Thursday, 5 March 2015

Ma-Ness Week 9 Ongoing Adventures of Cyanotyping, Printing On Fabric, Potential Collaborations, Showing and Accidental Delete

this weeks post it notes
 Once again in attempt to both get ahead and keep up with myself I find myself typing this ahead of my usual Monday afternoon schedule, and I have had so much to think about this week - have been doing more cyanotyping and am reet pleased with both the process and the results and getting a bit more practiced each time I do it - both in terms of judging when it is ready, where best to place the acetate, and where the best and strongest sun is in the house at particular times and what kind of paper gives the best results. 

Tracing paper is still gorgeous but fiendishly tricky, water colour is uniformly good and reliable, this weeks piece on newsprint worked when last weeks didn't - suspect that was due to taking it out of the sun too soon and the leftover print from the the colour digital printing I had done last week has worked but also gone a funny kind of greeny colour - in a way I like but am not sure if it is reproducable.

10.15am is the optimum time in the kitchen to start one off now - plus I bought a bigger frame so I can do now do 2 A4 sizes at a time but I need to keep a slightly closer eye on it so that as the sun moves round no bit of it goes into shadow - I can do 1 A4 on top of the boiler, and up to 3 on the floor in the dining room which by 12 can be increased to 4 - depending on how strong the sunlight is - I can get up to 8 done a day. But the light isn't full on enough downstairs by 2pm which means I have to bring them upstairs for the last blast til about 2.45pm when it's moved on...

Lucia helping keep an eye on things for me
This process is also done under the supervision and assistance of my feline assistant Lucia who likes to keep an eye on things for me....and make sure that she is represented in almost all of my photographic work by being the fluffiest of cats and her hair features and has to be photoshopped out of almost every single scanned negative - in spite of my constantly wiping both scanner bed and film. But I not only have to make sure the sun hasn't moved round enough for them to go back into shadow but also to check that either she or Mapp haven't decided to take up residence on them. Cats are according to a chum 'heat seeking missiles in fur' and as it begins to warm up weather-wise I suspect I will have to increasingly guard against feline intervention.

End result of cyanotype in process in top left of above image- husband being all proper photographer on Filey Beach last February 
As I've said before the irony of a goth being reliant upon a sun (well uv and sunlight has strongest and best amount of uv) reliant process is not lost on me. I am also loving the fact that it is for me a real mix of 19th,20th and 21st century processes - in that the cyanotype process itself was popularised in the 19th century, I am using film which was popularised in the 20th and then the copying of the scanned image which has been inverted in photoshop and printed and copied onto acetate is a late 20th and early 21st century process - how is that for a time encompassing way to do things?
It is also a defiantly old school not completely uniformly repeatable art form which in this age of mechanical reproduction makes me smile. It also makes the bathroom and the back bedroom aka my workroom look like a strange laundry where only blue and white things get washed...and it makes you slow down and contemplate as it is not a speedy process at all..... 

I've also been experimenting with printing my images onto fabric - in this case silk organza as it has exactly the floaty ethereal other worldly look and feel I want, sadly it is also rather expensive (test prints cost nearly £6) and also rather fiddly to hem and I am going to have to experiment with different ways of sealing the edges against fraying - hemming by hand as I don't trust my sewing machine or my rudimentary sewing machine skills to sew a fine enough and straight line by machine, using magic tape on the edges, bondaweb or wundaweb and a solution of painted on pva glue....will try all of these soon and report back on their results..... and note to self - sort out white balance on digital camera as the fabric is a lovely shade of grey not yellow as this picture would have you believe.   

inverted memorial image for Henry next to gravestone close up on silk
So what other things have I been contemplating this week aside form a home production line of cyanotypes? well the memories provoked by noise after watching a documentary about Joy Division on BBC4 over the weekend as it featured not only one of my favourite bands, and lots of old footage of my home town but (almost) best of all actual noise of a old fashioned drop record and needle down record player.

And that sound took me right back to when I was given my first record player and the anticipation of what sound would come out of the tinny little speakers after the click, drop and connecting scratch and hiss and how although most record players with that mechanism make the same initial mechanical noises the noise that they then make is entirely dependant upon whatever record the person using it chose to play and whatever music the artist and producer created.

Same as a camera really - they all make a similar noise (even if that noise nowadays is a sound effect on a mobile phone as opposed to an actual shutter) and yet how different is each picture that comes out afterwards.

Plus it made me wonder about noises that I love and don't hear very often anymore except in my memory - record players that drop both disc and needle (the turntable we have is of the kind where you put the arm down yourself) the sound of Mum's metal knitting needles clacking (must record them if I get chance) and the sound of the door into my grandparents kitchen which had a squeak all its own - it'll have been long since oiled or sent to a skip though by now.... 

Project-wise - got a provisional yes from osteoarchaeologist to working together and meeting together next week to discuss potential plans - tremendously excited about this, got a yes from Kirkstall Arts Trail to being one of the artists work on show (YES!!!!! - very excited about that too)but got a no from the anatomy dept of the Medical School to my asking for an interview to discuss how the use of anatomy and perception of it has changed over the years - oh well, at least I got a reply of no rather than no reply at all.

Other things on my mind this week - the death of the lovely Leonard Nimoy who as the delectable Spock formed a bit part of my childhood died and his last tweet is worth repeating:

Life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had but not preserved, except in memory. 

RIP Mr Nimoy.

What else is preying on my mind this week - my clumsiness at accidentally deleting things off my memory stick - thankfully copies rather than originals but even so, it made me squink with anxiety when I realised I'd done it and because it was off my memory stick it was just deleted straight away as opposed to being sent to the recycling bin where I could have refound them...note to self - breathe and check before pressing buttons (it's like that old dressmaking adage - measure twice, cut once), the other thing I'm thinking of is how comparatively little reading I've done this week compared to doing and how hopefully that will all even itself up over the term but as a result of feeling bad of not doing enough reading I made myself go to the Brotherton to do some reading and absorb some it's lovely 1930's book soaked art deco gorgeousness, only to find it full of chattering students clattering away on laptops and bloody mobile phones with wires trailing so that they could charge up said items for free on uni paid for leccy.

Hopefully it'll quieten down a bit when term ends....the Art College Library is lovely in terms of the books it has, the extremely helpful and knowledgeable staff but it is also quite noisy and like an oven. Makes you feel like you're having a hot flush all the time which is not pleasant.

Also voodoo lillies came to my attention this week - a chance hearing of the phrase on R4 led to me looking them up and they are quite beautiful looking plants that stink of rotting flesh - I want to find one now...and see if they are as bad as described and if they are, could I incorporate them into my work somehow..........

The other thing that is on my mind this week is a conversation I had a with a chum in which I said I am totally owning goth cliche and (mostly) getting away with it (eg my putting of images of my beloved Peter Cushing in presentations) and she said it isn't cliche if you love it which I do and also in Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd August says to Lily on page 208 of the 2004 edition by Headline Books 'Actually, you can be bad at something Lily, but if you love doing it, that will be enough' and that is giving me a lot of succour and optimism in defeating the ever present but getting slowly but surely quieter and less insistent Captain Paranoia and this can only be a good thing.

....unless of course I go too far the other way....

Other exciting things are - had another guest blog post published on Unofficial Britain about my love of victorian grave poetry and you can read it here and I might have thought of a topic for my dissertation. Need to run it past my tutor first though.

So it's a mix of all go, all slow as the other joy of cyanotype is you can't rush it and it forces you to slow down and ongoing lots of exciting, thought provoking studies and opportunities...and long may that continue.

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