Thursday, November 19, 2009

You fall in love. And then you add glitter.

I am always curious about the other printmakers out there: the etchers with their plates, woodcutters with their blocks, and lithographers with their stones. How do they do it? How do they not fall in love with their plates? The few times I worked in those mediums, I always found that I loved my plate too much. I'd work it, ink it, think about it, spend time slaving over it, and then out would come the print and I was always disappointed. The plates or the wood looked amazing, but my print left something to be desired. That doesn't REALLY happen with silk-screen. You don't generally fall in love with your screen. Perhaps the color separation, but probably not if you're making them on the cheap like I do. You can fall in love with your prints, though. The worst is when you fall in love with them midway.

Falling in love with your print work is a double edged sword. On the one hand, hey, you love the piece you're working on. Yay! That's awesome. But on the other, you can fear ruining it. Or, maybe you continue to work on it, and it doesn't ring as exciting to you. You find yourself pining after the piece you've changed. Sigh. That feeling is hard. Loving your piece too much can be debilitating. I kinda ran into that with my latest floor tile.

Like the first linoleum tile, I printed the colors in a back-breaking, exhaustive succession. Luckily, I started with a fabulous bright pink tile. They are the same price as the more neutral colors, but you have to special order them and it takes about 2 weeks for them to come in. When I opened the box, I was surprised how light in color the tiles were. I remembered them being more bold. My challenge was to tweak the colors to make the pink look deeper and richer.

First went the white (you can see all the colors in the next few pictures) and then the lime green (somewhat neon). With the bright pink, it kinda looked like someone took a highlighter to a white tile. Anyway, I was nervous. I kept looking at my mock-up and trying to assess what the next color should be. Didn't want it too dark, but I needed it to contrast enough with the lime green so the citron fruit would be legible.

It was in this mental space of uncertainty and anxiety that I found myself when I pulled the marigold/orange layer. I mixed the inks, I held the container over tiles. I squinted. I did the head tilt. But I was still unsure. At a certain point, I just had to bite the bullet. Pouring a ribbon of orange onto the screen, I coated the image and then pressed it through to make contact with the tile. Up went the screen. And voila! Perfection. The orange layer made sense out of the highlighter mess that proceeded it. I spent the next layer giddily pulling the orange, looking at it, smiling, and laying it down to dry. Times 135. And that is plenty of time to fall in love. It was like 135 beautiful dates.

So you can imagine my trepidation when I finished the orange layer and had to figure out what color to print the next layer and, moreover, whether or not to print it at all. I had in my mock-up this layer would be red. But what red? Maybe the white silhouette of the branches was better without the detail on top of it. I didn't want to ruin my tiles. I loved them too much. But I didn't want to stop--my plan included two more layers! And the floor I had created, however great, to me was not the over-the-top art object that I wanted it to be.

I decided to proceed. I printed a dark red. It looked ok. I printed a few more. I set them out in the alternating pattern I would use when actually installing them. It all looked... just... ok. Not great. But ok. Firmly mediocre. So, I stopped. I wasn't sure if this was the way to go or not. Or if they needed to be tweaked somehow.

Virgil is always telling me to do tests. He's right. But I tend to really embrace the immediacy of silk-screen (totally lame excuse). And I worry about wasting supplies on "tests" which will not be in the final count (somewhat reasonable excuse, but an excuse nonetheless). In any event, I decided to stop at 16 tiles and considered them a test. I needed to get away. And I ate, took a nap, and just thought about what I could do to improve upon the red layer. It was as if the romance between the tiles and I had hit a cross-roads: we had our first fight. And when I fight, I just need some space.

I decided that there wasn't anything inherently wrong with the red I had chosen. I had considered making the red more orange, more vibrant. Thing is, as you may or may not have noticed, I relish in making unconventional color choices. I like mixing neons with khaki. I like having gem tones with pastels. I think the overall effect is more interesting. My intention was not to make neon tiles. Sure, I wanted them to be warm and feminine. But I did not want my red to read as neon.

