Friday, February 28, 2014

What Makes an Edition?

One thing I'm learning about printmakers - they love a good discussion!  I belong to some very active printmaking groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, and the conversations are fantastic!  

Recently, in my "Prints and Printmaking Enthusiasts" group on LinkedIn, someone began a discussion about editions and edition varies.  She asked, "I'm sure this has been covered before but how does one number linocuts that use the same plates but in a completely different colo(u)r?"

I'm so glad this question was asked - if it hadn't been, I would've started the conversation!  As a relative "newbie" printmaker, this is one of those queries that has had me guessing for a while.  Even better - the answers were all over the place!  

A little history - according to Wikipedia (which is by no means complete, but will do for the purpose of this post), an edition is "a number of prints struck from one plate, usually at the same time. This is the meaning covered by this article. This may be a limited edition, with a fixed number of impressions produced on the understanding that no further impressions (copies) will be produced later, or an open edition limited only by the number that can be sold or produced before the plate wears. Most modern artists produce only limited editions, normally signed by the artist in pencil, and numbered as say 67/100 to show the unique number of that impression and the total edition size."

In this definition, it doesn't mention anything about the variations of an edition.  That's why the conversation over at LinkedIn has been so enlightening!  For example - this week I finished an edition of 15 from a rubber print I carved back in October.  I've been stuck with the winter "blahs" lately (we've been hit SO hard this year) that I just wanted to finish something!!  Here is what transpired:

I printed three each of the five colors and then sewed a border around each in a corresponding thread color. I kept the edition to 15, because the "block" is disintegrating and in my opinion, no longer in printable condition.  Part of the issue was the fact that I had to wipe the block after every third print, to prepare for the next color.  I probably would've been able to get far more prints from the block if I had stuck with the original color (brown), but I like giving people a variety and it was really fun to do.  :)

Now, to some purists this would NOT be an edition!  Each color would've been its own edition and should be labeled as such.  And because it's a rubber block and not wood or linoleum, and I used pigment ink, these things may also play a factor as to whether or not it's a "true" edition.  Over on LinkedIn, however, the answers would be as varied as my prints!  Some people stick to the "rules", others don't care one lick.  I guess I'm somewhere in the middle.

To my mind, at least at this stage of the game, I don't think it matters.  I am not a master printmaker (yet), and these are just fun little prints for sale.  Regardless of whether I carve my block in rubber, lino or wood (and I have done all three), I will number my editions for the amount of (good) impressions I've printed, so that the buyer knows that I only did 15 prints total (I've already retired the block for good).  My main concerns are these - whether I enjoyed creating the prints, and hoping that people like what I create.  :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Takin' the Show on the Road!

It's the third Friday of the month, and here in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin that means....Tour the Town!  It's our monthly art walk, where businesses keep their doors open until 8 p.m. and artists can show their wares for little or no commission!  It's an event that's near and dear to my heart - I'm a charter member of the committee and everyone involved is a friend of mine.  My framer, Julie Balson, is one of the founders of the whole deal, and her store, Gallery & Frame Shop, is one of the biggest supporters.

I'm so excited to be a part of the tour tonight via the Fond du Lac Public Library, where I'm showing my "Birches in Winter" piece as part of the "Greenfire" exhibit in honor of Aldo Leopold, a conservationist and author who spent a great deal of time in Wisconsin.

My husby Brian is president of the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum, and they're the sponsors of this nature-inspired show.  It's going to be a great time!

But this is an unusual tour for me - most of the time it's just me at a venue and because I've now got my portable press, I've been taking it with me!

Besides its affordability, the number one reason I was so taken with my S.C.O.P.E. backpack printing press is its portability.  As you may already know, it was specifically designed so that it would fit in the overhead bin on an airplane.  I haven't tried that yet, but I have taken it to two separate gallery walks.  The first one was in Oshkosh back in December, when I only had my press for about four days!

I was invited by my friend and letterpress artist Kevin Rau, who owns rauhaus design + letterpress.  His studio is in this beautiful old bank in downtown Oshkosh (which you may recognize from the Johnny Depp movie, "Public Enemies" - they filmed many scenes here!).  I set up in the lobby of the bank - it was ridiculously cold that evening, as it has been all year - but we still had some brave souls venture out!  It was so much fun, and people got to see both sides of the printing spectrum - Kevin's gorgeous vintage 1946 Chandler & Price platen press...

 .....and my awesome 2013 Craft & Concept showcard press!

Everyone who witnessed the printing on both was excited to see how each worked in their own way - the kids especially!  They're always so in awe of the "old" way to print - before computers (Imagine that!  You mean people actually had to do this by hand??! ).  :)  I had one young guy so enthralled with my press that he actually contacted me for Craft + Concept's info!

I can't wait for more people to see the wonders of portable printing!

P.S.  My wonderful husband braved the cold with me that December evening and took all of these photos.  He's the BEST.  :D