Relief Course and STEAM

Been a busy three weeks for me with a 4 day a week relief course and many activities on the weekends, thats why I haven’t posted. But now, its time to get back to work for the few weeks I have before the semester starts and printing slows down again. No major changes have occurred in the past three weeks, so I thought I would update with some of what I am going to try and do over the next three weeks and what I have been checking out in the world of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) the new STEM.

Over the past three weeks I had the privilege of teaching an intimate relief printmaking course with only 4 students at UMCP. It was a great group of students and they really took to the assignments and processes as well as they could in that time period. I created a set of 4 projects for them to get as deep of an understanding of relief printing as possible: a black and white linocut, a color reduction cut on linoleum block, an altered surface woodcut, and a laser engraved woodcut. I felt this series of projects would give them the most in-depth understanding of the processes without forcing them to buy materials or tools they may not use after that are rather expensive. The results were very good and everyone expressed a real joy and interest in the techniques, with everyone excelling at one or the other. I will post some of their laser cuts when I receive images from them.

With that class over, I am going to spend the next few weeks experimenting further with the laser cutter and possible the CNC router before they become occupied by students in the fall. I have a selection of random samples of wood that were sent to me by a friend who works in the wood studio, Eidolon Designs. There is some cherry, walnut, oak, and others. I am going to try each one with the same image and the same settings to gain a better understanding of their characteristics and possibilities for future work. I will document and take notes throughout the process and share as I find and understand different aspects of the wood.

The wood samples with one of my favorite printmaking books.

The wood samples with one of my favorite printmaking books.

Along with that I hope to being experimenting with using copper plate in the machine. My hypothesis is that if I can apply the correct hardground on a copper plate and find the best settings in the laser engraver, I will be able to remove the ground, but leave the metal untouched, possibly allowing me to etching and create a photogravure-like image. The hope being that in the end I will be able to create photogravure-esque plates without needing the darkroom and chemicals for it. But we shall see.

For those of you who have not heard, there has been a growing push for STEM to be turned into STEAM as more and more people recognize the important relationship between the sciences and art. The Future of Science…is Art? is an interesting article written by Jonah Lehrer, author of one of my favorite non-fiction books, Proust was a Neuroscientist. The article brings up some strong points on the need for art to be able to push the boundaries of some thinking in science and allow people to view ideas from different perspectives. Another book that has recently been published and is on my to read list is Colliding Worlds: How Cutting-Edge Science Is Redefining Contemporary Art by Arthur I Miller. I have not been able to get a copy yet, but once I do and I will post an review soon after.


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