Tag Archives: El Hacedor

TOPIC Puppet Museum, a Last Walkabout, & Printing at El Hacedor

It’s worth visiting Tolosa just to visit the TOPIC puppet museum which houses an amazing collection from around the world, but plan on spending at least half a day in there. An animated puppet will greet you in one of several languages as you enter a labyrinth of displays, projections and exhibitions.

The mascot puppet at TOPIC.

The mascot puppet at TOPIC beckons visitors into the museum & explains what awaits us inside.

One of my favourites sections is a long corridor of shadow puppets; the 1955 film by Jean Painleve of the US sculptor Alexander Calder performing his “Circus” is enchanting, too. The poster collection is outstanding.

Part of the shadow puppet corridor.

Part of the shadow puppet corridor.

Puppet wearing a Basque txapuela at TOPIC.

Puppet wearing a Basque txapuela at TOPIC.

Low tech puppets at TOPIC.

Low tech puppets at TOPIC.

The temporary exhibition I saw displayed work by Enkarni Genua & Manolo Gomez of Txotxongillo Taldea who have worked in puppetry and theatre since 1971. TOPIC also organizes occasional workshops and has an online archive of posters, festivals, books, etc.

Another inspiring display at TOPIC puppet museum.

Another inspiring display at TOPIC puppet museum.

My papermaking apprenticeship had ended, and I planned to take the RENFE and Euskotren trains back to Donostia and Bilbao, then a bus to Oña where Dorien Jongsma from El Hacedor could meet me. There were no buses running to Oña that Saturday, though, because it was Columbus Day (!), so I had to wait another day to make this trip. This meant I’d have less time at El Hacedor, but the bonus was a last chance to walk around Tolosa, Hernialde, Anoeta and Billabona with a camera.

Billabona plaza, near Paperlan fibre/paper warehouse.

Billabona plaza, near Paperlan fibre/paper warehouse, public library & police station.

A view from Hernialde above the north end of Tolosa; black bean field in the foreground.

A view from Hernialde towards Mt Uzturre above the north end of Tolosa; black bean field in the foreground.

Freshly harvested black beans drying in a driveway; Hernialde.

Freshly harvested black beans drying in a driveway; Hernialde.

Alubias con chorizo - a traditional Tolosa black bean dish.

Alubias con chorizo – a traditional Tolosa black bean dish.

Plus I received a supper invitation at Boxa Arte Elkarte studios with Garikoitz and Xabi!

The amazing Xabi & Garikoitz in the kitchen at Boxa Arte Elkarte studios.

The amazing Xabi & Garikoitz in the kitchen at Boxa Arte Elkarte studios.

They thought I was a bit crazy taking trains instead of buses, which are faster, but coming from a country where successive governments have hollowed out or privatized train travel, I enjoy them. And then the little bus on a windy highway makes for a pleasant contrast.

The Bilbao-Poza de la Sal bus waiting at Termibus, Bilbao.

The Bilbao-Poza de la Sal bus waiting at Termibus, Bilbao.

I was sad to leave Zuloaga Txiki, though, where Carmen, Iñaki and José had made me feel so much at home.

Carmen outside the hostel.

Carmen outside the hostel.

José & Iñaki joking around in the kitchen at Zuloaga Txiki.

José & Iñaki joking around in the kitchen at Zuloaga Txiki.

There’s always something to work on at El Hacedor – Imágenes y Palabras in La Aldea del Portillo de Busto, and watching Dorien install a new set of windows in her house was inspiring. I’ll never complain about renovating with old Douglas Fir again: it may be hard to hammer nails into without pre-drilling, but it’s not stone!

Dorien hard at work on her new windows.

Dorien hard at work on her new windows.

I had brought a silkscreen from Wells with two different sized photostencils of the El Hacedor logo, but what should we print?

ImágenesyPalabras

After considering various possibilities, we settled on printing the logo at both ends of fabric “scarves” that could be used for a number of activities. Since Dorien has a couple of burros that live in a lovely corral just down the road, we could easily envision a kind of Dadaist chorus of the Burros of Burgos!

Preparing scarf fabrics to print.

Preparing scarf fabrics to print.

Printing scarves on the t-shirt press.

Printing scarves on the t-shirt press.

Heat setting two scarves at once.

Heat setting two scarves at once while printing the next ones.

Scarves drying on lines.

Scarves drying on lines.

One of the finished piles of scarves.

One of the finished piles of scarves.

It took half a day to sort and cut material, then much of another day to set up and print the scarves. The nylon ones were very tricky to print, because of static cling; my favourite fabric/colour combination was the natural cotton with dark green ink. I look forward to seeing them fluttering in the wind some day, whether from people, animals or trees 😉

My pending return flight to Canada had a departure time of 0655 hours, so I needed to be in Bilbao the night before. There are very few transit options from Oña, let alone from La Aldea, and Emilio kindly arranged for a rideshare for me via BlablaCar.

Dorien & Emilio in the hills above Pancorbo.

Dorien & Emilio in the hills above Pancorbo.

After a quick detour to Miranda de Ebro (sadly, not enough time to visit my friends Eduardo Alvarado & Cristina Montoya & their family) to check on the new windows, Dorien and Emilio dropped me off in Pancorbo where I loaded my gear into the car of a national police officer (I figured this ought to be a safe ride!), who kindly dropped me at a Bilbao metro station and only asked for four Euros towards gas. Another generous person in this country that’s experiencing such acute economic challenges.

I didn’t have nearly enough time to spend with Dorien, Emilio and Edo, but they were wonderful hosts as always and I was very grateful for their warm welcome and hospitality.

At the end of nearly a month of learning, discovery and new friendships, it was time to go home. Gracias a tod@s – eskerrik asko – agur!

Morning light, La Aldea del Portillo de Busto.

Morning light, La Aldea del Portillo de Busto.

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.