An abstract print from a tree trunk scar

The two parts of this scar on an Aspen tree trunk reminded me of a painting I had made in 1979:

I changed the colour image to greyscale, then generated several bitmaps at different thresholds to posterize the image:

First I printed a gradient background:

Gradient backgrounds drying.

I wanted to transform the image into something that might echo the legacy of mining in northern BC, so I used metallic inks, as well as intensely pigmented colours. As with the Babarrunak Raku print I had made previously, I built up surface texture with repeated passes of clear ink. Here is the final image:

“Ore”, silkscreen 4″ × 5″


Closeup view

“Ore” has been accepted into the 8th Tokyo International Screen Print Biennial exhibition. Award-winning prints are posted here.

Reflecting on Chinese Cariboo history through printmaking

Claire with a candle for Tiananmen at Chinese Cemetery.

Last spring (& again this year) we visited the Chinese cemeteries in Stanley and in Barkerville to commemorate the Tienanmen Square massacre and to reflect on the courage of those resisting tyranny in Hong Kong. When anti-Asian incidents began to increase in the Lower Mainland after the onset of Covid, I wanted to illuminate some of the Cariboo’s Chinese history through printmaking. “Stanley Doorway” and “Chinatown Wall” are the first of two such prints. I began them last summer and finished them this spring.

The Lightning Inn still stands in Stanley. The doorway caught my attention:

Stanley doorway photo

To make a multicolour posterized screen print, I created a series of bitmaps of the image in black & white at various thresholds:

Thresholds of doorway for posterization process

After printing a warm gradient background, I printed the darkest threshold with a transparent brown ink:

To add transparent gold on some the doors, I reversed out the centre highlights to make a film positive with this pattern:

Reversed positive for centre of door

Here is one of the final prints:

Stanley Doorway – silkscreen 斯坦利

Barkerville’s Chinatown has many restored and recreated buildings:

This particular wall caught my eye:

A wall in Chinatown

Following the same process I used for the Stanley Doorway print, I generated a range of thresholds from a black and white version of the photo above:

Thresholds for posterization process

I began with a transparent gradient background, then hand cut rubylith masking film to make stencils for these colour fills before printing the photographic stencils. Some prints have 2 gold shapes like this one below; others have 4.

Background gradient + 4 underprint colours

Here are the final prints:

Chinatown wall – silkscreen with 2 gold shapes
Chinatown Wall – silkscreen with 4 gold shapes

For first hand history of Stanley and Wells, see “…And So…That’s How It Happened – Recollections of Stanley-Barkerville 1900-1975” by W. M. (Bill) Hong.

In 2008 and 2009, a group of us skied between Barkerville and Stanley (approximately 25 km) along the original Cariboo Waggon Road. We named our trek “The Cariboo Jack” to honour Wong Man Ding (akak Cariboo Jack), who had walked all the way from Yale to Stanley in 1868. I screen printed bibs like these on Tyvek for all the skiers:

When the Chinese government began cracking down on pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong, I printed paper lanterns for the Autumn Moon Festival with this design from the Hong Kong Artists’ Union:

Paper lantern, screen printed

… and then another of their designs onto shirts and scarves.

Screen printed sweatshirt


Spring arrives in the swamp

Winter view from marsh of Moose Island, Valley Mtn behind; Slide Mtn in distance at left.

There’s always something wondrous to see in “the Bog” on the edge of Wells – more correctly called a fen, I’m told.

Winter view from marsh down Willow River valley.

One of my favourite things to observe is the annual movement of willows that spring back after a winter bent under the weight of several metres of snow. The dark colour of their branches absorbs heat from the sun and accelerates their rate of recoil. Their imprints remain in the snow where they used to lay underneath.

Here and there lie small springs of Bryonia lichen that has blown off trees in the wind. Their dark colour also attracts solar warmth to form small pockets in the snow.

Creekside trail, early spring

Portrait of Dr William Allen Jones

Photo courtesy Barkerville archives.

Dr. William Allen Jones was the first dentist licensed in BC. He was born in 1831 in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA and died in Barkerville in 1897. I have not yet succeeded in finding his grave in the Barkerville cemetery. Many tourists peer into his dental clinic on the main street of Barkerville Historic Town near Wells.

