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Garlic Festival and Heat

I haven’t blogged for a couple of months and am feeling that it’s about time!  Doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy, but it’s been very hot and dry and my ability to actually sit down and write is at a low ebb.  My grass is so dry that it just crunches when I go for our morning walk. I’ve been watering the garden and the tomatoes are just coming on, so I see canning in my future.  Cucumbers are a disaster, just not enough water for them.  I met a very tiny baby rabbit in my garden this morning – just the size to hold in one hand and easily pass through my fence.

Enough of that.  Last week I joined Sam Castner at the Fox Run Vineyards’ Garlic Festival. It was a very hot day, but we were fortunate enough to be in the last row of booths by the vineyard. Most of the time there was a breeze coming down the hill. Not a cool breeze, but at least air in motion.  Here are some photos of our site.

The side panels are now installed on the gates and you can see pictures of them on Sam’s Facebook page.  He’s hoping to install the entire gates within the next week.  Can’t wait to see it. You can see how dry and dead the grass is here. It’s been a severe drought for this area. We usually have great weather, but this summer has been brutal.

I made a bunch of books and notepads using stainless steel miniatures of Sam’s designs from the huge gates he is making for Fox Run. It was fun to point from the 4″ tree on my book to the 12′ version outside the tent.  Compare the jumping fox below with the one in the header.  Same design, just scaled up.  The wonders of computers and laser cutting.

Please excuse the reflections on the photos, but I had covered everything in Mylar to protect from rain, dust and sticky fingers.

One of my favorites was a large portfolio with a maple tree. I must have looked through 50 papers to find the right one for this background, but it was worth it for the result. This portfolio, along with others,  is for sale on Etsy  and others are at the Arts Center of Yates County.

I also had a lot of my Fox Boxes that I blogged about last winter.

It was a fun time, in spite of the heat and my exhaustion!

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Marbling Workshop: Results

In a previous blog, I talked about the marbling workshop on April 22nd.  It was a great success and I was pleased to have participants so excited about marbling.  In fact, everyone came back for an Open Studio session.  In spite of being able to produce a sheet of marbled paper in a 15 minute “make it and take it”,  marbling really does take a few days to begin to be in control. I love it when people enjoy something enough to be willing to put more time into learning the craft.  I also enjoy the Open Studio idea, where I can work with people  without a formal structure. What follows is a lot of photos and brief comments on the workshop. Photos are thanks to Julia Hardy, who became my assistant for this class.

In the few days before the workshop,  I stumbled through a bit of a nightmare of logistics.  In the space of three days, the class went from six participants to five to four, up to six again and then back to four.  Workshops are not like lectures where you can just add a couple of extra chairs.  Marbling stations have to be set up with tools, paint, trays and carrageenan.  Space is tight in my studio and six participants, plus a demonstration table for me was an interesting problem in spatial design.  I had everything set up for six, when I heard there would only be four.  This was just the day before the class and too late to unmake the paints or size.  Plenty of supplies for the following week of marbling!

In marbling, there are always alternative ways of doing most everything. I started by demonstrating how to put paint on the carrageenan size with a whisk and by using an eyedropper.  Just to confuse everyone, I also showed how to make the get-gel pattern with a stylus and then with rakes.  Each type of pattern was printed for reference. The class went right to work, preparing the paper, throwing paint, creating marbled patterns and printing them.

Before breaking for lunch, we examined all the wonderful paper that was drying, seeing what worked and where there were problems.  I was very pleased with what was accomplished in just a few hours. By the end of the day, great papers were being produced.

By mid-afternoon we needed a break and looked at different types of patterns, overmarbling and marbling on printed paper. I hope the students were inspired to keep thinking about new ways to look at marbling.

Great class, fun time, all supervised by my assistant, Lucy.

Lucy, marbling supervisor

Lucy, marbling supervisor

Saturday and Sunday were Open Studio days and I marbled along with the students.  Since then, I’ve been trying to use up as much of the paint and carrageenan as possible and have been playing as well as cleaning up.  I can’t believe how long that takes!  My studio is slowly transforming itself back into a book workshop and my marbling space is getting back into its usual configuration.  I’ve already heard from people that want me to have another workshop,  maybe in July or August if my supervisor approves.

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Marbling Workshop on April 22, 2016

I will be teaching a basic, one-day workshop in marbling on paper on Friday, April 22nd from 9 am to 3 pm at my studio. I’ve had a few requests for this, so am finally getting my act together. I hope you’ll join us in the fun.  This is a great opportunity to dabble in a new art form, refresh your skills and produce wonderful papers to use in collages, on greeting cards, or other paper arts.

The workshop will include:

the preparation of paper with alum
preparation of acrylic paint for marbling
preparing the carrageenan or size
getting the paint to float on the size
manipulating the paint (the FUN part)
basic marbling patterns (stone, get-gel, nonpareil, plus more if time permits)
laying down paper to transfer the paint
washing and drying paper
time permitting, I’ll also demonstrate how to make low-cost marbling tools

Everyone will have bunches of beautiful paper to take home, even after just one day.  For those who become enamored with the art, want to try just one more or learn more patterns, I will have “Open Studio” days after the workshop.  On these days, you can come back and continue marbling and creating beautiful papers.  You can even try out some “over-marbling” with papers produced on Friday.  There won’t be any formal instruction, but I’ll be there to answer questions, provide help and offer suggestions. These open studio days will continue until the carrageenan or the paints give up.

