Step by Step

::: By Hand and On Foot :::

Author: Melissa (page 3 of 18)

Like Buttah

My birthday was in June, and my present from Sarah-Hope was a new set of four Pfeil carving tools. I’ve been saving them until I started carving my giant 3-foot-square linoleum block for the Roadworks Printmaking Festival at the San Francisco Center for the Book. Yesterday was the day! And wow. These tools are AWESOME.

I was so excited to start this block, and to start using these tools, that I made a little video.

By the end of the afternoon, much progress had been made.
Progress has been made on my lino block

San Antón: A Little History

At the heart of the Camino de Santiago is the meseta, the high flat plain of northern Spain, and at the heart of the meseta sits the village of Castrojeriz. Just before you reach the village, the Camino passes through the arches of the ruined monastery of San Antón.

Monasterio San Antón was a pilgrim hospital, run by the Antonine order. For seven hundred years, the monks tended to the pilgrims who passed by, and to those in the community who suffered. For another two hundred years thereafter, passers by wondered about the ruins of the once-great monastery. Now, it is a pilgrim hostel. (And I so wish I had stayed there on my own pilgrimage in 2006. The sleeping quarters were open to the air, and I wasn’t carrying a sleeping bag. But I imagine what it might have been like, watching the stars come out as the night fell, listening to the hooting of the owls that live in the remaining towers. Next time, for sure….)

This past winter, my friend Rebekah Scott approached me about doing some illustrations for a small booklet about the monastery, written by her and Robert Mullen and designed by our mutual friend Kim, the sales of which would help support the hostel (which is run entirely on donations). Yes! I said immediately. This week, the booklets arrived.
San Anton booklet

I have to say, this is a great little book. It is well-written, full of information, a treat for pilgrims and non-pilgrims alike.

Besides the cover illustration, I contributed a portrait of Saint Anthony, a reliquary, and an image of the remains of the great Tau rose window.

If you are interested in getting a copy of the book, you can make a donation via the Donate button on Rebekah’s blog, then send an email to let me know you’ve done so (be sure to include your mailing address) and I can send you a copy. Donations help keep the pilgrim hostel running; any amount will be a great help and greatly appreciated.

Tau window

The Gyre

This is an idea I’ve entertained for quite some time: a print series about the Pacific Gyre and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. To put it briefly, a whole lot of the stuff we throw out, especially plastics, winds up floating in the North Pacific. This is bad. It kills animals and fish. It destroys ecosystems. And it’s all our fault.

I finally hit upon the idea of showing a small marine world contained inside a plastic bottle. The prints will be a combination of linoleum block and monoprint. Here’s the master bottle being carved, along with three fish drawn on their blocks.
Plastic bottle and fish

Here are the fish carved and proofed. They are, clockwise from the top of the piece of paper, a surgeonfish, a mahi-mahi, a Pacific bonito, and a jack, all fish that are found in the region of the gyre.
Seeing how the fish look

Inside the plastic jug will be an undersea world – created entirely of plastic. I mean that literally and figuratively. I am using plastic trash to make the monoprints. In these drying backgrounds I’ve used plastic string bags that once held onions to create the netting.
Netting made from plastic bags

Future layers will be made using latex gloves, zip ties, bottle caps, coffee lids, and 6-pack rings (to name a few). I wasn’t even sure plastic 6-pack rings were still in use; living in California and not drinking beer in cans give one a limited view of such things. I was tickled, though not really, to find them today in my local grocery store. I remember my mother, way back when I was a small child, sternly telling my sisters and me that these rings should always be cut apart with scissors before they were thrown out, so birds and animals wouldn’t get caught in them. Frankly, I’m rather shocked that we haven’t figured out a better way, after all this time, to bind together our recreational beverages. But even though it’s evil, this set of rings will make great shapes on the prints. (And I will certainly cut them up and recycle them after printing.)
A six-pack with plastic rings

I’m hoping to have a few of these finished in time to be included in Ink | Paper | Print, the MPC Printmakers Club show at the Felix Kulpa gallery in August. Stay tuned!

p.s. This is the first time I’ve used my new Ternes-Burton registration pins. They are great! I have never had such accurate and easy registration before. If you are considering using them, I say go for it.

Catching Up

More days, more drawings. It’s a lot easier to make drawings than to upload them, especially since I go old-school and use a camera, not a phone, to take pictures of my drawings.

Oops! I forgot to take a picture of my drawing for April 6, which was just a doodle. I was in bed and tired and cranky, and said “The heck with it!” about doing a drawing, upon which Sarah-Hope handed me her sudoku book and pencil and said “Draw something!” So I did. Thank you, Sarah-Hope, for keeping me on track. I’ll post the image later.

Here is April 7th’s drawing. I would like to do a large ink and acrylic drawing/painting of this, like my blue-black paintings. It’s part of a meat grinder I picked up -where?- long ago.
Drawing of a meat grinder drill

April 8 is an idea for a linoleum block print, featuring a medieval city with multiple perspectives.
Drawing of a medieval city

April 9 is another idea for a linoleum block print, this one featuring agricultural workers picking strawberries.
Drawing of farm laborers picking strawberries

A Quick Sketch

The sketch for April 5, a quick drawing at a cafe.
A quick sketch of a man on the phone at a cafe

Now that I’m into this project, I’m itching to dig into a larger and more detailed drawing. After the weekend, I hope!!!

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