Tag Archives: Victorian

It’s All About The Technical Details!

6 Mar

Dragon eye 2

March 16th and 17th at Swansea Print Workshop I’m running a course in woodcut printmaking using MDF.

“Q. Can you use MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) for woodcut prints?

A. Yes you can – as long as you get the technical details right.

Q. And how do I make sure that I get a nice quality print?

A. Again, it’s about getting the technical details right.

Q. And can I make these prints at home, without needing a specialist press?

A. Oh yes. But only if you get the technical details right.”

This short course covers:  safety, cutting, tools and tool maintenance, sealants, choosing the right papers and inks, printing with chine collé, printing by hand and press. At the end of two days you’ll have at least two original prints, one monochrome and one with colour, and enough know-how to get stuck into making your own original woodcut prints with MDF.

And you’ll get a chance to use this fabulous Victorian Columbian Press …

 

Please follow the link here if you’d like to book a place or find out about other courses coming up ….

My Weakest Link

2 Oct

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I’m taking part in the 40 Day Drawing Challenge set by Green Olive Press in Morocco – isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing, it’s so easy to send stuff around the world instantly. I decided to take the opportunity to push myself right out of my comfort zone and draw objects. I envy artists who can work with still life – it’s a genre that gives me so much grief. I can draw any number of humans, I’m comfortable in a cityscape, I am okay with landscape and animals are not too much of a problem – but still life! It’s my weakest link by far so I’m going to discipline myself to try out different approaches to drawing objects.  I used my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 tablet and drew with a basic free app called Markers but I think I’ll try and use lots of different media throughout the challenge.

 

Met A Monkeh

9 Jan

Went to a wedding, met a monkeh! Seemed like a nice chap.

monkeh

On the arts front, I have finally finished the print installations that I’ll be taking to the Penarth Pavilion Gallery for a new show that opens next week, with work from Swansea and Cardiff Print Workshops.

hung

These small stamped images of Frida Kahlo were developed from a screenprint I did last summer. I did a series on nine women artists who inspire me and I made the rubber stamp of Frida as an experiment and I really like the result so I’m hoping to do the rest of the artists in the series. I printed these on Shiohara paper and stitched them to a heavyweight Tate Gallery Indian paper and sewed ribbon onto them so I can tie them to the wooden clothes horse.

constrained

These cyanotypes from drawings I made of elderly women are printed onto pieces of Bockingford paper cut to a Victorian corset pattern and I’ve used eyelets and ribbon to tie them to the wooden clothes horse. I’ve been working on these for ages and it’s been lovely to get away today for a family wedding, my wonderful nephew and his beautiful wife. Top wedding and great food at the Oxwich Bay hotel on the Gower Peninsula. Spectacular scenery despite the torrential rain.

Wellies And Woods

27 Dec

chelray

This afternoon, Husb and I went for a family walk in the gorgeous Penllergare Woods, just north of Swansea. It’s a spectacular Victorian garden, established by the photography pioneer John Dillwyn Llewellyn, that is being restored to its former glory. He had the valley of the Afon (River) Llan landscaped in the ‘Picturesque‘ style.

twin trunks

I took some photos and did a quick scribble of two of my young nieces in their wellies. It was an overcast and occasionally drizzly afternoon and the sky looked bleached out.

waterfall

The river was very high because of the recent torrential rains and the waterfall was much more fierce than normal. Penllergare Woods is well worth a visit, there are miles of beautiful walks and a very nice tea room with home made cakes. It’s a trust run by volunteers and relies on the support of visitors to keep it going.

reflect

Deconstruct Reconstruct

19 Dec

deconstruct

A little while ago I made a group of cyanotype prints from some original sketchbook portraits of older women. Each was printed onto a piece of heavyweight Bockingford paper cut from a pattern for a Victorian corset. I assembled them originally in the sequence that would assemble the corset, tying each together with purple ribbon and hanging the sequence from the wall. I am submitting these for an exhibition in the New Year and the gallery wants to exhibit prints ‘off the wall’ so I have had to rethink how I put this together. I took it all apart and tied it to a clothes horse. The clothes dryer represents a traditional female role, the corset would have been dried or aired on something similar. The way I tied the pieces was significant. I tried tying the ribbon with bows but it seemed too soft so I tied it with tight knots which seemed more in keeping with my title of the piece, ‘Constrained’.

I’m continuing to develop this piece at The SPace, at 217, High Street, Swansea. It’s open next week, Monday to Wednesday 11.30 – 5.00 and Thursday, 11.30 – 4pm if you want to pop in and see it.

Get Over Yourself

3 Dec

her place 1

 

I recently had a rubber stamp made from a screen print I did a few months back (here) and tried it out today for the first time on some leftover pieces of lovely Shiohara paper. It came out like, well, a rubber stamp. Being a geeky and rather obsessive printmaker, I of course wanted it to be absolutely perfect, like a lino block through a fine Victorian Columbian press.

