The Bayeux Tapestry

Another sort of touristy thing we did while in France was check out the Bayeaux tapestry. Unlike the Eiffel Tower, we hadn’t planned this excursion before we even left the states, but it turned out to be an easy day trip from where we were staying after PBP.

My Art History – well and History History – were a little rusty, but it was neat to see in person something that I’d only seen before in text books. Of course the tapestry was behind glass, and I was in a conga line of other viewers, all of us with audioguides in our chosen language pressed to our ears, but there it was! Right there!!!

With the other people, the story on the audioguide didn’t always quite line up with the tapestry, so I did some repeat passes. And! the original viewing for most was probably amidst a crowd when the tapestry was displayed at the cathedral at feast days, so I tried to think of the peopley-ness as a bit of authentic experience. Minus the smells.

Even in our contemporary glut of media, it’s an amazing object. The story, the amount of work it too, the odd little characters in the margins here and there. In it’s time I can’t even imagine what a Big Deal it must have been. Of course the story is selective, told to make the victors look good – the more things change, the more they stay the same…

It’s been a while since I’d seen it in books, but I didn’t have a huge feeling that the colors were way different than I remember. What was really amazing to see in person was that, while I did see a few patches, there were no obvious vertical seams! Over about 230 feet!!!

In addition to the viewing of the actual tapestry, they had a what I’m pretty sure was full scale photo reproduction (that you COULD take pictures of), a well done museum that filled in more of the history, and the methods and materials for making the tapestry, and of course a gift shop. Definitely worth the visit!

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printer’s block

Holiday card. Check. What next? Plenty more Ordinary Wisdoms, and then I’m getting better about (1) jotting down those random ideas for stuff to do in the print shop, and (2) collecting those in one place and (3) remembering that I have that collection! so yeah there were things on that list too, but/and then OH I had an uncut linoleum block in my shop bag. How bout something with that?

However, I didn’t have any particular image in mind. So, kick that can down the road – lemme say I’m doing reduction cut, and start with printing the whole block. Which, yeah, a solid rectangle. Well, gotta start somewhere.

Except! It wasn’t solid. Huh. Not high enough and-or not even and-or not enough ink. Sure I could fiddle with all of those things and make it more technically correct, perhaps even get to the expected. But then what?

So I just rolled with what I was getting – a gauzy, atmospheric landscape feel. And double printed some, flipping the paper end-to-end, then tried a different paper, which was sorta crinkly, which led to crumpling the first paper before printing. Then some sort of pressure printing, where instead of having a full sheet of backing paper I used a partial, torn sheet. So many possibilities.

Then the next session I did a silver/gold split on the SP15. By printing before the ink evened out I got some lines – another variation. Then did some printing over some of the reds from the previous session, and the various paper, and crumpling paper, and folding paper. And upped the ink and pressure, and by the end of the time was at my expected solid rectangle. Which I then did some overprinting with.

And I’m still not sure what’s next. But there’s room for something, in a different way than if I’d just gotten what I was expecting right off the bat. Good change of pace to be doing something more open ended and process (rather than end result) oriented than the cards.

la la la la

As you may have guessed, the las were the rest of the story – a variety of large metal type, 60 and 84 point! – and a selection from the star tray. It set up pretty nicely, with a sort of loose and semi-random feel despite being in the rectangular grid. (In a somewhat related conversation, one of my shop mates is also working on a holiday card, and said she had tried some of the angle furniture, and what she had set with it “just looked crooked.” So it was back to the drawing board.)

The printing was silver ink on the SP15, and went really well! Which may have been since I was (inadvertently?) color-coordinated with the paper. It couldn’t have hurt anyway. Deck the halls and be jolly and all of that…

FA etc.

There’s more Ordinary Wisdom to impart, but somehow it’s gotten to be November already, so time to do something about a holiday card, if I’m gonna. My first thought was some kind of composite holiday-ish object, built up from multiple layers of type. I even played around a bit with some wood type last session, but then realized how many passes through the press it might end up to be, and yeah… not going to happen this year.

So another idea, and did the first layer with some wood type. Then had the C&P inked up and some bookmark-ish sized paper trimmings, and found a couple bookish cuts and voilà!

Ordinary Wisdom #6 and #7

Apparently this had been my paternal grandfather’s way of saying “don’t sweat it”, but as he had passed away before I was born, I never heard it directly. I think my dad did try it out on a few occasions, which I don’t remember the exact details of, although it was probably about things that seemed like A BIG DEAL to me at the time, so I don’t recall it seeming particularly helpful, or really appreciating it. With a little perspective, I’m glad to have something of the grandfather I never met.

It was also great to find the cut of the horse and rider. I was going to say galloping horse, but (sorry Pop and Grandma) I don’t know enough about horses to say whether that is what is going on – or if you can even tell what the gait is. But anyway, I digress. AND! It fit almost perfectly in one of the Daredevil Furniture circles. Sometimes things seem just meant to be.

Which! I only noticed when I posted the first picture, with the plain white background, that the ‘ve’ of never are not on the nice smooth curve with the rest of the letters. DOH!!! well… you’d never notice it riding by on a galloping horse… ha

The other one I printed while I had the SP15 inked up does not have such a good backstory. In fact I can’t remember where I got it from – probably some random place on the intarwebs.

