Sunprinting Addendum

sunprint lenses 10
sunprint H. Kurzke

I think now I finally got the hang of it. The one above is just what I wanted. – Finally!

Heute habe ich nun eine zweite und dann noch eine dritte Sunprinting-Session gestartet. Heute morgen hatte ich eigentlich gehofft, schönere und schärfere Bilder hinzubekommen als das erste Mal. Wie aus dem letzten Artikel hervorgeht war leider das Gegenteil der Fall. Durch das direkte Sonnenlicht war wohl die Belichtungszeit so kurz geworden, dass meine Linsen einen zu kleinen Kontrast ergeben haben. Die lassen eben immernoch ein bisschen UV-Licht durch, und deshalb sind die längeren Belichtungszeiten hinter der Fensterscheibe in meinem Arbeitsraum viel besser geeignet.

Sunprinting Part III

work in progress

I have been sunprinting again today. I was looking forward to trying it in direct sunlight. Last time I was working behind the window in my studio, and I hoped for even more interesting effects directly in the sun.

sunprint lenses
overexposed print

However, this second batch is everything but better than the first.  The main difficulty remains the troubleshooting. The prints were low on contrast, and hazy. In the beginning I thought I was exposing them too short (in the end, this was just the morning sun), only in the end I understood that they were out actually too long.

this one was exposed less than a minute

I guess the haze, and blur comes from that the exposure time was so short, that the positioning of the items, and the resulting pre-exposure had a visible effect this time. I learned that longer exposure times, and a layer of glass between the sun and the print are actually a good thing.

Moreover, some of my new ideas didn’t quite work out. – I’ll keep experimenting, and try to learn to gain better control over the outcome.

broken sunprint

Some also turned out o.k., though:

Sunprint Experiment with Lenses
sunprint H. Kurzke
Sunprint Experiment with Lenses
sunprint H. Kurzke
sunprint lenses
detail of the print above, digitally enhanced contrast

Sunprinting Part 2

Sunprint - LensesI played more with the sunprinting paper today. – It’s so much fun and gives surprising results! Now I am thinking  how to make a book with them of course. On Flickr I opened a new folder to put in the scans as I am making more.

Mit der Sonne drucken ist wirklich ein Spaß! Ich habe weiter mit diversen Linsen experimentiert und habe nun auch für alle Interessierten auf Flickr einen Ordner aufgemacht, in den ich sie nach und nach hochladen werde. – Und jetzt denke ich natürlich darüber nach, was für ein Buch damit machen will!


photo by H.KurzkeAfter I got my new camera a few months ago, I experimented a little with motion blurriness. One of the images is the one on the left. Definitely not a good photo, but I like the softness of the blur, and especially the colors, the dark red wine against the red background, and the blue tint the thick part of the glass has.

I wanted to experiment more with irregular lenses then, but somehow never found the leisure and time to do so.

Recently I ordered sun printing sheets. – I read about them on Amanda‘s blog (click here to see her post back then), and couldn’t get them out of my mind. Initially I planned to use them on the BEST collaborative art project, but they reached me too late, namely yesterday. The immediate idea was to use the collected glass thingies to try how the lenses would turn out as blueprints. You can see here first attempts.

Vor kurzem habe ich mir ein “Sunprint Kit” bei der Uni Berkely bestellt. Es ist wohl eigentlich für Kinder und Kunsterziehung gedacht (gewesen?) aber die leichte Anwendung machte es sehr beliebt auch unter Künstlern. Es handelt sich dabei um ein Blaudruckverfahren, bei dem das Papier einfach unter fließendem Wasser entwickelt und fixiert wird. Auf Flickr gibt’s eine Menge interessanter Bilder damit zu sehen. Im Folgenden zeige ich meine ersten drei Versuche vor. Der nächste Plan ist, auszuprobieren, ob das Papier in einer Lochkamera wohl was taugt. Ich fürche fast, dass das nicht funktionieren wird. Eigentlich ist gerade des interessante an dieser Art der Reproduktion, dass man Kontaktabzüge macht. Das Ding das man abbilden will, also in direkten Kontakt mit dem Fotopapier gebracht wird, und eine Kamera ist ja nun genau das Gegenteil davon.

Aber einen Versuch ist’s wert, und ich könnte mir vorstellen, dass das interessant aussehen könnte. Falls es war wird, werdet ihr wieder davon hören!

sun printing trial
This was the first trial - a little underexposed, I would say now
sun print trial 2
The second trial, still underexposed
sun printing trial 3
and this was the third trial. On the package it said expose for 1-5 minutes, since the others were around 4 minutes, I thought they were overexposed, and tried to leave the object out only for 2 minutes - and then the sun came out from behind a cloud... I like how it turned out! Now I'll have to experiment with other objects. (The black artifacts are dirt on my scanner, sorry for that!)

Happy 2019 to Everyone!