 

Then I got over myself! A rubber stamp is a completely different animal and the effect of stamping gives a very different finish to a press. And then I started enjoying myself, stamping away. I hung them to dry on my clothes airer, using plastic pegs and cotton wool pads. I’m not sure what I’ll do with them – maybe a 3D piece?

I did it at The SPace, a temporary artspace by Swansea Print Workshop at 217, High Street, Swansea. Open 11.30 – 5.00, Wednesdays to Saturdays until mid-February.

Pulling The Columbian

22 Nov

columbian

I had a very busy Sunday pulling some woodcut prints down at Swansea Print Workshop. I used the beautiful old Columbian press, an antique dating from the 1850s, when Queen Victoria was on the British throne. How many prints have been pulled off this press? How many hands have pulled the lever?

It’s not only lovely to use, but also lovely to look at, with beautiful cast iron decoration, brass inlays and large, smooth wooden handles. Invented by American George Clymer around 1813, it took over from the Stanhope Press and allowed a whole newspaper page to be printed in one pull. It didn’t sell well in the USA so Clymer moved to Britain a few years later and established a very successful business manufacturing and supplying the Columbians across Britain and Europe. Many of them, like this one, have a bald eagle as a counterweight.

 

Here’s a video of it in action:

A friend who is an antique furniture expert went into raptures about the patina on the wooden handle and said to never ever clean and polish it. That sort of patina is only acquired with age and enhances the value of the piece.

The Blue Stones

21 Oct

pentre ifan

I’ve been thinking about how to develop the drawings I did last weekend in North Pembrokeshire. I have seven drawings from four different Neolithic sites and I thought that one or two of them might look good as cyanotypes.

Cyanotype is an archaic form of photography invented in early Victorian times by Sir John Herschel which results in a blue image. The original charcoal and carbon drawing onto marbled paper was done in the field at the enigmatic ancient burial tomb of Pentre Ifan in the Presceli Mountains in Pembrokeshire, Wales. This striking Neolithic dolmen is almost 6 thousand years old. It is a lasting reminder of Celtic ancestors and the site is inspirational. I worked quickly in the late afternoon Autumn sunshine to catch it before the sun went down.

I turned the original drawing into a negative and coated a sheet of Bockingford paper with the cyanotype chemicals. I put the negative onto the paper and put a sheet of glass over it. I exposed it for three hours in the weak Autumn daylight, as the Victorians would have done. It was then washed in cold water to develop it.

Here’s a lovely video from Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, showing how Pentre Ifan might have looked when it was originally built.

 

This artwork is for sale through Artfinder

 

 

Constrained, A Victorian Tapestri

22 Sep

constrained

I’ve finally finished the piece I’ve been working on for the exhibition ‘A Victorian Tapestri’  at the end of this week. It’s constructed of the 12 pieces that make up a Victorian corset, cut from a heavyweight Somerset paper. I coated each with cyanotype chemicals and printed them with some of my sketchbook drawings. I’ve called it ‘Constrained’ because it reflects the physical and social constraints endured by Victorian women. The cyanotype process was invented in Victorian times by Sir John Herschel, one of the earliest of photographic processes. I’ve tied the pieces together with mauve ribbon. The aniline dye Mauve was invented by the Victorian chemist William Perkin in 1856.

I decided on a corset when I saw the brief for the show, “all kinds of archaeological, historical, metaphorical, and allegorical excavations of Swansea’s Victorian heritage.” I have vivid memories of my Mam taking me to a corsetry shop called Madam Foner’s in Swansea’s High Street to be fitted for brassieres when I was in my early teens. She believed in ‘proper’ underwear and wouldn’t let me have those flimsy, pretty department store bras that my schoolfriends wore. So I had to endure an adolescence of engineered constructions that looked like they’d been built in a shipyard. The Victorian connection? Madam Foner’s was in a beautiful Victorian shop, now housing the rather lovely Galerie Simpson. Click here to see a photo of this gorgeous building.

 

The exhibition opens this Friday at Tapestri on Alexandra Road, Swansea at 7pm and runs until October the 9th.

Blue Sunday

20 Sep

2 heads

A while back I began a new piece of artwork, quite an ambitious one using some of my sketchbook drawings of older women and a Victorian corset pattern to create a 3D piece in cyanotype, an archaic photographic technique. I cut the pieces from some lovely Somerset Velvet paper, 12 in all, and scanned and printed some of my drawings onto sheets of acetate (after reversing them in Photoshop so they are negatives). Yesterday, I coated the pieces of Somerset with the cyanotype chemicals and put them to dry overnight in a lightproof cupboard. And today I took them to Swansea Print Workshop to develop them in the UV Unit.

After exposing them for 6 minutes, I washed them face down to start the developing process then turned them over – you never know if it’s worked until this point. I’m delighted with them. They were drained for 10 minutes then I put them between sheets of tissue paper between low-density fibre drying boards.

washing 2

Next step is to assemble them and get them ready for the exhibition. More about that tomorrow……..

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