Sunday, 5 July 2015

MA-Ness Term 3 Week 12 Tea Toning, Matte Medium, Bookmarks, Show and Tell, Plodding On, Identity and Too Darn Hot.....

Post it note in amongst some of this weeks work - especially chuffed with the cyanotype of one of my dental x rays, the bookmark made out of no longer available Kodacolor X 120 film, and the matte medium transfer onto canvas of negative skull and the oval cyanotype of a grave ornament from St George's Fields...
apparently colouring in is a good destresser but as the so called 'adult' colouring in books were £6 - I bought a Spongebob one for £1.50 -  I love Spongebob, he and Hacker T Dog (who I got retweeted by this week) never fail to make me smile. 
experimenting with toning cyanotypes - initially using ones that didn't work very well anyway just to get hang of technique - from left to right, water bath, bleach solution, coffee but experimentation showed water, bleach (a solution of quarter tablespoon sodium carbonate per quarter litre for around a minute, water, tea, water worked best ) so next step is to get some small litter trays and use them on cyanotypes that have worked well but that I can further improve 
rinsing off.....

It's been another hard week - still missing Lucia dreadfully and the sapping heat of this week hasn't helped with motivation either but the bright sunlight has helped with doing some more cyanotypes (see top picture which also features this weeks post it note) and I've spent today experimenting with toning some of them with both coffee and tea.

I've also made some more bookmarks out of the backing paper that would normally get thrown away once 120 film has been exposed and developed. This came from the camera I bought for my husband as a wedding anniversary present. It was in a Dacora Kamerawerk from the mid 1950's and a quick google tells me this film was last made in 1974. Sadly though not surprisingly when this was developed in the pop up meth lab aka garage it was blank. But it's lovely old nostalgic worldlyness backing paper was far too gorgeous to consign to the bin and it has come in very handy this week as a bookmark in Death, Heaven and The Victorians by John Morley which I have been ploughing my way through when it has been too hot to sit upstairs at the computer...which until today has been most days. I've done whatever needed doing computerwise early in the day and then have either been concentrating upon cyanotyping or sitting at the table downstairs with a book.

Sadly though the lumen print I tried using a mourning blouse I have been lent hasn't worked very well - I am using adapted A4 and A3 glass clip frames as holders and whilst they work fine for cyanotypes they haven't got quite the weight to keep fabric flat enough - even when it's stretched but as it very delicate I am reluctant to stretch it any further so I might have to take it into college so I can use the very thick and heavy glass sheets they have as that would keep it flat.

I've found it quite lovely to sit at the dining table old school style with just a notebook, pen, post it notes and a dictionary (the one I was given when I started secondary school by an aunt and uncle long since divorced) and without the computer screen blinking away in front of me offering me enticing social media distraction. I'm sure I took in more of the content of the books in that way and the words I had to look up (hoydenish, ormolu, name but three) as I was doing it manually rather than digitally - as normally I would just google it and then invariably get distracted by something on said screen. Plus I would do things like see how many pages there left in a chapter and then think 'right, get a drink at end of this chapter or have a look at twitter on laptop once I've done 10 more pages'.  And thanks to this more efficient way of working I've got 3 books out of the pile on my right finished and ready to take back to the college library rather than me keeping asking for a renewal. Result!!

I intend to keep to this way of reading now as I seem to get more done that way than what I had been doing which was sitting at my desk in front of the computer screen...I think it also helped that the main book I was reading was published in the 70's as was the dictionary so they matched nicely timewise, I doubt somehow that a modern dictionary would have included some of the very old words I was looking up as they are now so out of fashion.

I am really enjoying the distraction of the process at the moment as well as the end result (once I've motivated myself to start work) as I can get lost in creating something and so momentarily forget the pain of losing Lucia plus the more hands on a process it is the more exciting I am finding it. Some of the cyanotyping I did this week involved using images I've had digitally printed onto tracing paper as negatives as opposed to my more usual method of printing an image out and then photocopying it onto acetate and using that as a negative and they have worked really well. I've also been transferring images onto canvas using matte medium (it works so much better than the pva glue I first tried with) and the more work I do like this the less fraudulent I feel calling myself an artist - there is something both comforting and fulfilling about the hands on nature of the work I'm doing at the moment - though of course I still love getting out and about with a camera taking and making pictures too and I hope to do some more of that next week.

