January 10, 2011

Pittsburgh Wrap-Up

Posted in Look tagged , , , , at 8:20 pm by onetinyacorn

It was so wonderful to go back to the place that has always felt most like home to me–Pittsburgh. Aside from seeing great friends and enjoying a magical wedding, these were the highlights:

* Strawberry pancakes at Pamela’s diner

* Visiting the Strip District and witnessing the hustle and bustle

* Museums and galleries! I went to the Society for Contemporary Craft, Hunt Botanical Institute, and the Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History. My favorite this time was Hunt–there’s a botanical illustration exhibit up there that I found breathtaking.

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April 29, 2009

Pittsburgh, I Love You

Posted in Look tagged , at 10:25 pm by onetinyacorn

It’s true. Sometimes I take it for granted, your array of museums, architecture, and inexpensive entertainment options. Your indie craft shows, verdant parks, patchwork quilt of neighborhoods, and delicious falafel vendors. I love you because you’re not too uppity, and you have the good sense to retain your history rather than trying to purge it. Your public libraries? Beautiful! A culinary tour of the world, via the Strip District? Don’t mind if I do! An evening watching the sunset from atop the Duquesne Incline? What could be better?

Top Ten Favorite Moments in Pittsburgh

1. Fourth of July atop a roof, overlooking Polish Hill

2. Downtown Gallery Crawls. Favorite gallery of the group: Wood Street

3. The Strip District

4. The Carnegie Museum of Art’s biennial exhibition

5. Downtown around the holidays: the gingerbread houses, outdoor ice skating, free concerts, and “Santas from around the World” exhibit

6. Chihuly at the Phipps Conservatory

7. Walking through Schenley Park in autumn

8. Fiberart International 2008 exhibit, at the  Society for Contemporary Craft and Pittsburgh Center for the Arts

9. Pittsburgh Binennial 2008 closing show, with glass casting performances, pyrotechnics, and music

10. All of the times spent with wonderful friends

February 8, 2009

A Day at Toast Letterpress

Posted in Look tagged , , , , , , at 9:40 pm by onetinyacorn

The people at Pittsburgh Craft Collective have been putting together many affordable one-time classes on all sorts of crafty things: fused glass, bookbinding, knitting, etc.  My first experience with one of these events was an amazing demonstration at Toast Letterpress. The owners spent two hours with us, explaining step-by-step how they produce the lucious impressions that define letterpress today (in contrast to older letterpress fashions, which favored no indentation in the paper). Then, we got to create our own Valentine’s Day cards! I learned a ton of information, and the owners were extremely nice (and talented–they have a portfolio in their office that was filled with gorgeous work). And, as if this weren’t enough, they had heart-shaped cookies for us.

While I quickly realized that I should have been taking notes (I was too transfixed by the machinery), here is a glimpse inside the studio:

Contemporary Plate

A contemporary letterpress plate. In the past, wood was used. Wood gave way to metal plates, which are still sometimes used today.

Inks

The inks for the press, which are either rubber-based or oil-based. Rubber-based ink is generally preferred.

A Vandercook press, inked up and ready for action. This is what we used to create our cards. The plate is laying down, and I hand-cranked paper over it. This press is suitable for small runs.

A Vandercook press, inked up and ready for action. This is what we used to create our cards. The plate is laying down, and I hand-cranked paper over it (with the help of rollers). This press is suitable for small runs.

A windmill press: the Original Heidelburg (a platen press). This thing is amazing. It has mechanical arms to auto-fee paper, and it self-adjusts as the stack of paper gets lower. It was a whirl of activity, the sort of contraption that Willy Wonka might have thought up if he had turned to printing. Or, you know, been a real person. On this one, the type and/or images are kept in a vertical case, and it meets the paper. There's a glass funnel and hose, which was originally used to spray a chemical fixative so that the ink didn't smear on the paper. This is not necessary any more, of course. Built in the 1950s.

