Images: In the Cornell Printshop

Contributed by Sharon Butler / This semester, as readers who tune in to my stories on Instagram and are friends on Facebook already know, I’ve been up in Ithaca teaching at Cornell. One morning at the crack of dawn, I ran into printmaking professor Elizabeth Meyer in the Tjaden Hall stairwell. She was heading down to the enormous print lab on the ground floor and I was on my way up to the painting studio on four. I’d been thinking about the fundraising campaign, specifically where I was going to order the canvas bags that I’d promised to contributors. When I asked Elizabeth if she had any recommendations for canvas bag printers, she generously suggested that I should order blank bags and work with students to screen print them in the print shop.

I set about finding sturdy blank 100% cotton bags, which arrived on campus a few days later.
I don’t remember who suggested using gradient color, but for the labor it takes to print one color, we got a lovely gradient blend from brown to red to orange.
The screen was attached to hinges on the big table so that the screen wouldn’t shift during the process. The inks are waterbased and the entire process was non-toxic.
I love the first proofs, which are printed on old pages of ArtForum.
Studio manager Julianne Hunter pulled the first proofs while student Alex Kanarowski mixed more ink.
Students observing the process.
They burned an extra screen just in case we needed it. I ironed all the bags before printing.
On the drying rack.

The semester flew by, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the talented students and faculty in the Art Department at Cornell. Their program, retooled in 2018, recognizes the importance of learning traditional art making skills, but is also forward-thinking and interdisciplinary, with a firm intellectual foundation. While we were printing the bags, the printshop was a hive of activity where students were engaged with intaglio, lithography, screen printing, hybrid digital processes, papermaking and casting, bookmaking, woodcut, and monotype. Lest readers think Ithaca is a dead zone for art exhibitions, throughout the fall the first-floor galleries in Tjaden Hall had interesting shows that changed each week, and the Johnson Museum of Art, designed by I. M. Pei & Partners, is right next door.

Now that I’m back in the city, I’ll miss the big brooding grey skies, leisurely lunch breaks at the Helen Newman pool, studio visits with faculty, the flowers from the Farmer’s Market, Ithaca CascaZilla on tap, conversation at the Argos Inn, the charming faculty apartment in the Miller-Heller House, and walking over the Cascadilla Creek Gorge on my way to work and back. I could go on and on. Indeed, readers, Ithaca really is gorges.

NOTE: Searches for three new tenure-track positions in the Cornell Art Department are currently underway.

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You might be wondering how you can get one of these amazing canvas bags. They are free to Two Coats readers who contribute $150 to the year-end campaign. For anyone who just wants to buy a bag, please send $25 (includes shipping) via PayPal or Venmo (our account for both can be found listed under twocoatsofpaint@gmail.com). Please put “Canvas Bag” in the memo with your address, and I promise we’ll ship one out within three days. Thank you for supporting Two Coats of Paint.

Related posts:
Year-End Fundraising Campaign Contribution

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