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Artist of the Month: Larry Welo April 19 2013

Fresh from our trip to the annual Southern Graphics Council print conference, joint-hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Peck School for the Arts and Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, we were bubbling over with all the printmaking fervor . Here's local blog-article about the conference. The icing on the cake was meeting our loyal customer and established printmaker, Larry Welo, who lives not too far North from Milwaukee. Larry made the trek down to meet and to discuss paper and printmaking over dinner. So in honor of everything printmaking, and a little Aiko's connection, we share with you our chat with Mr. Welo. Printmakers take note! You may take away very interesting tidbits of information regarding Japanese paper and printing techniques. PCI: So good to finally meet, Larry! Tell us a little about yourself: What kind of artwork do you do? What attracts you to working with paper and what do you like best about working with it? LW: I have worked professionally as an artist printmaker since the mid 1970s. I fell in love with printmaking (etching in particular) when I was a student. I decided that this would be my career. There was no great logic to it. I was idealistic, and knew that this is something that I can do better than anything else. I did not really care about the realities of life…making money etc. Art was my passion as a child, and, as a college student I realized that it would become my profession. I drew a lot with pen and ink, and etching was like that, but there was such a depth to the images. It was the line work, the look of aquatint, the plate tone on the image and the embossment that had immense appeal to me. Paper is one of the vehicles for etching. It is of the utmost importance. There are many steps involved in creating an etching, but it always ends up being printed on paper. Over the years, I have used a large number of different papers. I quickly learned that they are vastly different from each other. It is up to the artist to decide what works best and will work with them to give the best results. In the early 1980s, I visited Aiko’s Art Materials in Chicago for the first time. I was living and working in Minneapolis at the time. I knew that there were other printmakers throughout art history who preferred Japanese papers, and I was curious. I began purchasing papers from Aiko’s at that time. I tried quite a few of them. They had a large selection of dyed papers, which I would experiment with frequently. I figured out a way to use the dyed papers for chine colle that gave me consistently good and sometimes fairly elaborate results. I would cut out the papers and overlap them so that the cut out areas would allow the underlying papers, which were also cut out, to show through. It was a means of achieving colors without needing to use additional etching plates.
Driftless, etching with chine colle Driftless, etching with chine colle
Fertile Ridge, etching with chine colle Fertile Ridge, etching with chine colle
PCI: Your results are beautiful. How did you hear about our company? LW: When Aiko’s closed, I received a mailing from Paper Connection. They carried an Aiko’s paper which I used frequently. It was Sakamoto. I liked using it with some of my multiple plate color etchings, and I missed no longer being able to find it. I became interested in trying other papers carried by Paper Connection. PCI: So you had a bit of exposure to certain Japanese papers. How did Paper Connection help widen out some of your knowledge on the different types of Japanese paper? LW: I received very good suggestions on what might work well for my intaglio prints. I carefully cut out pieces of the recommended sample book swatches, labeled them, laid them on an inked plate and printed on them. I determined which sheets I liked best and began ordering the sheets individually so I could give them more of a chance.
Attempting to organize the search for the perfect printmaking paper tests. Attempting to organize the search for the perfect printmaking paper tests.
PCI: We love how you put the samples to work! That's great, as we are not printmakers ourselves. Any of your experimenting and feedback is what we want to hear about. So after all this testing out of our samples, what papers do you use of ours and for what process? What did you like about those papers that aids in your creative and/or technical process?
Seeking the perfect etching paper tests. Seeking the perfect etching paper tests.
LW: Gampishi Sukiawase (M-0227) is my favorite paper. It is an expensive paper, and when I first tried it, I thought it would be only the one time. I was totally seduced by this paper, and have used it ever since. It prints like no other. When I print an etching, I rely on manipulating the ink tone on the plate. The ink tone gives me more subtle value options. There are very few other papers that can print this ink tone well. This paper prints it like no other. It is a joy to print on. It is made with gampi fibers and is very strong yet very sensitive. Sakamoto Heavy (AI-224B) is another paper that I like. It is a very sensitive paper. Kozoshi Sized Heavyweight (M-0206) is also very nice to print on. It is inexpensive and has many of the desirable characteristics of some of the more expensive sheets. I hope to continue to try other Paper Connection papers…maybe the best one is yet to be found.
Shady Characters, made with M-0227, Gampi. Shady Characters, made with M-0227, Gampi.
PCI: What are some of the differences between our papers and others you have worked with? LW: The sheets are extremely sensitive. What I do to the plate when I am wiping it shows up on the printed image…everything. There is never any blotchiness. Everything is very clean, and I am able to get the full range of values (light to dark) that I seek. PCI: So, if you had to recommend a Paper Connection paper for a particular application: LW: I like Gampishi Sukiawase (M-0227) because it makes me seem to be a better artist than I really am! I call it the Stradivarius of printmaking papers. PCI: Wow! We wonder what the gampi papermaker would say to that. If you could have a conversation with any artist present or past, who would it be? LW: I would like to get inside Rembrandt’s head sometime. PCI: Agreed! We saw one of his Apostle series at the Getty once. Mesmerizing. Larry, thank you so much. We appreciate the time you took to respond to our questions, and even more so, we thank you for being such a valued customer, and artist who truly appreciates the art of handmade paper!. For more on Larry, check out his website here.
Thanks Larry! Thanks Larry!