This workshop is being offered through the Arts Center of Yates County.  Here is their course description:

Paper Marbling with Nancy Langford                                            Friday, April 22nd      9 am – 3 pm               Losing Her Marbles Studio
Learn the basics of creating amazing designs through marbling – an ancient method of creating designs by floating inks or paints on an aqueous solution and then transferring the design to paper, cloth or other media.  This workshop will work on preparing paper and acrylic paints for marbling, creating basic patterns and transferring that design to paper.  No previous experience necessary!  Nancy will also have open studio hours over the weekend to enable students to continue to practice and create.

Please call 315-536-8226 to register or send an email to artscenter@ycac.org

$48 members, $60 not-yet-members for Friday workshop  + $25 materials / studio fee per day 

For further information please contact Nancy using the form below.

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Fox Boxes

About a month ago I was working with Sam Castner on his Etsy page and found that we couldn’t list his stainless steel fox ring because there had been a glitch in production. These foxes and Sam’s other candle holders are part of his design for a spectacular set of gates for the Fox Run Vineyards as seen on his FaceBook page.    This is the steel version of the fox ring.Fox (1) I asked Sam what he was going to do with the unusable rings and he wasn’t sure.  Three days later I suddenly realized that the foxes were just the right size for some of my boxes and books, so I asked Sam if he were willing to snip some off and let me play with them.  He did and this is the rest of the story.

I started with some lidded boxes.  These boxes are constructed  in two parts, a bottom tray and a top. The top has a plinth attached that fits exactly into the mouth of the bottom tray.  It’s a faster and easier construction than the clamshell preservation box.  I had made the five bottoms before I started taking photos, but that process is straightforward and is just like the clamshell bottom tray shown in the second group of photos.

Design work is always fun and I tried to find pieces of my marbled paper that felt a bit like fox habitat, had lines that would flow with the shape of the fox and colors that showed off the stainless steel. After choosing the materials, I decided to make all these boxes the same size, which I rarely do, but it does make cutting easier.  I don’t like things that are just stuck on the top of boxes, so I carved down into the binders’ board to recess the fox pieces.  They aren’t quite flush with the top, but rest about half way in.  The exception is the light green box where I made a frame the same thickness as the fox.  I tried different shapes for the insert and found it didn’t matter much since there was so much pattern in the paper under the fox. The wooden lion was added in, as it was something I had been meaning to try for a while.  Seemed like a good time.  The plinths under the tops were covered with a variety of decorative papers that complimented the marbled paper and the bottom trays were lined with black velvet.

I was pleased enough with these results to move on and make some clamshell boxes. The design is based on the preservation box used by archives, rare book libraries and museums.  When I was working as an archivist, I made hundreds of these, not as artistic and not nearly as much fun!

First step is always design – choosing size, shape, colors, and materials. I never make it through in one go!  This time it was the dark brown bookcloth. It was perfect, until I discovered that I was down to my last piece and it was an inch too short for the box I wanted!  This was an easier problem to solve than when it’s my marbled paper that is in short supply.  Bookcloth can be ordered, my paper can’t be reproduced, even by me!

There are three separate components in a clamshell box: the inner or bottom tray, the outer or top tray and the case.  When making a box for a specific item, the inner box must exactly fit the item. I didn’t make these boxes for any specific measure.  The square boxes are almost the same size, but because I misread some numbers, the two long boxes are different sizes. The inner box is made first, then the outer box and finally, the case. The case is constructed just like the covers of a book with two boards joined together with a spine strip.  The inner tray is mounted on the inside of one cover and the outer tray on the other. I have to be careful that they are aligned correctly and the outer tray fits snugly right over the inner tray.

No matter how carefully I cut, there are always some pieces of board that aren’t quite right.  Sometimes they are too short or too long, but most frequently, they are not exactly square.  At least that used to be the problem.  I have three cutters that I use all the time: one I use to cut the big sheets of Davey board into manageable size, the new fancy one is for most of the paper, especially when I need 30 or 40 sheets cut the same size, and the last is an ancient Milton Bradley school cutter that I use for small to medium pieces of board.  I have known the Milton Bradley since the early 1950s and I’m pretty sure it’s at least ten years older than that. I was about to get rid of it when I realized it was the only cutter I had that could cut board exactly square and it was especially good on board that was under two inches wide.  So three cutters and I need them all!

After making and covering the trays, I move on to the case. When I am using an insert, the first thing is to decide on how it will be mounted. With these boxes, I cut down about half the thickness of the board and excavated an area for the fox. The case is then covered with bookcloth or paper and the trays attached to the inside. The final steps are mounting the fox on the top cover and lining the bottom tray with black velvet.

My fox boxes will be available in my Etsy shop and at ACYC very soon.

You can read more about Sam Castner’s metalworking and the future gates for the Fox Run Vineyards on his FaceBook page.

Direct link to Etsy shop

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