After studying at Oberlin College, Dr. Jones emigrated to Salt Spring Island with his brothers Elias and John in 1859. When the Cariboo gold rush began, William moved north, as did Elias; John taught school on Salt Spring Island for many years.

Digital mockup used to plan the printing sequence.

When I read about some of the incidents of racist violence in Canada and the US in recent years, I wanted to respond as a visual artist. Printing a portrait of Dr. Jones offered one way to illuminate and pay tribute to this significant figure from BC’s Black history.

Using a photo kindly supplied by the Barkerville archives, I designed a silk screen print in 8 colours (above). I chose a 100 pound paper stock that could handle a large area of water based ink (TW 5000 series from Willox Graphics) without significant buckling.

These variations in the background blend show the process of achieving a variety of results – one of the things I enjoy most about printing:

A short clip of printing the background and another clip as seen from above.

Next step: printing the shirt:

Printing a gradient base for the jacket, showing some variations in the backgrounds:

Next: the underprint for the head and face, showing variations in the backgrounds:

The first posterization of the photo:

Second posterization printed:

Third posterization printed:

Fourth posterization printed:

A printed gold frame (clear ink mixed with “gold” powder) “traps” the perimeter of the print and any minor misregistrations:

I had a minor problem printing some of the text: a brand new container of black ink was unusually runny and bled a tiny bit on three prints. To solve this, I made a new photostencil with “stroked” text (enlarged) so I could overprint the flaws with white ink. Then I printed the text again with some older, thicker black ink that did not bleed. Problem solved!

In the end, I used a total of 11 colours. Here are three samples of the final prints with variations among them:

An animated sequence of the main printed colours:

This is a fundraiser for the Wells Historical Society, Friends of Barkerville – Cariboo Goldfields Historical Society, and the BC Black History Awareness Society.
An order form for this special edition is here

If we can sell out the edition, each non-profit stands to receive over $2000.00 😉

Silvia Mangue, President of The British Columbia Black History Awareness Society, with a print.
Friends of BarkervilleCariboo Goldfields Historical Society Treasurer, Tony McDonald, with a print.
Wells Historical Society Vice President (& Barkerville Curator) Mandy Kilsby & her son Emmett with a print.

The Hon Sonia Fursteneau, BC Green Party leader, with the print she purchased.

The Hon Coralee Oakes, MLA for Cariboo North, with the print she purchased.

The Hon Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake, & Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, with the print he purchased.

Thanks to Mandy Kilsby, Caroline Zinz, Silvia Mangue, Claire Kujundzic, Andy MacDougall, Sophia Isajiw, Annerose Georgeson and Richard Tetrault for their assistance and support.

Article about the Dr. Jones print in the Quesnel Cariboo Observer.

The portrait of Dr. Jones was on display at Saanich Municipal Hall during Black History Month, 2021, and at the Emily Carr Branch of the Victoria Public Library during Black History Month, 2022.

Posterizing a license plate (a fundraiser for Nicaragua Family Support Fund)

One day during our year working in Nicaragua, Claire found an old license plate in a ditch in Managua. It was from 1979, the year the Nicaraguan people overthrew the dictator Somoza, so she set it aside. Fabricated in the blue and white of the country’s flag, it had rusted over the course of six or seven years – a visual metaphor of the betrayal of the revolution by the corrupt, brutal Ortega-Murillo regime.

1979 License plate.

I thought this might make an interesting silkscreen print that would be suitable for a fundraising campaign. Initially I sent funds to the group <Dale una mano a tu Hermano> (“Give a hand to your brother/sister”) which was assisting Nicas in exile in vulnerable situations in Costa Rica. 60% of sales will now go to the Nicaragua Family Support Fund which provides financial support for Nicaraguan political prisoners and their families. Their web page is here.

The order form for these prints is here for anyone who would like one. (FYI there are only 44 in the edition!)

[Please note that my primary market for this print is for people in Canada, the US and Europe, because I want funds to go from outside Nicaragua & Costa Rica, not from inside.]

