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Thank-you

The exhibition Claire Kujundzic and I had at GKo Gallery in Tolosa, Gipuzkoa would not have been possible without the generous support of:
Charlie Roots and Mary Ann Annable, Whitehorse, Yukon; the Kujundzic clan; Gillian Walker, Alan Zisman and Linda Reid, Susan Madsen and Stephen Mitchell, Vancouver, BC; Nik Semenoff, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Sophia Isajiw, Toronto, Ontario; Anne Fullerton in Kitchener, Ontario; Whitegold Adventures and Caroline Zinz, Wells, BC; Chris Harris and Rita Giesbrecht, 105 Mile House, BC; District of Wells: Murray Gudmundson at Tier One Travel, Victoria, BC.

Eta eskerrik asko -> Garikoitz Cuitlahuac Murua Fierro, Kizkitza Lasa Agirre, Box.A Arte Elkarte, Brian Cullen, Zuloaga Txiki, Juantxo GarmendiaūüėČ
Forest carpet (yellow), cropped

Claire’s Collograph Workshop

Claire has extensive experience with presses and traditional printmaking processes, so she offered a Collograph workshop during our time in Tolosa. Collography is the low-tech cousin of etching, with cardboard or matte board plates, leaves, feathers, string, sand and other materials that create printable textures. Typically we ink the plates with a roller, then rub off the excess ink with a rag so that we can print the ink remaining in cracks, hollows and scratches in the plates. Usually a thin residue of ink will persist on the flat areas of the plate, which results in a thin unifying grey throughout the print.

Garikoitz made arrangements to do the workshop in the ceramics studio upstairs in Tolosa’s¬†Casa de Cultura – Kultur Etxea¬†(Culture House) where a small press was available, and designed another beautiful, bilingual poster:

pantallas-solClaire only had one participant, Gurutze, an aspiring landscape and garden designer, but I assisted and the three of us did a lot of printing and had many good laughs.

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Claire & Gurutze preparing plates.

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Gurutze & Claire laughing & working on their plates.

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A few plates and test prints.

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Placing an inked plate on paper in the press with blankets.

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International collography team; Garikoitz C. Murua Fierro photo.

Here are some short video clips from the workshop:

Gurutze printing #1 Рonto paper.
Gurutze printing #2 Рonto fabric.
Gurutze printing #3 Рwith leaves.
Claire inking plates.

A Sunlight Photostencil workshop

In addition to our exhibition at GKo Gallery, Claire and I offered to present two low-tech printmaking workshops while we were in Tolosa. Since I shoot¬†almost all of my silkscreen photostencils in sunlight in Wells (sometimes overcast, often with snow around!) instead of using¬†an expensive, electric-powered exposure unit, it made sense to share what I’ve learned about this process over the years. The best place to do this was at the studios at BoxA Arte Elkarte where Garikoitz and others do screen printing and mural project preparations, as well as other activities. He put together this¬†nice poster in Euskara and Castellano for the workshop:

pantallas-solBoxA is about a 15 minute walk from GKo and located in an old warehouse. It’s operated by¬†a collective –¬†the Association of Young Creators of Tolosa – and has a performance space and bar on the ground floor, as well as a patio and an area that the collective has gradually been developing as a garden. There are always people working in and around the building,¬†and lots of workshops, events and jam sessions; energy radiates from within and without.

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Collective member Xabier Xtrm & assistant working on a mural near BoxA.

Earlier I had attended an excellent workshop at BoxA on photo transfers that Joseba Mercader, a local photographer and collective member led, and met more artists who became good friends during our stay in Tolosa.

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Joseba & Claire with one of his whales made from driftwood.

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Adhering colour laser images to boards, then soaking & rubbing away the paper backing.

I wasn’t familiar with the extremely sensitive photoemulsion they used for screen printing¬†at BoxA, and the sun was much more intense than in Wells at this time of year, so our first test screen was completely overexposed! Oops.

The second attempt worked well enough and from then on, everyone succeeded in making a stencil they could print. What a fine crew of people! I’m grateful to Garikoitz for having organized this, to BoxA for hosting, Claire for assisting, and of course to Izaskun, Jorge and Nader for their participation.

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Our first exposure test in the courtyard below; Garikoitz C. Murua Fierro photo.

