Step by Step

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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.

3 Comments

  1. Lorraine Cathey

    July 13, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    I must share this with my students! A brilliant idea, Melissa!

  2. Thank you, Lorraine! If you do a similar project with your students, please send pictures! I’d love to see what happens.

  3. It isn’t just beer cans; bottle of gaterade come with six pack rings as well.

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