Last autumn, I finished up a design for a new poster in the Celebrate People's History series, and it's just now hot off the presses (you can get it here)! The subject of the poster is the Luddites - not those contemporary freaks without Instagram accounts, but rather the original insurrections in the Midlands of England, roughly 1811-1813, during the violent creep of mechanization of the trades into the cultural fabric of English society. I thought it would be worthwhile to detail my design process here…
Here's another new series which I'm going to do for the blog, in which I ask members of Justseeds to take pictures of where they make their work, ask them to describe it, and ask what would be an ideal workspace.
Up for the first edition are visits with Pete (in Milwaukee) and Thea (in rural Oregon)....
I recently reprinted "Deeper Than Mechanics Dare" spoke cards, and thought the process might be of interest. I started making the cards three years ago, in order to make the image, and message about group process, accessible and fun. Spoke cars are a celebration of the benefits of bicycles as much as they are a decoration of them, and their small and cheap nature lends toward sharing. Here's a breakdown of how I create them.
I start on the computer, shrinking down a high-res version of my original design, and laying it out in a grid. The rest of the process is much more hands-on...
Over the last three weeks, I've posted 3 blogs around the creation of a print on our website called "Mass Incarceration is a Labor Issue." Here is the last blog entry about this print.
After the first color is printed, it is hung to dry and I carve away more linoleum to prepare for a second printing for the final color. This is a reduction linoleum block print, so any area that I carve away will stay light brown, and any area I leave on the block will be printed with the final color.
The first color is to the right:
Over the past couple weeks, I've been posting images of the process of this print on our website, "Mass Incarceration is a Labor Issue." Last week I detailed the sketching process.
Once I sketch the image on the linoleum, I carve away the linoleum around the lines, and then it's ready to print.
Here is a picture of the print as it is being covered with a layer of ink:
While Justseeds was in Milwaukee, I took process shots of the print I created, to show the process of creating this print. Here is the final print:
The first step in creating this print was researching labor and prison issues, including reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander as well as this article from The Nation
It's week three of my arts residency in the high Cascade mountains of central Oregon. I'm at the Caldera Arts Center, in the burnt pine woods uphill from the town of Sisters, and I'm getting a lot done. One reason for this is the studio that I have available for use while I'm here. It's huge.
I'm working on several projects at the same time, but today I'm going to do a short process post about just one of them.
In March the members of Justseeds will be at the Southern Graphics Conference in Milwaukee, doing a bunch of live printing and giving some talks about the stuff we do. The theme for the art we're going to make while there is "Labor". Since my art usually has an ecological thrust to it, I tried to figure out how I might bend that theme to my interests. I reasoned that if there's any labor that's undervalued, it's the labor of the small beasts that keep our world running. Ants perhaps, or bacteria. Or maybe bees. I'd been wanting to make an image of bees for a while, and I recalled that I'd also wanted to try to make an image of a sunflower, tracing the Fibonacci spirals within the seed-head. I decided to combine the two.
Here's a great new one from Pittsburgh-based tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE, re: corporate logos on clothing and the removal, or obfuscation of them, in the interest of one's sanity. Also, if you're admittedly as much of a fan of flamboyant camouflage patterns as I am, you'll appreciate some of tENT's hacks in particular. More from tENT below...
A friend of mine recommended that I take a picture of the stencil armature I built for a print I just finished, and I figured I might as well write up a whole How-To. Many of us in Justseeds are finishing up a run of prints for an upcoming portfolio we're doing with the Iraq Veterans Against the War, something of a followup to the Operation: Exposure street campaign we did last November in Chicago. I didn't make an image for the original campaign, so I needed to start fresh for this portfolio...
I am headed to Seattle in a few hours to present a hands-on workshop on Mobile Silkscreen Printing at the National Arts Education Association (NAEA) National Convention, with my life partner-in-teaching, Heather White. Last year we presented workshops on Radical Silkscreen Printing at the NAEA Museum Education preconference in Baltimore. We spend so much time facilitating print projects with teens, which is totally our jam, but I am looking forward to sharing knowledge with fellow educators. Any radical educators who read this blog who are attending the convention? Come say hi! Our workshop is Saturday night, and on Friday we will be doing a silkscreen workshop with my mom's first grade class in Snohomish. Silkscreen Power for Everyone!
(This silly photo is of the silkscreen station at the Justseeds table at the USSF)
A few months ago I picked up an amazing book called Print: How Your Can Do it Yourself by Jonathan Zeitlyn. It was first printed in 1974, in the heyday of self-publishing and the alt press scene. I was amazed that the copy I had was the 5th printing from 1992, since this didn't seem like the type of thing that would have longevity. In the introduction, Zeitlyn explains that it is aimed to show various inexpensive design and print methods, and how to establish your own/community press.
Filled with great hand drawn graphics and step by step instructions, it is easy and fun to read. It goes into detail about different print methods including relief, letterpress, photocopy, stencil, silkscreen, offset. It also has info on techniques like jelly pad printing and spirit duplicating, and more. It also explains techniques of design including typesetting, text, layout, gridding, borders and tone. Equally valuable is info on choosing paper, and dealing with "professional" printers, setting up our own printshop, and safety. It also has a helpful glossary of terms.
