a woman locked away in a room of her house by her husband, due to her deemed mental condition after childbirth. The pattern of the wallpaper begins to irritate her and with nobody to talk to, she keeps a diary of her thoughts as she slips into insanity.

I am using the same browns, but using a yellow ochre for the pattern.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Copper plate

I have been starting off a copper plate for etching. In the past I have always used other metals and always used traditional but toxic methods. Acids and feathering have been my method for exposing the plate for a good bite. I have been happy with the results, but I have not enjoyed the headaches, sore hands and eyes etc.

I am learning more about non-toxic techniques to print and will be experimenting with salts for the plate exposure. I am also going to learn about using an alternative to the powder aquatint.

Over the weekend I worked on a sketch for the plate and prepared the plate for the image. The first difficulty I found was that without a rosin coat on the plate, I could not really see where I had scratched. I am allergic to pine, so it is a good thing for me to not use the rosin, however, I might need to find a ground that is dark to work into as I am disappointed that I can't see the details.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday print workshop

I had an interesting day at the community college learning about making viscosity prints with Candace Nicol, the printmaking master!

There were also some interesting experimental softground mixes going on involving floorwax and brake fluid.

I got a few prints down and prepared some copper plates for drypoint. I am used to using a rosin ground to scratch an image into, so I feel like I am scratching blind into the copper. I am pretty sure this image will not come out too well, but I will run with it for a while.

I know it's out of focus!

Friday, February 19, 2010

More ATC prints

Friday morning,

I printed off some further ATC prints for the performance. I think I will need around 100 to handout at the time, hand burnishing the prints is slow so I am managing only 16-20 each print session. I do not have a set date for the performance yet so I am not too concerned.

Friday afternoon,
After a very pleasant lunch at Moxies, I worked on some bookmark sized prints.

Journal of Impossible Things

Yesterday morning, I worked on finishing book one. The rest of the day I stitched and covered a second book using one of the other cover prints. I am going to make this my journal of impossible things, coined from Doctor Who's book. In this book I will paint, draw and take notes of my own adventures in it.

Both books are drying and are ready for filling as art books at a later time.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Changes on the horizon

I have had an offer to join the Printmaker's Conspiracy, a local group of printmakers. I am excited about this and the opportunities to exhibit within a supportive art group.

Working as a painter has always meant an element of isolation for me. While this is good from a - lack of distraction - point of view, it can be tough to get perspective without feedback. Printmaking is proving to be a more social setting and I find that I am pushed more to complete a task before the next gathering around the press.

I am considering renting a studio in a communal art space in town. This will increase my overheads, but will provide a group environment to work in and a gallery to show my work Downtown. Tough call financially in this climate and I need to give it some hard thought, but I think this could be a positive step in the long haul.

Tuesday Night

I finished printing off my edition of prints and named them "Due North".

The image is about my aspirations, fears and determination as an artist. There are so many things that have stepped into my path as an artist that have caused me to take a different route. Despite that, my ultimate destination has always remained the same.

I want to keep working with this image and will probably continue with the reduction cut until the matrix reaches obliteration!
Tuesday morning,

I incorporated a red compass print into the main block print that I have been working on.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Over the weekend I worked on making a pearl watch. The pearls are green and cream and I used small leaf beads as well as numerous neutral beads to compliment the pearls. The watch face has a pearl face with filigree around the silver edge.

I like having movement on my bracelets or ankle chains. To get movement on this watch, I made little charms by twisting wire into swirls an hearts. The watch fits loosely like a charm bracelet and I am pleased with how it looks when worn.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Downtown Chinese New Year

Some photos I took today from Reno's celebration of the year of the Tiger.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mini prints

Friday evening,
Time for a bit of a clean up?

Friday morning

I stayed up to make a series of mini prints to hand out at my performance. I have worked them from a section of the larger print and will format them as artist trading cards.

Now I am going to clean up the mess and go to bed!

