Experiments in Collagraphy

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The other day, Porcupine Art Club Director and fellow artist Catherine Cribbs, held an informal workshop with some club members on making collagraph plates for printing. (Catherine is also avid print-maker – among her various other media she works in – and she was the one who taught me linocut in 2011.) Collagraphy, is a form of printmaking that uses plates made of a thicker paper or cardboard, on which various flat, but textured media are glued down – essentially creating a collage, but instead of the collage being the final work of art, it becomes the tool for making more art.

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For my first attempt, I experimented with gluing string down on a piece of scrap watercolour paper that had been torn up to roughly 4 X 6″ in size. The edges are kept rough to give nice aesthetic to the print, rather than a forced straight border.

I penciled in a very rough outline of the Hollinger Headframe and Timmins water tower, making sure I had the scene lined up backwards. For the lettering, I broke up a couple of white pine (?) needles, and carefully glued them into place. The S was too complex for the rigid pine needles; therefore, I used a piece of string. Originally, I had built up the water tower from one continuous length of thread glued down, but then the lettering became to wide, and I had to pull up the string and lay down a fresh one. Working without tweezers on such fine detailing took a good two-and-a-half hours.

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A few days later, I painted over both the front and the back of the plate with white acrylic paint to seal up everything. I had to first move the second I in TIMMINS, because it was butted up right against the edge of N.

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While thinking about textures, I decided to experiment with the scrap rafts I had from many 3D printing projects. (When using a fused deposition modelling 3D printer, you generally have to switch on the option for “rafts”. The printer then extrudes 6 layers of melted filament to build up a foundation on the build plate before starting the 3D model. The raft will always take on a bit of the shape of base face of the model, and sometimes on a flat shape, such as a stamp, the raft can take up to 40% of the total build time of the model, only to be discarded if it cannot be recycled.) I dug through my bucket of scraps and found the raft from when my husband had styled a “Courage” medal when he played the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz in 2016. Since I had torn up a 6-inch square of the scrap watercolour, I decided to glue the medal raft to it. The first layer of the raft is always a set of rows of interesting continuous lines made up of a repeating squared-off S-shape, and I chose that to be the side that would be inked.

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Additional scrap I also collected were the coiled “threads” of filament produced when I changed filament reels. In order to make sure the filament was feeding through the extruder properly, and to flush out the contamination from an old colour to a new colour, I ran the filament through the extruder anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute, which resulted in a coil of filament that would harden on the build plate. Since these created an interesting shape and a stringy texture, I glued three of them down to a bookmark form. I used wood glue for this, since I did not have PVA white glue handy.

Inking and Printing

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Once all the plates had been designed, sealed, and dried, the next part was inking the plates for the printing press. Since the brayer would be too rough on the collage materials, and the ink would not get into all the detailed areas, the artists made “poupées”, little pieces of cloth stuffed with a cotton ball and tied up firmly with an elastic band (i.e. like a fabric doll or puppet’s head). The poupées were then dipped in various colours of oil-based printing ink (similar in viscosity to oil paint), and the ink was dabbed over the different sections of the collagraph plate. Usually, I tend to print in black or a single colour, but I decided to experiment with a full colour plate for the first couple of print runs.

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The first attempt was run through the printing press on to a 5 X 7″ 140 lb watercolour greeting card. I decided not to use white ink for the water tower, since the paper was quite bright white. The impression was not too bad, but the colours made the image look more like a child’s drawing than a print.

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I tried a second full-colour version with an old piece of watercolour paper that was close to beige. I used white ink on the water tower and ran it through the press. Again, the result looked more like a child’s painting than a print.

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For my third attempt, I used black ink over the plate (not cleaning off the colours that were underneath), and was much happier with the result, which looks like a print. Since the ink is oil-based, the print can later be enhanced with watercolour paints, if desired.

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I ran some colour experiments with the 3D filament “thread coils” and liked the results…

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… I ran a “blind print” (that is, an uninked plate, which makes an embossed image) of the 3D medal raft, but did not make any inked prints…

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… and, I also made up an adjustable plate out of 3D printer raft scraps. I took a white backing, removed the “S” track layer, and taped on a circle with a bump from a Christmas ornament, a sort of cartoon bus shape from printing off a model Hollinger House on its side, and I overlaid a line of the “S” track on the bottom, to create ground. The scene was designed to be hot air balloon flying over a field.

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The first print ended up with quite a bit of ink bleeding from the “S” track being larger than the plate, and the background had not been inked, but some traces of ink had transferred the lined pattern on to the print.

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For the second attempt, I removed the “S track entirely, and inked up the background plate to look like sky and ground. I then taped the balloon and basket layers on, after inking them up with red, and brown respectively. This created a much better, and more interesting print – some larger squiggly lines on the edges are from where parts of the “S” track layer remained stuck to the raft.

Overall, my first attempt at collagraphy was successful, and it has also given me a good use for the scrap 3D printer rafts I collected up over the last three years.

