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gira hanging out with a chalkboard jelly doodle

The next project I tackled, as I continued to get the hang of my new screenprinting studio set-up, had to be the jellyfish drawing I started working on W-A-Y back in 2015! If you’ve been visiting here for a while (firstly, thanks for sticking around despite an intermittent posting schedule!) you might remember these work-in-progress posts: jellyfish wip [1] and jellyfish wip (2)… cnidaria have been floating about around here for quite some time!

oral arm ‘dummies’ gathering dust on my studio window back in march 2016
(with a little bull-headed shrike from this project :)

I shelved the unfinished drawings for many months in 2016 while studio set-up and other work/life stuff demanded my attention.

(re)tracing tentacle tweaks

But I kept returning to the drawings, trying to get them to where I wanted them to be. (If you’re a drawer/maker of stuff you have no doubt also experienced the disconnect that can sometimes – or often! – occur between what you actually draw/make in the real world and what you imagined it would look like in the magical fantasy world in your head ;-)

Sometimes the drawings and I had effortless fun together…

Sometimes we got caught up in dark, tangled, indecisive ‘to-vectorise-or-not-to-vectorise?’ webs…

And sometimes things just didn’t ‘gel’ and had to be figured out anew…

heeding the edict of my furry overlord helpful input of my studio assistant

But finally I decided it was ready to print! (It still didn’t look like the thing I’d imagined in my head, but sometimes you’ve just gotta move on, right?!)

double vision: film positive and exposed screen on light table

let the printing games begin!: setting up the registration

(finally!) finished print

This project was as much an exercise in perseverance as anything else. I created all sorts of printing headaches for myself by including so much fine detail in the original drawing, but the setbacks and challenges I encountered during the printing process taught me a great deal and hopefully have equipped me to better solve or avoid similar issues in future projects.

finished print: tentacle and oral arm details

Naturally I could not resist incorporating some glow-in-the-dark details…

finished print: patterned jelly bells (and a smattering of marine bioluminescence) glowing in the dark!

The deckle-edged paper I printed on has a lovely knotted watermark which obligingly echoes the tangled tentacles and oral arms of the jellies…

the dutch papermaker’s ‘van gelder zonen’ watermark

This jellyfish print, the third in my ongoing ‘Animal Diorama’ series (remember the owl and the octopus?), is now available to buy in my Etsy shop >

the jellies’ diaphanous qualities enhanced by the late afternoon play of light and (plant) shadows in my studio

I finished the new screenprinting studio set up just in time to print my annual ‘New Year’ greeting cards in December 2016.

lotsa cards!

The design was inspired by a very beautiful wooden box, inlaid with silver, admired at the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design during a visit to Oslo in 2014.

wooden box with silver inlay,
thorbjørn lie-jørgensen and a.j. damm, norway, 1943

I love few things more than getting sucked into a drawing tangle and this was a particularly pleasurable and absorbing drawing to make. I was sometimes so engrossed that I had to be given a ‘gentle’ reminder that suppertime had come and gone…

feed me!

… and that blowing on wet drawing ink to speed up drying is a really dumb thing to do.

doh!

Thankfully there’s Kuretake’s highly opaque ‘White Ink 30‘ for fixing these little mishaps!

phew!

I enjoyed making the drawing and printing the cards so much that I decided to print a larger, limited edition version of the image – I thought it would be a fun project, but also a great exercise for familiarising myself with my new screenprinting equipment.

image exposed onto screen, ready to print

prints stacking up on the makeshift print-drying rack

I made an edition of 30 prints in velvety black ink on crisp white watercolour paper (to stay true to the dense black and high contrast of the original drawing)…

print detail

… followed by a second edition of 20 prints in an optically-addling combo of white ink on Fabriano’s beautiful ‘Blu Notte’ (Blue Night) Tiziano pastel paper.

I love this print – and it’s not often I like, let alone love, something I’ve made – so despite numerous learning curve glitches (alluded to in my previous post) making these prints was a very rewarding experience!

print detail

The limited edition prints (in both colourways) and a handful of greeting cards are now available to buy in my Etsy shop:

two-colour screenprint with hand-coloured details in watercolour & gouache, made in late 2011

I was first bitten by the silkscreen printing bug back in December 2008 when I joined a two-day workshop led by the inspiring Christina Hallström at the Amsterdams Grafisch Atelier (now the AGA LAB). I’ve since been most grateful to have access to the AGA LAB’s facilities to realise various printmaking projects… but I also began to dream about setting up silkscreen printing facilities in my own studio, where I could work more spontaneously, be ready to dive in whenever inspiration struck, and to have the luxury (and there’s no question that’s what it is!) to experiment in my own space and at my own pace.

2016 was the year I finally made this dream a reality!

our ‘stoere jongen‘ guards the shiny new vacuum printing table!

sunsrise and screens… ready for some early morning printing!

Setting up the studio was quite a project in its own right and required plenty of research and careful planning. It was a time-consuming, sometimes tedious (darkroom curtain-rail research & comparison, anyone?), frequently frustrating (did the installation technician really just cut off that impossible to replace power plug!?), always challenging labour of love. Then towards the end of last year it was finally done and high time to get back into the real labour of love… making and printing stuff!

colour mixing

a film positive (for exposing image onto screen) casts an interesting shadow

And that’s what this year-so-far has been about – getting to know the quirks of new equipment, figuring out optimal screen-mesh threadcounts for image detail, printing with different inks, optimising processes…

multitasking bathroom… now doubling up as a screen washout booth

… trialling (& much erroring!) of photo-emulsions & exposure times, step wedge test adventures, and trying not to get (too much) ink on the cat!

aarrgh!… another failed (under)exposure

I’m still learning – there’ve been some hold-my-head-in-my-hands-in-despair moments (see previous pic!) – but it’s also thrilling and exciting and a lot of fun to be working in my own space!

checking ‘off contact’
(to ensure optimal space between screen mesh and printing substrate)

glorious, gloopy ink!

