Open Studio and 346, finally some Progress, and other News

I am participating this year on the Open Studios Notts event. Almost 300 artists in all of Nottinghamshire are openening their studios in May and June. Mine is going to be open to the public on 12/13th May.

printed catalogue with my fingers and 346 on the lower left

That’s in just over a week, and there’s still tons of things to do to prepare for the event. Money that was raised by ourselves (everyone paid a bit into the pot) was used for advertising, of course, but there was enough to pay a professional photographer to take photos of a couple – was it 10? – artists. I was one of the lucky ones chosen. So I had a curious visitor and an exciting photo session a couple of weeks ago. He wanted to see everything and makes photos of a lot of my processes, and so I printed on a screen, and bound a book, and cut some lino, and he made a lot of in-action-shots, and also took a couple of photos of artwork.

These photos are now on display in three libraries in the shire, and in the nearest one, in Beeston, there are also two pieces of work of mine: absences and message in a bottle no. 99 (yes, I made 99 bottles to date, more about that in a minute).

I went to look at the exhibition yesterday, and I must say I was almost disappointed by spotting just one photo of me and my studio there. This one, however, is more than life sized, and I might be a bit frightened by it:

gallery space in Beeston library with OSNotts photo exhibtion
yours truly, cutting away on a piece of lino
showcase in the exhibition

In preparation of the open studio, I finally managed to cover and box all eight 346 scrolls. As you know, the text is about how pregant women are treated and seen in a medical setting in general and particilarly it’s a day by day account of my 7 week hospital stay when I was pregnant with the twins.
The text with illustrations sit on a scroll when can be read by pulling out the paper from the circular box. Thus the time passed can be seen, but the reader cannot guess at how much paper/time is still left until it’s finally over.
I placed these scrolls into boxes, and my initial idea was to add a simple lid to these boxes. But I found first trials much too solid and clumsy, and the scroll itself is already very well protected. The box is more a feature to ease the storage, than to protect the contents. And so I had the idea, of wrapping them in fabric instead, maybe reminiscent of a swaddling cloth. – I am still working on that!


Much of other work I got done was in the spirit of getting ready for the open studio as well. When the catalogue arrived a week or two ago, and I found out that my studio and work was described (probably that was my doing, but I didn’t remember before), with the words: “printmaking, book art, messages in bottles, miniatures”. So I figured, I should make sure, that visitors to my studio are going to see all of that on the Open Day, and so I made a couple of new messages in bottles. You can head over to to see them all in more detail, here’s a picture with three of them (the fourth was in the picture in the gallery above):

As you can see: there’s miniatures and books and printmaking (on the left that’s a sunprint) so I am covering all my bases with these.

I am very proud and happy how the miniature book in the bottle on the very right came out. It contains a whole story, and I think the binding is sound, too:

The book block has four (if I remember correctly) signatures from washi paper, and I covered it in eelskin leather which has a natural ripple in its centre that just covered the spine of this miniature book nicely.
The belt in darker (also eelskin) leather can be simply slid off. It helps this little book to stay nicely closed.

Well, and then of course I needed some business cards to go with the artwork into the library, and I decided to print them from hand. (In part because I didn’t manage to get organised in time and get them printed.)
Although this was done in a great rush, I am very, very happy with the results.

I am in face so happy with the cards and the background, that I prepared a lot more “blank” cards for the planned printing demonstration during the open studio. At the end I had so many beautiful cut-offs that I didn’t want to toss.

And what do you do with cut-offs that are too beautiful to throw out? – Exactly, you make miniatures (or at least I do):

Mini Cards. See a regular business card for comparison on the left

Of course a lot of other things were and are happening at the same time. Last month I participated for the first time in the “AreYouBookEnough” challenge on instagram which was a lot of fun with a lot of map cutting, but I wasn’t entirely happy with the book I produced in the end, but there were a lot of intersting photos – at least.

Well, I hope I’ll see you not the coming but the next weekend – until then!