Friday morning

Preparing a second smaller book. Next time I might use cat gut thread......

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, February 11, 2010

All sewn-up

Thursday night,
After taking numerous prints, i have 4 copies that I think are good enough for an edition.

Thursday evening,
This is the first proof off the matrix. The carving is not too bad, but the ink is patchy.

Thursday afternoon,
I have returned to carving the matrix and have decided to run some single colour prints from it before reducing further for the second printing. I will incorporate a softcut block into these prints for a small edition (possibly as few as 5) fragmented narrative.

Thursday morning

The stitches are completed and the signatures sewn together.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The inside story

Wednesday night,
After my usual focus issues, I have finally finished hand tearing each page to the right size and have the signatures folded, pierced and ready to sew. I am using beeswax to size the binders thread, so now I am all set.

Wednesday afternoon,
I got distracted from the book and made some earrings instead.

Wednesday morning
I am making the signatures of the book (codex) today. I am using a fairly thick (114g) 100% post consumer waste paper. This brown paper is excellent to draw on with conte or charcoal and is thick enough to hold paint too. I might try interleaves of similar weight tracing vellum to help protect chalk drawings.

The cats are a great help with this process @_@

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sketches and ATCs

Tuesday Night,
I guess I am still in painting mindset. I treated the ink like paint and glazed areas to get the softening I wanted around the edges. As soon as I added oil to the ink something happened. It became so good to play with; rich, oily and sensual. Who knew printing could feel so good? Using a paintbrush, I stroked the glaze onto the edges of the images and rubbed it into the main areas with a cloth. Now I feel much happier with the way it works with the paper.

Tuesday afternoon,
I worked on the book cover prints again on rag paper. I think I might play with inks to soften the edges of the circles. I find the edge of the blocks too harsh for such soft paper. Stitching might work well too. Hmmm, I should just get on with it as I still have signatures to make and sew for the book.

Tuesday Morning
I am hosting a steampunk themed ATC swap on March 1st. Here are 4 of my artist trading cards from the "Ticking of the clock" collection. I am planning to do some larger scale assemblage pieces on a similar theme sometime soon.

Below are some Pages from my sketchbook where I have been playing around with ideas for prints.

- and my arms still ache.....
I need to get a bench block, my arms are really sore from carving yesterday!

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Still carving

The carving is taking a long time for the second layer. I seem to be having a lot of phone calls and breaking my concentration which is not helping.

Carve, carve,carve.......

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Suicide cut

I am carving out a fragmented narrative on lino for a suicide (reduction) print. I don't think I can get the detail I was hoping for, but hopefully it will come out well enough that the image can be recognized.

First couple of proofs from layer one. I found the ink a little too thick, but added a couple of splashes of oil to loosen it. To make this hue I mixed:
3 parts sanguine,
2 parts white,
1 part yellow.

I have started some final prints on Japanese Sumi paper, approx 75 g.

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Small block prints

A couple of blocks were carved to make patterns on Japanese paper for upcoming book covers. I intend to make one or more handmade art books for future projects.

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Inky blots

My name is Carole-Ann Ricketts, I am an artist living in Reno, Nevada, USA. I am British and lived and studied in England for most of my life. I travelled quite a lot over the years and my experiences have always influenced my paintings and other works.This year I have decided to take the bull by the horns and work on what has always been my weakest area: Printmaking. Having been something of a disaster zone in any print room I have encountered, I am looking forward to seeing if my misadventures are now a thing of the past.

I don't know much about blogging but I will give it a shot. I will try and keep it professional, but chances are I will end up waffling about what my cats ate or what my kids did at school. Anyway, my goals for the year are loose, I want to concentrate on printmaking, but if the need arises, I will paint or do whatever else the muse would have me do. Along the printmaking path, I hope to get some work in exhibitions and participate in some collaborations.

I don't have plans to concentrate on any specific printmaking process, I am just going to experiment and see what happens.

And so the fun begins.....