These are my ruminations on life, design, and the pursuit of happiness…

Paper Marbling

The Color Wheel Challenge has been extended, so here is a little paper marbling to stay in the color theme.

My friend Karen from the International Printing Museum is learning to do paper marbling, and let me come watch (and try out) the process.

You start with a shallow tray, that you fill with carageenan, a seaweed extract that is somewhat gelatinous.

Then using a whisk, you spatter the marbling paint onto the carageenan sizing. She was taught to start with black, and then red, and then move on to whatever other colors you want to add.

When the color is layered in the pan, a bamboo stick is pulled back and forth across the pan. This creates a git-gel pattern. Then you can pull a needle rake through the surface. The needles in the rake are about 1/4 inch apart.

After this a nail rake can be used to swirl the paint into other patterns. (This is the nail rake in an earlier blue marble)

When the surface is as you wish, a paper that is treated with alum (to bind the paint to the paper) is carefully laid down in the pan, and then pulled up and rinsed under water.

Hopefully you then have something beautiful like this:

On my first attempt, I was feeling pretty good about my lay down of color, and did a good job with the rakes.
(Karen said it was “Beginners Luck”)

Then I laid down the paper and went to rinse it at the sink, and this happened.

My alum treated paper was upside down, so all the ink washed down the drain. So much for luck.

Even though my first attempt was a fail, it was great fun, and mesmerizing just to watch. I can’t wait to try it again!

Have any of you tried this? How did your first experience go?

Printing with kids

This is a super fun reduction printing project I did with my son Theo’s 4th grade class.

All you need is a foam sheet,
(I cut the bottoms out of foam trays from Smart & Final)
A brayer,
And yellow, red, and blue water-soluble inks.

You start by simply drawing the outline of the image you want on the foam, pressing hard enough so it indents, but not so hard it tears. (I gave the students a little cut off strip to practice on, to see what it felt like.) then the adults came around with the yellow ink, and rolled it on. (It would have been nice to have the kids do this, but we only had 2 hours, and 35 kids, so we had to be speedy.) As soon as they turned the inky side down to the paper, I had them trace around the bottom edge of the tray with a pencil, so they could register the later colors. Then they carefully pushed the back side of the plate down with the heel of their palm to transfer the image.

Here is a yellow print:

Students were asked to print each color twice on the same paper.

After printing the yellow, they cleaned off their plate at the sink. Then they added more detail to their fish, or to the background. Whatever was drawn now, would stay yellow in the final print. (This was a bit confusing for them, because they knew they were printing red next.)

Printing the red ink:

After the plate was cleaned again, the final details were drawn, and the blue ink was printed. Here is my son printing blue:

I think the best part of this project was hearing all the “Oohs” and “Aahs” when the kids made their prints. Also, the prints weren’t always inked or transferred the same, and the variation in color I found wonderful.

Here are Theo’s prints:
And a couple of the others:

I feel so blessed that my son has an awesome teacher who appreciates art and ASKED ME to spend my volunteer time teaching printing projects. She is truly amazing in many ways, you’ll see what I mean if you check out her blog.

This was a great way to play with reduction printing, I will definitely be doing more prints like this at home.
If you decide to give it a try, I’d love to hear about it!

Rolling in the New Year

Isn’t this the best photo ever of my kids? This was shot up in Bishop, the week after Christmas, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

First – Christmas

Here are the kids, cozy in their jammies Christmas morning. We open our presents and stockings first, then Dave’s brother and sister and their families show up around eleven or so, and we get to do the whole thing over.

This Christmas we even had an awesome ukelele jam with Dave’s sister Erna, Sadie, and our niece Lisa.

Theo received a drum set from Daves brother’s family (it used to be Lisa’s – after the piano, and before the uke…) So he had his own “rockin” Christmas.

On the 24th I managed to bang out yet another birdhouse.

This one in the form of a skunk, for my skunk happy sister in law.

I also stitched up a Hello Kitty barette for niece Lisa.

The next day we left for my mom and stepdads house in Bishop, CA.

The kids had a fun week of playing in the snow,

Making cookies with grandma,

And we went up to Mammoth for a day of ice skating.

While at my moms house, I took a photo of this photo of one of my first Christmases:

That’s me on the left with the crossed eyes.
(Glasses for the next 12 years corrected that problem…)

I also took a photo of this photo of Theo’s first Christmas.
So cute, if a little blurry.

Then it was back home for a week of printing and sending out cards
(7 new wholesale accounts- YEA!)

Then came the crazy rainstorm week of 2010, where we who never get any weather had it up to our eyeballs, and hail to boot.

Dave got a month of work with Disney as an Imagineer around Christmas. That modeling project ended, then he had a week off and was called back for another week, and then that ended too. Hopefully this will not be the pattern for the year, but at least it’s better than nothing I suppose.

Now I go back to teaching, and juggling life, this Tuesday.
Wish me luck!