Instead of changing the color, I decided to change the color seperation. For those of you who silk-screen, especially with Speedball inks, red is one bitch of a color (excuse my canine vocabulary). It is very runny and shows all sorts of imperfections in the pull or the printing surface. Forgiving it is not, especially in really open areas. I decided to print less red because 1. I thought the ink would behave better and 2. because I thought the red dominated too much in the branch section of the tile.

Thank goodness. It worked. Love affair ON!

Lastly, I had really wanted to use glitter in this print. I love the way glitter looks underneath layers of lacquer and I felt it was a somewhat unexpected choice of material for the floor. Also, having gone to this year's International Fine Art Print Fair in New York's Armory, I was struck by all the glitzy use of "diamond dust" (don't be fooled, just clear glitter) and foil blocking in their serigraphs. Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol used these to good effect. I also saw a Lichtenstein that was printed on a metallic paper with a blue ombre. The super flat inks attop the shiny metallic background read in reverse. It looked like the inks were the background and the metallic was the added part.

Having just experimented with adding aluminum foil to my previous tiles, I thought it was time to use glitter. Virgil suggested I use the same adhesive he uses to for flocking. The things to keep in mind when you're trying to screen print an adhesive is 1. You want to make sure the adhesive won't ruin your screen 2. You want to make sure enough of the adhesive will be set down when you print that it still does it's job. For example, glitter has some weight to it. If the ink is too thin, it will not bind satisfactorily to the glitter and the glitter all flake off. The key is to use a really open mesh count screen. I bought two little 110 mesh count screens for this purpose. In general, 110 mesh count would be too open for working on paper (which absorbs only some of the ink) and way too high for non-absorbent materials such as glass or, in this case, coated linoleum. The openness allows for a lot more ink to pass through the screen. With fabric and other absorbent materials, it is essential that more ink pass through the screen to the surface. Without the openness, the print will look faded/antiqued. But, when considered adhesives, 110 mesh is perfect for paper, glass, or linoleum.

Virgil sent me to the Donjer website and told me to order the flocking adhesive. I did, however, order the wrong kind. IMPORTANT. If you're going to buy this adhesive, make sure to buy the kind under "soft flock." Not the easiest website to read, the soft flock is the less toxic, water-based flocking method. The regular flocking method uses solvent-based adhesives.

So, Virgil let me borrow his water-based Donjer adhesive. The water-based DOES NOT COME PRE-TINTED (unlike the solvent ones). He said to mix it 1 part colored ink (I chose yellow since I was doing gold glitter) to 10 parts adhesive. It mixed up pretty easily. The tinting also helped me to see where the adhesive went down for registration. It was not a very saturated yellow, so don't worry about perfectly matching the ink color to the color of the glitter.

To set up, I had my tiles, my carboard cut-out key and my acetate for registration, and a disposable roasting tin (which I did not dispose of, of course) with my glitter in it. After I register the image on the acetate to the tile, I was ready to get going. My method was:

1. Coat the screen with adhesive.

2. Squeegee the adhesive through the screen onto the tile (or paper if you're working on paper).

3. Flood the screen with a generous coat of the ink to keep it from drying out. This is important to do whether or not you're using adhesive or just ink, but especially important when you're using a material meant to be sticky!

4. Grab a handful of glitter and pour it over the section with adhesive. Do this over your large tin to catch the glitter that does not adhere.

5. Shake and ultimately pat the backside of the tile to get all the loose glitter off. PLENTY will stick. The I felt very much like I was burping a baby when I was tapping the back of the tile. It was that kind of motion.

6. Set to dry, admire, and then repeat.

I highly, highly recommend the Donjer adhesive, but I am curious to do some experiments with Elmer's or some other cheap, easily accessible glue.

After applying the gold, which covered even more of the white, I think my concern about the red was less potent. I still think the tiles with the second color separation, the one that went lighter with the amount of ink, still look slightly better, but the difference, now, with the addition of the glitter, is almost negligible.