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My 5-in-1 exposure calculator with a chart I developed for tracking exposures according to date, time of day, season, weather and results.

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Bill & Nader discuss how to print his design on a canvas bag and align a second print to the first; Garikoitz C. Murua Fierro photo.

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Izaskun inspects her prints on canvas bags and on paper; Garikoitz C. Murua Fierro photo.

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Jorge’s bag design drying; Garikoitz C. Murua Fierro photo.

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pI demonstrated the use of cutting rubylith for making film positives; these are the days of the week in Euskara, with a new variation on GKo Gallery’s logo.

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Claire & I with Izaskun, Nader & Jorge in the BoxA studio; Garikoitz C. Murua Fierro photo.

 

Hanging our exhibition

A few weeks before leaving Canada, I emailed Juantxo Garmendia, a metal fabricator and sculptor I had met through master papermaker, Juan Barb√© in the fall of 2013. I had seen some of Juantxo’s work first hand, and also knew that he had built a remarkable “Naginata fabrication” fibre shredding machine for Juan. We wouldn’t have room in our luggage for the two metal rings we originally wanted to use to hang Claire’s work, so I sent Juantxo technical drawings and asked him if he could make them, and if so, how much would they cost. He said sure, easy, but he wouldn’t charge for this! So I decided I would return the favour by designing and printing some shirts for him, using copper ink as the base.

Shirt design based on one of Juantxo's pieces.

Shirt design based on one of Juantxo’s pieces.

I had assumed that we would pick up the rings at his shop or rendezvous in Zizurkil or Billabona, then train back to Tolosa. However, when we rolled our two suitcases of art to GKo Gallery on April 8, the rings were already there; Juantxo had driven to Tolosa to drop them off for us ahead of our arrival! How very kind.

Closeup of Juantxo's wizardry.

Closeup of Juantxo’s wizardry.

Juantxo's metal rings that awaited us at GKo.

Juantxo’s metal rings that awaited us at GKo.

 

 

 

After getting settled in our room at Garikoitz and Kizkitza’s a few blocks away, we unpacked and laid out our pieces around the room according to the miniature maquette we had made back at home; Garikoitz had sent us very accurate wall and ceiling measurements, so there were no surprises; everything fit!

 

 

 

Claire unpacking.

Claire unpacking.

Unpacked and unrolled; ready to arrange and hang.

Unpacked and unrolled; ready to arrange and hang.

Claire ready to attach the central fabric column of her piece "Grove" to Juantxo's metal rings.

Claire ready to attach the central fabric column of her piece “Grove” to Juantxo’s metal rings.

Bill & Claire preparing to hang the central fabric column of her piece "Grove". Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

Bill & Claire preparing to hang the central fabric column of her piece “Grove”. Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

Bill & Claire hanging the central fabric column of her piece "Grove". Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

Bill & Claire hanging the central fabric column. Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

Hanging canvas pieces. Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

Hanging canvas pieces. Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

We first hung Claire’s green fabric column with her torn, stained canvas trees encircling it. Then we anchored her larger pieces and my larger prints before devising an arrangement for my miniature prints in between.

Hanging system.

Hanging system.

Hanging system: closeup of sliding metal hardware.

Hanging system: closeup of sliding metal hardware.

Garikoitz had milled up a few wooden cleats for some of Claire’s paintings that “float” off the wall; we cut a few more wooden bars at the BoxA Arte Elkarte studio. Other pieces could hang from the gallery’s heavy duty nylon with adjustable stainless hooks – nice system!

 

 

Installation view.

Installation view.

Installation view. Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

Silkscreened beetle galleries & bark textures by Bill Horne.

Silkscreened beetle galleries & bark textures by Bill Horne.

Silkscreened beetle galleries by Bill Horne.

Silkscreened beetle galleries by Bill Horne.

Claire’s “Forest Carpet #3” (mixed media on canvas) near gallery door to Kale Nagusia.

Display of mountain pine beetle “galleries” in bark, with three of Bill’s beetle silkscreens.

Claire Kujundzic's "Opening"; mixed media on canvas

Claire Kujundzic’s “Opening”; mixed media on canvas

Claire's "Forest Carpet #5" with two trees (mixed media on canvas).

Claire’s “Forest Carpet #5” with two trees (mixed media on canvas).