I wish you all a happy and creative 2019. I wish for you to have a wealth of experiences, many joyful ones, and that you may grow from those which are challenging, unpleasant, and sad. It is customary to wish for a happy year (and I did so in the title), and I do hope 2019 will be a good year for you all. For all for who this won’t come true, I wish we will recover from whatever will make it a hard year, and come out at the end as better, wiser, stronger, and hopefully we’ll be able to turn all of it, the good and the bad into great art.

Title Page of First Book in 2018

Five years ago I talked to a grandmother of a three year old with brain cancer while we were both waiting for a MRI brain scan for the kids. That three year old had a life expectancy of another two years. And what that gran said, still rings in my ears: “It is just impossible to be sad all the time. He is still growing and learning things, he’s curious, he’s laughing. And what good would it be to be sad all the time? And so we laugh with him, and show him that life is good, and there are some days in which we really believe it.”

My daughter this summer – proud to achieve a red belt in Ju Jitsu

The year past has been a tough year for us as a family, and I felt unable to do write my usual wrap-up before Christmas because looking back felt too hard a task. There is this saying “you are only ever as happy as your unhappiest child”. I have quoted this line a lot for the past six months or so. But of course this is ultimately not true, it’s too general a statement to begin with. I think I was much happier than my child since her surgery in the summer. But to make up for it, other than she, I worried the whole year approaching it. So as a rough guideline, I do believe in that piece of wisdom.

The surgery she had in early August was meant to maintain her motor function and hopefully, ultimately it will do that. Her surgeon tells us it’s still early days. But as things are now, it has brought her from independent walking to being a full time wheelchair user who hardly can weightbear. With it her care needs and thus my workload (and M’s) increased. But graver than the physical scars and effects has been the psychological impact this has had on her and us. Although since August as many as four (or was it five?) people have written letters asking for psychological support, some of them twice, as far as I know she still is not even on even on a waiting list for the children’s mental health service. For the first time I feel like we have been let down by the system.

headbands in silk

I don’t want to burden you with my children’s troubles, and to be honest, I don’t really want to talk in publicy about their specific health issues. I mention it here because it did have a major impact on my work: I felt unable to respond to calls for art, and was awful at keeping deadlines. When I found the time to work, I really just wanted to be alone in my studio, rather than putting my work out there.

But my memory often fails me, so let me take a walk through the year:

Cats “helping” while photographing in January

In January I was mostly occupied with shop care for Büchertiger Supplies: I added jute twine and cotton twine to my range of threads, and started to scout for silk threads I wanted to add. I also worked on completing the scrolls for my long term project 346.

My work table in Febuary, drawing maps

Technically I started my instagram account and photostream December 31st 2017, but I really started in Febuary when I drew my daily maps. I love instagram, and with the maps-project, I started a “picture a day” stream which – although I am less strict with myself by now – I still try to maintain: One picture a day which best summarizes what I did that day. So if you don’t already, you may want to follow me there for a glimpse behind the scene and in-process pictures.

Making a map a day, adding illegible and often asemic writing, lead me to discovering asemic art in a broader sense. I read and thought a lot about usage of text in art, and about asemic art and writing. It also resulted in three little books with fantastical maps and drawings. (The first of them is in a photo above.)

four bindings, three in limp parchment technique

In March I finally added silk thread to my stock for Büchertiger Supplies after testing it on headbands. I learned to bind books in limp parchment technique. I also started investigating screenprinting more and especially in combination with lino prints. The first version of my Nottingham prints came to life, very much inspired by my daily map drawing which at that point I still maintained.

City prints

End of March, beginning of April I started to cut up a slice of a Nottingham street map. I then continue to make photos and sunprints from the cut-paper. But somehow this never amounted to much. But I still have all those photographs and prints, and maybe I’ll make soemthing of it yet.

I also started to learn Japanese in April: Inspired by my writing / map experiments, and thinking about how to encode language and information in marks on paper, I became interested in the Japanese way of using three different “alphabets” (if you want to call them that) to encode language.

Handprinted Business Cards / ATCs

I had some more fun printing in April, most of it in preparation of my first open studio event. I printed my first set of business cards completely by hand: fish in a jar on a water-colour background.

I first dyed my hair blue in April.

Open Studio in May

Then in May, finally, the open studio itself. It didn’t seem like much of a success at the time, with only a handful of visitors, but I had some very insightful discussions, which changed my view on my own work. Which is always interesting and helpful. All in all May was a good month for me:

Nottingham print by H. Kurzke

In May I finished my Nottingham print, finally finished the edition of 346, my long term project, worked on eggshell panels (and published a skillshare class on it), and (re-)started work on my project about miscarriages. (But didn’t get to finish it yet.)

Backlit Open Studio H. Kurzke
one of many mini monster rocks made during the summer

End of May I participated in Backlit’s Open Studios as a guest, and in early June we spent a weekend at the seaside to celebrate the twin’s 7th birthday. There on the beach I found a painted rock from #nottsrocks which then let me to paint and hide a lot of rocks myself during June and July.

