Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Preserving Visual Materials at the McKay Archives - Florida Southern College

In July I had the pleasure of attending the Society of American Archivists' two day workshop on Preservation and Identification of 20th Century Visual Materials. Not only was this a great workshop on a great topic, but it was also hosted by the impressive McKay Archives on the stunning campus of Florida Southern College.

The best part of the workshop was the instructor John Waggener's impressive teaching collection of photographs. It's so hard to tell, for example, if you're looking at an Albumen POP print or a Collodion POP print just by reading a description in a book. Having the opportunity to handle and compare all the different processes side by side was absolutely invaluable. We even had the opportunity to experiment with Impossible film- the Impossible Project's attempt to recreate Polaroid's lost formula for instant film.

The second best part of the workshop would have to be the people. We had an excellent crew with representation from Disney, The Ringling Museum, Stetson University, St. Petersburg College, the State Archives, several local libraries, and our gracious hosts at the Roux Library & McKay Archives. We even worked in a little tour of the McKay Archives led by Gerrianne Schaad, which included a processing area, gorgeous moveable shelving, and a small gallery.

The third best part of the trip was running around the Florida Southern campus and frolicking among all  of Frank Lloyd Wright's designs. I'm pretty sure I entered some buildings that I was not technically supposed to be in, but the campus was all but abandoned and I did not find a single locked door. For more photos of the Archives tour and my adventure through the Florida Southern campus, enjoy the Facebook album here.

Pretty sure I'm not supposed to be here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Wecheer Carving Tool Kit & the Dawn of Dillo Dangle

Join me on my journey into the future as I purchase an electric chisel! A while back I purchased one to aide in my plans for Participation 2014 at the Maitland Art Center. Okay, so this was a looooong time ago, but it's relevant now because I've made some recent progress on that print. Let's go back to the very beginning….

Designing my table for Participation 2014 finally gave me the impetus to create the triptych I had been planing for the three matching wooden shelves that were discarded from UCF Library's Special Collections & University Archives. I finally decided on a swinging armadillo for the subject matter.

These blocks were rather large, and my design would incorporate a lot of white space. This plus a deadline meant it was finally time to invest in some hardware. I should explain that the power chisel function of the "Wecheer Professional Rotary & Carving Tool Kit" is very different than a rotary tool. I mean, yes there is a rotary tool in there, but that's not why I bought it. I hate carving woodblocks with rotary tools (or "dremel tools" in the common tongue). I feel like I loose all control once the rotary bit hits the wood and inevitably goes skidding off across the surface. Alternatively, the power chisel works much more like a hand carving tool and slices through woodblocks like butter, while still leaving a hand worked texture. (Technically, the block is still handworked, just with more power!)

Photo by Douglas Nelson
After finishing the detail work (and carving out a safety buffer outline) with my hand tools, the power chisel made the rest a dream. No more hours, days even, of carving out white space by hand with my biggest gouge, ensuring the early onset of osteoarthritis!

The triptych is designed to connect to each neighboring panel in the round, meaning if each piece were connected at the edges to make a triangular prism, the ropes in the design would connect across each edge and spiral around the prints. So, that's exactly what I created for my table display, with the addition of luminance. Each panel was printed on thin mulberry paper and backed with a fly pattern cut from Arches Text Weave so the prism could function as a lantern with images displayed both in ink and in light. I was very pleased with how it turned out, and I'm hoping to eventually create a more permanent version of the lantern. However the next step was to combine the panels into one image….. stay tuned for the next installment!

Photo by Douglas Nelson
Photo by Douglas Nelson

Special thanks to Douglas Nelson for the fantastic photos.