Archive for July 16th, 2015

T1-MMT-P2 Jet James – Experimental Collagraphs workshop

Experimental Collagraphs was a recent weekend workshop organised by ATASDA.

Jet James

Jet James

Jet James is a young artist based in Yeppoon Queensland, who works in a range of media but currently focuses on printmaking. On the right is an image of a print I bought from him. You can see many more images on his website, http://www.jetjames.com.au/.

A few years ago Jet worked with another artist in an intensely experimental period. His “experimental collage” method comes from that. Working with 3mm pvc board as printing plate, Jet embosses the surface with natural and found materials. The leaves and dragonfly you see in the print were actual leaves and dead dragonfly, laid on the board and pressed through the printer. Using oil inks and an intaglio method, the embossed depressions create dark lines and areas in the final print.

Jet can create additional dark areas by texturing the pvc, using lino cutting tools, sandpaper… He creates light areas by adding materials that don’t take the ink, including nailpolish, car paint-sprays, gel mediums… Tape varies in effect. Things like plastic packing tape resist ink and create light marks, while paper tape soaks up ink and creates a dark. Then some tapes have a surface texture. It’s basically a matter of looking around and experimenting.

experimental collagraph 01 - ready for embossing

experimental collagraph 01 – ready for embossing


Wanting to connect to my Mixed Media course, I used a number of past samples in the embossing stage. From left to right we have acrylic felt from p1-70, up to the right p1-55, below that p1-61. Next is insect mesh, seen frequently in the past, then p2-10.
experimental collagraph 01 -embossed

experimental collagraph 01 – embossed

Here is the embossed plate, held at an angle in an attempt to show the texture created.

To print the plate, I spread blue/black ink over the entire surface using a credit card as a tool, then rubbed off the surface with phone book paper. A smear of ink was left overall, and larger amounts in the depressions. I printed on to damp Stonehenge paper. The first few prints were on white.

experimental collagraph 01

experimental collagraph 01

Obviously things are flipped around in the printing.

For a first go I think this is amazing. Others in the class started straight away with building up images, but I wanted to stick with general experimentation. Everything I tried here gave lovely clear exciting textures.
 

experimental collagraph 02 - ready to emboss

experimental collagraph 02 – ready to emboss

From the left – p1-69, cardboard from p1-126, cut outs from p2-24, a feather (some seen in p1-33), and p1-75 (also seen in p2-28).

The thin, light foil shelf-liner cut outs didn’t make any impression, while only the spine of the feather had an effect. I later painted on some gel structure medium to create a raised area that should largely resist ink.

experimental collagraph 02

experimental collagraph 02

I think the ladder effect created by the cardboard is the standout here, and the splodge of gel medium also shows promise.
 
experimental collagraph 03 ready to emboss

experimental collagraph 03 ready to emboss

A torn-down p2-11 was embossed on the third plate. I then scratched into the surface with various weights of sandpaper and a variety of other scratching tools. Lines were drawn in different nail polishes (some with glitter for extra texture). There was also a selection of different tapes added.

experimental collagraph 03

experimental collagraph 03

A range of interesting effects to add to the toolkit.

sketch20121022Next I wanted to attempt a composition of some kind. Here I came unstuck. I considered going abstract and had a range of materials to emboss circular variations, but instead I went for a sketch I dimly remembered from King Island (see 6-November-2012). Unfortunately I’d left my tablet at home and didn’t have a copy of the sketch.

I embossed layers of sandpaper for some beach texture, a rather too thick piece of polymorph plastic to create foreground rocky texture, and p1-61 again for the sea (unfortunately not so effective this time – perhaps flattened by the earlier work). I then cut grasses with a lino cutter, and roughened areas with sandpaper. I printed onto a fawn coloured paper.

experimental collagraph 04 version 1

experimental collagraph 04 version 1

Some of the elements aren’t bad, but it just doesn’t come together. The shore line is too central and vertical, the sea on the left is bland, the ground behind the grasses too similar to the general colour in the foreground.

