Monday, March 16, 2009

gum bichromate weekend

It's Monday morning after a quiet weekend in the studio....

The cleaning crew is here- an industrious and efficient danish woman- getting after it with the vacuum. Meaning I better get up. It's 8am.

I spent the last two days (nights?) with my brow furrowed, hunched and squinting over my latest project: a foray into the gum bichromate process, the other "vintage" contact printing technique which I hope to adapt to fired porcelain. (At this point, a rudimentary understanding of alchemy would be fine.)

I should begin by coming to understand the quirks of printing images with gum arabic and potassium dichromate on paper.... instead I have jumped headlong into my testing on both bisqued and glazed ceramic test tiles. Wow, there are so many variables to this process, not to mention it's toxicity- be careful and have patience!! In the end, I am interested in creating work with both visual and conceptual depth, so having multiple "tools" to create layered imagery and text at every stage of the firing process is my goal.

I have to mention that I have an excellent and indispensible companion in my printing adventures: The Book of Alternative Printing Processes by Christopher James, who is somewhat of a guru I think in the world of alt. photo process (fromer harvard proff, and now teaches alt photo workshops internationally). It is a hybird textbook/"bible"/gallery sprinkled with interesting stories from the history of photography. Wow. A great read all by itself, very comprehensive. Yes, I'm gushing- it's that good (and my only help right now).

In contrast to the gum bichromate process, cyanotype is a piece of cake!! Last weeks firing produced interesting results. At right is a test piece fired to relatively low temperature. I do like this rich sienna/orange! (At temps above 2000 degrees F, the cyanotype image burns out completely.) Yes, I lose that lovely prussian blue through firing- and this is the hallmark of cyanotype!- but for now this is the only way I know to create a lasting image on clay with this printing process. At left, more fun with c.type (unfired).

Here is the part of my studio where much furrowing of the brow takes place, and many notes are made..... as well as occasional progress!

Ok, a cultural note.... there is some soft-core "guerilla" political activity here in the sleepy hollow of Skaelskor... here is a cheap paper glue-up that I found on a shop window across from the church!! I definitely had to look twice at this. It's in english for one. And it's just so... crude. Go figure. I am still trying to wrap my mind around the, uh.... artistic vision.

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