Monday, November 30, 2009

Blue Blue Everywhere.

Oh it was so nice to have a week off for Thanksgiving! Jeremy and I stayed home and were able to make an entire suite of screenprints for the craft fair we are doing this weekend in Charlottesville, the one next weekend in Chapel Hill, and our Etsy store! We also picked up an old thread from Jeremy's research and combined it with some of our new discoveries.

Back in 2001 when J first started experimenting with natural, and non-toxic pigments he did a lot of tests with things like tea, onion skin, purple cabbage, beets,  turmeric, and walnut (which we both still use extensively). These experiments filled sketchbooks and were tested out on large drawings, prints, and paintings (and some love notes!) but some of them were fugitive and faded a bit. Recently, Jeremy found some Katagame (traditional kimono stencil printing process) information from a master printer in Hawaii and we had become interested in pursuing a rice base to replace the acrylic polymer typically used in silkscreen ink. In Katagame the rice base that is used is fairly labor intensive to make and involves a real steamer, which we don't currently have.  I did some research on other ways to make a rice base and found a nori paste recipe that seemed viable. This weekend we mixed the base with some pigment concentrations that Jeremy made,  one was pokeberry, paprika, and beets (red!) and the other was purple cabbage and japanese seaweed (blue!). We also mixed in an alum to help fix the color. The cabbage still looked purple when it was wet and we were worried that it was not going to come out blue but after sticking some paper testers in the mix and letting them sit we realized that they dry blue! Its a beautiful rich blue and the alum should help it to last a little bit longer.

Jeremy made these beautiful 2-color process prints with those inks. I am so proud of him because for years he has been trying to figure out a way to make completely biodegradable, natural silkscreen ink AND use it to make process prints. As we get this figured out a little better we are hoping to get all the plastic out of our art. Pretty cool J.

In other blue news... On my way to work today 4 hours from the ocean, in the mountains, I saw a big great blue heron. My first though was "oh shit I am totally asleep and dreaming at the wheel" followed by the following revelation... Me and that bird were both far away from where we belong at the ocean and should try our best to get back. We have barely been to the beach this fall because of being extra busy and the weather being colder than normal. I hope to remedy this over the holiday break!

Last but not least, Jeremy and I are VERY stoked because we are looking at studios tomorrow! A studio outside of our house has been a dream of ours since we got out of graduate school, but has been hard to find in Charlottesville because there aren't a lot of industrial spaces here that might be used for that kind of stuff. Wish us luck... we are super stoked to have a cat hair free art making space. More on that soon. Oh my goodness!