In May I also started working on finishing my second model for 346, and as a part of it I made miniature kidney bowls. This lead me to experimenting more with papier mache. I made a whole variety of different things, including cups, something like an asemic/fantasy globe, starting a new project that consisted of hiding filled paper mache things in libraries (this is ongoing, I think, but has been put on hold for the time being; I still have a good number of eggs here at home that wait to be placed.)

Message in a papier mache sphere in a sphere in a sphere in a sphere

I layered coloured paper and cut into it, and made pictures like that. The sphere I made is finished. I also tried some planar images with the same technique. The building up of layers is time intensive, as you can only do a couple of layers per day, and then it has to dry. My first outcome was not very satisfying, but I still have some more experiments to do in that regard!

the image is cut into the sphere which is made up of layers of coloured paper

I also made three “talking” heads, and another paper mache sculpture: “sailing”. I have not properly photographed all these, although they have been finished for a while now. They are my most political work so far. – Brexit, the general climate it has generated in the UK, the evil it has come from and will lead to, this all got me deeply worried and although I don’t usually work politically, I poured all my worries into these pieces.

Sailing, by H. Kurzke

In July the school term ends, and thus – mostly – my work time until August. August then turned out difficult due to hospital stay and subsequent coping – or not – with the new situation. I had long before decided to dedicate the second half of the year to my writing: – As you might know, I am currently working on a novel (I hope I’ll eventually finish it!). All of this took me well into October, when I took a couple of days off my care load at home and instead resettled for three nights (five days) to a hotel in Sheffield where I indeed got a good chunk of writing done, and also posted a number of messages in bottles.

A couple of bottles I made for dispatching them in Sheffield
visitor at Backlit looking at the talking heads

End of October then was the next open studio event at Backlit where I again had a chance to participate as a guest. I showed my “talking heads” as well as 346, but had the most interesting conversations and interactions about the heads.

The two heads each “spit out” part of a scroll, and by superimposing the two images, you can read a declaration of human rights. At the end I left space for people to sign, and indeed did gather some signatures from visitors.

talking heads

In November I started my robot a day challenge, made books and prints and prepared for the small Christmas events at Backlit and the German Academy. I tried my screenprinting for real, I experimented with suminagashi, I made some books, and I bought myself my very first letterpress.

My first Letterpress – Adana

And then – it was already Christmas!

(Christmas) cards in 2018

So, in summary: It was a year of firsts and a year of learning. I worked with eggshells, my work got more politised, I printed more, I used my screens for screenprinting, I learned to work with papier mache, I started to learn Japanese, I started to experience suminagashi and papercuts. I learned about asemic art, thought a lot, about language and writing and politics, and the medical system. And I thought and wrote about what makes a person, about the connection of memory and identity, because that is the content of the novel I am working on.

I also started a new blog on the a-n website (with only one post so far) where I want to write about artists I meet. Although not a first in a strict sense, as I have been writing interviews for a long time, I still feel that this is a another first step into the world of art writing

suminagashi, first experiments

What I didn’t do was promote myself enough to get into any exhibition, which I feel really bad about. I did not even manage to get one of my postcards into an postcard show which will open this Friday, and I feel especially regretful about that.

some prints on suminagashi trials

I know I should be out there, finding ways to show 346, my papier mache, maybe even my maps. – I just felt too much drained of energy. And with the lack of exhibiting came a lot of doubt: Am I really an artist? What am I doing, spending years on trying to write a novel? Can I really be writer? What am I doing and why? Does this all make sense?

And less philosophically: Maybe I should concentrate fully on Büchertiger Supplies. It could do with more attention, it brings in real money, and maybe should be my main professional focus. But I do feel more like an artist than like a retailer! Also, who knows what Brexit will bring.

I also have been teaching German in 2018, and I blame this among other things for the lack of time, the chased feeling, and lack of energy in this past year. Thus I quit. In 2019 I won’t be teaching, at least not German. – A bookbinding workshop is already planned. (Sign up here. ) I hope this will make it easier to make art, and equally important, to get it out there.

Robo Business Card by H. Kurzke

And for my writing: My mentor (I am currently participating in a mentoring scheme) recommends I start making contacts in the publishing world now. I should research which kinds of publishers are interesting for me, who they are, and how to approach them, show up at networking events, talk to people… – All the kind of things I have failed to do for my art now come up for my writing. And thus it officially stops being the evasive thing it started out to be.

I have a lot of plans. Whenever I make anything, I come up with a thousand other things I want to do. Finding things to do is the easy part, and I won’t bore you with going on any further in this blog post which is already much too long. The challenge for me this year will be not just to learn things and to make things but to get them out there.

So this is my aim for 2019: For me to be more daring, to make an effort to get out there, meet people, put my work out there. I don’t know yet how I am going to do it, or where to find the strength to do so. But I want to make a real effort to get it done!

What are your plans and challenges?