My process began with “posterizing” a black and white version of the photo to make 6 film positives and photostencils:

Creating thresholds in Photoshop.

Setting up an Illustrator file with six layers allowed me to test out various colour combinations and plan my sequence of inks:

Digital print plan

Then I started mixing various blues:

Mixing blues with transparent medium.

The first colour: a very transparent blue gradient.

Second colour: silver.

Third colour: a powder blue.

Fourth colour: copper mixed with gloss medium.

Fifth colour: blue.

Sixth colour: dark blue.

The final print:

“…Nicaragüita” © Bill Horne 2020

The title, “…Nicaragüita” is named after the song by the brothers Carlos Mejía Godoy and Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy, “Nicaragua, Nicaragüita” – a love song to a country freed from tyranny.

Total print edition: 44 + 4 Artist’s Proofs. Dimensions: 6″ × 12″ (15.5 cm × 31 cm)

Again the order form is here.
(First come, first served 😉

I had a lot of fun printing these and want to thank Claire Kujundzic, Liliana Cisneros, Jacques Lemieux and Sophia Isajiw for their assistance and encouragement!

For those interested in the screen printing process, here’s a rough video recap.

#SOSNicaragua   #2añosinjusticia   #prohibidolvidar


Foil Transfer Test

gold and metallic blue foils

This winter I obtained a sample of a water based screen printing foil adhesive and some short lengths of gold and metallic blue foil from our friends at Willox Graphics in Burnaby. I’d read about foil transfers before, but never had a chance to try them out until recently.

Gen IV foil adhesive

For my test, I made a simple stencil of snowflake patterns that I had previously printed on necktubes for the Cold Snap Festival during the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George. I chose a screen with LX-135 mesh that could print decent detail on dark fabric. It’s a cool new kind of mesh that can print a heavy deposit of ink while retaining detail.

Snowflake stencil

The foil transfer process is simple: print the adhesive on some fabric and let it air dry overnight. The next day, I put the sample prints in our heat press under pressure @300F for 12 seconds with foil sitting on top and a silicon release sheet on top to protect everything from the hot platen. After allowing them to cool, I peeled the foil material which left shiny gold and metallic blue where the adhesive retained them.

Next time I will make an extra-thick stencil by recoating a previously coated, dried screen. This will make it easier to print a heavier deposit of the adhesive and – theoretically – obtain more consistent adhesion. And I might use a design with less finicky detail! But this was an enjoyable experiment.

Printing textiles with water based inks

Ink companies have developed many alternatives to solvent based systems for screen printing. Thanks to water based inks, I am still alive and still printing!

Printing water based gold ink on fabric patches at our popup tent. Wells, August, 2017. Chelan Kujundzic photo.

Although Plastisol inks remain an industry standard in garment printing, I’ve mostly avoided using them, because of the need to wash up using Varsol. Not as toxic as acetone or “screen wash” or – shudder – lacquer thinner, but still an exposure risk. They can also result in a rubbery print surface. On a shirt, that can feel like wearing a vinyl place mat!

Recently I’ve been using TW’s TAL series of water based inks. These restrict me to light coloured cotton shirts, because they have a lot of transparency and will disappear on dark garments. They can dry quickly on the screen and sometimes need retarding, so once you start printing, you need to continue, unlike Plastisols that do not dry until heat-set. Don’t answer the phone or door bell if you are printing with these inks!

These inks bond best with natural fibres, so they’ll probably fade out more quickly if printed on shirts with a high polyester content. But they have a wonderful, jelly-like consistency which is fun to print. Best of all, though, these inks – more like textile dyes – penetrate the natural fibres and leave a soft, easy-to-wear surface.

ICC‘s Gen IV series are a kind of water based alternative to Plastisol inks. Unlike the TAL series, these inks – if retarded – allow you to step away from a job and resume printing within a reasonable period of time. They print nicely on dark coloured fabrics, especially if flashed and printed a second time. Adding a small amount of “puff” can help increase their opacity on dark fabric (thanks to David Cran for this tip). Here are short video clips of two shirts I printed with these inks: Wǫchiigíi and Mamahtâwisîpiy.