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A View Inside SNOLAB (Sudbury Neutrino Observatory)

In early May of 2018, I applied to the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory`s first-ever Physics Photowalk Tour to be held in June. The physics photowalk is a worldwide event in which various facilities, such as CERN and Fermilab, open their doors to a selected of photographers, who are then allowed to explore around the facilities (under guidance for safety) and take photographs, presenting a new and creative few of the research environment to staff, scientists, and the public. I learned on May 18 that I was selected as one of the 20 photographers to visit the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, which has been in operation for nearly 30 years 6800 feet underground at the Creighton Mine site in Lively, Ontario (just outside of the main City of Sudbury). The original SNO experiment, which gave insight into the properties of neutrinos and the core of the Sun is complete, and resulted in the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics being awarded to Dr. Takaaki Kajita from the University of Tokyo and Dr. Arthur B. McDonald of Queen`s University in Kingston, Ontario. (An overview of SNO can be read here: “https://sno.phy.queensu.ca/).

Many other international collaborative experiments have been completed or are in progress at the facility and cover not only physics and astrophysics, but also biology. (E.g. FLAME – Fruit fLies in A MinE., which Dr. Thomas Merritt of Laurentian University is conducting to see the genetic and metabolic effects of the mining environment on the body, using fruit flies as the human analogue.) In addition to SNOLAB, the site is also an active nickel mine that operates down to over 8000 feet underground.

To give you an idea of the scale of the research facility, this is one chamber called the Cryopit, which is several stories high. This image is a composite of 30 20-mm focal-length photographs taken on a full-frame (35mm image sensor) DSLR. The images were merged in Adobe Lightroom on a cylindrical project. I left the edges uncropped, because I felt they added a dramatic touch to the scene.  #PhysPics18

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Aurora Borealis May 07, 2018

The solar activity was elevated starting on May 05th  to around May 08, 2018. This photograph was taken around 1:00 a.m. on Monday May 07th, 2018 in Dana-Jowsey Lakes Provincial Park, approximately 30km west of Timmins. There were some clouds that night, and the pink on the right side of this picture would be the lights reflecting from Lakeshore Mine near the Highway 144 turn-off.

 

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Miniature Robin’s Nest in Clay

RobinEggMiniature.jpgThis is a free-from, hand-built stoneware piece I made in Linda Guiho’s pottery studio on January 30, 2018. The scene is a robin on the edge of her nest with one egg and a hatchling (not seen from this angle), which sits in an egg (approximately to scale with an actual robin’s egg) on a stand. The model is resting on my knee in this picture with a quarter for scale. I photographed this with a tablet that has a low-resolution, non-focusing camera.

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Maneki Neko Painting

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This is a quick 5 X 7″ watercolour based on a tiny black Maneki Neko (Japanese lucky beckoning cat) figurine I’ve had for over 20 years. The black lucky cat is for safety and wards off evil spirits; the original figurine is about 3/4″ in size. (A basic guide to the Maneki Neko symbolism can be found here. This painting was exhibited at Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre in December of 2017 as part of the Porcupine Art Club‘s themed show “Dark in the Light”.

 

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Northern Lights Near Home: An Artist’s Talk On The Science Of The Aurora Borealis

 

Aurora Show

Northern Lights Near Home opens formally at Black Spruce Gallery & Framing on September 19, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. I will be giving an artist’s talk on the science of the Aurora Borealis and will examine at the relation between solar activity and the Northern Lights.  Information on viewing and photographing the Northern Lights will also be included. This presentation is also a part of Science Literacy Week 2017 (http://scienceliteracy.ca/), an annual week-long celebration of science in Canada.

The show opening is free, and for all ages. The Artist’s Talk will start at approximately 7:30 p.m. Coffee/tea and light refreshments will be served. You may want to bring a small folding chair or stool.

Address: 42 Pine Street South, Timmins, Ontario.

 

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Photo Exhibit: Northern Lights Near Home

Aurora Show

I will be holding an exhibit of some of my Aurora Borealis photographs from around the Timmins area during the month of September at Black Spruce Gallery & Framing, 42 Pine Street South, Timmins. The exhibit will be running from the afternoon of September 05th, 2017 through to the end of the month.

The show opening will take place from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 pm. on Tuesday September 19, 2017 and will feature an informative artist’s talk on the Northern Lights. More details on the opening will appear in a future post.

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Total Solar Eclipse: August 21st, 2017

I took my husband down on a 1700-kilometre trek to Hopkinsville, Kentucky last week to see the total solar eclipse, which lasted for 2 minutes and 40.5 seconds at the site. I photographed the entire sequence (99% of the time through a solar filter), which will then be put compiled into a time lapse sequence. In the meantime, here a is a photograph showing the Sun’s Corona during totality.

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Solo Exhibit Coming this September, 2017: Aurora Borealis Photography

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I will be running my second solo show this fall, which will feature photographs of local scenes with the Aurora Borealis. The show will take place at Black Spruce Gallery & Framing, 42 Pine Street South, Timmins. More details will be posted over the next few months.

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Miniature Headframe in an Eggshell: Completed Last Week

The detailing work on the miniature headframe was completed on April 16th, 2017 and then it glued on to its display stand in a display case meant for a baseball. Here are couple of close-up shots before it goes off to the gallery for review.

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