Wednesday 1 May 2019

Z is for Zea Mays

I have known about ZeaMays for a good few years now.. I can't remember what it was that first brought me onto their website.  Established by Liz Chalfin, in 2000, Zea Mays Printmaking, is a print studio in Florence, Massachusetts, USA.   

So it's a place where you can go to do some printmaking or go see an exhibition.  You might also go there to learn specifically about non toxic printmaking OR to do one of the excellent printmaking courses they run there with some really good artists.  Another thing they have established is an 'artists residencies' programme.  It's a pretty large detached building with four floors and a basement.  To me it looks like it might previously have been an old mill or a factory or maybe a storehouse.

One of the things I particularly like about Zea Mays is the research they undertake and publish on their website.     More on that later.  They have a members gallery on their website too,  as all good print workshops should do, in my opinion.  Here are a few pieces I have selected from there:

"The Things Between us"   photo-intaglio and watercolour 22" x 30"
Liz Chalfin - her website

"Nearly No. 1" monotype 7 x 5.5 inches
Monotype by Tekla McInerney so subtle......

"Rudimentary Water #3" which is a woodcut monoprint from her Rudimentary Water series

Love how she is using the woodcut block in her mono prints - when I originally saw these, I thought they were watercolor monotype or just very transparent monotypes

8 x 8 inches.   artist. Joan Dix Blair of ZMP

Getting back to the research that goes on at Zea Mays.  It's so hard to select from the list of things that they have done...BUT... I have gone for the 'quest' to find 'solvents' to use with Akua Intaglio inks, in monotypes.  As I have made the 'changeover' to using these inks, of course this little research project, would invariably interest me.  
It disappoints me, you know, the amount of people who are so against even trying these inks, as they are an absolute 'gift'. 

1. test proof, using diluted washing soda crystals

They think that they wont be 'as good' as the traditionally used oil-based etching inks. But these inks are just as good, it's just a question of becoming accustomed to using them.

I have to admit here, that I purchased the 'Akua Kolor' inks in the first instance and I did find them difficult to use.  They are a lot more fluid than the Akua Intaglio inks.....I think maybe one needs a bit more patience and persistence with them. By the way they are also referred to, as Akua Liquid Pigment.  They are mainly 'designed for use in monotype printmaking.  Speedball(USA) own the brand nowadays.

Here is a delightful monotype by Nancy Doniger a ZMP member. check out her website

Working with Akua enables the artist to have a lot more time to work 'creatively'.  I can illustrate this by giving an example.  Let's say I am inking a plate that is say 50 x 70 cm, whereas using oil based inks would have taken about one and a half, to two hours - using Akua intaglio inks only takes me about half an hour. Clean up is water based and so so easy.  I can't wait to try this out myself.

3. test proof, using diluted washing soda crystals

I have long admired the print works of Joyce Silverstone.  In some pieces she achieves this  dynamic sense of space, in others such as this one, there's just something, that very much appeals to me.  Among other techniques Joyce sometimes combines lithograph, relief print with monotype and some 'trace monotype'.  I get the sense that she is a really good teacher from the course descriptions - Here's her website

 This piece is by Anita Hunt who is a formidable etcher and a 'whizz', with the 'spit bite'.  I first came across her work on the previously mentioned "Interaction" networking platform(now defunct).  In fact my friend Tatiana and I, participated in a collaboration for a print installation called Rabbit Saves the World"which was held at  the Impact6 Printmaking Conference held in Bristol U.W.E., in 2009

"Dissolution I" drypoint and spit bite aquatint 9 x 9 inches
Check out Anita's website

This piece looks like it might have been created using watercolour monotype, although maybe not?......It's by ZMP member Anne Burton
She does not seem to have a website currently so check out her work and many others on the Zea Mays members galleries website

Oh and before I forget, apparently one should not combine washing-soda-crystals with aluminium. So bear that in mind if you try this.  I'll use a polypropylene plate possibly a textured one - I like how it's grain-like-texture 'holds' the ink.

This is the final image within the pages about Solvents for Akua Intaglio Inks, within the RESEARCH section of ZeaMays website