Thursday, 16 April 2009

National Folk Festival

I had another wonderful four days at Easter at the National Folk Festival in Canberra, my home city. I drove the 30km to the other side of the city and when I had my wristband ticket scanned and entered the gates I felt as though I was in another world - folkies of all ages and from every State in Australia and overseas. Over 10,000 came every day. There were hundreds of musicians and dancers, instrument makers, street performers, stalls selling food and everything else, and people just having fun. And the festival always wins the award for the best recycling - hardly any rubbish is seen anywhere. I tried taking a few pics inside the venues - without flash - some turned out quite well, others were more 'artistic'.

The belly dancers were great and performed on a stage in the Piazza where you could sit around, eat & drink and watch dancing. Sometimes you could join in and learn too. There were lots of workshops. The local belly dancing group had its own band and here is a photo of two drummers - Richard & Frances.

One picture shows Anita George singing and playing guitar. A South American band called Inca Marka had this amazing guy playing 2 instruments at once. And Michael Kennedy, from Castlemaine, Victoria was a fantastic song writer and singer. I heard him several times.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Collagraphs by Hand

I made a design from a picture in a European city to show the urban environment with lots of different shapes and textures . But as I no longer had access to an etching press these prints show my attempts at making collagraphs by hand, that is, without a press. The plates were made entirely from cardboard, paper, masking tape and tissue paper. One is printed on yellow Japanese paper which is quite absorbent, the other on thicker Japanese paper which was dampened to make it softer.

It was much harder applying ink, wiping off ink where I had applied varnish to make lighter tones and rubbing on the back by hand when it wasn't possible to see exactly what you were rubbing. Of course trying to print with two colours on the same plate was also quite hard as it wasn't possible to blend the colours in the design. Nevertheless there are some interesting shapes and textures and it was fun spending an autumn day working on the prints.

Saturday, 4 April 2009


I have just spent two Saturdays learning how to make a collagraph plate and prints from it. A collagraph print is a collage printmaking technique and a form of Intaglio printing. The collagraph plate is printed the same way as etchings, but also include the basic principle of relief printing.

Five of us went to Marianne's studio at Araluen (nearly 2 hours drive from home) where we had access to a good teacher and an etching press. My subject was "Abstract" - I made a background plate (A4 size) which I painted in yellow and the main plate which I painted cobalt blue - this of course became green when it was printed over the yellow. The red was added as hand colouring later. It was fun glueing all sorts of things like string, mesh, cardboard, tissue paper and lace to a base of matboard to make the plate. Waterproofing was thoroughly done with gesso and a coat of shellac. The plate cannot be very high as it has to fit through the press, and the lower as well as the higher part prints. Great variation in texture can be obtained but it's not easy working out the amount of ink (oil based) to leave on the plate for good printing. Tones can be adjusted by the strenth of the ink and the nature of the materials. Varnish on the parts one wants lighter makes it easier to reduce the ink there before printing. A form of registration is essential when printing more than one plate to make a print - hard work but very satisfying. I now have to print another plate at home without a press, so it will be interesting how it looks when completely hand done.