My (furry grey ;-) editor tells me that’s enough words for now… but I’ll return soon with more about some of the print projects I’ve been working on. In the meantime I hope you’ve enjoyed the ‘teasers’ in the process shots illustrating this post.

yoko hayashi "mystic elements IV" exhibition, tokyo

If you’re in Tokyo this October… firstly, lucky you! And secondly, don’t miss my friend Yoko’s solo exhibition “mystic elements IV” at Ginza K.Itoya from 1 to 31 October 2015. You can find more information and opening times here, on Yoko’s blog.

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Yoko Hayashi “mystic elements IV”
1 – 31 October 2015
Ginza K.Itoya
2-7-15 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
[map]

yoko hayashi "mystic elements IV" exhibition, tokyo

[all images copyright yoko hayashi]

I’m in the process of packing up to move home and studio to a new city (albeit a nearby one) and it’s proving, not surprisingly, to be a time-and-energy-consuming process. Luckily I have a very attentive project manager keeping me on my toes…

gira - packing project manager

project manager gira oversees the packing process from atop a pile of boxes

In between house-hunting (& finding :), renovation work (& countless trips back and forth between Amsterdam and Haarlem), packing, and all the other stuff of life I’ve spent some enjoyable time finally completing my ‘noir’ specimen collection with this moth print

lepidoptera (noir) - limited edition screenprint

It’s printed in a limited edition of 13 (plus 1 AP) and completes this collection, made a couple of years ago…

specimen collection - limited edition screenprints

At that time I printed the moths as a four-colour screenprint, but I experienced some technical ‘snap-off’ problems when printing them, and also wasn’t fantastically happy with my colour choices – I felt the crisp, graphic lines of the original Indian ink drawing would be more satisfying as a one colour print (I’m a sucker for the graphic simplicity and velvety tactility of dense black screenprinting ink). Not wanting to waste those dud four-colour prints, I stained them with tea and set them free…

tea-stained moths

moth-bombing in the ardennes

in the hills above la roche-en-ardenne (ardennes, belgium)

moth-bombing in berlin

in st. elisabeth cemetery (berlin, germany)

moth-bombing in cape town

in tokai arboretum (cape town, south africa)

(and in several other places I no longer recall)

If you would like a single specimen or collection of your own, all of the (still available) prints from the ‘noir’ and colour series can be found in my Etsy shop. (I’ll temporarily close the shop from 19 September until ±1 October ± mid-October while I move etc.)

And now I must dash as I think I can hear my project manager calling…

gira - catnap

False alarm! He’s having a well-deserved catnap.

some of my work, available on etsy
support worldwide wild cat conservation

instagram

Good morning moon, good morning cumulus congestus #moon #morning #clouds #cumulus #blue #sky #dutch_sky Some tigery goodness in honour of Global Tiger Day today! A day held annually on 29 July to raise awareness for tiger conservation around the world.
I made this screenprint several years ago to raise funds for wild cat conservation organisation Panthera (@pantheracats). You can support the crucial work they do at www.panthera.org, or if you fancy one of these screenprints they’re available to buy in my shop – I donate 100% of the proceeds of every sale to Panthera (www.etsy.com/shop/sakurasnow)
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#tiger #big_cats #wild_cats #endangered #conservation #panthera #panthera_tigris #leopard #panthera_pardus #panthera_pair
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#donation #screenprinting #silkscreen #serigraph #zeefdruk #screen_printing #printmaking #handmade #ink #pattern #stripes #spots Rainbow over Haarlem, shortly before last night’s big, beautiful thunderstorm arrived #rainbow #haarlem #storm_clouds_gathering #moody #sky #clouds #colour #summer #thunderstorm #dome #verdigris #cathedral #kathedralebasilieksintbavo #studio_view #rooftops #netherlands A very happy 54th wedding anniversary today to my magnificent Mum & my dashing Dad!
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#mum_and_dad #happy_anniversary #1960s #classic #style #1960shair #lookin_good #family #old_family_photos #sepia #black_and_white #patina Luminous jelly bells! Jellyfish silkscreen print detail…
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#screenprinting #silkscreen #serigraph #zeefdruk #screen_printing #printmaking #handmade #ink  #glow_in_the_dark #GID #phosphorescent #jellyfish #cnidarian #bells #marine_bioluminescence  #pattern #black #green #glow
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https://tinyurl.com/yclpowve I am indebted to the always inspiring artwork of 19th/early 20th Century German biologist Ernst Haeckel. These recent pop-up interpretations (by Maike Biederstädt) of various plates from Haeckel’s masterpiece ‘Art Forms in Nature’ (‘Kunstformen der Natur’, published between 1899 and 1904) are very cool! Swipe right to view ‘em all (six images in total). Japanese woodland spirit, Chibi Totoro, particularly likes the ‘forest’ of sea anemones (5th image :-)
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#ernst_haeckel #art_forms_in_nature #kunstformen_der_natur #biology #natural_history #marine_biology #sea_creatures #creatures_of_the_deep #octopus #octopus_vulgaris #red_starfish #asterias_rubens #acanthophractida #cyrtoidae #radiolaria #protozoa #sea_anemones #actinaria #chibi_totoro #popup #pop_up_book #maike_biederstädt #paper_engineering #prestel #pattern #texture #form #design
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‘Ernst Haeckel Creatures of the Deep: The Pop-up Book’, by Maike Biederstädt, published by Prestel August 2016

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