All of the above inks require heat-setting to cure and withstand laundering. Temperatures and times vary; allowing the ink to air dry overnight is critical. This allows any water to evaporate prior to curing.

TW has another series of water based inks, the Safeflex series. These remind me of the incredibly thick, stiff Flock Adhesive (solvent based) I worked with many years ago. They cure at very low temperatures and seem to stick to any kind of fibre, including synthetics. Safeflex inks dry quickly and need retarders for prolonged print runs.

Permaset from Australia and Virus from Italy make excellent water based textile inks, too. Printed, flashed, and printed again, this yellow has plenty of opacity, even on black cotton. Like the Gen IV and the Safeflex inks, it bonds with the fibres and has a slightly rubbery feel.

Willox Graphics has been my main source of inks for many years. They provide outstanding technical support for which I am immensely grateful.

An art trip to Japan

On November 1, 2019, I learned that my print Babarrunak Raku (see previous post) had won a Prize of Excellence in the 7th NBC Meshtec Tokyo International Screen Print Biennale. It was to be exhibited at Yurakucho Asahi Gallery between November 22 and 27, 2019 and the award ceremony would take place in Tokyo on November 25. It was short notice, and Claire and I did not have a budget for it, but we decided to go.

Our friend Murray Gudmunson at TieroneTravel booked Korean Airlines flights for us (Vancouver-Seoul-Haneda, Osaka Kansai-Seoul-Vancouver), and we found an inexpensive hotel room in the Ginza area of downtown Tokyo within walking distance of the exhibition and awards night. It was also easy to visit the old Asakusa neighbourhood where our friend Aki used to live. The weekend was windy and wet!

On the weekend of our arrival, we rendezvous’d with a Polish-born screen printer and ceramic artist, Ewelina Skowronska and her partner Tom at a concert of some very creative new music during a Polish cultural festival taking place at the large Tokyo International Forum in recognition of 100 years of diplomatic relations between Poland and Japan.

She introduced us to Pawel Pachciarek, the Japan Desk Producer for the Adam Mickiewicz Institute who was involved in organizing the festival.  Ewelina has spent time at the Banff Centre and it was interesting to hear about what it’s like for artists in Tokyo: studio access, the cost of rent, exhibition opportunities, print sales, etc.

We enjoyed learning how to use the Tokyo Metro and find our way around such a large city:

The Biennale gallery was upstairs in the Yurakucho Mullion Building in a very busy Ginza district near the massive Tokyo International Forum. Mr. Matsuda Hidekazu of NBC Meshtec, the Biennale’s sponsor, had spent over a week hanging 100 of the 333 prints received from 33 countries, and welcomed us to the exhibition.

NBC Meshtec was established in 1934 and started manufacturing high quality meshes for flour milling. It now develops mesh-based technologies used in filter production, screen printing, computers, cars and train passes. They are also developing meshes that harness nanotechnology. You can see a company video here – watch for the “fractal sunshade” product!

We spent a long time looking at the exhibition and returned two more times in order to absorb the remarkable range of work. The Biennale committee had produced a lovely full colour 36 page catalogue, as they had in previous years.

The award ceremony at Ginza Lion in Tokyo  was wonderful. There was a table of delicious food, various drinks circulating, and beautiful floral arrangements.

Tasty treats await us! photo by Claire.

The evening began with several speeches, including representatives of NBC Meshtec (the sponsor of the Biennale) and the Jury members: Tatsuo Matsuyama (Chief editor of the journal Hanga Geijutsu), Reiichi Noguchi (a curator of Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo ), Yukie Takagi (Assistant director of The International Print Art Museum, Machida, Tokyo), Takasuke Nakayama (screen print artist), and Akiya Fukada (President of NBC MESHTEC Inc.)

Takasuke Nakayama speaking on behalf of the other members of the jury.

