Sunday, November 13, 2011


Why, hello again. For the last few months I've been trying to decide how and when to get back into updating this blog. Today, I feel, things have come full circle since my last post and it's time to brush off the cobwebs and start again.

A lot has happened over the last few months, almost all of it for the good. I finished my applications to graduate schools, got accepted to a few, and made my decision when I received my acceptance letter to the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque, NM to participate in their printer training program (PTP).

For the past 50 years Tamarind has been at the forefront in reviving the art of lithography in the United States. Prior to Tamarind, lithographs produced in the states were basic, black and white lithographs created by a select few printers. Artists hoping to make anything of real quality, or involving color needed to travel to Europe. Founder June Wayne realized the need for a program like Tamarind that would train master printers to work in the US, and to restore the prestige of the medium. With funding help from the Ford Foundation June founded Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles, and 10 years later affiliated with the University of New Mexico where it became the Tamarind Institute. This is the bare basics of the history of Tamarind, their website has a bit more on the subject and a link to a fantastic article by Clinton Adams where he writes about the early years of Tamarind.

Today Tamarind invites eight students a year from around the world to participate in the PTP. These eight students go through the year long program, with the first semester dedicated to improving technical skills, and the second semester dedicated to working collaboratively with graduate students from the University of New Mexico. After the year long program one or two students of the original eight are selected to participate in the Master Training Program for another year, after which they are certified as Master Printers. Many of the lithography workshops around the USA, and several around the world are operated by Tamarind Master Printers.

To be part of such an amazing and prestigious program still leaves me speechless.

For the past 12 weeks I have lived lithography. The days are long, have their ups and downs, successes and failures, but when all is said and done there's nothing else I'd rather be doing. The first few weeks were spent doing technical tests: crayon drawings on stone and plate, tusche washes (both with water and solvent) on stone and plate, counter-etching, flats, toner, etc. etc. To go into detail on all of these would- 1. Take forever and 2. Be redundant, as my classmate Richard has already done a fantastic job, and I'll just link you to his blog- the aptly named School of Flat Rocks. :)

Around week 7 things got really interesting. The technical tests behind us, we began working on putting them to use, and working collaboratively with other PTP students, first in black and white, and then in color. We then moved to large format prints, and Rodney (my instructor, and the education director) taught us the professional way to do a blend roll. A -huge- blend roll at that. Next came some less traditional techniques including maniere noir, acid tinting and chine colle. I was especially excited about maniere noir because it allowed me to try another stone using Michael Barnes's method of asphaltum reduction, which none of my fellow students had seen before.


For this stone I wanted to try a few of the techniques Barnes had mentioned, but I hadn't attempted before, such as painting in asphaltum additively, and leaving gum on the stone to produce a "crackle" effect, which I used for the background. 

Even though I would be printing this in black, I still found it much easier to scratch through the asphaltum base versus black ink (which tended to clog up) or a tint field (which proved difficult to etch without burning). Printing this stone went infinitely better than the last time. Some of the extremely delicate marks filled in, but overall printing was a breeze and I was extremely happy with the results.

The prints laid out (the last print pulled on the left, the standard on which all the prints pulled are compared in the center, and the first trial proof on the right).



Anonymous said...

Looks like happy times- your stone turned out great! Say hi to Rodney for me!
<3 jen

Anonymous said...

Hot damn girl! That's one sexy print you have! So glad things are going well and we miss you- a lot!

Sherrie Y said...

Great to "see" you back! I'm envious of this fabulous opportunity you have, but delighted to get a peek at what you've been up to. Thanks for sharing.