Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Stopping versus quitting

I have an on-going discussion with my dear friend Wendy. We talk about many aspects of life, but art is the biggest single topic. Recently we talked about why we were not in our studios making art when we wanted to. Wendy says:

"I like Art & Fear -- Bayles & Orland don't
make the stalling out to be pathological. "Writers
even have a phase for it-- 'the pen has run dry'-- but
all media have their equivalents. In the normal
artistic cycle this just tells where you need to begin
cultivating the next new idea. [...] Quitting is
fundamentally different from stopping. The latter
happens all the time. Quitting happens once.
Quitting means not starting again-- and art is all
about starting again." "

By the way, Ted Orland also has a new book out called The View From the Studio Door. I find it every bit as refreshing as Art and Fear.

I thought I stopped a few years ago, not because my brush ran dry, but because I had to make some major changes in our house when I got allergies. It has been hard to get started again. I think too many other concerns have filled the time that used to be dedicated to art. My habits have changed. Now I am trying to re-vitalize my old art-making habit.

There are parallel issues happening with the blog right now. My original idea was that blogging would make me think about art more, and so I would be more inspired. I have begun to wonder if I should be putting my time into making things in the studio instead of blogging. Should I quit, should I slow down? Well, I have slowed down, due to a combination of being sick, my parent's health problems and other issues. At the moment it looks like I will try to continue at a slower pace for a few months. Barring some huge disaster, I will announce it here if I decide to quit.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The acid test

I decided I needed to do some tests before etching the parts for the Dream Focusing Device (pat. pending). I tested beeswax, Staz-On stamp pad ink, Sanford Industrial Sharpie marker, Sanford Industrial Sharpie (extra fine) and the older, extra fine Sanford Sharpie. Each one seems to have it's pros and cons. I want the newer parts to look related to the older half moon shape that I made years ago.

I rock the pan every 10 minutes and turn the tests over every 20 minutes. The length of time needed for the etch I want varies, depending on the age of the ferric chloride. Most of my etches take between one and two hours. Please make sure you get all the safety information about etching before you try this. It gives off toxic fumes, and the acid is dangerous.

Beeswax resist
Beeswax has been my favorite resist for a long time. The line I get is fine. I scratch in the beeswax with an old dental tool, so it's similar to drawing.

Staz-on ink pad resist
To get the inkpad ink on the metal, I just blotted it on. The pad is raised above it's plastic case. Along the edge of the blotted area it leaves a nice texture. I scratched in the ink after it was dry. The Staz-on ink pad is available at Volcano Arts. It's on this page. It works great for etching rubber stamp images. Be sure to get some cleaner at the same time.

Sharpie Industrial fine point, side 2
The Industrial Sharpie is supposed to resist chemical washes and steam up to 500 degrees. I find it is the best pen resist, but the line isn't very thin. It was easy to find in our local office supply store.

Sharpie industrial x-fine
The Sharpie Industrial also comes in extra fine. The scale is deceptive in this photo. The scrap I used for this test is about half as long as the scrap for the industrial fine point Sharpie, so the line is much finer. And this ink also lasts a long time in the acid.

Sharpie ultra fine
This is the older Sharpie, extra fine. It has black lettering on the side of the pen. After 40 minutes in the acid, the ink started wearing off. I could have cleaned it up and gone over the lines again, but it's hard to put them exactly where they should be.

All these images link to bigger versions on Flickr. They also all appear in my photoset "Testing."

Conclusion: I will definitely make sure I keep both sizes of the new industrial Sharpies around. The ink stays on well in the ferric chloride. I plan to etch the dream focusing device using a combination of the extra fine Sharpie industrial marker and the beeswax for the numbers I want.

Dawn, New Year's Day, 2007

Seeing the sun come up on the first day of the year marks the real beginning of the New Year for me. December is a hard time of year. There were December deaths in my family years ago, and many old memories come back. Some are happy and some are sad. I see the first of January as a turning point, both in the winter, and in my state of mind. It doesn't always work, but it's a good place to start. There are more sunrise photos in my flickr set New Years Day.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year.