THE THREADS PROJECT:CROWN POINT PRESS
CROWN POINT PRESS
PAIRS AND ANALAGOUS IMAGERY
Some of the earliest works that were “breakthrough” pieces were made or begun at a workshop I attended at Crown Point Press in San Francisco in the summer of 2001. These are etching workshops in which the participants have at their disposal the expertise and facilities of master printers in one of printmaking’s premier workshops.
In the 2001 workshop the ideas which were to result in more than six years of continuing work found a fertile ground for development.
I noticed that the surfaces of aquatints bore a close resemblance to some of my hand-dyed fabrics. This inspired me to use this information in my search for a means to develop my ideas for blurring the borders of “art” and “craft”, in this case, using textiles and textile-related elements such as thread.
I decided that I would use the format of pairs and analagous images to prevent the viewer from making judgments of value based on material and process. The discovery of the similarity of my cloth and the aquatints gave my my first opportunity to do this.
RUST I 2001 Hand-dyed cotton, aquatint etching 4.5 x 3.5″
TULLE I (top) and TULLE II 2001 tulle, thread, hand-sewn to blind-embossed paper, and colored pencil on silk, with chine-colle’ Each image: 14 x 12.5″
This pair resulted in my attempt to chine-colle’ a fabric composition to dressmaker’s silk onto the Somerset printmaking paper. I had created a folded and machine-stitched piece of tulle, a material used for bridal veils. The layers of tulle, silk, and paper with a traditional adhesive were run under the press. (A first for “bridal veil material” I was assured by one of our master printers.) This was the last day of the workshop and all were hurrying to complete our projects. With the idea that I would later create an “analagous” drawing or other work to accompany this piece, I quickly blind-embossed a blank sheet, making a well into the paper that would provide the place for the future drawing. The workshop came to a close and our last works were put on racks to dry.
When I returned to pick up my pieces the next week I discovered that the nylon tulle and thread had pulled off the surface of the silk. Left behind, however, was the imprint of the fabric and lines of thread. Later, looking at this and realizing that I also had the blind-embossed sheet of identical size, I added light pewter green Prismacolor pencil to the silk to highlight the imprint. I then hand-sewed the released fabric composition in the well of the blind-embossed sheet.
ONE RED 2001 Thread on aquatint etching, mounted to paper with pumice, acrylic Image: 14 x 12″ Sheet: 30 22″
Detail: ONE RED 2001
The fortuitous discovery of “thread-like” imagery on a colleague’s discarded aquatint proofs, found in the trash, led to an unusual “collaboration”. My colleague, Joe Novak, had tossed out a number of aquatints because of undesirable “thread-like” lines in them. But these inspired me to want to “re-purpose” them into something suitable to my own work. With his permission, I began experimenting with a number of proofs of various sizes. Included were aquatints and soft-ground etchings.
“One Red” resulted when I trimmed Joe’s proof to just outside the platemark and added several black threads and “one red”. The piece was rather “un-anchored” so I mounted it to an earlier, unsuccessful drawing and then added a crusty black pumice to the margin around the etching.
THREADS: TANGLE 2001 Thread on etchings, hand-sewn Each 6.75 x 5″ (Joe Novak)
THREADS FOR JOE 2001 Threads, acrylic medium on aquatint mounted to paper 10 x 6.75″ (Joe Novak)
THREADS: SURFACE 2002 Acrylic on aquatint etching 17.5 x 15.5″
“Threads For Joe” was one of the first uses of actual thread to create an entire image. The surface of etchings on the beautiful Somerset paper also proved to be wonderfully receptive to painting with fluid acrylics, as in “Threads: Surface” done on one of my own aquatints in the 2001 workshop and altered later in 2002. Many more permutations of these ideas were done using etchings, my own, and Joe’s to explore the possibilities for threads imagery.
I also made a number of “straight” etchings during the workshop, including this unique impression:
THREADS I 2001 Softground etching with manipulation of the ink on the plate 14 x 12.5″
This etching uses soft-ground etching, a method in which a soft, receptive coating is applied to the plate. Objects impressed into this under the pressure of the press can then be etched, inked, and printed giving finely-detailed image of the objects. I used a thread-like material first and when inking the etched plate, manipulated it so that the resulting impression was unique (or “one-of-a kind”). (The process is actually similar to what happened when I tried to chine-colle’ the tulle-thread piece in “Tulle I and II”.)
Most of the impressions made during the Crown Point Press workshop were done as unique impressions, with the exception of a series of the Rust impressions. With these I experimented none-the-less, printing in various color combinations and as single images without the fabric mate.
The wonderful atmosphere and respect for individual needs and aesthetics in the workshop helped tremendously in facilitating my work during those five days. The workshop helped set a tone of inventiveness and the synthesis of new methods for what was to eventually become “The Threads Project”. Many more works of a similarly-experimental approach were to come, but the use of pairs and analagous images was first established here.
My book What The Surface Reveals-The Threads Project 2001-2007, which documents “The Threads Project” will give a more complete look at this work. This can be seen in its entirety at the Blurb.com Bookstore.