A few years ago I found this guide on how to make a slingshot on the sidewalk. From the looks of it, it was drawn by a kid. I really hope so. Vartan Grey, if you are out there, you rule. The booklet folds out horizontally, so it is just one long piece.
A friend just forwarded me this link to a design called Looptagger. Some folks figured out a really clever and quick way to spray stencils. Check their How-To on their site, Looptaggr
Tonight I found many pounds of fresh Oyster Mushrooms that were growing on the same tree as the tree we harvested many nights last year. Halloween weekend is a great time in RI to hunt the delicious beast.
Here is a picture:
My top two reasons for hunting edible mushrooms:
The amazing taste
Knowing that the second largest contributor to greenhouse gas emission is from transportation costs- most of which is food based (the first largest contributor is the Meat industry).
A lot of people have been excited recently about mobile silkscreen units, and the possibilities of setting up a simple silkscreen set-up most anywhere...I have done this in storefronts in Pittsburgh for RUST, at community centers and schools in Vitoria and Niteroi, Brazil, and most recently at the Allied Media Conference and US Social Forum in Detroit.
My cohort Heather White came up with this super-lightweight and easy-to-build design for a small, portable exposure unit. I have built several of them, one for an Educator's event at Paper Politics in Pittsburgh. I made a handout for that event, and thought I'd share it here with the Justseeds public.
I've really been enjoying Icky's process posts on his excellent blog, Blackout Print, and I thought that I'd make one for this blog here. I use a variety of techniques to make my prints, but the method shown here is probably the one I use most. The print shown in production here is called "There is No Way", and is based on a slogan/phrase I wrote down years ago, in combination with a bunch of ideas that have been lurking in my sketchbooks for similar stretches of time. The print is available in the Justseeds store.
Here's some pictures from the ongoing Large Print Project in Portland. Icky, Pete and Roger have begun carving a 3' x 10' block of lino to make a counterpart to the Taring Padi print that Roger brought back from Indonesia a couple months ago.
Here's a little photo essay showing the printing process used by Indonesian print cooperative Taring Padi, including images from all stages of the process, from sketching to carving to printing. I had the chance to help print some copies of this massive block, which is the Taring Padi half of a project addressing issues related to natural gas exploitation on both sides of the Pacific: the three Portland Justseedsers (Pete, Icky and Roger) will be working on their half in the coming month. We'll be working with local nonprofit Bark to promote exhibits and displays of the two prints in towns along the route of the proposed Palomar gas pipeline this summer. Enjoy the photos!
Sketching the initial design on MDF hardboard.
If you're in Providence, Rhode Island this week, please come by AS220 on Wednesday the 10th and participate in the discussion and slideshow I'm putting on! It's free to the public and starts at 6pm at the AS220 performance space on Empire Street:
"I Brake For Historical Markers"
6-8:30pm, Wednesday, February 10
Pittsburgh-based artist Shaun Slifer will present a slideshow and discussion of problematic and progressive historical monuments and plaques with an eye towards remembering the often-buried stories of struggles for social justice. Slifer will discuss the Howling Mob Society's 2007 guerilla historical marker series commemorating the Great Railroad Strike of 1877.
I finally finished up a large print this week, and thought I would share some pictures of the process and the printing of the piece. I also took the opportunity to print a large piece I finished a few months back and never got around to printing. Along with these pictures you will get a little tour of my basement studio, which seems to be getting more and more cramped every time I turn around, and shares a wall with the Justseeds world wide shipping headquarters!
If you don't have a Halloween costume yet, maybe you should make a mask of an extinct or endangered animal and spread awareness while you party! We had a little mask-making workshop at our house recently using cardboard and paper maché. I made a crescent nailtail wallaby, an animal the size of a rabbit which was last seen Central Australia in the mid-1950's. Mary Tremonte made a passenger pigeon, that infamous bird whose flocks used to cover North American skies before hunters took them out in the late 1800's. A saber-tooth tiger, polar bear, a lizard called a Kawekaweau, and a cute short-tailed bat were also part of the mix. If you want to make a mask, first you'll need a image and some information about the animal you want to make. I found a book called A Gap in Nature: Exploring the World's Extinct Animals which has amazing illustrations by Peter Schouten. We drew the shapes of ears, beaks, and faces on cardboard and cut them out, and then attached them together with staple pliers and duct tape. Then we added a layer of paper maché paper over that. If you want your mask to be extra strong, add another layer of paper maché once the first one is dry, but this time use muslin cut into strips. Once that's dry, then you are ready to paint, and add feathers, fur, and details. Here's some shots of the costumes in process!
The world is over.
A goat with its throat slashed may buck against its bonds, but the blood will drain out and it will die. A gentle hand might give it a pill to ease the suffering. Like the goat, we've swallowed the pill, and so it comes to this. Buy an efficient lightbulb. Drive a "hybrid" car. We have eaten the host that was laid on our tongue, the host embossed "HOPE". We've supped from the poisoned chalice to wash it down.