Claire's "Forest Carpet #4", "Deferred Area" and "Understory #7" (all mixed media on canvas).

Claire’s “Forest Carpet #4”, “Deferred Area” and “Understory #7” (all mixed media on canvas).

It took all of Thursday and most of Friday to hang everything, and we were very pleased in the end with how everything looked. Garikoitz was incredibly patient and calm throughout! He and Kizkitza generously provided refreshments and lots of local people showed up for the opening. It was great to reconnect with Juantxo and a pleasure to meet his wife, Eli, and their daughters, Araia & Laiene, as well as Garikoitz and Kizkitza’s mothers! Plus Alex, Joseba & Xabi from BoxA Elkarte, Sonia from the Casa de Cultura, Brian Cullen from the Tolosa visitor centre, and Ura.

Conversations at the opening. Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

Conversations at the opening. Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

Garikoitz organized several interviews which resulted in two articles in Castellano (Noticias de Gipuzkoaand Diario Vasco) and one in Euskara. We really appreciated the interest and attention to detail of all the journalists who wrote about our exhibition.

Arrival in Tolosa

From Deba we took one, then another Euskotren east and transferred to the north-south RENFE line in Donostia. The Euskotren platforms are almost all level with the trains; easy to haul our suitcases on and off. Not so with RENFE Cercanías, whose cars have steep steps to climb up and down. But it was a beautiful day to travel by train.

RENFE train map: Donostia to Tolosa.

RENFE train map: Donostia to Tolosa.

We texted Garikoitz Murua of GKo Gallery when we caught the RENFE southbound so he could meet us on arrival in Tolosa and help us take our suitcases to the gallery. As a surprise, we put on our red and black plaid wool toques with brown beards (we got them from CANFOR’s warming hut at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George) as we disembarked the train. He laughed and took a few photos of us as we left the platform.

Claire adjusts Bill's wool "beard" on arrival in Tolosa; Garikoitz Murua photo.

Claire adjusts Bill’s wool “beard” on arrival in Tolosa; Garikoitz Murua photo.

Crazy Canadians. Garikoitz Murua photo.

Look out: crazy Canadians heading this way. Garikoitz Murua photo.

Bill & Claire exit train platform; Garikoitz Murua photo.

Bill & Claire exit train platform; Garikoitz Murua photo.

GKo Gallery is only a few blocks away from the train station, so we took everything there, dropped off our art, then rolled our personal belongings back a few blocks to Garikoitz and Kizkitza’s apartment. We’d then return to GKo to start unpacking the art and doing some preliminary arrangements to start the process of hanging everything.

Arrival.

Our destination.

Garikoitz and Kizkitza have a beautiful place on the fourth floor, overlooking the central commercial district which is designated pedestrian-only from the next block over to the Oria River. It was extremely generous of them to accommodate us, and we felt very fortunate to have our own room right in the centre of town, just ten minutes’ walk from the gallery, the market, the Casa de Cultura; five minutes from the TOPIC puppet museum; fifteen minutes from Box.A Arte Elkarte studios. Wonderful.

View from Garikoitz and Kizkitza's.

View from Garikoitz and Kizkitza’s.

Just up the street is a classic millinery store that has been in business for several generations. Drawers and shelves and boxes of buttons, threads, needles, pins … we would be there soon to buy some special pins for mounting matted prints on the gallery walls!

Ayerza Mertzeria millinery story.

In the Ayerza Mertzeria millinery story.

Central Tolosa is full of every kind of shop, all independent – we never saw any chains. Each block seems to have several bars, a bakery, shoe store, jeweler, deli, maybe a fish store, toys. It would take weeks to visit them all. There are several plazas with bars and shops facing onto them, and people of all ages wandering about.

Map of Tolosa courtesy of Tolosatours.

Map of Tolosa courtesy of Tolosaldea Tour.

The Garia Bakery is half a block from GKo Gallery. Operated by Ra√ļl and Amaia, they make a variety of delicious levain breads (traditional sourdough), including whole grains and some pastries. They were always welcoming and generous, especially having learned that I had worked at Uprising Breads Bakery in East Vancouver – originally modeled on the Basque Mondragon cooperatives – for 11 years. What a pleasure!

Unloading the oven at Garia.

Bill behind the till with Amaia.

