Photogram Work in the darkroom at Cleveland Print Room

I wanted to explore something completely different when I began the residency in Cleveland. I am always working with print, which requires a really specific way of thinking about image making. You must think in terms of layers, and keep the process you're using in mind at all times. With the exception of monotype, it's sometimes hard to be spontaneous in printmaking. The chance to work with photography for a while was a chance to refresh things and make something visually different, because I'm literally having to think differently during the process.

Of course, I still wanted to make work relevant to me. I love photography and taking photographs and have never used them in my own practice. So in the beginning of the residency period I did a lot of research and reading on alternative darkroom techniques, and ways in which I could use black and white photography in more abstract and spontaneous ways than I would have otherwise.

  Ripple - Silver Gelatin Print

Ripple - Silver Gelatin Print

I had been thinking about the images made by surrealist photographer Man Ray, who popularised photograms, although he referred to them as Rayographs. Here is a little collection of my research images, all Man Ray photograms featuring hands:

These photograms really inspired me, as they were so unique, having a dreamlike, surreal mystery to them. I managed to learn the technique from the wonderful staff at CPR. The process is the same in the darkroom as it would be if you were making prints from a roll of film, just without the film. Essentially, they are camera-less photographs. The print room has great facilities for creating enlargements up to quite a large scale, so I was excited to work on some big photograms using my own paintings as transparencies. 

In my work have used hands as a symbol representing people, emotion, movement. Using the cutout hand shapes is also a callback to silhouette papercut illustration, and shadow puppetry.

 A work in progress image from my sketchbook. I laid out the cutout hands in different ways to decide on compositions.

A work in progress image from my sketchbook. I laid out the cutout hands in different ways to decide on compositions.

To make my photograms I began with painting on transparencies, using sumi ink and salt, which I then cut up into shapes. I then brought these to the darkroom, where I arranged them under an enlarger directly on top of photo paper. These objects acted as a stencil for the light from the enlarger, and once exposed to that light, the photogram could be developed as usual.

 Cutout hands on photopaper. This one actually ended up as a lumen print.

Cutout hands on photopaper. This one actually ended up as a lumen print.

I then brought these shapes to the darkroom, where I arranged them under an enlarger directly on top of photo paper. These objects acted as a stencil for the light from the enlarger, and once exposed to that light, the photogram could be developed as you would a normal black and white print. Below, you can watch the process of developing one of the photograms at the print room.

katieravenscraig photogram.jpg

I love this process and will be making more.

Check out the full project for more photograms! 

First Sculptural Project in Cleveland with Brick Ceramics

  Waterloo Arts District , Collinwood.

A few weeks into my time in Cleveland, I was shown around the Collinwood area, in particular the fun Waterloo Arts District. It was the best day to go, as they were having the monthly Walk All Over Waterloo event, which is great if you want to meet all the creatives that have set up in spaces in the area, attend local art and music events, and generally have a good time. It's great!

Collinwood started to get redeveloped in 2002, from dilapidation caused by postindustrial economic decline. Artists and enterprising residents completely transformed the area, opening arts and music venues, coffee shops, studios and small businesses. Today, its a bright, clean, thriving little neighborhood full of street art, with events happening constantly. It really does show the transformation cultural investment can bring to communities.

There are some really stunning facilities for artists to use in the area, and I really wanted to work with one of them. I loved Brick Ceramics, and felt that exploring sculpture would be a really logical avenue for me in my own work. I've been drawing vessels for a few years now, so it was only a matter of time!

Below are some photographs of the process of making my giant bottle, built from slab by hand and using decoration methods like wax resist, photo transfer and finally sealing my finished bottle.

  Rolling the porcelain into a slab

 Rolling the porcelain into a slab

 First forms being joined together

First forms being joined together

 Getting some help from expert  Val,  learning how to join the seam.

Getting some help from expert Val, learning how to join the seam.

 Letting it rest and dry off a little in the studio heat.

Letting it rest and dry off a little in the studio heat.

 Forming the bottle shape.

Forming the bottle shape.

  I wanted it to look like my drawings of vessels, not perfectly straight, mimicking hand drawn lines.

 I wanted it to look like my drawings of vessels, not perfectly straight, mimicking hand drawn lines.

 Fresh from the first firing!

Fresh from the first firing!

If you look closely here, you can see the wax hands I painted on the surface.

    Painting on top of the wax resist... magic!

 

Painting on top of the wax resist... magic!