Our sad flapping jaws will keep on hurking out positive affirmations like trained seals clapping for the ringmaster. Our prating of determination and principled struggle and positivity of all sorts sounds now as do the grunts of a dental patient turned loose to the street with a toothless gape and gums full of anaesthetic. For it's Hope that has killed us these many long years, and it will continue to kill us, though it will seem like famine, and it will seem like war. It's hope that strangles the life of the earth, hope that fills the land and water with poison, the hope that something might be better for our children, and the hope that our pestilential children might somehow impossibly behave other than humans have ever done. Hope places around our necks the thin, piano-wire garrotte of sustainability, and chuckles in syncopation with our breathless gasps. Hope throttles us with our efforts to bring "justice" and "peace", to fight "oppression", for we stand in the shadow of one hundred thousand years of world-rending growth and ecological annihilation and proclaim that without darkness, we would never have been able to understand the properties of light.
I just stumbled upon this great, easy to follow silkscreening how-to on the No Media Kings site. It's written by artist Shannon Gerard and is a simple, straight-forward introduction to screenprinting, images and all. Check it out HERE.
Here is a photo of my most recent linoleum block that reveals my latest secret to more colors on one print. Pictured here is me inking 5 colors on one block. The print will be cut apart and collaged later.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the jury has returned from their deliberations and they have delivered the following verdict: we are fucked. Yes, fucked. The Earth is strapped down to a filthy bed in a back alley of some benighted slum and is having the guts ripped out of it by the forsaken human race. Let's examine a brief digest of current news that illustrates this problem, namely the problem of OUR BEING FUCKED.
It was recently the 20th anniversary of the death of Chico Mendes, the Brazilian rubbertapper who was murdered by a cattle rancher and his son for the crime of opposing rainforest clearance in Brazil's Acre region. Mendes' legacy is a network of what are known as "extractive reserves", where people can make a living from the rainforest without chopping it down. That living takes the form of tapping trees for rubber, collecting medicinal plants, and the like. Unfortunately, since the world rubber price has crashed, the tenants of the extractive reserves are now chopping down the forest to grow corn and soybeans and FUCKING SUGARCANE FOR YOUR GODDAMN BIOFUEL CARS. Economics trumps principles, as per usual. Of course it does. If you've got starving children to feed and there's a pristine rainforest right outside your backdoor, guess who loses?
Evo Morales, much vaunted defender of indigenous rights and Bolivian energy independence, opponent of neoliberal development schemes and water privatization, has agreed to permit oil exploration in 400,000 hectares of pristine rainforest in Bolivia's northeast. That oil is going to be used to earn hard currency to raise the standard of living for the vast number of impoverished Bolivians, the majority of whom are indigenous. If you've got starving citizens and a pristine rainforest in your northeast, guess who loses?
I'm excited that it's that time of year again. I don't mean the time of year for cheesy songs that play over and over in public places, or the time of year for rampant socially-sanctioned consumerism. No, I mean the time of year for cutting paper snowflakes! I thought I'd make a pattern and share it with you. Now, get out your scissors!
I recommend you use paper that's relatively thin, otherwise it will be hard to fold and cut. There are different ways to fold your paper in order to get the hexagonal snowflake shape. I used the method on this homeschooling website, but don't be fooled- paper snowflakes are not just for kids! After folding your paper you should have a kite shape. Fold that in half for a scalene triangle. Cut out the pattern as shown above left, starting with the half-heart shape, and then cut everything around it. Above right shows you how it should look once it's unfolded partially, back to the kite shape. On your second flake, just free form it!
Milwaukee-based artist Jesse Graves created a number of mud stencils that he recently put up on sidewalks and the sides of buildings. Below is his “how-to-guide” and a link to his website with more images.
To avoid using toxic spray paint, I found a way to make mud stencils. Here is how you do it.
Materials: Mylar, X-Acto knife, tape, mud, sponge.
1. Design your stencil. Draw your stencil the size you want it, or design it on a computer and print it. Make sure you do not have islands (parts of an image that will fall out if you cut around them, like the middle of an O.) If you are using text, use a stencil font. If are using a computer print your design the size you want the stencil to be. If it is larger then 8X10 cut it apart in photo shop and print it in pieces, or enlarge it at a local copy store.
2. Cut it. Tape your design behind or in front of the transparent Mylar. Mylar is the same stuff used as transparencies for projectors, you can find a roll of it at art stores. Use the X-Acto knife to cut your deign out of the Mylar.
3. Get Mud. Find or make some mud. I mixed soil and water then beat it with a whisk. Make sure your mud is not watery. It should be about the same consistency as peanut butter.
4. Post it. Tape the stencil to whatever you want it on, it works on sidewalks or walls. If parts of the Mylar roll up put some tape under it. Then use the sponge to dab the mud on your stencil. Do not press too hard because if you squeeze muddy water out of the sponge it may sneak under the stencil.
5. Enjoy. Remove the tape on the outside of the stencil. Carefully remove the Mylar, and enjoy you non-toxic mud stencil.
This is still an experimental process. Post your comments, ideas, and pictures at http://mudstencils.wordpress.com/