Bill behind the till with Amaia.

Claire with one of Ra√ļl's tasty treats.

Claire with one of Ra√ļl’s tasty treats.

Deba.

Decompression in Deba

Our Air France flight landed in Paris on Easter Monday morning. After being thoroughly frisked when my Mountain Equipment Co-op backpack tested positive in Charles de Gaulle airport’s security, we shuttled our way to another terminal for our afternoon connecting flight to Bilbao. The small number of banana-shaped couches were occupied, so we tried sleeping on the floor, but general noise, cell phones and announcements made that difficult.

It was a relief to land in Bilbao, bus downtown and check into the family-run San Mamés Guesthouse. Ekaitz helped us haul our suitcases up a couple of short flights of stairs to reception where we were able to leave the larger items containing our exhibition pieces, and took our lighter luggage up the elevator to our room.

Next morning, we took the tram to the Euskotren station and took a train east to Deba.

The main Euskotren route (does not show the Gernika/Bermeo spur line).

The main Euskotren route (does not show the Gernika/Bermeo spur line).

Deba.

Deba.

The Zumardi Pentsioa is only a few blocks from the train station and just a few stairs from the street to reception. Deba is a lovely, quiet town on the coast with a sandy beach and a pedestrian zone in the old downtown. After such a long time in transit and a nine-hour time difference, we were keen to walk, rest and recuperate. There were plenty of places to shop for picnic items, as well as many bars with tantalizing pintxos.

Organic bakery, Deba.

Organic bakery, Deba.

Claire in front of a palette mural in Deba; “erakusketa” is Euskara for exhibition.

The display of hand made slippers in one store window caught our eyes, and there we met Mikel. He has been making shoes for over 31 years and produces much of the traditional Basque footwear used in festivals and folkloric events throughout the region. He kindly gave us a tour of his workshop which was filled with rolls of various kinds of leather, templates, tools and shoes of all sizes. He also makes beautiful stamped leather boxes.

Claire with Mikel in his shop.

Claire with Mikel in his shop.

We chatted about what it’s like to work as an artisan or artist, the risks of repetitive strain injuries, and making a living in a globalized economy. It was the first of many encounters with people who generously welcomed us into their lives.

Traditional footwear in Mikel's shop.

Stacks & shelves of traditional footwear in Mikel’s shop.

Templates for various kinds of shoes and sizes in Mikel's shop.

Templates for various kinds of shoes and sizes in Mikel’s shop.

Preparing for an exhibition in Basque Country

Last fall Claire Kujundzic and I received an invitation from GKo Gallery in Tolosa in Basque Country to exhibit our work in April. I had been wanting to return to Tolosa and the surrounding area where I had been in October, 2013 while apprenticing in paper making with Juan Barb√© at his Eskulan studio in Zizurkil (see blog posts from that period). While there, I had met Garikoitz at GKo, thanks to a tip from Brian Cullen at the visitor centre. After discussing the invitation for about one minute, we decided to go, even if we weren’t successful accessing some travel assistance from the BC Arts Council or the Canada Council.

In January I started making inquiries about the best way to deal with bringing our art through Spanish customs and back to Canada. Melissa Gruber at CARFAC National kindly wrote the Canadian Trade Commissioner in Spain to ask about proper documentation, taxes, etc. Susan Madsen, Richard Tetrault and Gregg Simpson shared their art travel experiences, which was helpful. In the end, following the advice of a customs broker in Bilbao, we paid the Canadian Chamber of Commerce $315 + a deposit of 40% of the retail value of our work in order to have an ATA-Carnet document. Supposedly this is the simplest way to deal with temporary imports.

Preparing our artist’s talks took a couple of days. I saved some time by editing previous versions, but it still took a long time going back and forth between QuarkXPress, Illustrator and Acrobat to finalize our PDFsūüėČ

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Claire took charge of packing our artwork. Except for two larger prints, I was showing small and miniature silkscreens, all matted with archival backings and ready to pin to the gallery walls. Claire’s canvas paintings and “trees” could roll up, and everything fit in our suitcases. We didn’t have to carry any wooden cleats for her paintings, as Garikoitz had offered to cut them at Box.A Arte Elkarte’s workshop. And we didn’t have to squeeze any metal rings into our luggage, because Juantxo Garmendia’s website was very kindly making two custom rings for us, complete with little hanger loops, at his workshop in Atseasu. He is an artist-wizard with steel and iron!

