A friend of mine, Oonagh Berry, walked into New Leaf Editions, a printmaking studio on Granville Island about 18 months ago to ask what they were doing in there. On the way home she had an idea. It took her another year or more to collect the materials she needed, but she returned with her husband’s, Christopher Levenson’s poems about Vancouver and a portfolio of my urban drawings, and suggested that they print a limited edition book of them.
They liked the idea! Not something I would have taken for granted. We then had a meeting there in early May to discuss the project. The printmaker, Peter Braune, suggested that I do the drawings as etchings — as in, that medieval technique of scratching lines onto copper plates. Also known by the lovely word Kupferstich in German. I will also design the book cover and interior.
So now I am kitted out with 24 beautiful poems about Vancouver, the scenery evoking thoughts and emotions, all very relatable, many of them crackling with humour and fresh perspectives. Chris and Oonagh moved to Vancouver from Ottawa six years ago, and being a poet, Chris soon wrote down his impressions of the city. My contribution is to produce about 12 etchings of urban scenes to go alongside the poems.
With some apprehension, since I’d never done etching before, and a lot of excitement I went into New Leaf Editions on May 15 to get started. I don’t even know why I am so moved by this opportunity to work in a real printmaking studio, but I get emotional whenever I think or talk about it. It feels like a dream come true that I didn’t even know I had.
I get to spend one day a week there for the next couple of months, away from my home-based office, unchained from my computer, and among humans. OK, I am exaggerating, my home office is a pleasant and quiet place. But at New Leaf, I am learning new things which is a huge thrill. I am being taught by Peter as well as Lesley, his assistant and an accomplished artist, and Jasmine, Peter’s new all-around idea/marketing/business/artist employee. Great people, and devoted to their craft. Artists come and go at the studio all the time, many of them are based on Granville Island.
New Leaf “Creative Solutions” is really the new name of this studio, and they do more than just printmaking: they provide technical services related to printmaking tools and repair, they create beautiful objects such as exterior or interior architectural elements, or etching into the body of a guitar.
I will describe the etching process and document my progress at New Leaf Editions in more detail in future posts.
Below a funny tidbit I found about etching. Mostly it reminded me of how much I like James Thurber’s humour, e.g. Fables for our Time.
Etchings euphemism (from Wikipedia)
The phrase “Want to come up and see my etchings?” is a romantic euphemism in which a person entices someone to come back to their place with an offer to look at something artistic — with ulterior motives.
This was referenced in a 1929 James Thurber cartoon where a man tells a woman in a building lobby: “You wait here and I’ll bring the etchings down.”