Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ahead of Schedule at the Factory

I might actually pull this one off feeling organized.

I have screen prints to stretch, two clamp lights to finish spray painting (outside!) and inventory to inventorialize(?) in addition to making a few signs and some other odds and ends. I won't have to worry about packing the car with my table furniture since its still in the back of my wagon from the last show.

What's helped so much in this rush to the show madness has been the decision to stop using reclaimed frames. Most of the frames I own (and love the most) are vintage, and up until this point, I've used them almost exclusively. There's a certain level of fun in finding them-- driving to the one-day-a-week Kiwanis sale in Ann Arbor at 9am on a Saturday without brushing my hair, becoming a regular client on Resale Row, stumbling on other lovely treasures and so on. If I still practiced this method I'm sure I'd have found the solid wood mid-century coffee table of my dreams by now. And an entire Pyrex set. It was a fun, but time-intensive search. Then once I got the frames-- oh man. The things people do to wedge something in a frame- the nails and staples. I have a whole pile I could not resurrect once taken apart from the precarious situation I found them in. At the end of the day, the full time job was getting in the way of all of the time I wanted to spend thrifting, and I was starting to get frustrated at my lack of carpentry skills and time.

So when I stumbled on a gold mine of beautiful, modern, solid wood frames from a certain Swedish home furnishings empire at a huge discount, I spent a week thinking about it. At the end of the day the vintage frames were to find and put together, and I caved. I threw down a big chunk of change and took home enough frames to fill the closet in our office.

These new frames will make their debut on Saturday, and the online shop will soon be able to accommodate custom framing with any order. They look much more polished, but lack some of the character of a frame that's been beaten within an inch of its life and used to house a photograph of a duck in a party hat (true story). Sometimes I left the old art in the frame, just so anyone who takes it apart some day gets a sense of the life these four pieces of wood have lived. This sense of polish seems be true for my body of work this time around-- many of the woodcut images are the same, but on new, sturdier paper. The editions are more consistent, even, and neat. I miss the wonky frames, random fingerprints, and dinged corners a little. They contained a narrative all their own.

On the other hand, I learned printmaking in a purist environment. I was taught to craft my image carefully, ink neatly, and to print with clean fingers. I didn't appreciate learning the trade this way until I took a kind of 'anything goes' course, where the rules I learned about precision were thrown out the window. I admire amazing printmakers (like the very talented Annie Bissett, for example) who create images that pull this off so well, with so much patience. Its such a process-laden job to make a print that extra patience can sometimes be hard to come by. The small part of me that's a touch Type A is satisfied to see a marked improvement in craftsmanship in my own work... all it took was 8 years of practice.

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