printmaking

NUCAT Video Series Launches!

I've teamed up with Steve and Mike, the filmmakers at New Ulm Cable Access Television (NUCAT), to produce a new series of videos.  I have a history of making my own "making of" videos.  My youtube channel is a sporadic collection of mixed production quality, poor sound, and learn-as-I-go experimentation. My videos turned out ok, but they were always amateur.  The NUCAT guys bring it to a whole different level.  

It's still called "The Process".  We have a handful of videos in the works.  Video stories are based on the projects already happening in my studio.  Steve and Mike occasionally come by to film some B-role footage and interview me.  I make a few GoPro clips along the way.  The guys edit it all together into a lovely 24-minute show.  In a short amount of my time, I'm afforded a powerful way to explain the processes, concepts, and intents of each project.  This arrangement allows me to focus on studio work while the professionals focus on the video production.  The result is a Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood-style conversation and tour in which I can be hospitable to so many.  

Episodes air first on New Ulm Cable Access Television.  If you live in New Ulm, browse the program schedule here.  I invite you to watch our first episode below (in which I cope with a large print commission by building a press).

Click here to read the New Ulm Journal article about the video series.

The Process is an arts educational program featuring New Ulm artist Jason Jaspersen. Each episode showcases different methods, techniques, and styles of art as Jason walks the viewer through the steps he took to complete a piece of work.

A music series featuring local Minnesota artists and bands. Shot on location at Bookshelves & Coffeecups in New UIm, Minnesota. This installment features New Ulm locals Andrea Lyn with 3-time hall of fame inductee Dick Kimmel.

Check out NUCAT's excellent "Off the Shelves" music series.  It's an impressive collection of acoustic musicians performing at Bookshelves and Coffee Cups.

Wood Block Shirt Printing

It started out as a little experiment based on a hunch.  I tried to print my wood block on an old tshirt from my bag of painting rags.  I wondered how my printing press would handle fabric.  I'm thrilled at the results!  Now we're fulfilling orders!  My son Teddy has learned to print and has been cranking these out with laundry safe ink on a variety of men's and women's sizes.

Interested in wearing or gifting one of these unique, Biblical statements?  Get yours at http://www.jjjaspersen.com/prints/not-ashamed-t-shirt-758ea

"Plans" -a strategic print

Very often we don't see the potential that God sees.  Our short-sighted opinion of life might just see a lowly acorn.  But God knows that acorn can be majestic that if given the right circumstances and enough time.  God the majestic chooses to minister to little people like us.  We are his garden, his orchard, his vineyard and he wants us to grow strong and healthy in body, mind, and especially in spirit.  So be still your beating heart and know that "I Am" has your future covered.

This project was quite an adventure!  I've never attempted a woodblock print this large.  Each color was carved from a 24"x24" sheet of baltic birch plywood.  To print an edition from blocks this large I would have to work with a press (rather than my usual wooden spoon).  I found press time surprisingly difficult to find, used-presses-for-sale equally difficult to find, and new presses difficult to afford.  After a good deal of research and contemplation I decided to attempt something difficult.  I built my own printing press.  To do so, I watched a few relevant YouTube videos, ordered plans, and made my own way.  The plans helped, but as a wise man once told me, "The instructions are just one man's opinion."  Luckily, I'm patient and willing to fail forward.  To my surprise, the press works fairly well.  It has some "character" which it shares with every print it makes.  

This was the first time I used my plunge router for carving a printing plate.  This tool came in handy for removing large amounts of wood and for cutting out the letters.  Note: this wasn't a stencil job.  I traced the letters (in reverse) onto the plywood and vary carefully watched and moved the router according to those lines.  You can see a little human error in the "o" of "for" where the router slipped and grazed the surface.  Fine details were carved with chisels.

I decided to switch to Akua soy-based inks for this project.  This was another first and I think I'll stick with them.  Mixing primaries worked well, they don't dry up in storage, and water clean-up is a big plus.

Speaking of ink, I've never had to ink blocks this large.  Necessity mothered another invention and I designed and built a 25" wide ink roller with PVC, plywood, some hardware and a sheet of rubber.  Like the press, it works mostly well.  Like the press I'm willing to play with irregularities.

The paper has been sitting in my flat files for years.  My grandmother, Ikuko, has given me fine handmade Japanese paper over the years.  She has stopped making large sumi-e ink paintings and has gradually been giving me supplies.  She brought this handmade mulberry paper back with her from Japan years ago.  It has a velvety touch, long grain, and holds human gestures from its makers.  

Texture seems to be a recurring theme in my work.  For this project, I emphasized the wood grain by abrading the wood with a steel brush.  I also placed canvas behind the paper to give the tan ink a woven texture.  The handmade paper and my slightly wonky press provide a little "growl" to the surface, keeping things from getting too predictable.  I like the way this print has a simple design, but complex surfaces.  There's clarity if you like that and ambiguity if you like that.  Even though printmaking is a process of making multiples, the textural elements of this edition combine to create many "one-of-a-kind" pieces.  The prints in this edition are obviously brothers and sisters, but they're not identical twins.

There are two editions.  5 prints were made with a gray background, tan acorn, and dark brown shading.  9 prints were made with a blue background, tan acorn, and reddish brown shading.  To get these 14 prints, nearly 100 tests were printed and tweaked to check ink color, carving, pressure, and alignment.  I have a big stack of misprints on cheap paper and a few on good paper too.

These 2 editions are available in the "Original Work" section of my shop.  Click here to order http://www.jjjaspersen.com/original-work/  This would make a great gift for your church or school, for an office, or your home.  We all need reminding that God knows and plans our future for our good.  Remember that prints vary and the photos in the shop may not show the actual print you order.  

The best print is reserved for the memory of Robert Wiegman who served as a Lutheran grade school principal and teacher for 45 years before the Lord called him home.  I never had the pleasure of meeting Robert, but I'm told that this verse was one of his favorites as he guided young people over the years.  

Grow in Grace banners

 Here are the final banner designs for Martin Luther College based on the relief prints posted 2 days ago.

See more artwork from Jason Jaspersen at jjjaspersen.com, and on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Grow in Grace prints

This series of prints was made for set of outdoor banners at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN. They illustrate the Word of God and the sacraments of Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper. These are linoleum block prints that I scanned and worked into a color design with text using Photoshop.  I posted after the computer work, but never showed the prints.  I apologize for the poor color in these photos.

See more artwork from Jason Jaspersen at jjjaspersen.com, and on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Printing the Christmas card 2011

As I was printing I remembered that the imperfections are part of the appeal of this sort of thing.  Knowing that makes the whole process much more enjoyable.  If I wanted something clean and consistent I would have a machine do it.  Of course, I want to balance that freedom with fairly careful craftsmanship. 

Seeing as the printing alone took me a whole day this may be the last time I do a hand-printed Christmas card.  Its 2 days after Christmas and we still have work to do to get them out.  I love the idea, but my time and energy are limited.

See more artwork from Jason Jaspersen at jjjaspersen.com, and on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Lettering resolved

 Its not any particular font.  I enjoyed playing with nesting the letters to be space-efficient and legible.  Hand drawn and arranged, hand transferred, hand painted, carved, printed.  You can count on me in the post petrol, low tech age that will surely greet our grandchildren.  I just like doing things the old fashioned way.

See more artwork from Jason Jaspersen at jjjaspersen.com, and on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.