Sunday, August 31, 2008

MiT book...I'm almost there!

Finished goccoing the back side and started gluing the covers on the cover boards. I'm using Nepal heavyweight, which is a very uneven (in terms of thickness) handmade paper. There are some really thin spots where the glue is coming through. Bummer, since it being pva, it will not come off. Probably the only thing I can do to salvage it is to gocco print over everything. So that's my plan for now. I have 8 sets of the boards cut & covered, another 6 sets cut. Hopefully I can finish cutting and covering tomorrow.

Whenever I have a problem that I'm not coming with a good solution for, I often have dreams where I come up with the perfect solution. And in my dream, I'm always so excited to have solved the problem, but when I wake up, it's invariably a very dumb idea.

I've been struggling with my 4th senior's book. My original idea was to make each print like a mahjongg tile (she's a lifelong mahjongg player, come snow, sleet, blizzard, whatever, she's playing mahjongg). But her daughter was concerned that if the prints weren't bound together in some way, they'd be easy to lose, which is a very valid concern.

So this morning, in my half asleep, half awake stage, I came up with an idea for the box, and for the prints to be attached to the box in a way that still makes it look like a pile of mahjongg tiles. I admit, after I woke up, it didn't seem quite like the genius idea that I thought it was in my dream, but still quite workable, I think.

I'll have a few days to think it over while I finish Family Picnic, the current book.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

MiT, getting to the gocco parts

A shot of the text block in the big gocco. Since the text blocks are all trimmed and folded, they're fairly easy to align and to tuck under as I print:

The opening page, reads Family Picnic. As my senior #1 worked on these watercolors, she often talked about the family picnics that her husband's family had. All the brothers and sisters were there. I once asked her if the paintings were about these family picnics, she looked surprised but thought that maybe they were. So I've titled it Family Picnic.

What can I say, I love seeing them all together like this, on the drying racks. I need to cut new foam core boards for the racks. Several of the boards were ruined when I put the painted (and wet) covers from Martha on them to dry.

The words are printed in very pale gray-pink, gray-blue, and gray-green colors, to match the colors that senior #1 used so much in her paintings, so they're a little hard to read in the photo here. Like the images that go from very de-saturated to fully saturated as the books goes along, the text parts do the same. The words reference the different parts of the paintings, and they're shaped like the various parts of the paintings too.

Friday, August 29, 2008

MiT, the text blocks

But first, a picture of the bounty from a couple of days ago. The strawberries are big this year (we've had so much rain), but unfortunately, not very flavorful. I normally only water my strawberries once a week, so the berries stay pretty small but pack a large taste. This year, I've had no control over the amount of water they got.

The peaches, I've already pickled. The apples are still pretty sour, but the branches were hanging down to the ground and so needed to be picked. Not sure what I'll do with these apples yet. The tree is still pretty loaded.

I have the text blocks put together for my senior #1's book. The inkjet printing part is finished, and the blocks are all trimmed and squared up. I still need to do the gocco printing part, but I decided to square up the text block first before I print. Hoping to avoid some of the alignment problems I had with Fatherland.

Here's one spread on the front of the accordion:

And as you turn the pages, different parts of the watercolors are slowly revealed (and the text will relate to the different parts that are revealed). Starting from a B&W image on the first page, more colors and more parts are seen as you go along, until you see the watercolors:

MiT...STILL printing

It sure does take a long time. It took me 7 hours to print 2 pages (21 copies each) today!

Each page is about 22 inches long (but there is a lot of white space, where I'll be gocco printing the text), and on Rives BFK, so I couldn't even just set the printer up with a stack of paper and let it go to it on its own. The long paper flopped around and the printer couldn't grip it, so babysitting was required. I'm about 1/2 through the 3rd page, but I think I'll give up for the night and continue tomorrow.

I got really good at timing how long each page would take though, in between doing chores, and could get back to the printer just as it's about ready for the next sheet of paper. I also started trimming the book boards for the cover.

Ordered my little CD player boombox with the ipod dock. Looking forward to catching up on my 'reading.'