Artist of the Month: Arlene McGonagle March 14 2013

March has been a very busy month for us. We have been planning for the upcoming Southern Graphics Conference, a printmaking love fest that this year is being held in Milwaukee. So printmaking methods have been in our minds, maybe a bit too much. What papers are best for lithos? Is gampi good for chine colle? , etc. (The answer, by the way, is yes, yes and yes.) However, to take a break from the wonderful world of printmaking, we turn our attention to a different, if not extraordinary application of our papers, by Arlene McGonagle. We have known Arlene for many years; she is a very faithful, loyal supporter of Paper Connection. And we love her unique approach to transforming our sheets of papers into something three dimensional, and even poetic. We will let her explain.
Layered, by Arlene McGonagle Layered
PCI: Tell us a little bit about yourself: What kind of artwork do you do? AM: I make baskets – one of a kind sculptural baskets. I have been a traditional basket maker since 1980. I grew up on a produce farm in Hadley, Massachusetts. Baskets were part of our harvesting process in which our vegetables were all harvested using different basket styles. As a young person I was not aware of my passion for baskets, but I do believe growing up on a farm gave me the knowledge for the functional construction aspects of basket weaving. PCI: What or who has influenced and inspired you? AM: After making functional Nantucket and Shaker baskets for fifteen years I needed a methodology in which to become more creative in my personal form of expression. So I returned to college entering The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth in the Fiber Arts and Textile Design Department for a Masters Degree. As a result my work and materials changed overnight. The Fiber Arts Department encouraged us to use different and unusual materials from barks to wire and everything in-between. PCI: What attracts you to working with paper? AM: The wide variety of texture in paper, I felt the more texture the better in the paper I use. The paper reminded me of the barks, woods, and reeds I had used in the traditional basketry process. However, the paper I chose was colorful with intricate designs and flexible without soaking it in water. It was also gentler on my hands and easier to weave. PCI: That's great, especially for your hands' health too! What do you like best about working with paper? AM: For me it’s all about texture and color. I love the thick kyosei-shi paper because it reminds me of fabric. I have been working in neutral colors lately, but this paper allows me to go wild with color if the basket calls for color. I also love the mulberry, or kozo paper for its translucent and regal qualities. When words are written on this paper it adds a note of importance and strength. PCI: How did you hear about our company? AM: I had heard about Paper Connection for many years, but did not know it was open to the public. So I called one day and explained that I was a basket artist looking for special textured paper and made an appointment to stop in. PCI: Simple enough. We love your initiative. Did you have much knowledge about Japanese papers before using our papers? AM: I had no knowledge of Japanese papers whatsoever. I fell in love with the papers offered at Paper Connection and sometimes even designed the baskets around the available papers. I learned more about paper variety and function with each visit to Paper Connection. The vast knowledge of the staff and the wonderful stories Lauren would tell about the makers of the paper helped me to realize that the paper was almost sacred and that my designs had to live up to the value of the papers I purchased. PCI: Wow. We're so happy and grateful to hear that. What a testimony to the artistry of the papermakers themselves! What are some of the differences between our papers and others you have worked with? AM: I seem to keep going back to Kyosei-shi for most of my basketwork. It is physically strong and with a wide variety of colors. However, I can buy it in off-white and dye in the colors I need. I don’t know if I could dye other papers in a water bath. PCI: So to sum up? AM: I like kyosei-shi paper because it is strong and textured like fabric for my baskets; it is flexible and does not tear when I weave it with wire.
Basket Book by Arlene McGonagle Basket Book by Arlene McGonagle
PCI: Arlene, thank you so much. We love your work, we appreciate how you use these wonderful papers, the motivation behind it, and your generous support over the many years. u17 For more information about Arlene, please visit her website, Basket Sculpture. Her studio is located in beautiful Warren, RI. To read more about her work, Arlene was featured in the Fall 2012 issue of the National Basketry Organization. Article courtesy of Arlene McGonagle.