I am comfortable calling myself a gothic photographic artist and the back bedroom my workroom as opposed to studio these days but I still feel slightly hesitant saying I am an artist as in my head artist equates to someone who does something with their hands eg paints, draws or sculpts. I don't however apply this definition to others so not sure why I apply it to myself....I know John Waters has said that when people tell him they are an artist he says he'll be the judge of that so maybe there is an element of that. The show of his most recent artwork is now on at the Spruth Magers Gallery in London til the middle of August (details here) but sadly I don't think I'll be able to go and see it, I rang the gallery last week to see if there is a catalogue available but sadly there isn't but a chum who has been has very kindly picked me up a flyer/leaflet about it. There is also going to be a season of all of his films at the BFI and again sadly I don't think I'm going to be able to make any of those showings either. I have most of his films on dvd and have seen some on the big screen too - Pink Flamingoes, Hairspray, Cry Baby, Serial Mom (possibly my favourite) Pecker, This Filthy World, A Dirty Shame, and most recently Polyester complete with scratch and sniff card so I may just have to content myself with that - plus I have been lucky enough to see and meet him 3 times so I shouldn't feel hard done to if I can't make it to that London to see him or his work this time.

On Thursday I went to the Heritage Show and Tell at Leeds Museum and very fine it was too - lots of really interesting speakers and projects and I got to meet people from the Centre for Victorian Studies at Leeds Trinity University as well as another person who will be starting at Leeds College of Art in September. I also got some lovely feedback from one of the ladies who runs it whose chum was at the talk I did for Darling Roses WI and who really enjoyed it and was most disappointed that I left without her having chance to talk to me properly. I left not long after I'd finished speaking as I was feeling so poorly (I had been swigging cough medicine straight from the bottle in a rock and roll stylee throughout my talk) but hopefully she'll be able to ask me whatever it was she wanted to as I'm doing a photography workshop for them next week.

I especially enjoyed James Lattin's talk 'New Discoveries From The Museum of Imaginative Knowledge' which really made me smile as did his innovative and groundbreaking research and you can read more about it here and about the whole Heritage Show and Tell process here. Think the next one will be sometime in the autumn and I am already looking forward to it - not only are the talks interesting but the meet and greet afterwards is very useful for making contacts. 

Am well chuffed with todays cyanotype toning experiments - I used cyanotypes that hadn't worked very well and a recipe that I got off the tinternet which involves wetting the cyanotype, then putting it in a bleach solution - this method can also correct overblued cyanotypes, rinsing in water before putting in either cold coffee or cold tea (I used 2 yorkshire tea teabags as apparently it's the tannin that changes the colour)  and then washing them again. The tea worked best - gives a nice colour so the next part of the plan is to buy some small litter trays (we have some traditional photography trays but these are a bit big for the bath plus they'll need a lot more liquid to fill and I  am mindful of both our water usage and water bill as we are on a meter as opposed to rates)  as these will fit A4 pieces of paper nicely and also fit in the bath easily and work on some of the cyanotypes I've done that I'm pleased with. I've tried lots of different kinds of paper - the red and grey make a nice end result and tones down the blue without any need for other chemical interference, tracing paper looks beautiful but is a bugger to process and dry flat but the clearest, most successful end result wise and easiest to work with is water colour paper so I bought some more of that yesterday and I hope to have some time in the darkroom soon to do some more paper prepping. I also have some more images I want to print off to make cyanotypes with as well.

Along with watercolour paper I also bought some new notebooks, coloured pencils, a Spongebob colouring book (see above) a cutting thing, some paintbrushes, some more mini canvases, a cutter and mini cutting mat which should be a bit better and less unwieldy than my existing guillotine, and some ribbon. Think the lot came to about £30.

I also went to see Project Nimbus at Leeds Museum - an uplifting and inspiring tale of how art and science came together via lasers and pilots to transmit Eadweard Muybridge's images of a horse in motion onto the clouds and very wonderful it was too - not least because it reminded  me of the Cornelia Parker lecture I went to in April in which she said the best and most inspiring conversation she has aren't with other artists but with other professionals. It was fascinating to see how it all came together and also that at its heart was the design of a viewmaster disc - I had one when I was little which showed me disney pictures and I loved it - anyway you can read about the project here and very fantastic it is too. 

Think that's all the things I wanted to talk about this week - lots as ever to do and as ever much food for thought and my tutor has given me some useful advice regarding the work I've done so far and what the next steps I can take are, so I'd best crack on really... next hand in date is not far off really..... 

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