Rather than start another plate it seemed a good exercise to try to improve on this one.

experimental collagraph 04 version 2

experimental collagraph 04 version 2

I used a variety of nailpolishes and other resist-type pens, looking for some highlights and movement in the sea. Sandpaper was used at the top to try to connect the shoreline to the upper margin.

To address the values problem on the right I tried to manipulate the amount of ink removed when rubbing back, taking off more in the top area and leaving a lot below. Unfortunately I lost some of the good foreground texture in the process.

Others have disagreed with me and preferred the first print, but I think I was effective in addressing a number of the issues I saw. A very worthwhile exercise.

Since the workshop I’ve tried creating a new plate and print. This was using a craft roller machine intended for embossing and cutting by scrapbook enthusiasts. It limits possibilities, being small (A4 can go through, so smaller plate size), would break if I tried to create too much pressure, and has a fixed height between the rollers. You try to get the right pressure for a particular task by adding different thickness boards in the roll-through package.

experimental collagraph at home

experimental collagraph at home

This is the result, on more of the fawn Stonehenge paper. I used p1-70, some cardboard, insect mesh and a plastic net fruit bag when embossing. I don’t have any printing inks, so used acrylic paints with some gel retarder to give myself more working time. When printing I put it through twice, as there was insufficient pressure first time through.

Yes, there are lots of problems, but the focus needs to be that I was able to emboss and print at home!!! For that point alone this is an excellent result.

Part 4 of the Mixed Media course is mono and collatype printing. The techniques suggested in the course notes are quite different, so it will be really interesting to use Jet’s ideas as well and do some compare and contrast. Before then I’ll get some oil inks and a supply of pvc board, and maybe there will be a chance to sneak in some practice.

T1-MMT-P2 Jet James – Experimental Collagraphs workshop
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 2: Joining and wrapping
Workshops etc: Jet James – Experimental Collagraphs Workshop

T1-MMT-P2-p2-e1 Straight wrapping with threads

Wrapping is a fascinating process. It’s one of those repetitive processes quite common in textiles, where the hands are occupied but most of the mind is free to wander. It can enhance a shape, or change it, or hide it. It can join materials or objects, can take advantage of their properties, extend or adapt them (think of pillows and tea-cosies). It can protect, comfort (a hug) or bind, suffocate.

Sample p2-37
As suggested in the course notes I started with a kitchen wooden spoon, and wound rug wool evenly around it.

Sample p2-37

Sample p2-37

Sample p2-37 detail

Sample p2-37 detail

The wool changes the colour and texture, but the shape is unmistakable. The wrapping is like a textured coat of paint. The dip of the bowl is lost, and the tip isn’t covered neatly – I think glue would be needed for that. It doesn’t really fire the imagination … although it does make me more conscious of the shape, rather than taking it for granted and dismissing it. It’s not quite so familiar any more.

 
Sample p2-38

Sample p2-38

Sample p2-38

The same yarn, but I wanted to expose the spoon as well – the worn, washed wood.

Any mystery is gone. The wrapping looks brash, random, careless. The wool doesn’t speak to or enhance the wood. Perhaps a kitchen twine would have been better here.
 
Sample p2-39

Sample p2-39

Sample p2-39

With this sample I wanted to change the apparent shape. The result is too obvious as an addition.  The lump of wrapping is alien, imposed. It looks like a gall on a branch, a sign of disease or intruders.
 
Sample p2-40

Sample p2-40

Sample p2-40

The black elastic bands were placed as supports for the next sample, but I liked the effect and wanted to capture it. There’s also the pun on “measuring spoon”, which pleases me (at one point I had the bands lined up at 2 cm intervals, although clearly there was shifting).
 
Sample p2-41

Sample p2-41

Sample p2-41

Sample p2-41 b

Sample p2-41 b


Here the elastic bands have been used to anchor some stiff plastic threads – they are like artificial horsehair, which I have cut into shorter lengths.

The bristles of the ends create a wonderful dynamic effect. The spoon isn’t disguised at all, but it is transformed.