Even before lacquering them, I realized I had hit upon a note I really was reaching for. If Barbie were a Jew (and let's be honest, she's too tall, skinny, and curvaceous to be a Jew. Jews tend to only be 2 out of the three if any of them!) she would want this floor. She's put it in her Discotheque/Sukkah. The tiles feature the four species: the citron fruit, also known as the etrog. And branches of date palm, myrtle, and willow. These three branches are bound together to be the lulav. Sukkot is a happy, joyous holiday, but this brings it to a completely new level. Rock n' Roll Religion. Such a beautiful thing.

The following pictures were taken after a very time, labor, and resource intensive period of lacquering with polyacrylic. You can notice the whole tile is shinier and the gold glitter is coated. I installed the floor for my class to critique. I think it went pretty well, but one thing is for sure. Without having this floor from wall to wall, people are hesitant to walk on it. And, until I devise a better system for installation, they are even less likely to dance.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Um..? Linoleum?

Many of you have heard of, or even tried, linoleum block printing. Linoleum is a very convenient type of relief print (often cheaper and easier to manipulate than wood for woodcuts). So, linoleum, when associated with printmaking, is usually the "means" not the "ends in itself." However, in an attempt to print on a nontraditional surface, I came across these cheap ($.68 a tile!) linoleum squares at Home Depot. I looked them over: they were super smooth and uniformly square. They came in a wide range of colors. What more could a silk-screen artist ask for?

As you may have noticed, I am doing a study on popular Jewish culture. The floor pattern I wanted to recreate was something a little more subtle than the wallpaper, but still fun and lively. I looked at various photographs of floors from synagogues. One of the things about Jews is they do not come from one country but are spread throughout the world. For that reason, there really is not one single Jewish style. They style is often molded by the culture of origin or the fleeting trends of the moment. In short, I couldn't find a really iconically Jewish floor pattern. The most interesting ones, I found, looked more Moroccan than anything.

The really exciting colors had to be special ordered (same price, though). I have in mind to do a few more floors after this one. In fact, I just received 3 boxes of hot pink and 1 box of bright lemon yellow tiles yesterday, so the flooring projects will surely continue. But back on track , for this tile, I had to use the neutral colored tiles on hand at the store. And I settled on some gray toned tiles.

So, with a Moroccan slant, a Jewish icon, and a gray tile, I set out to print. Linoleum has a third dimension, a thickness, so I created a key out of cardboard in order to keep the edges from puncturing my screen or putting too much stress on the stencil in my screen. The key also helped me to keep the tiles perfectly registered.

I printed the white under-color first. Not knowing how much ink it would take to print 90 tiles, I wanted to make sure I used colors straight out of the can so I wouldn't have to mix a new one and have inconsistencies in tone. And right away I noticed some of the difficulties of printing on linoleum.

Each tile is pretty heavy. I realized early I couldn't put them on the drying rack for fear of breaking it. Also, my studio is a non-toxic, water-based environment. The inks I used were typical Speedball inks. Usually, when you use those inks on paper or fabric, they dry very quickly between the absorbtion of the substrate and the evaporation of the water into the air. But on the linoleum, because the surface is made of vinyl, the water could only go into the air. Basically, the tiles took forever to dry!

I started printing these in the late hours of the evening in an empty studio. So, I took advantage of the empty space and used all the print stations as drying space. I did color 1 and then color 2. And then, at like 3 am, I decided I had had enough and wanted to go home. But the damn suckers wouldn't dry! And I knew I would want to sleep in the next morning, so I had to find a safer place to stash them to dry.

For the next two hours, I slowly moved the tiles from the silk-screen room to my studio, the graduate printing studio, and finally, left some in the print room. It was terribly annoying.

The next day, when I set out to do the last color, I set some paper on the floor in the hallway. That paper was to be my drying rack--no more moving these things. I needed to find a place where they could stay for a long time. It was definitely the way to go because they were not in anyone's way. So, my advice, if you want to recreate this project: be sure to find a safe place to let your tiles dry. You will not be able to move them for a while. And since you have a lot of them, perhaps cornering off a place on the floor is the best option.

Additionally, because I did not use a solvent based ink made for vinyl, I needed to keep the ink from scratching off the tiles. I used a clear polyacrylic to protect the print. My first layer of the polyacrylic was applied on the tiles where I put them to dry ultimately. After a day, I was able to finally pick them up and stack them.