 Painting the textural wash of paint over the wax resist.

Painting the textural wash of paint over the wax resist.

 Ready for glazing

Ready for glazing

 Big bottle awaiting glazing. My other bottles and objects have already been glazed here.

Big bottle awaiting glazing. My other bottles and objects have already been glazed here.

 All packed up in the huge gas kiln!

All packed up in the huge gas kiln!

The process for making the little message in a bottles was a bit different, as I wanted the pair of bottles to be twins. We decided to slip cast them, using a mould Val had already made. Here's some bonus process pictures of that.

 Filling the bottle mould with slip

Filling the bottle mould with slip

 Excess slip dripping back into the bucket

Excess slip dripping back into the bucket

 Fresh out of the mould

Fresh out of the mould

 I used a photo transfer technique to make this little bottle. My other one had hand painted designs on it.

I used a photo transfer technique to make this little bottle. My other one had hand painted designs on it.

 After glazing! This one was destined for the water...

After glazing! This one was destined for the water...

 The cork wasnt an exact fir, so I sealed the top with some specialist sealant for good measure.

The cork wasnt an exact fir, so I sealed the top with some specialist sealant for good measure.

  Click through for more images of the finished works .  This is what it looked like after glazing, and in the  Cleveland Print Room  gallery!

Click through for more images of the finished works.

This is what it looked like after glazing, and in the Cleveland Print Room gallery!

I ended up with three pieces, one big scultural bottle, and two small bottles that were designed to be used as message in a bottles. One ended up in Lake Erie, the other has travelled home with me to Dundee. Check out the rest of the project here.

AIR Connect Residency in Cleveland, Ohio

I arrived in Cleveland at the end of April, excited to get stuck into living life as a full time resident artist for six weeks at Cleveland Print Room, a community photographic darkroom and gallery. I thought it was going to feel like a long time, but time passed by in a heartbeat, there was so much to do and see and think about. I met many awesome and generous people along the way, and had so much fun!

Of course, I made a lot of work, too. A whole new project. It culminated in a show in CPRs beautiful gallery, and an artists talk. I've come home inspired and with new work.

The residency definitely deserves more than one blog post, and I'm excited to tell you about places I worked and explored whilst in the USA. I thought I'd include some Cleveland adventure photographs here.

 The Loft

The Loft

 Wildwood

Wildwood

 Waterloo Arts District

Waterloo Arts District

 Waterloo Arts District

Waterloo Arts District

 Superior

Superior

 Downtown

Downtown

 Squirrel

Squirrel

 Lake Erie

Lake Erie

 Lakeview Cemetery

Lakeview Cemetery

All about Risograph Printing リソグラフ

The Risograph is a copier made in Japan by the Riso Kagaku Corporation.  Pronounciation guide: リソグラフ (ree-so graph)

The Risograph is an automated mimeograph released in Japan way back in 1986. It was designed mainly for high-speed, high-volume photocopying and printing in an office environment. When printing multiples (generally more than 20) of the same image, it is typically far less expensive per page than a conventional photocopier, laser printer, or inkjet printer. For schools, clubs, and other short-run print jobs, the Risograph bridges the gap between a standard photocopier (which is cheaper up to about 50 copies) and using a commercial printer (cheaper over about 10,000 copies).

color1.jpg
20 Likes, 1 Comments - Dundee Print Collective (@dundeeprintcollective) on Instagram: "@kieran_plastik printing @dcadundee print studio for Riso Soup's next project #risosoup #riso..."

It is also better for the environment than regular digital printers or photocopiers. The machine itself is energy efficient, and uses recycled, uncoated paper. It also only prints with soy-based ink, which is better than toner in appearance, and does not require the extra process of setting the ink with heat, as photocopiers do with toner.

 rose blake

rose blake

It looks like a bulky photocopier, but inside it has a silkscreen mesh that is uses to print, along with stencils made from a roll of banana paper. It uses spot colours in a limited palette of vibrant inks. The finish of the print is similar to both lithography and silkscreen, with results that are sometimes unpredictable. Oh, and it prints FAST!

So, How can I use this process as an artist? Spot colour means that each colour is printed separately, and layered to create new colours. This can be used to great advantage to create beautiful effects. I love how 2-3 colours can be blended together to recreate hand painted tones, or how the semi-opaque quality of the inks can lends itself to very clean layers. There is a limited palette, sure, but sometimes working with restrictions helps you to make something you wouldn't have thought of normally. It forces you to learn to work with what you have. Anyway, there are beautiful florescent colours, a metallic gold, and plenty of subtle greens, reds and blues to work with. Keep in mind, though, that not many places will have the full range of colours available (they are hard to come by, and you would need a very large storage area!).