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A week before leaving Wells, where we had had the mildest winter in 20 years and the least amount of snow anyone could remember, we changed our tires back to summer treads from winter. Naturally, a few centimetres were waiting for us when we left home at 6 am, and a bit more on the plateau south of 100 Mile House!

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We reached Vancouver in time for a short, but lovely visit with Alan Zisman and Linda Read, who generously loaned us Kate’s old (new to us) smartphone, plus a nifty charging expansion cable. Then Susan Madsen and Stephen Mitchell generously hosted us overnight with a delicious supper and breakfast, then driving us to the airport. We are so fortunate to have such fine friends!

After visiting customs with our ATA-Carnet, we boarded Air France Vancouver-Paris-Bilbao.

Silkscreening on lasercut surfaces

Several weeks ago when Claire and I stopped by Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, BC to deliver my work for their North exhibition, Carolyn Holmes kindly told me an introductory workshop to laser cutting was taking place in their makerLab that evening. We decided to stay overnight, and Kathleen Angelski, the makerLab Coordinator, led an excellent two hour session.

Later, on one of our return trips to Prince George during the Canada Winter Games, Kathleen helped me laser cut a pine beetle pattern and a cedar bark pattern on matte board and on yellow cedar blocks. My plan was to take them home to try silkscreening the remaining surfaces with water based inks.

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Kathleen monitors the laser cutter while it engraves a bark pattern in yellow cedar.

Kathleen monitors the laser cutter while it engraves a bark pattern in yellow cedar.

Yellow cedar block inside the laser cutter, half way through its engraving.

To be efficient, I planned to “gang”¬† all my film positives for the two different prints onto two medium-sized silkscreens. In case I misprinted my laser cut matte board and yellow cedar blocks, and to take advantage of setting up to print 11 colours, I decided to extend my editions by printing some on paper.

Since the paper was unengraved by the laser cutter, I needed to hand cut some red ruby masking film (aka Rubylith) to make a stencil to print solid background colours for the paper prints. I wouldn’t print a solid rectangle on the engraved materials, as it might puddle in the grooves. Instead, I made a stencil of the exact reverse of the engraved areas with a 2 pixel stroke to accommodate for registration slop. This would be a tight job!

Film positives with rubylith.

Film positives with rubylith.

Then I cut my paper to size and taped register tabs to each sheet:

Taping paper prints with register tabs; sample film positive indicates approximate print location.

Taping paper prints with register tabs; sample film positive indicates approximate print location.

All paper prints now taped with register tabs.

All paper prints now taped with register tabs.

Because I had ganged six and five stencils respectively on two screens, I blocked the non-printing areas with wax paper; when I finished printing a stencil, I coated it with photoemulsion and re-exposed it in sunlight to make a water-resistant blockout.

Wax paper blocks out other stencils ganged onto screen.

Wax paper blocks out other stencils ganged onto screen.

Printing warm gradients for the cedar bark prints on paper.

Printing warm gradients for the cedar bark prints on paper.

Warm gradient in register.

Warm gradient print in register.

The warm gradients printed and drying.

To print on the yellow cedar blocks, I had to elevate the screen and re-register using scraps of the same material.

Wooden bar inserted in to elevate screen to same level as the yellow cedar blocks.

Wooden bar inserted in to elevate screen to same level as the yellow cedar blocks.

Yellow cedar block in register, freshly printed with another colour.

Yellow cedar block in register, freshly printed with another colour.

Closeup of yellow cedar; one more colour to print.

Closeup of yellow cedar; one more colour to print.

Using a 4 station rotary t-shirt press made it easy to shift the screen out of the way to see more closely when adjusting the alignment of my blocks, matte board and paper below the freshly printed registration mylar, and accurately set my registration systems. I remain very grateful to my brother-in-law, Ian Crawford, who found this used press for me at a Victoria garage sale!

One more colour to print; paper, matte & wood blocks drying on rack.

One more colour to print; paper, matte & wood blocks drying on rack.

I’m intrigued by the results and starting to think of other ways to combine silkscreen printing and laser cutting, e.g. with pine panels and Douglas Fir blocks.