The printing portion of the floor was done over a very time intensive weekend, but the long part of the work really took place applying layers of polyacrylic. And I get bored pretty easily. So, I thought, is there one last little thing I can do to these tiles to make this whole shellacking step more exciting? I started thinking of the kind of furniture I associated with Moroccan design and I kept coming back to the dark wood furniture with the mother of pearl inlay. I wanted to recreate that look, again, using inexpensive, nontraditional material. So, I cut circles out of aluminum foil and decoupaged the circles into the centers of the tiles. Under the layers of polyacrylic, the foil caught light in much the same way that mother of pearl does in those pieces of furniture.

In short, I was really impressed with the overall effect of my flooring experiment. I am planning to do another floor on my hot pink tile about sukkot, the Jewish holiday of the harvest. This floor will look much more Parisian and have a more dining room effect. I'd like to include something like the foil, something outside of the printing, but I have not completely come up with a solution.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wallow in Wallpaper

Virgil Marti is my newest hero. Despite the fact he has personally told me that "most wallpaper is ugly," and I beg to differ, his wallpaper is anything but. Between his "Bullies" and his "Beer Can Collection," Marti would inspire anyone, but the girl with the squeegie stuck in her hand? Inspired is an understatement. Oh, she is thinking of wallpaper patterns faster than she can print them.

Way faster. Way, way faster. Printing wallpaper, by hand, is super duper challenging. And I thought I would tell you about my first experience making a repeat pattern. But first, let me tell you about a Philadelphia gem that has taken the production of repeat patterns to a whole new dimension.

At the Fabric Workshop, there are these long tables for printing reams of fabric and paper. Instead of having fixed hinges, the screens attach and detatch down the table: print one, skip one, print one, skip one, until the end. Then the printing person goes back and does the odd prints until the first color is done. We took a field trip there and saw the gorgeous fabric they print with artists like Kiki Smith and Jorge Pardo. The creations from the Fabric Workshop are handmade and works of art. The fabrics and wallpapers made in the workshop go on to be part of exhibitions at some of the greatest museums and galleries in the world. But the staff at the Fabric Workshop have their system down pat. I had to be a little more jury rigged back in my studio.

The difference when printing a poster or a fine art print is the screen does not move, the paper does. You place a fresh piece under the screen, pull the screen down, pass the squeegie over to ink the paper, lift the screen, and voila, one print. Remove the paper and repeat.

Whereas with repeat pattern printing, the paper (or fabric) is much larger than the screen and the screen prints multiple times on the same piece of paper (or fabric). So, instead of moving the paper, you pick up and move the screen in an orderly fashion. Ideally, the paper or fabric would not move, the screen would. Unfortunately, ideal situations do not always exist.

I set out to print some wallpaper in the printmaking studio at the Tyler School of Art. Right next door, in the fiber department, they have the long tables, like the ones from the Fabric Workshop, for printing repeat patterns, but I have not yet gotten permission to use the tables. Bureaucracy, you see.

So, I taped a ruler down alongside the regular paper printing stations (see below--you can make out the ruler if you look for the bottle of Windex) in the silk-screen studio to create a straight edge. I had little marks on the edge of the paper for the length of my repeat. And like the fabric workshop, I would print one, skip one, to give the pattern time to dry.

In another blog, I will explain how to design a repeat pattern. It is fun, but hardly easy. And I think I still have a lot to learn. But the basic idea is you want to create something that has no beginning and end and will match up with the same strip of paper to the left and to the right.

I have become interested in researching Jewishness. Not Judaism, but cultural Jewish identity and its meaning in today's American society. While I am not sure this wallpaper hits the right note for my future exhibition plans, I wanted to try my hand at Jewish Wallpaper. And of course, I wanted to have fun doing it.

In the pattern you will find Albert Einstein, Bette Midler, Slash, Sarah Silverman, Andy Kaufman, and Barbara Streisand. Between these characters is the ultimate in character accessories: novelty groucho marx glasses. Schnoz included.

