Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Pondering Personal Histories

I’ve been thinking about how to start my Personal Histories book.

When I went on a solar print workshop a few months ago I used old family photos as the basis for some designs and I want to continue using these as source material for this project

We all have a stash somewhere of old photos, some of relatives and friends we recognise and others who we don’t have a clue about who they are. As time passes they just become faces. We may know their name, if it is written on the back, but we don’t know anything about them.

I also think most families will have a scattering of heroes and villains in amongst the majority of the ordinary people who make up their ancestry. Their stories may have been completely fictionalized in the telling and retelling, or just forgotten over the years.

I want to combine these two ideas, the hidden stories and the almost anonymous figures.
I’ve decided base my images on the children’s rhyme “Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief”. We’ve probably all got some of these amongst our antecedents.

I’m not sure yet what structure to use. You’d think I’d learn from experience and sort this out first. It would avoid a lot of problems further down the road! However, at the moment I’m contemplating a series of unbound images jumbled together in a box/container the same way that the original source photos are kept, although I also quite like the idea of a frieze of dancing dolls.

This is Agnes Hall. I decided to divorce her from Thomas.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Peace Alphbet Structure

I’ve finished the peace alphabet for ALAW early. I wanted to make sure it came in on time.

The idea underlying my alphabet is that we are surrounded by constant noise and busyness in our everyday lives (represented by the different weights and directions of text that make up the sections of the book structure). At intervals through the book are the letters, calm, translucent and delicate, moments of peace in a hectic world.

This has definitely been a reflection of my world recently.  The only sustained art work I’ve managed to do over the past few months has been this project. Hopefully with the New Year things will calm down a bit.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Repurposed letters

I started to clear out my workspace and got sidetracked by the cut out letter forms left over from the book I made for the first ALAW alphabet.

I thought they'd make a good collagraph plate but I was experimenting with water soluble ink and I think that the paper was too wet.

 Its a shame that I remembered to reverse the letters because I think I prefer the block

Friday, 4 October 2013

Not much happening......

I haven’t disappeared its just that work has been manic (and is set to continue so for the next few weeks). Added to this I’ve just become a grandma.

The only picture making I’ve managed to do this month has been for teaching purpose, though I may follow these digital images through into print after using them in class.

Also I’ve managed to keep up with ALAW, starting to stitch a book structure for mounting the letters in.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Folding prints

College holidays have finished. This means that play time has been restricted over the past couple of weeks. Having managed to ignore it up to now prep for next term has had to take priority.

However I have explored monoprinting plants with a rainbow roll and folding to make a simple structure

I’ve also committed to making something for Robyn’s Personal Histories Exhibition. I think I’ll play more with the ancestors photos as a starting point.

Saturday, 17 August 2013


I seem to have finished a lot of things off recently. Rather than plan any more long term projects for a while I've decided to go back to basics and play/experiment for a while. Just to see what happens 

Starting with basic monoprinting.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Lazy days

It has been a very restful, quiet few weeks. I’ve been to France, stayed with friends, read a lot of books. I haven’t done anything at all creative except this.

One of the friends we stayed with is a sculptor.  She was shaping a block to work with and gave me an offcut to play with. I’ve never done it before but I thoroughly enjoyed spending a couple of hot afternoons doodling in stone.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Back to the book

I’ve been working on the ruined village book structure, mainly thumbnails working out where the doors and windows should go and what is going to be inside the ‘rooms’. I don’t want to make a model so it doesn’t have to work architecturally. I’m trying to get the feel of a maze of interconnecting streets.

I initially thought I’d make it circular but without a front and back cover (so you can just go round and round) but this means you can’t have the corners of the rooms and streets all open at 90 degrees at the same time.  I’ve been playing at placing the folded sheets together in different combinations but these are more difficult to fold down into one structure. 

Think I’ll start the painting for the separate pages and work the rest out as I go along.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Finishing off

It’s been a week of finishing things off. The prints for Lesley’s exchange have now reached their destinations. Here is my contribution.  It is an etching. The plate is aluminium etched in copper sulphate using a mixture of traditional and ‘green’ grounds.

It looks a bit drab next to the colour of all the others. (Gina has posted the full set on her blog.)

I’ve also finished the first alphabet for ALAW. I’ve used a simple Japanese stab binding to hold the pages together.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Prints finished

Last night I printed 7 reasonably similar prints (and quite a few botched ones) for Lesley’s print exchange. They are now being pressed and dried before mailing out. I’ll post images when they arrive at their destinations

I’ve also been pondering the second alphabet for ALAW. This is the peace alphabet. 

I’m working on the idea of intervals of peace/silence interspersed between all the noise and chatter of daily life. I’ve an idea for the structure and how to represent the noise.

I’m not sure yet about the letters yet although I’m thinking white/translucent and quite delicate.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Not much progress

Since being back at work I’ve not has the time to make much progress on anything creative.
Although last weekend I did take the day off to go to Printfest in Ulverston.

There was some interesting work on display. I especially liked the relief work of Jane Walker and Mark Pearce and the lovely expressive drypoints by Emerson Mayes. The technical virtuosity of the mezzotint prints by Martin Mitchell was amazing. 

I was lucky enough to get the last ticket for the demonstration by Ross Loveday. It turned out to be a talk about his work and career rather than a demo but it was interesting. 

I came back inspired and ready to get on with the prints for Lesley’s exchange. Unfortunately the weather improved and rather than spending the next two days thinking print I spent most of them painting the outside of the house.

This exchange has been a challenge. The more I doodle and try out ideas in rough the more I have come to realise that I think ‘long and thin’ rather than ‘square’. It’s good to be forced out of your comfort zone.
I’ve decided I’m going to etch and I’ve produced a few tonal sketches that  I may develop further. 

Although after Printfest, I’m contemplating completely changing my usual way of working and trying something much more abstract.

Monday, 22 April 2013


Before going back to work I had time to play around with a few things.

I’ve been trying out ideas for the maze like book structure. The imagery is a bit rudimentary but I’m thinking ruined villages with abandoned buildings and streets. 

I also used some of the images that I prepared for the solar print workshop to have another go at gum arabic transfer printing.

I like the two colour print but it took several goes to get something that worked. I’ve signed up for a print exchange organised by Lesley but I think I think this method is too hit and miss to try and get eight good multicolour prints.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Solar Plate Workshop

This weekend I went on a course at the Hot Bed Press. I took the acetates that I’d prepared earlier.

We were shown how to expose the plates using various UV exposure units. The plates are then developed in warm water before printing. 

My images were printed intaglio but you can also use the process to create relief blocks.

 I like the idea of being able to manipulate the image digitally before printing and being able to get a great deal of detail and a full range of tones from the plate

On the down side you can’t work into the plate to alter and develop it further. I also had problems with the paper sticking to the surface on some of my prints althoug I think that would improve with practice. (The emulsion on the plates also smell foul when its been developed)

But it’s an interesting process that I think I would like to explore more.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

More from the album

Some of the photos I've scanned are not what you'd call flattering.

They're beginning to bring out my dark side.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Family Album

I’m going to a solar etching workshop at the Hot Bed Press in a couple of weeks time and I have to take some acetate transparencies to use to expose the plates. I thought this would be a good opportunity to use some old family photos that we found whilst sorting out junk a few weeks ago.

I scanned the photos, some objects and printed stuff, took some photos I thought might be useful and started to layer them in Photoshop.

I just used objects that I thought would fit the spaces but am finding that I can start to read stories into the images. 

I’m not sure if they will be contrasty enough for the print workshop but I think they may be the starting point for a book.