Version b has just a bit more added, trying to push the 3D aspect of the result.

I think this sample is a simple but very effective use of wrapping. The almost monochromatic colour brings unity to the combination of materials. There is a dynamic presence claiming space around the spoon, and also a sense of honesty – the constituent materials declare themselves without disguise or false modesty.
 
Sample p2-42

Sample p2-42 detail

Sample p2-42 detail


Sample p2-42

Sample p2-42

In the previous sample I was trying to stay clean and linear, but noticed the tendency of individual strands to separate. In sample p2-42 I played up that effect, introducing a lot more interest and detail.

The shape of the spoon is de-emphasized, although there is something about the mixture of curved and straight black lines that links back to it. The spoon has become a vehicle for exuberant three-dimensional drawing.

I think there are lots of possibilities to explore here. Using a variety of different-but-related base shapes which together form a larger composition could be interesting.
 
Sample p2-43

Sample p2-43

Sample p2-43

This sample continues the idea of black lines partially obscuring the spoon – but “partial” much more complete. It’s another outing for the black fibreglass insect screening.

It takes quite a bit more effort to discern the spoon within, but it can still be seen in its entirety. The overall shape has been changed and is now wider at the handle end. I was hoping to get more from the layering of the mesh, but the result is more even, contained, and dull than expected.
 
Sample p2-44

Sample p2-44

Sample p2-44

Stripping some strands from the the edges, wrapping more loosely, with twisting to create more layers, has resulted in a much more interesting wrapping. The wrapping is the star with the spoon almost irrelevant.
 
Sample p2-45
Sample p2-45

Sample p2-45

Wrapping more closely, the spoon is enhanced rather than overwhelmed. The twisted, layered, fringed screening creates interest and variety, acting in partnership with the spoon. It’s almost like the wardrobe staple “little black dress”, a glamorous presentation of the previously humble.
 
Sample p2-46
Sample p2-46

Sample p2-46

Here the mesh becomes a container for the spoon. Some volume is created, but in the end it is just a spoon.
 
Sample p2-47
Sample p2-47

Sample p2-47

Shredded silver paper has been used to wrap loosely around the spoon. Tighter wrapping around part of the handle reflects the shape, but changing tension at the end confuses – which side is the bowl? The answer is clearer in the photograph than in real life.
 
Sample p2-48
Sample p2-48

Sample p2-48


Sample p2-48 detail

Sample p2-48 detail

Looser wrapping overall disguises the spoon more completely, but glimpses are still available.

I like the idea of hidden strength and form. This is almost all, but not entirely, about the wrapping material. Its erratic behaviour is just a little controlled by the interior spoon. There is a slight tension between form and chaos, between hard and soft, which gives interest.
 
Sample p2-49

Sample p2-49

Sample p2-49

Sample p2-47 has been repeated in an exaggerated way. The silver paper appears more controlled, managed, while the spoon is even less relevant.
 
Sample p2-50
Sample p2-50

Sample p2-50

An extra layer of wrapping using insect mesh has been added. Knowing there is a spoon inside I can distinguish the shape, but really it could be anything or nothing. The spoon is just armature.
 
Sample p2-51
Sample p2-51

Sample p2-51

Allowing the paper to “escape” the exterior wrapping brings a sparkle and interest back to the package. The underlying form of the spoon is much more apparent as well – obscured but not lost within.

There is almost a sense of a captured moment. Something is being revealed or is bursting out. Can it be contained? What more will be revealed? Each element – spoon, paper and mesh – plays a part in the ongoing story.
 
Sample p2-52

Sample p2-52

Sample p2-52

Further exploring layers of wrapping, here the spoon is closely wrapped in orange tissue paper, loosely encircled in silver shreds, then nestled in insect mesh. When preparing this I thought a of baby bundled into a pram, warm, protected, virtually invisible.

The result in my eyes is surprisingly static.
 
