It was raining as I arrived in the Lower Ouseburn Valley for the art project session at Ouseburn Farm. The colours of the new leaves starting to emerge on the trees seems a little more intense in the rain, against dark grey skies.
We watched some videos of digital stories, made with Curiosity Creative by the people who come to Ouseburn to go to Daybreak Centre. It was interesting to hear what they notice and like or dislike on their visits to Ouseburn.
I had thought that I would try printing some plants during this session. I have previously printed the words ‘Nettles’ and ‘Rowan’ and had intended to add prints of the appropriate leaves to them. Of course, I started with working on the Maling ware images that I had traced onto card in the previous weeks.
The Maling pottery moved from Sunderland to Ouseburn in 1817 and became a major producer of ceramics used for packaging by the late 19th century, eventually occupying two sites. One of the jars they produced was for printing inks. Their decorative wares were lovely, especially in the early 20th century, and I might try to find some more examples of those in catalogues.
I had tried printing this bowl and jug in the last session but the ink was a little too dry. I thought of cutting out the shape of the jug and bowl but Theresa had to help me because I found the card difficult to cut. I did a quick trial print to get an idea of how it was (or wasn’t!) working. I was disappointed with the resulting print because I hadn’t pressed hard enough when tracing the lines. When the ink on the card plate has dried, I will try cutting the rest out and go over the lines to make them deeper.
I went over the lines of the jelly moulds again before trying to print them. I could feel that I was getting tense and anxious as I went slightly off the lines, distorting them from the original. The results look a bit better than I was expecting, although the lines were not as accurate as I would have liked.
I then tried printing on brown paper, and on brown paper already printed with big pink polka dots. The brown paper reminded me of how shops used to wrap and package things in paper in the past. The jelly moulds remind me of my grandparents’ little hardware shop because they were the sort of everyday ceramics that they stocked (alongside paint, bedding plants, loose nails and screws, and other delights), and also because my gran made us jellies and blancmanges in a rabbit mould (although it was less elaborate that the rabbit one I drew from the catalogue page). The polka dots on the paper reminded me of the last dress my gran had made me for me or bought for me when I was a child. I remember it as having coloured circles on a creamy yellow background.
I want to get a lot more done before the next session when we should have some bricks on which to try printing. The prints I did this week are lines that are far too fine for printing on the bricks so I need to think differently, about block areas of colour that will still read as images. My first thoughts had been to do prints of birds but we have a limited colour range and most of the birds would work better with some more subtle lines. I also am determined to have a couple of railway locomotives. Then there are the words that could be pressed into the clay… Oh the possibilities! I need to think and draw a lot more before the next session.
To find out more about this project, read Theresa’s post about it.