Sunday, May 3, 2009

cyanotypes, springtime, success!

May has just arrived and springtime has come to Denmark- very beautiful and long awaited! In the meantime, I have been in a place beyond words, maybe a little submerged.
I find myself surfacing.

After many (many!) days in the studio and hours of testing/experimenting- losing my way and finding it again- I have created some successful work here at Guldagergaard. I am most excited about the cyanotypes I have been printing on porcelain. These are some pieces from a series of bottles (of course bottles) I've been working on.
I am looking forward to developing content and form later, but for now am very happy to get a large amount of technical stuff worked out!

Along with the bottles, I've been making a series of "wall boxes"- kind of like clay canvases and definitely not vessels- using both porcelain and earthenware paperclay, working with different techniques to layer text and imagery. They are also small like the bottles, 5"x7" or so (remember, I will be attempting to take finished work back on the plane with me!)- but I think will be powerful when viewed in series/groupings. These examples are works in progress, subject to more/multiple "manipulations" and firings!

In my head- and in my notes- I know that this work is leading to the creation of large sheets of translucent porcelain which will be printed with both cyanotype and gum bichromate images. A series of wall work that takes advantage of the hard thin quality of the best porcelain. This won't happen here in Denmark because of time and logistics (yes, can you believe I could use more time?!)... but it will happen!

I have been experimenting with making a porcelain slip with bone ash- similar to 18th century bone china- which fires lower than the usual 1280'c of traditional porcealin recipes... another project in the apparently endless list of things to keep me busy and befuddled in the studio!

Also progressing are my printing tests with gum bichromate.... here are some earlier test tiles using the emulsion alone (without pigment). Lacking additional colorant, the chrome (of the potassium dichromate) still creates a greenish/sepia image.

Some weeks back I got seriously frustrated with trying to decipher this printing process, and took steps "backwards" so that I could move forward: at first eliminating pigment from the mix (so I could learn more about how the emulsion functions on its own) and then working on paper, and different "sizing" methods for the paper, (mixes of gelatin, gum arabic, glue and other random things, - while wishing I could get my hands on a chemical like glyoxal here in denmark)! I would later learn that bisque-fired clay needs some kind of base coat to help the emulsion "stick". And I have since figured out how to get gum prints to work using ceramic pigment on glazed ware. Yippee!!!!!!

Wow. I will have daunted you with all these technical notes.
So I leave you with some of the beauty that I have found in this quiet corner of the world....

It is really really placid/pleasant/pastoral (provincial?) here in Skaelskor. So, I am a little scared to return to the din of life in the US.
What if I have forgotten how to be hectic?

very cute thatched roofs on some of the cottages by the shore...
A pair of swans I'd been seeing every evening at dusk on the beach... same time same place every day! I have heard they mate for life, is that true?

Glaenas Strand, on an island not far from here...