Sample p2-53

Sample p2-53

Sample p2-53


Extended Join Sample

Extended Join Sample

By this stage it may be apparent that I was dismantling the extended sample from the previous project while working on this exercise. Paper-clip chains, previously suspenders, are now wrapped around the spoon.

Dull.

Almost interesting, I feel it should be interesting, but dull. The individual paper-clips aren’t exactly aligned, but they aren’t greatly varied. Density of wrapping isn’t consistent – but it isn’t particularly anything. The paper-clips and spoon just sit there, not giving anything to each other.

I tried to find a variation that worked, but the paper-clips had an odd mixture of rigidity and movement that resisted. They wouldn’t fall loosely. They reacted to the spoon’s varying shape as if they resented it.
 
Sample p2-54

Sample p2-54

Sample p2-54

Adding an intervening layer of mesh helped a little. The clips are seen as a chain, wrapping.

In the photograph there is a feeling of the spoon entrapped, imprisoned. It was less apparent while working with the materials and I didn’t explore this.
 
Sample p2-55

Sample p2-55

Sample p2-55

Instead I made some small changes to break up the exterior lines and tried suspending and back-lighting.

It looks a little like a stealth jet, or a revealing x-ray. A series could be interesting, individual items that you have to decipher that build into a whole. The kitchen link makes me think of 1950s housewives, chained to their domestic duties. My mother? Could I show house and children dragging and chaining, a gradual lightening and emergence in her own right?
 
Sample p2-56

Sample p2-56

Sample p2-56

Colour!

Bundles of mixed yarns have been used for wrapping. The spoon has returned, there is some nice zigzag movement on the handle, but the bowl wrapping is just a mess.

I like the return to colour and to fibre, but this is clumsy.
 
Sample p2-57

Sample p2-57

Sample p2-57


Sample p2-57 detail

Sample p2-57 detail

The same materials are wrapped in a more co-ordinated and controlled way. The result is great. The colours and textures sing together. The spoon is clearly there, but sheathed beautifully.

Tachi fittings

Tachi fittings

Just last night, days after I’d worked on this exercise, I saw this at the Art Gallery of NSW. Part of the Colin McDonald collection, this is a detail of a piece described as “Tachi (long sword worn with cutting edge down) with fittings decorated with dragons amongst the clouds and itomaki-tachi-goshirae style mount. 1390”. The whole piece was exquisite. I couldn’t figure out how this section of wrapping was worked, but the crossing structure was used on a number of the items on display – presumably none original, but I don’t know.

It feels ridiculous to link my spoon with a beautiful, highly crafted, lethal weapon, but it suggests a path to investigate.

 
Sample p2-58

Sample p2-58 a

Sample p2-58 a


Wrapping in plastic filament using the 3D pen – a nod to spun sugar.

On this first attempt I kept a bit loose and open, wondering if I would need to break the plastic to remove it from the spoon. The spiral turned out to be very flexible, and it was easy to manipulate off the bowl and then slide away.

Sample p2-58 b

Sample p2-58 b


The second attempt followed the spoon shape more closely, and resulted in a more dynamic line.

I like the wrapping, but even more I like the wrapping with the original gone. You could take the line of an imprint of what is now lost, or be lighter and see it as a quirky representation.

Shi Jindian’s Beijing Jeep’s Shadow (2007)

Shi Jindian Beijing Jeep’s Shadow (2007)

It reminds me of Shi Jindian Beijing Jeep’s Shadow, seen at the White Rabbit gallery (9-November-2012)Described as crochet in wire, the form of an entire jeep has been captured in wire lace.

This could be a very interesting and rewarding path to follow with plastic. A later Part of this module is on Molding and Casting, and there may be an opportunity in that to take this further.

Sample p2-58 combination

Sample p2-58 combination

I played with different layouts of wrappings and spoon. This one shows the flexibility of the spiral. It’s rather nice to see its genesis and continued development into something quite different.

T1-MMT-P2-p2-e1 Straight wrapping with threads
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 2: Joining and wrapping
Project 2: Wrapping
Exercise 1: Straight wrapping with threads


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