An Introduction to Letterpress Printing

I am incredibly honoured to be a recipient of the Jerome Foundation Mentorship Program. 2015 is the year where I get to learn about many of the different traditional skills that revolve around The Book. I will be introduced to the wonderful techniques of letterpress printing and bookbinding which, together with my paper making skills, will culminate in a glorious artwork.

I’m yet to see what that artwork will be, but it’s early days into the program so, no worries for the moment.

My mentorship will take place at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, a place that I already use and love dearly.

So, here are some photos of my first introduction to letterpress printing with CB Sherlock, a friend and a very talented printer.

Together with four other recipients of the program, the aim of the game was to find a five letter word, choose a letter, create a definition and then learn how to put all of that together and print a broadside.

After much discussion our word was Light. I chose the L and came up with a very creative L is for Love.

 

 

L’hiver

To celebrate the start of the new season, here are some images of my latest artwork entitled ‘l’hiver’ (French for winter).

This artwork consists of over 80 hand-made pieces of paper. Made from cotton and abaca, each piece was individually created and later dyed resulting in a harmonious ensemble. Just like snowflakes falling from the sky on a cold winter’s day; each element is unique.

The creative process took place at the MCBA (Minnesota Center for Book Arts) in Minneapolis, where I am a member of the artist cooperative. I thoroughly enjoy working in the large, clean paper studios and, as you can see, I have a tendency to spread.

L’hiver was part of a group exhibition earlier this year at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, WI. As usual I fell behind on my internet duties and forgot to inform you ahead of time. Better late than never.

Giant handmade paper for Sipho Mabona

I was so happy to be in the right place at the right time when my friend Sipho Mabona had an ambitious idea to fold a life size elephant out of a single sheet of paper. His sculpture called for a piece of paper 15m x 15m (50ft x 50ft) large; the papermakers able to help him were Amanda Degener and Bridget O’Malley from Cave Paper in Minneapolis along with a handful of helpers, including myself.

Making handmade paper the size of a small house is a rather rare occurence. It involves a huge space to work, a lot of fibre and of course heaps of stamina. Using their connections, Amanda and Bridget managed to recruit enthusiastic helpers and took over The Grain Belt Brewery Complex, a former brewery which has been turned into artist studios. I had so much fun being a part of the team and participating in Sipho’s gorgeous elephant that I’ve decided to share the process with you.

18 sheets of paper measuring 5m(17ft) x 2.5m(8.5ft) were individually made and assembled into 6 strips. The strips were then sent to Switzerland where Sipho joined them in-situ into one very large square measuring 15m(50ft)x15m.

To make each 5m x 2.5m piece of paper, a nylon mesh was laid out directly on the floor. Flax paper pulp was then poured on to the mesh. This is enough to create paper, but Sipho needed a thick, uniform sheet so we applied sheets of handmade paper 50cm x 70cm onto the wet pulp and poured another layer of pulp over the top.  That’s right, we created a very large, soggy, paper sandwich using around 115kg (250lbs) of paper!

Here are some images:

 

For those of you who are interested in the actual creation of the life-size elephant, Shiso Productions have made an excellent 6 part documentary series.

 

 

 

Faux Painting for Tauba Auerbach

I had experience faux painting on wood, on plaster, on canvas and on paper, but never on the side of a book. That was until New York artist Tauba Auerbach asked me to assist her on a very interesting project. doing just that.

Using watercolours for the first time I meticulously matched the sides of the book with the images on the full pages. The challenge of devising my own technique to acheive the trompe l’oeil effect was great and really brought out the perfectionist inside me. I usually work with oil paints, creating thin glazes and building up layer upon layer with different brushes to create multiple veins and colour variations. I learnt almost immediately that this was not possible with watercolour, especially as I had to keep the amount of liquid to a minimum not to damage the pages of the book. Therefore each and every wood pore and marble vein was painted by hand — one by one. I thoroughly enjoyed myself on this project and am happy with the results. More importantly, Tauba was pleased too!

 

Art in Action 2013!

I am really excited about participating in Art in Action 2013  with my partner Eric Gjerde. We’ve been working really hard recently to promote paper-folding and our new book through workshops at local art spaces and school fairs…

From the 18th – 21st July we’ll be doing just that at Art in Action, a huge event near Oxford where artists demonstrate their skills, share their knowledge, perform and give practical classes.

Artists come from around the world and share with the public their enthusiasm for what they do resulting in a wonderful, energy filled experience.

It looks like the sun will be shining brightly for us, so come along and have some fun!

Stedelijk Museum 2013

Earlier this year, I was involved in creating some large scale paintings with Lucy Mckenzie for her first solo show in Amsterdam.

The huge canvas sheets of painted marble turned out looking like realistic blocks and the rich, decorative paintings vibrate against the solid white walls.

The show Something they have to live with will be at the Stedelijk Meseum until 22nd September 2013.

 

 

 

Collaboration with a fashion designer

I love the way the internet facilitates communication and enables us to meet like-minded, interesting people. I’m almost always up for a challenge and thoroughly enjoy collaborations with other artists – adapting my skills and techniques is great mental stimulation!

Earlier this year I was contacted by Ornella Gallo di Fortuna, an Italian fashion designer based in London. She needed a touch of origami inspiration for her 2013 millinery collection origami romance, and I was available to help. I folded the different pieces out of my hand-made paper first and then out of a variety of different fabrics that had been prepared with a stiffening agent. To keep the creases nice and crisp I found that the best solution was to iron each and every fold.

This was a fun project and I am very honoured to have contributed to some of these beautiful compositions. Here are a few of my favourite images, but many more are visible on the links above.

 

Salon de l’Artisanat Yerres 2013

Yerres_METIERS_ART_2013

I’m pleased to announce that I have been invited to participate in the 2013 Salon de l’Artisanat in Yerres from 5th-7th April. This is a prestigious arts and crafts fair that is held in the Caillebotte Property on the outskirts of Paris. Alongside 25 other artists I will be exhibiting some of my large paper artworks as well as demonstrating my paper folding skills.

I look forward to seeing you there!