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

MiT book, real progress

Yay, I have the 1st of 5 pages printed (just the image part, not the text). Made a couple of prototypes, figured out all the exact measurements (I hope so anyhow). I should be able to finish printing all the images tomorrow (the images are being printed on the inkjet printer). This doesn't sound like a whole lot, but getting the prototypes made, figuring out where all the folds are gonna be, making sure that all the images are properly aligned, and then printing the 1st page, took me 8 hours today.

At least I could browse through Amazon while the 1st page was printing—I've been looking to buy a boombox with an ipod dock so I could listen to audio books, both the downloadable mp3 files and books on CD. I'll probably get this Sony player, it's not too expensive.

I can start goccoing the text on Friday. There isn't a whole lot of text, so I might be able to do it all in one day.

No gallery representation for me

Having had no luck in finding something that I can just use for senior #1's book covers (although I really wasn't expecting to), I came home from Art Media empty handed. I did also pick up my prints my Print Arts, which will close its gallery at the end of the month. So sad. I seem to be going around closing galleries. First Rake, now Print Arts. So now I'm left with no galleries.

Still working on squaring up the paper for the book, but I am finished with laying out the front side of the book. So that's progress.

The random movie: Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I liked it, a light-hearted romp about the nature of love. We did see a bunch of other random movies over the last few weeks: The Dark Knight (not as good as I hoped), the new Mummy movie (possibly one of the worst movies I've ever seen, right up there with 300), and Journey to the Center of the Earth (it was ok, but I really liked the original movie, and love the book, so this was bound to disappoint).

Monday, August 25, 2008

MiT book...duh!

I said last night that I could start printing the image portion of my senior #1's book...

What was I thinking?

Since I hadn't even actually physically laid it out (it was all just in my head, and in the mockup), I couldn't have started printing today. Duh! So in between Portland Open Studios duties, I started laying out the front half of the book. Having something in your head is a different thing from seeing it down.

So in reality, as opposed to fantasy, I probably won't be able to start printing until late Wed or Thursday. Tomorrow, I'm off to check out cover papers for this book.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

MiT book, little tiny victories

My goal for today, besides all the normal Sunday chores, was to have the text for senior #1's book done and also to figure out how much paper I'd need. I didn't quite get the text done, but I made some progress. I did, however, figure out the paper needs, and as it happens, I have just the right amount of paper on hand to finish the text block of this book. Which means I can start trimming right away (like tonight), and start on the inkjet printed portion of the book tomorrow, while I continue to work on the text. I will need to put in another order for Rives BFK tomorrow, I'll most likely need them for books #3 and #4.

In the mean time, I have a BIG question...

Why aren't lost & found pets web sites run more like dating web sites?

Not that I've used a dating web site, but wouldn't that make some sense? Rather than the, what seems to be, standard method of allowing the user to input a few key features, and then some dumb search algorithm is applied where you either get back a big badly matched & badly sorted list of possible matches, or no matches at all. (I mean, on one site, I entered "long hair" as the keywords that must be matched, and the first 5 results it returned were all short hair cats!)

Hear ye, hear ye, you with ambition and web application skills — we need a lost & found pets web site that knows how to apply SMART matching heuristics and return the results in a NICELY SORTED LIST!

No, I haven't lost my pet, but a rather sad, skinny, sick looking cat seems to have decided my neighbor Don is just the ticket he/she needs. My neighbor Don has other ideas (like putting it in a carrier and bringing it over to my house!). We were talking about what to do with the cat when I decided to try some online searches.

And I must say it's a sad state of things we have here.

Maybe one of those dating web sites can start a pet matching subsidiary?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

MiT, 6th senior day 12

Last and final print! And that concludes this part of the project; now I just have to work like a fiend in my studio to get all the books completed by November. Yikes!

My 6th senior was not quite in the creative groove that she was in the last time we met; she was a bit distracted, having just heard the news that Obama picked a running mate. We went to the lobby to find the paper so she could read about it, but she was disappointed that he didn't pick the woman (I assume she meant Hilary). I think it's pretty neat that she's still so engaged with the political process. Contrast that with my mom, who's not interested at all.