Anyway, I had the two backgrounds, and had thought about mixing, but ended up keeping the jockey horse with my grandfather’s saying, and the horseshoes with the other.

what she said

and again something in the news just seeming enough already, although I have to admit I did not actually watch the debates, but learned enough from the news coverage, and the reactions of friends who have more intestinal fortitude than I, and did watch. and my friend Kim Dow busted out a t-shirt, which was … YES. so. much. THIS.

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Calgary Public Art

In addition to the contemporary Bridge photo mural pieces and the longstanding Family of Man sculptures, downtown Calgary had quite a variety of public art. I didn’t look for any kind of online guide to follow, but just enjoyed coming upon things in my walks.

A particularly fun one was Wonderland, a giant wire head by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa that you could go into and walk around inside of. The play against the surrounding buildings was fascinating. Probably could have done an entire post just on that, but yeah.

Another was a metal assemblage horse which I had seen on my previous trip to Calgary, over 10 years ago. That time I had not stayed downtown, but thought I’d come in to go up the Calgary Tower. However, nothing really looked familiar – yeah, I know, what could possibly change (in reality or in my memory) in 10+ years?! But then I saw the horse. Yes, I HAD been here!

There were also various illuminated pieces along the riverwalk, and a streaming ticker tape display over a street. Lots of very cool stuff!

more pictures

more horsing around

I had been thinking I’d use the horseshoes again, but switch up the type, but then I happened to look in the catalog of cuts again, and hey! there were some race horses (filed under Sports, of course) which might be just the thing, particularly for one of the sayings…

More ink from previous adventures – Autumn Brown, just a touch, mixed into the transparent base. Huh. Wasn’t super excited about it, but good enough. And then with the hand brayering I wasn’t always getting as smooth of coverage as part of me wants/thinks I should be doing, but again, I just went with it.

For something else different, the grey paper I had at the shop was already cut to card size, so it made me a little more contained as far as how I placed it for the printing. And somehow I didn’t take any pictures of those. Go figure.

horsing around

Continuing on with the Ordinary Wisdom, working on a background for the next one – OK, maybe the next couple – well at least this next one and then the other might end up being later. Who knows. (Potential rabbit hole of digression about uncertainty – virus, wildfires, potential civil unrest. Yanks self back.) But I somehow keep ahold of that there will be nexts, that the future will happen to some degree as I am making plans for. Maybe it’s some denial, but what else is there to do?

So I wasn’t finding any cuts I wanted to use, but hey! I had some linoleum. For once I didn’t think too much about it but just made my own. Horseshoes! Part of me was in a bit of a dither, wanting them to be nice, smooth, perfectly symmetric… amazingly I was pretty much able to let that go. I did sorta wonder how they would print – but really, there’s not much to them – and they actually printed just fine, I ended up not doing any touch-ups on them.

Dove into the stash of packets of ink from previous projects – some gold/brown/orange mix, and a touch more brown, and gold from the bigly, and transparent. Huh. On the white paper it came out a sorta not even sure what to call it, brownish? I guess. Not exactly what I was expecting, but I went with it. It came out better on the grey papers.

Printed on the Vandercook #2 manual proof press, which I hadn’t used in a while, so that was fun to get back to. Did some ghost and overlap printing, and then did some with the horseshoe in the color without transparent. Good times!

Atelier-Musée Imprimerie

Besides the Eiffel Tower, the only thing I had put on the vacation schedule for our time in France after PBP was a printing museum! OK, and ice cream, one of my other interests, although that wasn’t really officially on the schedule since it always just seems to happen. Anyway, I had come across – on the internets, at least – one in Lyon, (nice visit write-up here) but we weren’t going to be going that direction. But the internets came through with the Atelier-Musée Imprimerie (AMI) in Malesherbes, 70 kilometers south of Paris.

In fact, it still had that new museum smell, having opened less than a year before – September 28, 2018! In addition to newest, it’s apparently also the largest in Europe, at 5000 square meters.

Amazingly, for most of our visit we had the place to ourselves! (Which, not being a fan of crowds, was pretty cool. Although, it would probably take quite a number for the space to feel crowded. And I couldn’t help wondering how they were making a go of it – I mean two 10 euro tickets for a day wasn’t going to go to far toward keeping the lights on… but the founder is a successful printing industry executive, so maybe they have a big endowment, and perhaps they get school groups during the week, or who knows?)

Anyway, the exhibits were really well done, from “pre-history” of printing before movable type, through development of moveable type, and the various improvements to that up into the digital age. Other types of printing such as lithography. There was an exhibit on hand lettering, and a display of handwritten pages by famous folks. Information about paper making, books and bookmaking. A print a book on demand machine! Movie scenes featuring printing. Breadth and depth.

Of course the signage was in French, which is probably just as well, since if I understood it I’d still be there trying to read it all. There was an English audio guide, which I took advantage of. Then there were SO.MANY. beautiful presses, which I could just enjoy looking at, no explanation needed. It was particularly neat to see French and European machines that I would most likely never see in the United States. There were also various areas with hands-on activities, although some of them seemed to be for if you were there with a group. And of course a lovely gift shop.

There didn’t seem to be much else to Malasherbes – oh, maybe that’s why they put the museum there? – but I was pretty much saturated after the afternoon in the museum, so didn’t mind that. But the museum is definitely worth the visit!

more pictures (much, much more)