Tagged: studio

Spark Box Residency

Last week I came back from a spectacular week-long residency at Spark Box Studio, run by Chrissy Poitras and Kyle Topping in Picton, ON. I was a lucky recipient of one of their Emerging Artist Residency Awards and I was so excited to see what the week would have in store for me. I documented my process of making a four colour reduction linocut, so this post is pretty image heavy. I’ll keep the commentary light and let the pictures tell most of the story:

Here’s my little work space. Each artist at Spark Box gets a private studio space and bedroom, but Chrissy and Kyle are open to artists claiming their own work space in the print shop or house. I picked this sunny corner in the print shop. The counters were too low to sit with a stool and too high for a chair so I improvised.MartaChudolinska02

My final sketch and some colour studiesMartaChudolinska03

I brought this lady with me from my studio, just to have a familiar face around.MartaChudolinska04

The view outside the window, Spark Box Home Base.MartaChudolinska05   

The carving of the first layer at the end of my first night.MartaChudolinska06

First layer carving complete.MartaChudolinska08

The print shop!MartaChudolinska05b

A joyful and well-organized ink station.MartaChudolinska05c

Preparing the etching press to print the first colour.MartaChudolinska09

Inking up the block with the first colour.MartaChudolinska10

First colour printed! That was the easy part…MartaChudolinska11

Spark Box is such a beautiful, bright space to work in. Such a pleasure to work in a well-stocked shop!MartaChudolinska12

Second layer ready for printing.MartaChudolinska13

I love the way the roller looks after you’ve rolled the ink on the linoleum… an ephemeral print in its own way.MartaChudolinska14

The second layer printed… this is when I realized that my registration method was far from perfect.MartaChudolinska15

I took occasional breaks to strum this red uke, a good way to stretch those cramped carving fingers!MartaChudolinska16

Third layer cut on the lino.MartaChudolinska17

Third layer printed. Also, I found the drying rack!MartaChudolinska18

On the evening when I carved the last layer, there was a sharp drop in temperature, fierce wind and a beautiful sky.MartaChudolinska19MartaChudolinska20MartaChudolinska20a

Inking up the last layer. I really want to get one of these huge rollers now. Rolling up with it made me feel like such a badass.MartaChudolinska22

Placing the paper and trying to line it up with the previous layers was definitely the most stressful part of this process!MartaChudolinska23

Laying down the press blankets.MartaChudolinska24

The reveal!MartaChudolinska25

All four colours printed!MartaChudolinska26

On Saturday evening, Chrissy, Kyle, my residency mate Michelle and I went to the Firelight Lantern Festival where we saw some amazing lanterns made by people in the community. MartaChudolinska26aMartaChudolinska26bMartaChudolinska28MartaChudolinska29

The shadow puppet show put on by Small Pond Arts was so impressive and inspiring. I would love to work on one of these some day. It featured shadow puppets and shadow actors and was narrated by a very engaging storyteller (standing on the left).MartaChudolinska34 MartaChudolinska36

The end of my residency came so quickly! Here’s my bedroom with a wonderful handmade quilt. There are so many great prints and paintings hanging all around the house. MartaChudolinska37

Peaceful view from the kitchen table. MartaChudolinska38

I made 39 copies of the print but since many of them were off-register, I had to choose my edition carefully. MartaChudolinska42

I ended up with an edition of ten, plus about 15 artist proofs. I kept a few of the bad prints and ripped up the really bad ones. It felt kind of crazy but also very cathartic! I think it’s really easy for artists to have a tendency to hoard and lately I’ve been trying hard to resist the impulse to hold on to everything.MartaChudolinska43

The final step, trimming the prints down to size. FInal paper size is 11″ x 14″. MartaChudolinska44MartaChudolinska45MartaChudolinska45b Here’s little Rico to wish you farewell!MartaChudolinska47

Many thanks to Chrissy and Kyle for providing me with this amazing opportunity to relax, create and learn!

A Look at Things to Come

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future… thinking about what and how I’ll make in the next few months, what I’ll be up to a year from now and also, beyond, beyond. I have mixed feelings about planning my life. I realize that planning too much is pointless: we can’t predict how the world around us will shift, how we will change and along with us our desires and dreams. At the same time, I like to dream big and know I won’t get anywhere near my goals unless I figure out how I’m going to reach them. Planning can also be scary!   What if that thing you’ve worked so hard towards doesn’t work? Or, perhaps worse, what if it succeeds and you HATE it? When your plans fall outside of anything mainstream, dependable or financially stable, you can almost hear the concerned mothers and fathers of the world tense up (however old and independent you may be); not the most reassuring sound.

