An Excursion to El Hacedor

On our way to an International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) conference in Montesclaros, Spain in 2011, Claire Kujundzic and I visited Dorien Jongsma at El Hacedor – Imágenes y Palabras in the tiny village of La Aldea del Portillo de Busto. We each did some hands-on printmaking, and I did another screen printing demo there last fall. In our conversations with Dorien, we could all visualize the logic and beauty of a papermaking workshop there. When I told Juan Barbé about this unique art centre, he was immediately interested in meeting Dorien. And Dorien was interested in meeting Juan.

I realized this could also be an opportunity to demonstrate a sunlight photostencil exposure and at the same time make an Eskulan logo stencil that Juan could use for printing on his papers or packaging, etc. So one morning during my last week in Tolosa-Billabona-Zizurkil, Juan and his wife Carmen Sevilla picked me up and we drove to La Aldea, with a blank silkscreen in the trunk and the jar of photoemulsion I had bought from Garikoitz at Boxa Arte Elkarte (see previous post).

On our return from La Aldea to Tolosa, we took the BU-520 shortcut over the mountains to avoid looping back through Oña.

Our route from Tolosa to La Aldea. On our return, we took the BU-520 shortcut over the mountains to avoid looping back through Oña.

Pancorbo, between La Aldea and Miranda de Ebro.

Pancorbo, between La Aldea and Miranda de Ebro.

It’s a spectacular drive through mountainous terrain, into La Mancha, and then back into wide mountain valleys. On our way, Juan and Carmen picked up some prize winning organic sheep cheese in La Barcina de los Montes from Isobel & José who are friends of Dorien’s – a gift for the table.

Isobel, Juan and Carmen at the cheese shop in La Barcina de los Montes.

Isobel, Juan and Carmen at the cheese shop in La Barcina de los Montes.

With Emilio and Carmen in the gallery. Juan Barbé photo.

With Emilio and Carmen in the gallery. Juan Barbé photo.

After a tour of El Hacedor, the gallery, and encantapajaros, plus a delightful lunch hosted by Dorien, Edo, and Emilio Zaldívar, I set up Juan’s screen outside. I had coated it with photoemulsion on arrival and set it to dry in a dark cupboard.

Coating Juan's screen with photoemulsion. Juan Barbé photo.

Coating Juan’s screen with photoemulsion. Juan Barbé photo.

Ready to tidy up the emulsion. Juan Barbé photo.

Ready to tidy up the emulsion. Juan Barbé photo.

We were using two photocopies of the Eskulan logo on acetate, doubled up and taped together to increase the density of the black. The always-enterprising Dorien found me a piece of foam rubber and a sheet of glass, and I set them up outside in the daylight.

Using a window as a light table to align two photocopies on acetate. Juan Barbé photo.

Using a window as a light table to align two photocopies on acetate. Juan Barbé photo.

Sunlight exposure setup. Two weights tighten the contact betwen the glass, positives and screen.

Sunlight exposure setup. Two weights tighten the contact betwen the glass, positives and screen.

It was overcast, and I wasn’t sure of the sensitivity of this batch of emulsion, but I set a timer for 12 minutes. It’s always better to slightly over-expose and risk losing detail, because underexposed emulsion can be very hard to remove from a screen.

Rinsing the exposed screen under a tap before using a plant sprayer with more pressure. Juan Barbé photo.

Rinsing the exposed screen under a tap before using a plant sprayer with more pressure. Juan Barbé photo.

I thought the photocopy toner was a little too thin and grey, not black or opaque enough, and should have taken the time to reinforce the logo’s lines with a film marker pen. When I rinsed the screen, sure enough, the sun’s UV rays had penetrated the toner and hardened too much of the emulsion. It wouldn’t print well. However, we did succeed in demonstrating how it’s possible to expose silkscreen photostencils without fancy equipment! And we learned that a mid-afternoon exposure on an overcast day in early October needs about 10-12 minutes 😉

Dorien, Juan, Carmen & Emilio with overexposed screen.

Dorien, Juan, Carmen & Emilio with overexposed screen.

Dorien showed us how to drive back to Tolosa without going through Oña and bid us farewell. It was a long day, but rich with conversations, laughter and camaraderie. I’m grateful to Juan and Carmen for the excursion, and to Dorien, Emilio and Edo for their warm welcome. No doubt it won’t be long before Juan returns to El Hacedor to lead a workshop in papermaking or artists’ books.

Dorien & Juan in conversation.

Dorien & Juan in conversation.

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