With process shown through photography, my own work in sketches and final form, and video, this blog depicts my thought process, the problem solving involved in experimentation, and the joys and frustrations of vision fulfilled in unexpected ways. I will also go into brief histories of the techniques I'm using, illustrated by work from masters historical and contemporary. I plan to update every other Thursday, so click below to receive an email every time there's a new post!
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Marbling is the art of floating pigment on water, then pulling that pigment in all its organic and vibrant pattern onto a surface. There are references to paper marbling techniques dating back over a millennium in the poetry of Shigeharu. The Japanese technique is called Suminagashi, or “ink floating”. Brushes loaded with sumi ink touch and expand on the water’s surface. Tradition uses a variety of natural tones and a surfactant made of pine tree resin to create separation between color and add pattern. The pattern is fanned or drawn in with a stylus, then pulled with washi: papers made with local bark like gampi, mistuamata, or kozo. Patterned paper and silk were used for calligraphy, particularly poetry.
Another version of paper marbling called ebru (“cloud art”) originated in Turkey. During the Ottoman Empire, the process was considered a closely guarded secret, as marbled papers were used for official documents. Sides of account ledgers were also marbled, so if pages went missing, a jar in the pattern would be apparent. It is impossible to know the exact history, however, as Genghis Khan’s hordes, and the conqueror Tamerlane after him, lay waste to many of the mosques and libraries in the region in the 13th and 14th centuries. The oldest reference known today from Turkey dates back to 1447. Marbling techniques came to Western Europe from Turkey, and the first established paperworks in Italy date back to the 13th century.
Today, marbling paper is best known for its decorative use in books. France, Italy, Holland, England, and Germany all latched onto the process. Because of the spontaneous to specific nature of the patterns, the low cost of creation, and the vibrancy of pigments, marbling brought art to everyone. The ability to create multiples, to have something both unique as well as one of many, is one of the great virtues of printmaking. Ultimately, marbled papers fall into this category, and today I will give you all the tools to make your own monotypes on a press of water.
In this aquatint project, I experimented with multiple layers of ink in varying levels of opacity on the same plate to create atmosphere. The images are based on sketches I created of Battery Kinzie at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, Washington.
Fort Worden and two other forts were built in the late 19th century as part of a “Triangle of Fire” intended to defend the entrance to Puget Sound. In spite of the onset of two world wars, Puget Sound remained untouched and the guns were never fired on an enemy. Over the years, nature crept in and what once was clean and streamlined is now covered in graffiti, blocks of paint and pools of vegetation and rust.
The book is Japanese stab stitch, the pages folded in the traditional Asian style, but not bound in on both ends so the reader can pull the page out for a full landscape spread. This is a mock up of prints, many multiples of the same plates, pulled with differing opacities of ink and wiping methods.
This chapbook’s outer and interior cover are wintergreen transfers of laserjet prints of scanned textures laid out in InDesign and printed on an intaglio press. The end sheets are suminagashi, or Japanese marbling.
William Faulkner’s characters look inward, but the world they reside in represents larger societal battles. Abner, the fire wielding terrorist and cold father in the short story Barn Burning, is a chaotic neutral archetype as at home in the contemporary times as he is in the barely stable postbellum south.
This project is a fully illustrated edition of Faulkner’s short story Barn Burning. In an effort to represent the inward turmoil as well as outward specificity of time and place, I worked with laser printouts of photography contemporary to the American Civil War and Faulkner. I transferred these prints to Ingres laid line paper and worked back into them using wintergreen oil and other transfers, charcoal and pastel, metallic leaf, patina and blackening solution, intaglio and monoprint. The text was set in InDesign and transferred using wintergreen oil and intaglio press and transfer marker.
This was a quick handbound chapbook project that experimented with alternative printmaking methods and materials. The cover is gold leaf, charcoal mixed with alcohol, and patina solution. the interior was printed with laserjet ink and transfer makers.