With the help of Google Translate, proof-read by Kanako Nozoe at the hotel front desk, I managed to give my acceptance speech in Japanese:

I am Bill Horne. Watashinonamaeha Bill Horne わたし Bill Horne
I do not speak Japanese – yet! Nihon gogade kimasen – Imadani! 未だに
Dahooja – This means “hello” in the indigenous language where we live in Canada.
Dahooja – Kore wa, watashitachi ga Kanada ni sunde iru Indo no neitibu gengo no `kon’nichiwa’ o imi shimasu. Dahoojaこれは、私たちがカナダに住んでいるインドのネイティブ言語の「こんにちは」を意味します。
I am honoured to be part of the Biennale and I am very happy to be in Japan.
Watashi wa Biennale ni sanka dekita koto o kōei ni omotte ori, Nihon ni iru koto o totemo ureshiku omotte imasu.
Thanks to NBC Meshtec, the judges and to Matsuda-san.
NBC Meshtec, shinsa-in, Matsuda-shi ni kansha shimasu.
NBC Meshtec、審査員、松田氏に感謝します。
Thanks to my wife, Claire Kujundzic, who is also an artist, and to our friends and family who helped us come here. Geijutsukade mo aru tsuma no Claire Kujundzic, soshite watashitachi ga koko ni kuru no o tasukete kureta yūjin ya kazoku ni kansha shimasu.
Congratulations to my fellow artists for their beautiful work!
Watashi no nakama no ātisuto no utsukushī sakuhin ni omedetōgozaimasu.
Screen printing is fun! Sukurīn insatsu wa tanoshī!
Connecting with people from around the world gives me hope and joy.
Sekaijū no hitobito o tsunagu koto de, kibō to yorokobi ga e raremasu.
Thank-you. Arigatōgozaimashita. ありがとうございました。

Award presentation by Mr Akiya Fukada; Claire Kujundzic photo.

Tatsuo Matsuyama proposes a toast. photo courtesy of Matsuda-san.

Audience gets ready for the toast. Photo courtesy of Matsuda-san.

It was great to meet the other artists, the jurors and the people from Meshtec, including its President, Mr Akiya Fukada. Also from NBC Meshtec: Takuya Ikeda, Shigeo Kanada, Tetsuya Kido, and Yui Akiyama, as well as Matsuda Hidekazu. I gifted as many of my Behind the Lines catalogues as I could, and exchanged many business cards.

I also had the opportunity to meet Mr Akinobu Kochiya, CEO of Screen Printing Magazine, Masami Nakagawa from the monthly magazines Art Collectors and The Window of Arts, Masakazu Naito, President of the Japanese Screen & Digital Printers Association, and Hiroko Kurimoto, Editor at Abe Publishing in Tokyo, Lisa Eidt, the daughter of Johannes who won the Prize of NBC Meshtec, but could not attend, and Mirjam Cuk Moishi from the Slovenian Embassy who accepted a Prize of Excellence on behalf of Matjaz Penko.

With fellow prize winners, Kanda, Kei and Erica; Claire Kujundzic photo.

With Mr Shigeo Kanada and Mr Takuya Ikeda of NBC Meshtec.

Our prizes were beautifully designed, produced and packaged. The event was planned in great detail and all of us were glad we attended.

The next day we took a train from Tokyo to Hiroshima, then another one north to Miyoshi where Rikio Hakudo Hashimoto met us at the station.

Rikio is a master potter, filmmaker, and long time friend of our friends Isao Sanami-Morrill, her son Kai and Burt Cohen of Potters Without Borders (whose logo Claire designed). He lives in a traditional Japanese house in the mountains north of Misato. Inside is a kotatsu table, an indoor studio, an attic gallery/meeting place, and nearby is a separate building with a large Anagama (wood-firing) kiln he has built.

Rikio was a warm and generous host who not only picked us up at the Miyoshi train station, but took time to show us special places in his area, including the Kurasuyado Lodge, a restored samurai-era building in a UNESCO village that now operates as a very special lodging with only three suites. His friend Takuro Onodera kindly showed us around the building and explained many details of the renovation process, much of which was done by Rebuilding Center Japan. We felt very fortunate to spend time with Rikio, to be able to cook together in his kitchen, and to exchange gifts of prints and ceramics.

