Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Cattle Herd

I've kept my head down for the past few months and I have worked away on the cattle herd. The print has grown quite a bit more and it is almost finished now. I started working on a second piece with a smoke cloud from a deforestation site about the same size as the cattle herd and eventually the two pieces merged. Now I have a piece that measures about 6.5m in length. It doesn't show super well in a photograph, but I'm thrilled with the outcome of the print itself.
I've built the whole piece up by printing the same plates over and over again on a thin but sturdy Asian paper (Honen). The translucency of the paper allowed me to see the exact placement of each plate. I had two cattle plates that I printed about one hundred times. There are approximately 2400 cows in this pieces; that is about the amount of cattle that gets slaughtered every three days at the beef processing plant in my home town in Paraguay, mainly intended for export. Since business is going great, the demand to clear more forest for ever more pasture land keeps growing.

The overall piece consists of fourteen sheets of paper forming seven vertical panels that are hinged horizontally through the centre. Below is one panel that measures 125cm x 92cm.

To hinge two sheets of the Asian paper, I wet each sheet and placed them face down onto a large sheet of acetate. I was able to slide the wet sheets around on the acetate until they lined up perfectly along the seam. I then carefully blotted the paper, which made it adhere to the acetate and stay in place. Using rice glue, I pasted a one inch strip of the same paper along the centre seam, hinging the two sheets together.

I let the hinged panels dry between drying boards over night, but after having some trouble with wrinkles in the paper due to different shrinkage rates, I decided to re-dampen the panels and tape them down to properly stretch them. This worked beautifully and by removing the tape very carefully, there was virtually no damage to the edges.

It's funny how working in a new studio can influence the way I work. When I first came to the UofA, I didn't like the Honen paper much and I hated taping down prints to flatten them. Now I love the Honen and can't imagine life without it anymore. I still hate the taping, but it's incredibly effective to get perfectly flat prints.

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