Printing + Folding Practice

Scrolling through summer photos I realize how momentous and full these past months have been. Only a few weeks away from beginning the residency at ArtEZ  for the fall, I wanted to record some of my early progress towards the project I will be working on there, reversible paper houses that fold down to the size of a carry-on. Mostly this has involved exploring potential forms of double-sided, potentially repeatable image making and folding paper into shapes. And a lot of scribbled notes to myself.

At DesignInquiry this year, Steve Bowden brought cyanotype-making materials, which I tried to apply to the biggest (longest) paper I could find.

The experiment with tracing paper and bait bags failed when the paper started to break down at secondary folding (appearing in the bottom right of the image below.) And the transparency of the tracing paper wasn’t quite the thing.

But another try, a stiffened cotton cloth, printed collaboratively with Steve and Nick Liadis, a play at representing grass moving in the breeze, shows promise, although I am committed to paper for the larger project, for now. It will remain in my pile of experiments (blue period.)

Meanwhile as I work through books and videos on paper folding techniques, I’ve amassed piles of folded sheets. The expression of materials is a little uncomfortable as I chew my way through ideas and techniques that leave traces [and traces] behind them.

It helps to spend time around practitioners who work in this way all the time. Just back from Squeegeerama in which Jay Ryan and Diana Sudyka joined Andy MacDougall in instructing a small group in advanced screen printing techniques. They were so free with their experiments, so used to the process of disposing of something that doesn’t make the cut.

The amount of material that passed through our hands. The discussion on numbered editions, and what doesn’t get signed at all. What would my great-grandmother say (waste not, want not.) This is not to say that all involved were not entirely thorough with their craftsmanship and conscientious with their approaches.

My prints (other than the fundraising square dance poster) were experiments in geometry and pattern for the paper house project, ultimately to inform the folding and to help streamline the process of image making on the structures. They used just one screen; the paper was rotated at each colour change, which at the fourth turn, filled in the field.

These can then be folded. Using a simple unmechanized clamshell press, with the first design I ended up with one or two that were perfectly registered, and on the second, maybe a series of five. My next steps are so much better informed, now, and I am very grateful for the time, the people, and the space that lead to such a leap forward.

In some ways this process up to now has felt like tacking when the wind is coming straight at you. Trying something, going in a completely different direction, going back the other way a few steps ahead of where you were. The notes and piles of papers in my wake, the expectation of arriving at a destination, the exhilaration, the dread, the satisfaction, the saltwater.