Our next destination was the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.  Both Claire and I had been active in the anti-nuclear movement of the early 1980s, and through Headlines Theatre, I had met the late Kinuko Laskey who was a Hibakusha – survivor of the first blast. The museum, surrounding parks, memorials and the nearby Hall of Remembrance are powerful, profound places.

From Hiroshima we took a train west to Fukuoka where Yasumasa Matsumata met us at the Hakata station. Our mutual friend Dorien Jongsma had introduced us through Facebook (!) and he is an accomplished, experienced painter who creates landscapes and abstracts in a variety of media. Both he and his wife Yuko, who works as a translator, speak Spanish, and that was our common language during our visit there!

Like Rikio, Yasumasa and Yuko were warm, thoughtful and generous. We enjoyed a visit to Yasumasa’s studio and exchanged a variety of prints and paintings. They introduced us to all sorts of foods and grocery stores and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with them. Yasumasa also helped us ship a box of our things to the Osaka Kansai airport so we wouldn’t have to lug them on the train. Brilliant!

Yasumasa took us to the Komyozen-ji temple in Dazaifu southeast of Fukuoka. It was founded in 1273 and includes a beautiful Zen garden, as well as many wonderful buildings, shrines and bridges. On our way there we stopped for some special goodies:

This is a very special place.

On the weekend we took a train south to Hizen-Kashima where Rikio’s son Machiyu met us at the station. He drove us about 20 minutes from town and dropped us at the foot of a mountain. Then we started climbing a long series of stone steps up past several shrines until we reached the Sue-ji Zen temple where he, his wife Yuko and their two children live. It also happened to be the site of an exhibition of his wonderful wood-fired ceramics.

 Yuko prepared a fabulous lunch for us which we enjoyed with two friends of theirs who were visiting from Nagasaki. We bought some ceramics and gave them some of our prints and reproductions. In spite of the language barriers, we had a remarkable – at times moving – conversation using Google Translate!

After tea, Machiyu drove us back to the train station and we continued south to Nagasaki where we visited the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. Once again, a powerful, profound experience.

Imagine our reactions when, on a wall at the end of a final display charting the arms race and peace movements, we saw a photo of protesters in Vancouver surrounding a train loaded with nuclear weapons. In this way, the trip brought us full circle in our own lives together as young activist-artists.

Vancouver protest photo.

[more on the “We Resist” shirt in the ^ above photo gallery ^ here.]

We emerged from the museum into a beautiful Nagasaki evening.

Crescent moon over downtown Nagasaki.

In our haste, we jumped onto the wrong train, which stopped after two stations and everyone got off. We returned to Nagasaki’s Urakami Station to await the next [correct] fast train back north to Hakata station in Fukuoka. Derailments on the line delayed our departure, which gave us time to buy some snacks and reflect on a very full day.

We enjoyed one last night in Fukuoka and in the morning, Yuko and Yasumasa took us to a big, two-storey second hand store, then a  large 100 Yen store. After a last meal with our friends, they took us to the station from which we took a train back east to Kobe. We had booked a room at Guesthouse Maya, a unique, funky and friendly hostel in a diverse neighbourhood full of artisans, artists’ studios and small shops.

Park, Maya’s coordinator, invited us to take his market tour and two other guests – Chieko Arai, who works in sustainable development, and designer Chris Tomoya – came as well. For just 1000 Yen each, we spent over an hour meeting people in a labyrinth of shops, many of which were third-generation family businesses. Lots of proprietors knew Park and we were given all sorts of samples such as fresh made soy milk with sesame, BBQ, fried pyrogies, fresh strawberries, shaved bonito flakes, and exquisite hand-made confections. Wow.

On our last afternoon, we visited Keiko Kuroda at her office at the University of Kobe where she teaches forest science. We had met her in 2011 when we took Claire’s pine beetle-based art to a forest pathology conference in northern Spain.

It was great to see Keiko again and hear more about her work. She chose from a selection of screen prints and reproductions we had brought for her. Then from the university, we caught a bus and train downtown. There she took us to the “Agricultural High School Restaurant Sannomiya” (農業高校レストラン 三宮店 ) near the Ikuta shrine in downtown Kobe. We enjoyed a wonderful meal made almost entirely from vegetables grown by the students and cooked in a fusion cuisine style (reviewed here). Lucky us!

