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 Barbé 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.

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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 Raúl 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 Raúl's tasty treats.

Claire with one of Raúl’s tasty treats.

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 Barbé 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 PDFs 😉

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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.

How to make sequential, coded labels with Excel & Illustrator

Claire in the artist market tent.

Claire in the artist market tent.

Each piece of artwork and merchandise for Claire’s display in the Artist Market at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George was required to have unique, coded labels. This was to help any volunteers at the checkout keep track of sales. I knew I could generate unique sequences of identifier codes using Excel and print them from a Word label template, but I wanted to include a colour logo and apply styles that might be awkward to achieve in Word.

InDesign and QuarkXPress can import Excel spreadsheet data, but I couldn’t find label templates for them. Although Illustrator doesn’t import easily from Excel, it does have label templates and its tools offer lots of precision, so I decided to work with Illustrator and Excel.

I started by creating a sequence of unique identifier codes in Excel, by making two numbered cells in a row, selecting them, then grabbing the +sign handle and dragging the selection down to create a numbered sequence as long as I wanted.

Starting a code sequence in Excel.

Starting a code sequence in Excel.

Second code entry to generate a sequence.

Second code entry to generate a sequence.

After selecting both cells, the cursor will change to a + sign when hovering over the bottom right corner.

After selecting both cells, the cursor will change to a + sign when hovering over the bottom right corner.

Pulling the + handle down starts generating a sequence of code numbers.

Pulling the + handle down starts generating a sequence of code numbers.

Then I opened a label template (Avery 5167 – 80/sheet) in Adobe Illustrator.

Avery label 5167 template imported into Illustrator: 80 labels/sheet.

Avery label 5167 template imported into Illustrator: 80 labels/sheet.

On a separate layer, I placed the Canada Winter Games logo that we were authorized to use, and the price for Claire’s art magnets we wanted to label and track. I locked these layers so I wouldn’t risk accidentally moving any of those elements, then created a new layer for the codes.

Prices and logos placed on each label.

Prices and logos placed on each label.

Illustrator layers for setting up labels.

Illustrator layers for setting up labels.

Next step was to create a text container box in Illustrator, then make 3 copies of it.

Creating a text box in Illustrator that is roughly the same height as an existing column of labels.

Creating a text box in Illustrator that is roughly the same height as an existing column of labels.

Four identical text boxes placed over the label columns.

Four identical text boxes placed over the label columns.

Back in Excel, I selected my column of sequenced code from CMK-mag-1 to CMK-mag-80, clicked Copy, moved to Illustrator, selected the first text box with my Area Type Tool, and Pasted the string of code into the box.

Importing sequential code data into a text box in Illustrator.

Importing sequential code data into a text box in Illustrator.

Of course, I needed to increase the leading so each code would land in the same position on each label.

Formatting a column of text in Illustrator to adjust font, leading, colour, etc.

Formatting a column of text in Illustrator to adjust font, leading, colour, etc.

Once that was fixed, I selected all four text boxes, went up to the Type menu, selected Threaded Text -> Create. (This is the equivalent of linking text boxes in InDesign or QuarkXPress.)

Creating threaded text boxes in Illustrator.

Creating threaded text boxes in Illustrator.

After adjusting the bottoms of a couple of text boxes, all 80 code numbers fit into the same place on their own unique labels.

All four text boxes filled and linked with sequential code.

All four text boxes filled and linked with sequential code; the third column needed to be shortened to bump its bottom entry to top of the fourth column.

I was ready to print to a Postscript laser printer.

There’s probably a way to accomplish this in Word, but this was a lot easier. Having built the file in layers, I am able to quickly build variations with additional Illustrator Pasteboards. And it was easy to select codes and prices to create  master inventory sheets in Illustrator for the checkout.

A second pasteboard added to the Illustrator file, then filled with a continuing sequence of codes.

A second pasteboard added to the Illustrator file, then filled with a continuing sequence of codes.

I now realize that I could also create custom, graphic-rich labels in InDesign and QuarkXPress by saving an Illustrator label template as a PDF, importing it into ID or Quark, then designing my labels on a separate layer above. A key challenge is to have the printer deposit its ink or toner exactly within the label perimeters, not overlapping the edges, and this process should offer the same precision as my Illustrator-Excel workflow.

Stillness of Winter

Extreme cold draws moisture out of the air until it sparkles with minute ice crystals. Underfoot, snow crunches like styrofoam. The cold acoustics seem to carry sound farther, even though deep snow muffles it.

Snow begins to cover everything, then hoar frost starts growing new shapes and textures, different each day due to wind, sun, snowfall and temperatures.

Willow winter cotton - made of fresh snow.

Willow winter cotton bolls – made of fresh snow.

Crystal blossoms on creek, fall 2014, Wells.

Crystal blossoms on creek, fall 2014, Wells.

Palm-sized crystal blossoms on creek, fall 2014, Wells.

Palm-sized crystal blossoms on creek, fall 2014, Wells.

Puppet tree - dressed in fresh snow.

Puppet tree – dressed in fresh snow.

I find it difficult to leave these scenes, especially knowing many fragile forms may be gone the next time I return.

Slide Mountain alpenglow, fall 2014.

Slide Mountain alpenglow, fall 2014.

Eventually the cold temperatures send me home to defrost my fingers. Setting sunlight on Slide Mountain warms my eyes along the way.