Wednesday 2 December 2020

lino printing at home

My intention for this year's studio residency at Signal Arts Centre was threefold: to do a daily self-portrait (see blog post here), make a number of unique silk fibre pages (see blog post here), and to create a new series of prints as part of my body of work, Memory Is My Homeland. My initial intention was to create monoprints on the handmade silk fibre paper. However, after doing several tests, which I discussed here, I decided to do linoprints, which I discussed here. Everything was going swimmingly until a second lockdown meant that I was going to be working at home instead of the Signal studio. 

Since I normally work in my home studio, theoretically this wasn't a big deal BUT the road where Signal Arts Centre is located was blocked off due to construction on a nearby bridge and the printing press was still in the studio at Signal. As I had hoped, the road was only blocked off for two weeks, during which time I could prepare lino blocks, cut paper, etc. so that I would be good to go once I retrieved the press. In any case, my home studio is in the attic so any printmaking would have to be done downstairs. For several weeks then, the kitchen was the area for preparing paper and inking the blocks.

It is a short hop down the hall into the living room, where the press was set up. As you can see by the picture, I made a heavy cardboard "window" in which to place the lino block to effectively use the press as a relief printer. The cardboard was large enough to register the paper against.

The blanketed floor of the living room was just large enough to do one edition of ten and a unique print on silk fibre paper for each of the lino blocks in the series. For this image of a telephone mouthpiece I chose the silk fibre paper that contained a tangle of inclusions. Certainly an image representative of both communication and mis-communication.

My initial image of two clothes pegs on the line didn't work on such a tiny scale, but I still wanted to use the image. I decided to re-do it as one larger clothes peg and am happy with the results of this very domestic image. I chose a silk fibre page that had soft mauve thread inclusions. 

I had this memory of swinging on a chain barrier in front of the house where I was born and that I only lived in till I was 2 years old, in Toronto. I thought it was an impossible memory until one day, passing River St on a streetcar, I saw that the chain link barriers were still in front of those city housing units. They separated lawns from the footpaths and were only about a foot high - something a toddler could, in fact, manage to swing on. The silk fibre paper has both Fabriano paper and green thread inclusions.

As well as printing editions and unique prints on silk fibre paper for the new series of lino blocks, I also wanted to print editions for some older blocks that fit with the theme, specifically the two mugs and the teapot, which appeared in my Good Morning/Maidín Maigh/Buenos Días books that I made a few years ago. Details of that project can be seen here.

I also realised that I only had a few test prints of a lino I cut a few years ago, Prayers for My Children, certainly in direct response to an incident at my mother's deathbed and the surprise estrangement from my siblings following her death.  I wrote a fictionalised account of this and it was published here. I think this piece belongs with the current series; the unique print is on an un-dyed silk fibre page with Fabriano paper inclusions.

The kitchen was also a handy place for clean up each day.

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