February’s Literature List

Febuary’s list is a little late because I wanted to actually look at the books I bought this last month before writing about them. When I wrote last month’s list I couldn’t say anything yet about “print workshop” by Christine Schmidt which, it turns out, is now one my favorite books about printing and stamping, so I will say a little bit about that book below.  So here’s the list:

  • Paper Engineering by Natalie Avella. Other than I expected this is not an instructional book but a showcase for interesting examples of paper engineering. Most of them are intriguing for their combination of interesting graphic design with a fitting, clever paper engineering ideas. It reminds me of the box and envelope design books that I bough a couple of months ago.
  • New Directions in Bookbinding by Phillip Smith. I bought it after I read the review Elina wrote for our bookbinding team blog. Unfortunately I have not yet had time to look into it to add any comment of my own here.
  • Trail: Paper Poetry by David Pelham. Stunningly beautiful, intricate and interesting. This book has a bit of poetry in the classic sense that there are words. But most of it lies in the elaborate pop-ups, mostly completely white on white, and so full of details that even looking at it for the third time I discovered new things. I won’t say more as to not spoil the fun of looking through it yourself. A clear and full-hearted recommendation.
  • Magritte: Das Pop-up Handbuch: Das Pop-up-Buch
    René Magritte. This is not what I hoped it would be. It contains a selection of Magritte paintings brought to life as pop-ups. They are not bad as such, but also not breathtaking. And I like the paintings more than the pop-ups. I had hoped for some kind of derivative work, adding a new perspective.
  • Making an Impression: Designing & Creating Artful Stamps
    Geninne D. Zlatkis. This book published by Lark Crafts has a comparably large format (25,4 x 21,1 x 1,5 cm) and 136 pages filled with beautiful photos arranged in a pleasant page design. There are two major parts: Stamping Basics which talks about materials and tools and how to use them, and Projects And Ideas which contains 20 projects, complete with templates to cut your stamps from. There are some additional templates to swap for those designed for the projects should you like others better. There are three categories of projects arranged in the sections: stamping on paper, stamping on fabric, and stamping on other surfaces. What I found interesting was the idea to add embroidery to the finished pieces to give the prints additional texture and looks. Also the idea to stamp on stones and stoneware was interesting to me, and I really like some of the results. What I don’t like so much about the book is that it is limited to rubber stamps (though this shouldn’t come as a surprise given the title). And also that the author seems a little caught in her own thoughts: When she encourages her readers to create their own stamps, she tells us that she finds inspiration in nature, and is lucky to live in a place which has a lot of beautiful examples of fauna and flora. Se adds that, however, you can also get inspired if you happen to live in a city, you just have to keep your eyes peeled. – Up until here no complaint – but then she adds: for example you could go to your library and get a botanical book and draw inspiration form these images. Well sure you can do that. But it sounds like she can’t imagine people drawing inspiration from other things than nature, like architecture, the look of trash in the gutter, of whatever. Her own perspective comes through in many similar ways throughout the book. This isn’t too bad, though. I actually find this kind of cute because the author really brings in a lot of her personality this way. All in all I found it an inspiring book (more so than a resource of knowledge), and I very much like that it encourages a playful approach and creating own designs.

As promised, I also want to write a little bit about the book from last month’s list: Print Workshop. Hand-Printing Techniques + Truely Original Projects by Christine Schmidt. This books covers a lot of different printmaking techniques, rubber stamps are of course included, other stamps, some monoprinting techniques, screenprinting, stencelling, cyanotypes, and many more. Often there is just one project per technique. Many but not all of these are simple. I have only looked at a handful of examples so for but all of those that I have seen are introductory to the used technique. So if you find something you like, you probably will want to get another book about it that goes into that technique with more detail. I bought it because I was excited to see that it has a chapter about cyanotypes, which I wanted to do again after my sunprinting experiments a couple of summers ago. Since then I bought some sunprinting solution that is supposed to work with fabrics but that didn’t work well and gave me too few contrast and fuzzy images (or rather, no image at all). I am not sure that this book is helping with the concrete question of what other product to get or how to modify my technique, because I am not doing what people ordinarily do with sunprinting. (Lay flowers or other flat objects on the printing surface.) But it has helped me with other questions already.
It has a clearly structured theory chapter, which I find entertaining to read. And it has a handy chart with printing method, colorant, optimal designs (like “lines” opposed to “areas”, “details” opposed to “shapes”), and substrate listed together.
This book has a lot of interesting projects that to me would be interesting to actually do like described. (This is rare, I feel almost an aversion against anyone telling me how to do these things. I always want to cry “let me try alone!” Not here). I guess that is mostly because they are presented more like examples of what could be done with a technique rather than the technique as a by-product of the project. Well, you can tell I am really happy about my purchase! Clearly one of my favorite book about printing.

Lenses – A new book

The new book - more pictures below

I would like to tell you that I finished a new artist’s book or zine, or whatever lies in between. However, the actual book I made (see on the left) still have so many flaws that I will have to remake it. So maybe I should say, a new prop is done.

I had this day all for myself and my work, so this is a real worktable post – finally.