Still, at this point, I’m excited about the new possibilities I am working towards, whether or not they turn out how they now appear in my mind’s eye!

To conclude this vague little post, here’s a few process shots from one of my most recently completed projects: a papercut comic about my late Grandmother. It will be published in the next issue of Broken Pencil!


My biggest lesson from this project? Nothing beats a sharp blade! Forget about size, shape, ergonomics… it’s all about the sharp!

My first papercut 

Binding Boom in new studio

Being an artist with another job means that time to make things is always precious and passes too fast. I just finished an intense (as in, very focused) and awesome bookbinding session in preparation for Canzine next Sunday. I managed to also force myself to take many process shots. I get so detail oriented and INTO IT when I’m working that it can be hard to remember to stop and pick up my camera.

Doesn’t my chair look so welcoming? “Sit down, let’s make some books!”

Drilling holes in the text block… no way was I going to use an awl for all those pages! I usually drill the covers and text block before cutting the spine piece, but here I muddled it up and had to do if after.

Folding creases as guides for cutting the corners.

Corners cut. It takes some practice to get this right so your corners are not lumpy or do not show the board beneath.

Folding in the edges of the bookcloth. The long side is recut so that it lines up with the front when glued down (keeping in mind the 1/16th of an inch you’ll lose in the crease).

Bookbinder’s tools. I love this shape of bone folder, very useful for creasing paper and bookcloth for smooth edges. The sturdy awl was an awesome investment for this project.

Cursory snack shot. Water, dark chocolate with espresso, ginger spice cookies (vegan and wheat free).

Almost halfway done with the bookcloth step

More than halfway done. Hope dawns on the horizon!

In this batch I got the idea to mark the spine pieces in pencil so that I could keep track of which cover they go with, in which direction. This really helps in making sure the covers line up nicely in the end.

Little “favours to your future self” like these really help in being able to work faster and achieve crisp execution every time.

Such a happy sight! Only the sewing step left and that is the fastest and easiest part. Another day; for now, to bed!

Total progress: 60 books of an edition of 200. Next up: a batch for contributor Megan Speers to have available at Canzine West (Vancouver) in November.

What’s up summertime?

A little update from my studio:

  • I’m still in the process of binding books. Who would have thought that binding 200 books by hand would take a long time? Ha! I have completed almost 40 books, have another 10 close to done and another 150 to go after that. Last night I finished collating all the books!!! Collating means putting the pages in order. Maybe it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a dull process which requires a lot of space to lay out all the pages and a lot of time to put them all together. I also made headway on trimming the text blocks (the term for the stack of pages before they are bound). Only 130 blocks left to trim. Ha! It sounds like a lot, but with the beautiful ancient paper trimmer at my studio, it should only take a couple hours of work.
  • I’m still eating great snacks! This is a picture from last week. I neglected to photograph last night’s snack repertoire, which consisted of salt and pepper chips, salt and vinegar chips and dark chocolate with hazelnuts. Yes, two kinds of chips. I had a lot of work to do!
  • At the end of this week, I am leaving for Alaska for a month!! This means that production of books will slow down a bit (meaning they won’t be available online for at least another 6 weeks) but hopefully creative production overall will increase by a million. I’m so excited to hike, kayak, see special people and NOT WORK 40hrs/week!! Wooooo!!!!
  • I spent some time updating my website. Hope you like it! There’s some new content in the Comics, Drawings and Books sections. Check ‘er out!

Boom Boom Boom binding

Here is a little look at a copy of Boom Boom Boom. I sold out of the copies I had ready for TCAF but there are many left to bind. I’m going to have busy hands for the next few weeks!

Japanese Stab Binding with a hinged hardcover

Title and endpages

An image from my story Wild Seed

Back cover 🙂

Meanwhile, in the studio…

Studio work is always made happier with a robust selection of snacks!

In the Studio


Today’s beautiful spring weather reminds me of the residency I shared with my friend Sara Titanic last April at Artscape’s Gibraltar Point Centre for the Arts on Toronto Island. The Island! The studios are housed in the old Island school (our studio was the boys’ dormitory) and have plenty of haunting charm. The buildings are situated right near Gibraltar Beach facing Lake Ontario where you can have campfires, build sandcastles, skip stones.

In the background of this picture you can see one of my large india ink drawings, the first of a growing series. I haven’t posted any images of these yet because their large size makes them really challenging to photograph… hopefully I will figure it out soon.