I'll be happy to not have to lug around the 50lb (or however much it weighs, a lot, whatever it is) sp-275 flash unit anymore. Getting it between the house & the car was a real drag.

So of course, with all the work staring down at me for the next couple of months, what did I do today? Took the afternoon & evening off! I celebrated the conclusion of this phase of the project by stopping by a couple of garage sales on my way home from RSM. (You gotta get your jollies however you can, I guess.) Picked up a clock for my studio (have needed one forever). Was hoping to find a sturdier little table for the guest bedroom, but no luck.

Then I made some pickled green peaches for M5K's 40th b-day party tonight. They were a hit! I still have a tree full, so I think I'll make more.

(Oh yeah, I did work on the text for senior #1's book a bit, so I didn't completely goof off.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

MiT book, a flash of inspiration!

Remember that I had planned to make a pop-up book of my senior #1's watercolors? Well, when I went up to San Juan Island to visit E, we talked a little bit about my experience with my senior #1. And E thought that my senior might consider a pop-up book a childish thing.

I've been thinking about that ever since, and I think E might be right. So I've been going back and forth on different formats. The issue is, I think her kids & grandkids will want something they can display AND they're probably not terribly interested in what I'll bring to the project (despite my invitations, they've never come to participate, nor to meet/talk to me, unlike all the other families). (And I know they'll want to display her watercolors because they've already asked for copies.) The nice thing about the pop-up is that it can be displayed easily, and I can add my parts to the back side, and they never have to see my parts if they don't want to.

So it was back to the drawing board. I printed out some copies of her watercolors on the b&w printer, just to play with, and BAM! Wow, they remind me of the old ink brush Chinese paintings.

So while I put together a simple portfolio style mock-up (easy to display, but where do I put my stuff?): mind was going in different directions. I was thinking about the scrolls of ink brush paintings, their long and narrow formats (vertical or horizontal), and I suddenly figured out that I don't have to give it all away, all at once. I can dole out the two watercolors bit by bit, along with my text, and only give them the full watercolors at the very end. That also gives me something that her family can display, they just open the book up to the last spread, and voila!

I will probably play with the saturation a bit too, so that I do start with almost b&w versions and then gradually go to the full color versions.

I'm greatly relieved that I'm finally making some progress on this book!

So, onto the garden

Two, or maybe three, or possibly four years ago, I scored 4 giant metal posts off freecycle (complete with concrete balls at the bottom, they were a pain to bring home). I planted two in the front yard, planning to have a sculptor friend make an arch for me. We agreed on a trade — she would make me something 1001 nights-ish, and I would...erh, not sure what yet.

So, I was supposed to design this 1001 nights-ish arch to get the project started, and I never could come up with something I was happy with. Last week, on the 3-hour drive to Bend (I wasn't driving), I finally figured out why I was having so much trouble coming up with something — my garden is a pretty quiet, non-showoff-y type of a garden, a dramatic structure like that just wouldn't fit in.

Instead, I bought a chain and two old trowels, and strung a necklace between the posts:

The trowels were stuck down the tops of the posts to act as finials (and to hold the chain). Of the assortment of bells, four were from Andrew (brought back from Thailand), one I got (just yesterday) at an estate sale, and one I bought at Anacortes a couple of years ago. Now I'll want my sculptor friend to make me some nice finials...

Looking at it now, it looks kind of like a belly dancer's belt.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

MiT, 6th senior days 8, 9, 10, & 11

Yes, I've been meeting with my 6th senior this whole time, but just haven't had the extra time to sit down and document since early August.

As I've continued to work with her, I've had to come up with different ways of generating imagery to keep her interested. We've used her collages, we've created new collages (both on paper and on the copier directly). I've brought in lego pieces, variety of seed pods, persimmon tops (from fallen fruit), glass marbles. I've had her draw directly, and I brought in vellum so she can draw a 2nd layer on the vellum and sort of see what she'd get.