Ich würde ja gerne verkünden, dass ich ein neues Künstlerbuch oder Zine oder irgendwas dazwischen fertig gestellt habe, allerdings hat das Buch so viele kleine Fehlerchen, dass ich es nochmal machen muss. Eine Edition davon würde im Moment auch noch zu lange dauern, und ich müsste nochmal ernsthaft nachdenken, wie man einige Sachen beschleunigen kann. Aber auf jeden Fall hatte ich heute einen vollen Arbeitstag und das hier wird endlich mal wieder ein richtiger Worktable Artikel. Doch fangen wir von vorne an:

Einige werden sich vielleicht noch erinnern, dass ich im Sommer 2010 eine Reihe von Sunprints gemacht habe. Ich habe damals angefangen was damit zu machen, habe das aber nicht zu Ende gebracht bzw. war mit dem Ergebnis so gar nicht zufrieden.

First Trial with the Sunprints - I like the cover, it is made from cut up photo prints and put back together.

Some of you might remember that I made some experiments with sunprinting paper in summer 2010. Back then I made a book with the prints (see above) that never got completed, or rather I was just dissatisfied with it. I always wanted to still do something with them, but always something else was more important. Now I made my very first Polaroid image a couple of days ago (that is a different story with some hints at it in the description at flickr.) And that gave me a new idea for that old project that was still resting in my drawer.

the very first polaroid image I shot, despite its uglyness it gained a premium spot in my studio.

Vor einigen Tagen nun, habe ich mein erstes Polaroid geschossen (wäre eine Geschichte für sich, einige Details davon sind als Beschreibung des Bildes auf Flickr zu finden) und das hat mich auf neue Ideen für dieses auf die lange Bank geschobene Projekt gebracht. Und so habe ich es heute wiederbelebt. Die erste Idee war, die Scans (ich arbeite zumindest zur Zeit noch nicht mit den Originalen) in einen Rahmen zu stecken, der an Polaroid erinnert.

trying out different mounts; liked the blue one best

Well, and so I revived this old project today. The main idea was to fold cardstock on the the fore edge of the book, cut a hole into it, mounting the prints into frames that make them look like polaroids from both sides. Developing polaroids to be exact because the B&W film that I used looks shock blue while still unfinished. I decided on the blue frame. To cut so many of them with precision I first deviced a jig for the task. It helps me mark the corners of the window that I then cut with an x-acto knife.


 Um in so viele Stücke Karton sauber und gleichmäßig schneiden zu können habe ich mir erstmal eine Schablone gemacht. Mit ihrer Hilfe habe ich die Ecken des Fensters markiert, das ich dann mit einem Skalpel herausgeschnitten habe.

all done with cutting

As I said, the cardstock is doubled with one print showing from each side. I then bound them as single sheets with the fore-edge the folded side. For the binding I mainly used the technique that Smith calls single sheet Coptic binding, which in my eyes is not so much a Coptic binding as Coptic cover attachment over and over. I think I made the start and end a little different from what he does, though. My modification allows me to first attach thread to the cover, then sew until last sheet is added and then attach the other cover. If I am not mistaken, Smith does the covers together with the first and last sheet respectively. But to be quite honest, I was too lazy, or rather felt I lacked the time, to read it in all detail. I just had a brief look at one of his diagrams to be sure to do the sewing correctly.

start of the sewing, the front cover from the outside
and this is how it looks from the inside

Ich hatte nun also diese Stücke Karton, jeweils gefaltet. Darin habe ich dann zwei Drucke befestigt, so dass  von der Vorder- und der Rückseite jeweils eines zu sehen ist. Dann das Ganze zusammengeklebt. Auf diese Weise habe ich dann 8 einzelne Blätter oder Tafeln bekommen, die ich dann mit zusätzlich einem Vorder- und Rücktitel und jeweils einer leeren Tafel vorne und hinten als koptische Einzelblattbindung gebunden habe. Die Deckel habe ich allerdings abweichend befestigt, meiner Meinung nach einfacher und hübscher, aber naja, das ist natürlich auch Geschmackssache. Die beiden Fotos oben sollen meine Methode erläutern. Diese Bindetechnik erlaubt es, Einzelblätter so zu heften, dass sie sich vollständig flach öffnen lassen.

Und nun ist es tatsächlich fertig. Und auf der letzten Seite habe ich, wie damals vor 2 Jahren versprochen, auch enthüllt, wie ich die Prints eigentlich gemacht habe. 

Well, and now it is really done. A book. In just one day. Feel fabulous! On the last page I unveiled how I made the prints, something I promised to do 2 years ago. Well, better late than never.


Stepping In The Same Trap Again?

