Sunday, October 15, 2017

My favorite things 42

As a professor of graphic arts, my father was an inveterate collector of all things related to printing, an enthusiasm that washed down to my own generation.  Our favorite method was letterpress -- where the letters or images are raised above the surface of the printing plate to accept ink rolled or pounced over the top, like a rubber stamp.  But just to make the collection comprehensive, Dad acquired some lithographic stones.

Lithography works in a non-intuitive manner: the image and the printing plate are perfectly flat.  The ink adheres to the image and not to the rest of the plate through basic chemistry -- because oil and water don't mix.  Start with a porous stone, perfectly flat.  Draw on it with a greasy crayon or paint.  Slosh water over the entire stone; it will be repelled by the crayon but absorbed into the background areas.  Roll greasy ink over the entire stone; it will be deposited onto the greasy area of the image but repelled by the water-wet background.  Now you can print the image onto a piece of paper.

Commercial printers were apparently quite frugal with their raw material, the heavy and painstakingly milled stones.  Both of these stones have several letterheads and documents crammed as closely together as possible.  Apparently the cost of making a separate stone would far outweigh the extra care it would take to print just the one you want.

One of the stones was from Georgia, blank checks from banks in Wrightsville, Savannah, Maysville, Senola, Colquette and Fitzgerald.  (I flipped and lightened the images in photoshop so you can read the type.)

The printer must have had to do a lot of tricky masking to make sure just the right one got printed!  In those days, financial papers typically included a blank space for the date, printed like this:  _______________ 190__.     Maybe a clever way for the printer to insure that people came back and had new letterheads printed at least once per decade.

The other stone came from Paris; it has letterheads for a dressmaker, an electrician, and a stockbroker, if my bad French is correct.  It was a decade later, 191__.

I was reminded when I pulled the stones out for photography just how heavy they are!!  My brother, who lives in Australia, reminded me the last time he visited that one of the stones actually belongs to him.  I told him he was welcome to take it home with him, but since he's always just a nanogram this side of the weight limit, he declined.  So I think both stones are going to stay with me forever.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The people have assembled

The first amendment installation is finished -- awaiting transport to the banquet site next week. 

I hope the people are all firmly enough anchored into the base so they can survive the trip.  I'll drive slowly.  But if not, I'll take some extra wire along so I can jam the armatures more snugly into the holes on site.

I love the way they're crowded together, peaceably, just like it says in the constitution.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The people -- Plan B

When I started making daily people in January, I was intrigued by the way limp fabric could become firm simply through wrapping and tying.  A few friends to whom I showed the project were surprised to find that the people had no armatures, because they had a lot of structural strength -- that was the whole point of my exploration.  But most of the little guys didn't have enough structural strength or balance to stand on their own.

So when I got the opportunity to put them all into an installation, I needed to retrofit some skeletons into practically everybody, extending into a peg that could be fit into a drilled hole on the base. 

Some of the people were constructed so I could easily run a support wire up under their skirts or thread it up inside their legs.  Others had been wrapped so tightly, and perhaps had some internal folds and creases, that I couldn't force wire through the center of a leg, so I had to snake an external wire up the back of the body, secured by their original wrappings.

That's how I spent my weekend, with wires and wirecutters.  I could have saved a lot of time by putting the wire inside in the first place, but would that have been any fun?  Heck no!

I'm almost done with the installation -- I'll show it to you soon.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

My favorite things 41

My mother gave me a crystal ball -- not for fortune-telling, but to hang in my kitchen window.  It's about the size of a golf ball.  When the sun is at the right angle, and if I have wiped the ball clean of grease and dust, and put a little spin on it, brilliant little rainbows dance throughout the room.

It varies with the season, of course, but this week rainbow time starts about 8:30 a.m. and lasts maybe 20 minutes, 20 minutes of pure magic.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A rail fence quilt

There's nothing more gratifying, if you have written an article or a book, given a speech or taught a class, than to have somebody tell you they used what you said to make something nice.  So it was great to find an email from Diane Lewis with a picture of a quilt she made from the ideas in my book, Pattern-Free Quilts

She wrote: "I stacked fabric rectangles and cut them into four pieces, them swapped the fabrics around and reassembled them to form diagonally striped blocks, which I laid out in an abstract mountain lake pattern.  Thanks for the inspiration!"

I like the three different ways Diane has arranged her striped blocks.  In the center, the mountains are made with a regular pattern to make peaks and valleys.  In the sky, the diagonals all slope gently in one direction or another, but two down-slopes might be adjacent, giving the impression of clouds and breezes.  In the lake, the diagonals go every which way to make waves and currents.

Subtle, and very effective!  And thanks to Diane for reading the book, and making such a nice quilt, and  sharing the photo!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Guilt and construction work

We're now starting the fifth week of construction work on two projects: rebuilding two decks and combining two small bathrooms into one glorious big one.  I think we're past the midpoint on both projects, but who knows?  I can still access my studio, but guys are sawing and pounding right outside the window, and more important, I need peace and quiet to decide what to work on next.

new tub in place -- everything else yet to come

So I've been going through piles of old newspapers, some of them dating back years, reading all the art reviews that I had set aside, clipping as needed, throwing away what's left.  Reading books.  Spending time with the new grandchild.

Most of the time, I'm not really needed here, but every so often there's a decision to be made.  Who knew it would take a half hour to determine how to install the lights and switches in the bathroom?  Should the light over the sink go on when you turn on the room lights or be on a separate switch?  Should the fan come on automatically with the room lights, or automatically with the shower light, or on its own switch?  Should the light be directly over the tub, or centered over the floor area between tub and shower?

Meanwhile, I'm reading about projects that many of my blogging friends are working on, and feeling guilty that I'm not doing anything useful.  I can't even concentrate enough to decide what my next project is going to be, let alone start staging up for it.  And the year-end tasks -- photo calendars, 55 Christmas ornaments, Christmas stockings for the new baby and maybe others -- are looming.

Maybe I won't do anything important till next year, and would that be so horrible?  Well no, except for the guilt....