Today, we used an old b&w photograph of her working (I think that will be great for a cover), and also a sheet of handmade paper that I made while my sister & nieces were here. Helen Hiebert, a paper-maker friend (who's having a show at Reed opening tomorrow), did a paper-making session with me, the sis, and the nieces while they were here. I made some papers with inclusions, and I brought a few sheets of those for my senior to play with today. She made a beautiful print with the patterns. Although she started with paper that I made, it was her color choices, and also her idea for the 2nd layer, that really pulled it together and made it a beautiful print.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

If at first you don't succeed...

You just gotta try it again, at 5 o'clock in the morning!

My nieces (and sister) were supposed to have left yesterday morning. We dutifully reported in at the airport 2 hours before their flight, only to find out that the flight to SFO was so delayed that there was no way they could make their connecting flight to TPE. Given that the choices were A. staying at my place for another night or B. staying at the airport in San Francisco, they chose option A. They were rebooked for an earlier flight out of PDX this morning, and we were up at 5am. Which makes one wonder, why I'm still up writing this?

Because I'm got more eye exploding pictures!

Needing to find something for the kids to do for another day (when all their toys have been carefully packed away), I remembered that I hadn't taken them on the trail in our neighborhood greenbelt (which connects all the way to Tryon Creek Park). So while their mother napped, the 3 of us went on an advanture.

This is at the head of the trail (and it's actually a lot, owned by someone, but not yet built). Somebody had put this swing up, and these two had a jolly good time:

The little one generally doesn't like to pose for photos, so when I asked to take a picture on the trail, this was what I got:

When I said, "give me a smile," she started wiggling around and smiling like crazy. This was probably the only time in my life when I had wished I had a video camera:

And believe it or not, I actually got some work done today. Mostly catching up on Portland Open Studios stuff, which I've neglected these last 5 weeks. Still have a lot more to do, but I've gotten started at least.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

MiT, 6th senior days 6 & 7

But first, the cute niece story —

They both needed to have their bangs trimmed, so I did the deed this morning, out on the front deck. Afterwards, they asked if the deck needed to be swept. I said the birds will use the hairs to build nests.

Off we went to our respective events for the day, me with my 6th senior and they shopping at Bridgeport. I picked them up late in the afternoon.

When we returned, there was a beautiful little bird's nest sitting on the chair on the front deck.

"The birds built the hairs into a nest!" They were pretty excited.

As it turned out, the neighbor (the one that brought me the mummified mouse) was out pruning and found the nest. And of course he brought it for us.

It was a pretty magical moment while it lasted.

OK, my 6th senior. Of the people I've worked with, she's probably the most affected by dementia, but also the most driven to create. For the most part, she can not remember anything about the gocco process, other than that she has to press down. And often, while we're printing, after each print, she asks why the print itself does not look like the screen (where the inks have spread)

She was a printmaker (intaglio), and I've been perplexed/confused/frustrated by some of her desires and requests in terms of what she wants to do. I finally figured out this week that at least one of the issues is that she doesn't get plate tone with silkscreen, and she wants/expects plate tone. In intaglio, you get this beautiful soft plate tone, in addition to the dark lines where the plate has been etched. Unfortunately, you're just not going to get that with silkscreen, or with the gocco.

So I've focused on trying to get her to create multi-layered prints, to get a richer and more complex tone. I'm also trying different ways of generating image. We've used some of her collages as starting points, we've tossed various things I've brought on the copier; and this week, I had her draw and collage specifically to create a gocco screen. Initially, she had resisted drawing while we worked together, but this week, she was willing to that. Probably because I did not offer her another option this week, I just asked her to draw something that we could use.

I found out from the activities coordinator that she had wanted to drop out (she thought the process 'childish'), but her son convinced her to continue. I feel a little bit like I'm walking on eggshells, not sure how to work with her, so each week I try some different ways to create images. I just feel like the other shoe is going to drop any time and she's going to quit.