I celebrated my birthday last weekend in Ghent. They had a wonderful Light Festival on that weekend with outside (and free) light installations throughout the city.

Now I am back home and it looks like I am back to work. At least the plan is that I have this week off from other duties, and I hope I’ll be able to work.

In the meantime I finished the book with the sunprints I was talking about before, but it turns out it isn’t finished like that. So I put it aside for now, waiting for a fresh idea how to proceed or what else to do, and turned to another project. I do hope I am not stepping in the same trap again, that yielded this huge pile of partly finished work. But I simply decided not to worry to much, and started practicing illustrations for a new project with trying out different waters, or different ways to draw them anyway.

Meinen Geburtstag habe ich letztes Wochenende in Gent gefeiert. Leider war es sehr kalt, so dass ich den Eindruck habe, vor lauter Frieren und schnell ins nächste Café eilen, habe ich die Stadt kaum gesehen. Ich denke, die werde ich mir auf jeden Fall nochmal bei wärmerem Wetter ansehen müssen.

Und nun bin ich wieder an meinem Arbeitsplatz und wie es aussieht erstmal wieder bei der Arbeit. Toi, toi, toi, klopf aufs Holz – ich hoffe ich werde jetzt erstmal wieder was schaffen!

In der Zwischenzeit habe ich zwar mein Sunprints Buch erstmal fertiggestellt, oder eher gesagt, ich habe gemacht, was ich vorhatte zu machen – aber es hat sich herausgestellt, dass das Buch so noch nicht fertig ist. Es ist also erst einmal zur Seite gelegt, bis mir da ein neuer Einfall kommt. Und in der Zwischenzeit habe ich mich einem neuen Projekt und Wasserillustrationen dafür zugewendet.

Bis demnächst!

Worktable Wednesday: Winding Thread

Büchertiger SuppliesI do realize this Worktable Wednesday comes online later than could be expected. My private life is a tumble at the moment, and I have only a few hours per day for work – and that precious time got spent on actual work in the last weeks, not on blogging. I hope to be back in the loop soon – there is a pile of books that I plan to review here and there is a lot of work that I would like to finish and show off. I have no idea yet when this will be, though.

This Wednesday was spent mostly with cutting and winding a total of 225m of thread onto cardboard and make them ready for shipping. – And then I deleted the shop on my website here. If you now click on the Shop link on the head panel, you will be brought to a page that lists different possibilities to buy my stuff, including ordering via email. (I will probably put a catalog online in the next weeks with stuff that I keep on stock like supplies and editions.) But there is no shopping cart anymore. The software got attacked several times, and I am running out of patience keeping the software clean. Everyone should always regularly run a virus scanner over their system, of course. If you have not in recent time, and browsed the shelves in my shop, please do so. Unfortunately one of the attacks was successful and managed to install some malware that got activated when you looked at the images more closely. I apologize.

Den letzten Mittwoch habe ich zum größten Teil mit dem Abmessen und Aufwickeln von Faden verbracht. Anschließend habe ich Website-Pflege betrieben, und mich zu der radikalen Maßnahme entschlossen, meinen Shop hier auf dieser Domain zu schließen/zu löschen. Es gab immer wieder Angriffe auf die Software, und es wird einfach zu anstrengend, ständig dafür zu sorgen, dass da alles sauber bleibt. Dafür braucht man eben eigentlich einen Vollzeit Webadministrator, so scheint mir. Jeder sollte natürlich sowieso regelmäßig sein System auf Viren checken. Wer in letzter Zeit bei mir im Shop war, und das seit dem nicht gemacht hat, sollte nochmal einen Systemcheck durchführen. Der letzte Angriff war erfolgreich und hat eine Malware auf meinen Seiten installiert, die sich übertragen hat, wenn man die Bilder angesehen hat. Ich bitte um Entschuldigung!

Damit habe ich also den Mittwoch verbracht, unten Bilder zu meinem heutigen Projekt. Ich habe begonnen, den riesigen Ordner zu bearbeiten, und mir als erstes die Sunprints vorgenommen. Demnächst hoffe ich, euch den Prototyp vorzeigen zu können, und dann werde ich entscheiden müssen, ob ich eine Edition davon produzieren will. Bis dann!

So, this was my Wednesday. Nothing more to show to you. But I can show you what I plan to finish today: I started with working through this big folder of started projects, and first worked with my sunprints again. (I made a couple of posts here, and here is a link to a folder with scans of some of them.) I plan to finish a prototype today, and in the next days I’ll decide whether I want to make the edition. Of course I’ll show it to you when it’s done. So stay tuned!

making of "lenses" by H. Kurzke