The difficulty in printing wallpaper in a regular silk-screen studio is following a registration system and keeping the large pieces of paper clean. Having to move them around and drape them over tables or run them along the floor is not exactly ideal. But it is possible to print repeat patterns on a regular paper printing station.

The bigger your printing table, the better. And the shorter you can make the stips of paper/fabric, the easier it is to handle in this situation. But don't make them too short to else you won't be able to use them as easily.

1. Mark the side of you paper in the increments of your repeat pattern length. Use a dark straight line mark. As you can see in my pictures, the paper or fabric needs to be wider than your color separations.

2. Put your screen in the hinges so the paper can pass underneath. (In the picture above with the Windex, you see how the screen comes up and down on the side of the paper, and the length is not obstructed by it or by the hinges).

3. Holding your screen down, make sure you have your image straight on the paper. It is really important that the straight edge of the print is equidistant to the straight edge of the paper throughout the print. Take your time to make sure this is right. If it does not go on straight, you will have problems hanging the paper in the future because it won't lineup.

4. Tape down a straight edge (for example, a metal yardstick) so it is flush with the edge of the paper. This will help you to keep it straight as you push the paper through the printing process. Be sure to stick it down securely without obstructing the straight edge that comes in contact with the paper/fabric.

5. Put an additional piece of masking tape on the straight edge and mark it with another little black line. For the first color, you arbitrarily match up the line from the paper and the line on the straight edge to make sure you print each module evenly. This will become your "registration technique" for this print: straight edge and black notch. Every layer after the first color will have to be registered to this mark and to the straight edge.

6. Use a few pieces of masking tape to keep the print in place. Especially in the beginning or the end of the long sheet of paper, the weight of the paper going over the edge of the table will make it difficult to keep the paper registered. I found a two pieces of tape kept the registration intact, and even if they tear the paper a little, this part of the print will be cut off ultimately. But try not to stick the masking tape down too firmly--you don't want to tear the edge with the black notches and ruin your registration technique.

7. Remember to print one, skip one. Silk screen ink dries quickly, but you want to give it an opportunity to dry before touching it. If you plan on doing several strips of wallpaper, go through each slip once before coming back and printing in between the spots.

8. Print the odd spaces and then repeat the process for the next color. Be sure to remeasure the place for the straight edge as you might not have placed the positive image in the same exact place on the next screen.

As you can see, I chose to do a four color print. First there was big white polka dots, followed by lipstick pink rings, then violet blue centers, and finally, camel camouflaged Groucho Marx glasses. And yet it still has that classic William Morris Arts and Crafts look to it! Fancy that!

Oh, we Jews. Always trying to blend in!

All joking aside, printing this wallpaper was very frustrating and stressful on the ol' body. Reaching and straining to get the ink laid evenly, desperately trying to move these large pieces of paper without smudging the prints, the whole thing is a little more fun than a trip to the dentist and a little less fun than square dancing. Ok, a lot less fun.

I generally feel at my best when I am printing. I am generally the happiest flesh and bone machine in the world. But printing wallpaper was different. Perhaps it will be easier once I have done it a few times, but the stress of a jury rigged registration system and the uncertainty really wreaks havoc on my nerves. You can't tell for sure that the print is registered properly until you hang it on the wall next to another piece of the paper! I was sweating the entire time. Partly due to the stress and partly due to the muscle strain. And the enormous headphones I wore to block out the rest of the world. Earmuffs!

But yeah. Wallpaper is the coolest. The possibilities are endless. Look forward to more.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Making of the Albatross Project

For those of you who follow my website or my fan site on Facebook (hi, Mom!), you might know about one of my current endeavors: the Albatross Project. Secret code name: show me your ta-tas.

The impetus for this project was just my fascination with the saying "the albatross around his neck." I loved visualizing a bird wrapped around someone like a scarf.