 Ashley Ronning

Ashley Ronning

Cost is also something to consider. If you're only going to print 5 copies of something, Risograph may not be the best value for money. The more copies you print from one stencil, the more cost efficient it is. It is designed to print 50-2000+ copies at a time. Great for posters, zines and booklets. You can print on different colours and textures of paper, too! Because it uses uncoated paper, this opens up a whole world of options. This book was printed on a coloured paper stock, which can change the perceived colour of the ink quite a lot.

 Esther McManus

Esther McManus

 Tali Bayer

Tali Bayer

Overall, as with all printmaking processes, it has its own quirks and benefits. I personally love making riso prints! I've been working with lots of local artists recently on a Dundee Print Collective project called Riso Soup, and it's been a rewarding challenge to really experiment and play with Risograph Printing. I'll make a separate post about that, as this post is getting pretty long. But it's been fun blogging more regularly! I'll be back soon.

Like the idea? Do you want to make something with this process? I am a trained riso tech, so I can try to answer any questions you might want to ask. :)

August 2015 - 2016, Or what I've been working on in the past year

I have pretty busy over the past year (yes, it really has been a year since I wrote here... what a neglected blog!). I've had several shows and projects on the go, whilst working at my various other jobs and studying, all whilst trying to make new work! Time flies. I thought I'd try to make a summary of what I've managed to do here, for anyone interested:

1. Made lots of new work, which I'll dedicate another post to soon. They are a series of vessel prints, using a variety of printmaking methods.

2. Worked hard on a new collaborative project called Riso Soup. As the name suggests, it is a project where artists use the limited colours/ rough around the edges process of Risograph printing. We have made lots of zines and a perpetual calendar so far. The project has been to Barcelona, all around Scotland, and we have ambitions for lots more. I'll update with more as it happens.

 Riso Soup in the Print Studio

Riso Soup in the Print Studio

3. Shows!

► My work got exhibited in China in the show The Silk Road with Dundee Print Collective, at the IMPACT International Printmaking Conference in Hangzhou last year.
► I had work in a few group shows in Perth, WASPS Meadowmill, and the Print Space at Dundee Contemporary Arts. (I actually have a print there right now if you're in Dundee and want to see.)
► Generator Projects asked me to create a print in response to archive material from the old Seagate Printmaking Studio Archive, earlier this summer. It was for Print Festival Scotland. It was a hectic and rewarding project and I will also dedicate another blog post to this particular project. More to come!
► My Vessel #1 print got chosen for the RSA Open 2016. You can see it right now in the Royal Scottish Academy on Princes Street, Edinburgh. :)

4. Studied hard for Japanese lessons... 日本語を勉強しました。難しいです。I think I'll probably be studying it for a long time to come, but I'm having a lot of fun doing so.

5.
Got my home studio all organised. I start many of my drawings on Photoshop, and I now love working on my clean, spacious desk. A long way from the shabby children's desk that I used to use, haha. It is really amazing what your work space can do for your productivity and motivation. There's still a lot I want to do with regards to studio space, but with the way I work, a clean starting point free of distractions is vital. I even did some cable management, although it partially fell down just before I took this photograph. Sigh.

6. Worked on Risograph and monoprint research/development in the DCA Print Studio. amongst other stuff, I've taught several zine/riso classes this year, and we have lots more planned for the future. ♥ I have been working there a lot lately, and it's always fun.

7. Travel.
At the start of the year Paul and I set ourselves the goal of seeing a lot more, even if it was 'just' within Scotland. We have a lot of beauty all around us. It's so important to leave your work behind every so often (even if you love it!). It's a lot of fun! This past year a lot of friends have been through really tough situations in their work environment. My heart really does go out to anybody feeling bad purely because of work. It's important to take what breaks you can manage, as your health should always be a priority (in an ideal world) ♥

I think I will also post separately about our adventures this year, as this post is getting a little long. More to come...

Whew, that was actually a lot! If you are feeling like you haven't done much in the past year, I recommend you sit down and write down everything you can remember. Even if the things you've done seem insignificant, or you don't think it will sound interesting enough. I guarantee that you will surprise yourself.