A windmill press: the Original Heidelburg (a platen press). This thing is amazing. It has mechanical arms to auto-feed paper, and it self-adjusts as the stack of paper gets lower. It was a whirl of activity, the sort of contraption that Willy Wonka might have thought up if he had turned to printing. Or, you know, been a real person. On this one, the type and/or images are kept in a vertical case, and it meets the paper. There's a glass funnel and hose, which was originally used to spray a chemical fixative so that the ink didn't smear on the paper. This is not necessary any more, of course.

Both of those presses were built in the 1950s. We also got to view an industrial paper-cutter, which instantly made me think of severed hands for some reason. I was assured that there’s a safety feature that makes it impossible for that to occur. We also got to use the corner-rounder, a cute little machine that produces the rounded corners that the kids like so much.

Here is my final product:

finishedcard

What a fun way to spend an afternoon! Thanks to Toast Letterpress and the Pittsburgh Craft Collective for putting this together.

If you want to see a letterpress firsthand, there are some good videos on YouTube (like this one). There’s also a really extensive introduction to all things letterpress here.

December 3, 2008

I Made It Market–Saturday, Dec. 6

Posted in Make, Shop tagged , , , , at 1:36 pm by onetinyacorn

Say, whatcha doing this Saturday? Coming to see me at the I Made It Market? How sweet of you.

I Made It Market

December 6th, 12-5 p.m.

at the Union Project–801 North Negley Ave. (corner of Negley and Stanton Avenues, in the Highland Park neighborhood)

Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Map

It looks like there will be about 50 artists participating; I’ll have a lot of jewelry at discounted prices (including some items that aren’t on my website yet). Kat Milbrodt will be participating alongside me, with her lovely handmade bags. It should be a good stop for handmade goods that won’t break the bank.

November 9, 2008

Artists Image Resource

Posted in Look, Make, Shop tagged , , at 1:20 pm by onetinyacorn

I attended Pittsburgh’s Handmade Arcade yesterday, which is always a fun mixture of art demonstrations, lovely handmade crafts, and yummy baked goods. I was mostly eyeing the practical items–wallets and notebooks, for instance–but I ended up buying a photograph by Jennifer Howison. She turns little wooden finger puppets into a large cast of characters with paint, then photographs them. I had a hard time choosing just one, but settled on the one with whose characters I felt a certain resonance.

See the figure on the far right, the one that looks a little out of place next to the others? That’s me. I mean that in a quirky, good way, not a sobbing-in-a-psychiatrist’s-office kind of way.

Artists Image Resource was there, too, screenprinting postcards and huge copies of the front-page news on the morning that Obama’s election was announced for free! If you’re in Pittsburgh, they have open studio sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. I haven’t been there yet, but they’re a non-profit, artist-run organization that is commited to educational programs. Sweet.

November 5, 2008

Department of Studio Arts Faculty Exhibition

Posted in Look tagged , , , at 6:23 pm by onetinyacorn

One of the greatest things about my day job is its proximity to some world-class amenities. I can actually take a stroll through a Victorian botanical garden, art museum, natural history museum, or park on my lunch break, as each is located mere yards away from my office. So it was that I happened upon the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Studio Arts Faculty Exhibition.

One of my favorite pieces–“Twist, Tie, Multiply: Hands in Action,” by JoAnna Commandros and Anna Divinskyincorporates shibori, a Japanese textile art that involves molding and dyeing fabric. In this instance, beans, pebbles, and marbles are tied inside swaths of fabric and dyes are brushed on. Once the dyes have dried, the objects are removed, but the fabric retains their shapes. What results is a undulating, anthropomorphic shapes that suggest (magnified) microorganisms or some kind of undiscovered vegetation.

Their artists’ statement cites Wonderkammern, or Cabinets of Curiosities as an inspiration, which just multiplies my affection. In fact, I think I’ll start working on my own contemporary take on Wonderkammern

The exhibit is open through November 21st, 2008. You can also try your hand at shibori for the next two Mondays, from 3-4 p.m. Gallery hours: 10-4, M-F. Frick Fine Arts Building, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.
412-648-2423

Materials: wood, fiber, acrylic paint, wire.

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