Truth be told, I didn't even really know how to use the expression properly. So I did some research. The phrase comes from a poem by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge called The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. In the poem, a sailor shoots down an albatross trailing the ship. Because albatrosses are thought to be good omens, his fellow sailors think he has cursed the boat and, as penance, force him to wear the albatross around his neck. Low and behold, the ship does find back luck: with no wind for days, the entire crew dies of thirst when they cannot make port. Yikes!

Nowadays, the expression is used to describe something that is holding someone back. Usually the albatross is external. Maybe it is a person or a thing. Like a businessman who buys a building and cannot rent it or sell it, his money is all tied up in the building, so he can't invest in other things. Total albatross. It is important that in the example there was an overwhelming number of obstacles because the expression connotes a certain type of pervasive negative effect on the person.

So I started asking people what were their albatrosses. And I simultaneously thought, maybe I should get models to be my decolletages. I mentioned the project to my friends. I posted it on Facebook. And people started responding. So, I connected the dots. I would find people to volunteer their albatross and their necks.

Thing is, most individuals don't have a really pure albatross in their lives. I guess I don't know a lot of businessmen. Instead, people talked about anxieties, addictions, hardships, hang-ups. And maybe I will be accused of not knowing the true meaning of "an albatross around someone's neck" much like Alanis Morissette was accused of not being able to define "ironic," but what people were willing to share with me, and willing to expose was so inspiring, it didn't matter. People divulging inner strife, exposing themselves to me physically and emotionally, me printing something in response to that interaction--I started to realize this project was completely different from anything I had done yet.

I was interacting with the subject of my work. Literally for once, not figuratively. The dialogue was not just in my head, it was with someone else who had something to say. And it was really fun. People tell funny stories when they're naked. But all kidding aside, the things we talked about--the things I was meant to put around their necks--they were really relatable. Even though these were specific problems, they were also universal. And yet, every example was different from the next.

There is this one, blatant constant: everyone is asked the same question. "What is the albatross around your neck?" The best way I could interpret that structure into the visual print was to make a constant in the series. Thus, everyone poses in the same way. The parameters of the albatross question are simple, square, and straight. That's reflected in the placement of the subject and in the squareness of the print itself.

So far I have printed three subject (one of which I'd like to redo). Part of the pacing has to do with the fact I have several projects I am working on now, and part of it is the attempt to use this project as a means of experimentation with different ways to use portraiture and symbolism in my work. I want to show range with each subject. I want to express the individual. I want people to relate to a specific print because the image is touching a nerve specifically. So I am taking my time. I have maybe 6 more subjects photographed that I haven't started printing, but I'd ultimately like to do about 20 in this series. Seems like a good number.

If you'd like to get involved with the Albatross Project, go to the contacts page of my website and drop me an email.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Taking Care of Business

About two years ago, I endeavored to screen print some business cards. I made a halfway decent one for a then boyfriend, but when it came to my own business cards, they fell short. As a printmaker, I really wanted to express my style AND give the pertinent information all in 7 sqaure inches. But that is a tall order. A debilitatingly tall order, perhaps. The result? My cards were an unintelligible mess.

Over Christmas I did a fabulous art sale called Craftland. There I ran into an Argentine expat who makes gorgeous pure wood tablets for serving cheese and meats, or, as porteƱos call it, picada. For those of you who don't know, I lived in Buenos Aires for two years and relish the opportunity to speak their specific brand of Spanish. Thus, we became fast friends and, after our shift ended, he gave me his business card. I had nothing to give him and expressed my frustration with printing cards. He showed me the back of his card and it said He got them for FREE.

As you can tell, I have lost that business card and cannot remember his name, but I never forget the anthing "free." Online I order some free business cards (ultimately not from VistaPrint). And they were OK. But I felt embarrassed to give them to people--they were, gasp, laser printed! How could a printmaker with a functioning studio do such a thing? We print folk all feel unappreciated and antiquated enough--was this a betrayal of our plight?

Yes, yes, it was sacrilegious! It was like a Peta spokesperson wearing suede to a benefit. Throw red paint on me! I have gone astray! I don't deserve to reclaim a screen!