(I will try to post more food photos for our chef friends!)

All the people we encountered during our two weeks in Japan were kind, helpful and generous.  We are so fortunate to have traveled there and grateful for the hospitality we enjoyed. We also thank the following for their help and support for this trip:

Amos Nir, Gillian Walker, Carol Evenchik, Sophia Isajiw, Leanne Davies, Marilyn Fuchs, Lyndal Osborne, Jennifer Penny, Ian Crawford, Judy Kujundzic, Aki Yamamoto, Dorien Jongsma, Isao Sanami-Morrill, Eri Ishii, Craig Paterson, Susan Madsen, Stephen Mitchell, Dave Jeffery, Gary and Linda Champagne, Ekai Jorgenson, Shane Yamamoto, Ewelina Skowronska, Aiai & Akane, Rikio Hakudo Hashimoto, Yasumasa and Yuko Matsumata, Keiko Kuroda, Kanako Nozoe, and Machiyu & Yuko.

Interview with Sheryl MacKay of CBC Radio One’s program “North by Northwest” about Babarrunak Raku and the 7th NBC Meshtec Tokyo International Screen Print Biennial and awards … starts at about 58:48.

Evolution of an abstract silkscreen print

The approaching deadline for a biennial Japanese screen print competition motivated me to try something different this summer. This photo of the texture left in a glass bowl by cooked black beans gave me the idea of trying to simulate ceramic raku effects:

My sisters-in-law in Victoria had grown and harvested the beans, which “grounded” them and connected me to my subject matter! (They are very delicious, by the way 😉

I began by printing a background gradient with a circular gradient on top.

Then I created several bitmaps at different thresholds from the greyscale photo of the black bean texture to use as film positives that I could print:

I started printing these textures using copper ink, then gold, then red, violet and clear. I printed the lightest texture with repeated layers of clear to create a tactile relief surface texture.

I wasn’t satisfied with the pale blue to mauve background – it was too sweet, and some small flaws bothered me. So I overprinted it with three versions: mostly black, with a few indigo and carmine red. Finally, a metallic frame (some gold, some copper) to trap the background colours.

Here are some photos and closeups of what I ended up calling, Babarrunak Raku (Babarrunak is Euskera/Basque for black beans!).

Thanks to Sophia, Annerose, Ian and Claire for their feedback during the printmaking process, to Peter Braune at New Leaf Editions for his advice on flattening paper, and to our stalwart supplier, Willox Graphics.

(Here’s one black bean recipe from Tolosa and here is the Tolosa website about black beans.)

Babarrunak Raku won the Prize of Excellence (4th prize) in the 7th NBC MESHTECH Tokyo International Screen Print Biennial. It was exhibited at Yurakucho Asahi Gallery between November 22 and 27, 2019. The award ceremony was held at Ginza Lion in Tokyo on November 25, 2019.


The mind of ice

Ice spider, Jack O Clubs Lake, Wells BC.

Fresh water ice takes many forms and undergoes many changes during winter and spring. Here are some “spider holes” on Jack O Clubs Lake on the edge of Wells. They look like dendrons.

A cool wind blows off the lake when it’s still covered with ice like this. But break-up can’t be many days away.

zooming in.

Four days later, on a sunny morning, spider holes appear close to shore, and sky trees grow from the remaining edges of the ice:

Spider Ice, Jack O Clubs Lake, Wells BC

Spider Ice, Jack O Clubs Lake, Wells BC

Sky trees, Jack O Clubs Lake, Wells BC

Sky trees, Jack O Clubs Lake, Wells BC

Sky trees, Jack O Clubs Lake, Wells BC

Sky tree, Jack O Clubs Lake, Wells BC

A few days later:

photo, Jack O Clubs Lake, Wells BC

In the evening light:

photo, Jack O Clubs Lake, Wells BC

photo, Jack O Clubs Lake, Wells BC

photo, Jack O Clubs Lake, Wells BC