I never did make it to the printmaking studio last week. Or this week! Kind of a combination of being sick (still not feeling quite up to snuff), and not having things prepared.
I had two sizeable chunks of steel plate left over after I graduated, as well as an assortment of smaller plates (when I say smaller, I mean postage stamp-sized up to about 4 inches square). The very short story* is that I coated all of the small unused plates and all of my completed plates with hard ground to keep them from rusting, but forgot the big pieces. I found them down in the barn a few days ago and nearly had a heart attack. I lifted an edge of the paper I’d wrapped them in and immediately saw rust. I was afraid to look more. But it turned out to not be so bad– a lot of Ajax and scrubbing cleaned them up pretty well. The surface still looks slightly blemished but doesn’t feel any less smooth, so I’ll have to ink up a piece and see what happens. I am hopeful.
You know you’re a printmaker when you wake up in a cold sweat from nightmares that all your plates have rusted. True story.
*The long story involves science, and coincidence! After cleaning out my studio space at the university some scrap plate ended up in my car trunk, where it sat in the sun for several weeks. During that time, I watched an episode of CSI: where they found a body in a burned-out car, and were able to identify it because there was a fingerprint on the guy’s belt buckle that was etched into the metal by the heat of the fire. After seeing that, I found the scrap in my trunk, and my fingerprints were half etched, half rusted onto it. It was pretty cool. It wasn’t so cool when I found that this had happened to some of my finished plates which I hadn’t had time to coat yet, so then I coated everything. Except the big useful pieces.
Ahh. Tangent. Anyway, I don’t have a plate prepared for my dragonfly design, or other designs drawn, and it’s enough of a commute to Penn State that I want to stay all day and get a lot done at one time. One of the best things I learned about Printmaking was from Kathy Vajda, when I had her Sophomore Intro to Print class: If things are going poorly, just go home. They probably won’t get better, and you should take a break. If they’re going well and you’re getting good prints, STAY. Skip your other classes, stay all night, just STAY and keep printing while you can.
I was planning to go in and work all day tomorrow (no classes in there on Fridays!), but my boyfriend just texted me to tell me that his sister-in-law is in labor. So I might be leaving tonight with him to visit! I’m so excited! :D I will work my ass off next week, and probably draw all weekend to boot. I’ve been relying on existing wallpaper and damask patterns for these pieces, which I’m splicing together and generally mangling to get the arrangements I want. I’d really like to start free-handing them and using authentic patterns just for inspiration. I’ve been dragging my feet about designing new plates (a number of the ideas I have are better-suited to silkscreening, and right now I want to etch), but feel like I’m on the verge of some mad busy activity.