Once I cleared me head, my thoughts then turned to letterpress. Letterpress is a type of relief printing and is done on a press with "plates" of whole images or a individual letters. On really thick paper, letterpress embosses as it prints, creating delicate textures along with delivering a very fine result. Because of its clarity and the durability of the plates, you can print endless sheets of text withought noticeable wear to the letters. For this reason, letterpress is most commonly associated with old fashioned books. Very few books are letterpressed by hand today, but many invitations, stationary, and note cards are. Some of the finest business cards available are printed this way. And since I am crazy for all things letterpressed, note cards especially, I thought I would screen print one side of the card and letterpress the text side.

There are advantages and disadvantages to every printmaking technique. Silk-screen is inexpensive, colorful, and bold, but you can only get detail as fine as the thread count of your screen. Generally speaking, thin, delicately serifed fonts just don't hold up with the medium, especially on a tiny card with teeny font size. Those fine lines don't burn into the screen and you end up with broken letters. Letterpress is able to deliver those letters perfectly. But making or purchasing the letters is an investment. And the larger the image, the larger the financial investment. The other investment is time. Simply setting up a letterpress can take hours or days depending on the combination of plates and letters. Additionally, most letterpress beds are not very large, so they cannot print very large things. Letterpress would not be the printmaking medium of choice when recreating a Warhol Portrait series. That, as you can predict, is suited for silk-screen. Or lithography. But I digress.

I felt good about using letterpress, but still would have to have someone else print it for me, which again, made me feel like a fraud handing out the work of someone else. My solution? I thought I would silk-screen a decorative side to my business card and letterpress the text side. I asked my friends at Highchair Design if they could letterpress my text (they have an old press and a great collection of letters). Unfortunately, while they quoted me a fair price, once I budgeted for the kind of paper I would need to get that embossed effect and for the printing, I was going to be down some major bones. So, I thought I would attempt to 100% silk-screen business cards one more time. If it didn't work, I would take the financial plunge.

Here are the results of my attempt:

I deliberately designed my text side to be chunky and off-center so it would be easier to print since I was making my decorative side more precise. I went overboard, making my font extra-large and blocky by using the old standby: Arial Black. You can go too far and pick a font that is too condensed and blocky, like Impact, which has somewhat delicate negative space. Because the letters are so close together, Impact font, I have found, is difficult to read and runs the risk of blowing out the spaces inbetween the letters. Again, it is possible to print finer font than what I chose. But a really thin, spindly font would be a herculean task, and you want to keep in perspective that these are freebie little scraps of paper to most people.

To compliment my design, I found this great opalescent cardstock at PaperWorks in Pawtucket. Most of the inks I use are quite matte and, since my goal was to make my business cards standout from the pack, an unusual paper choice definitely delivered.

In hindsight, I wish I had gone one step further with my registration technique by getting my design sqaure on the page. My challenge was having a double sided, multi-up print design. Putting 8 business cards on a sheet is the only way to do it--to print each one individually would be a nightmare and make each business card too precious to pass away carelessly, which, mind you, is the point. That said, having all 8 match up front and back is a bit tricky since you can't see through--you need to use cardstock with business cards, and they are far from transparent. So, registration was not just about having the colors of the image match up, but having them match up with the reverse side of the card and all that side's colors. I used crop marks, but in hindsight, I should have printed them onto a dummy page before printing them on the cardstock. Se la vie.

Despite my eagerness to make one more batch of these bad boys, making my own cards gave me the opportunity to express my tastes to prospective hires and buyers. The background of the decorative side is bright process yellow which, on the opalescent paper, glows nearly neon. I overprinted an old map of Providence for a slightly monocromatic wallpaper feel in gold. Lately, more color goal is to make uncommon combinations and show how well the work together. The result? I think the card says, "I love color, texture, shine, and Providence." And owls, of course.

The logo I have used for the last few years is a little plump owl. I put some boots on the owl and gave her a squeegee and a pallet knife and, voila, LesliePVD came to life.

So, as you can see, I am pretty happy with myself. I feel these cards satisfy my criteria. They embody my style and still give out the important information. And if a cute boy were around, I would feel pretty good about giving him my digits in hot pink and yellow ink. Wink. Wink.