Friday, October 31, 2008
Prints from clay, with pots and glass Nov. 7-8
Last winter, my painter friend Donna Sutherland and I decided to make art in the darkest part of the season. Both of us get a bit lethargic after the holidays - the studio's cold and so is the brain - so we decided to try clay printmaking. It's a technique used and taught by Pennsylvanian printmaker Mitch Lyons (www.mitchlyons.com). We got Mitch's video and got to work in Donna's spacious Pocasset studio.
Let me explain a bit about the process. A wooden frame is built to hold a quarter-inch thick slab of white stoneware. The clay is dried to the leather-hard stage and then colored slips - thin clay solutions tinted with oxides or Mason stains - are used as paints on the surface of the slab. You treat the slab as a canvas, basically. Slips can also be dried into pastel crayons and drawn or grated through a screen onto the slab. The painted slips and the pastels are then inlaid into the slab by using a rubber roller (a printmaker's brayer) with a piece of clean newsprint between the slab and the brayer. Once you're content with what you've created on the surface, a piece of damp fabric interfacing is carefully laid across the dampened slab. The brayer is then rolled with some pressure across the interfacing, with occasional spraying of water to dampen the slab, gradually transferring the slip to the fabric. That's the basic idea.
Donna and I worked side by side once or twice a week for a couple of months on these prints and - no surprise - her work and mine were quite different. She's a painter. I am definitely not a painter. But I somehow got hooked on heavy black brush-strokes mitigated by color spatters and sillhouettes of World War II fighter planes. ... Don't ask ... I don't know.
We'll show our prints along with my pots and Bryan Randa's glass at our show next Friday and Saturday, Nov. 7 and 8, at Donna's house. Friday's show starts at 5, with great food and drink. Come on down!