Rain gray

It was dark the whole day today. Grey overcast sky, wet streets, cold… This humidity creeps right into your bones. Fingers turn slowly into a ghastly shade of bluish purple and refuse to warm up no matter how much you rub them together. Luckily steki has heating, so the classroom was warm – I do wonder how they pay for it, when many residential buildings go completely without. The state would do well to subsidize changing heating systems to gas or any other renewables instead of compensating heating oil.But I reckon that it’s too much trouble considering that it’s an issue only about 3 months a year.

Some of the younger students almost fell asleep in the class – many of them live in squats where there’s no heating and keep their coats and scarves on even in class. I remember this feeling – coming in from the cold wet outdoors, perhaps not having slept much, you sit down, it’s warm, the other students’ voices are humming around you, it is so tempting to close the eyes just for a bit – in fact it’s stronger than temptation, it’s irresistible, the body takes over and demands what rightfully belongs to it – sleep. I used to nod off quite often in my Greek classes. I remember how in my first year here, I used to go to work half an hour earlier every morning, just for the warmth – as my tiny old electric radiator managed to warm up only my toes.

Before moving to Greece, I used to chuckle over my Southern university friends’ complaints of cold winter weather. “10 degrees? Cold? Really? Estonian winters are way colder.” Little did I know about the heating issue and neither did it occur to me to ask.

It doesn’t help that I’m trying to have a coffee-free week – black tea doesn’t have the same strength to keep me going… Frankly, I just want the winter to end.

Day 1

Just like there are days when my fingers are simply itching to write, there are other days, days when a mere thought of committing anything to a paper or screen seems abominable. What is there to say? Between what’s too personal, too mundane and too much said already? What can I possibly add to this great tsunami of information called the internet? Why does it even matter what I would say if I said something?

Today is Day 1 of a new world order. How will it be – or rather – how bad will it be? Nobody knows. We’re floating in the unknown, grasping to straws of what seems to be sanity. Women are marching today all over the world – it is comforting to see there’s so many of us. It gives hope – along with the fact that the victories of conservatism were narrow everywhere, a matter of margins, now presenting themselves as sole victors. I believe it was Asimov’s “Foundation” that described a similar situation in the beginning. The Empire, seemingly stronger than ever, had already had the disease of decay planted deep in its heart.

Now, once I started, it got easier. Writing, I mean. I will try to do it more frequently again.

Hand-printing multi-layer images with riso

By far most of my work is done by hand – for different reasons – but the most convincing of them being that I love the tactile aspect of creating. Basically, I want to touch the paper, not just see it on the screen.

So, how does this fit together with risograph, that already has inborn issues with registration. Actually, not that bad. I wouldn’t recommend hand-printing images that have very small details – they could be messed up quite badly and chances are they will be. However, when the oddities of the process are taken into consideration, things get interesting.

I’ll describe here how I hand-printed two three-colour images only by hand (here meaning that pc was not involved at all). It occurred to me much later that hand-printing would lend itself well for riso workshops, as it allows greater collaboration, better space (no computers cluttering the table) and, well, in case there are not enough computers for all participants, no problem. As my studio is in my living room, I haven’t tried it as a workshop activity myself, but should my dream of having an actual studio come true this year, it’s in the cards.

So, here we go.

First, of course, there was the original image, an ordinary pencil sketch. The ink lines on the sketch of 6 guys I drew in the end, in order to print them as the final layer.

I used all my three colours for layers, so first one was Sunflower Yellow, the lightest. I copied the outlines of the sketch to a new paper (the six guys with help of lightbox, the boy with the cat through carbon paper, Transparent copy paper would do the job as well, although now after having tried it, I’d say it’s easier to do the layers on white paper  – it’s easier to see the lights and darks.)

When the outline was ready (as there was to be three layers, I copied it on three different papers), I filled in the Sunflower Yellow parts. Medium gray for lighter areas, black for strong orange. I used “Photo” setting for flat colour areas and if I remember correctly, print density 4 for both Sunflower Yellow and Medium Blue and print density 3 for Black.

Next blue layer, same logic.

The image of 6 guys also got a separate black layer.


After printing these layers, the images looked like this:

The registration wasn’t great, but on the other hand not dismal either. Proper design of the images is the key here and much inspiration can be found in images from Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods, where litho printing was commonly used. This will be the topic of one of the next posts.

Both images seemed to lack some definition, so I decided to add a black linework layer for both. As you can see, I overdid it. The boy and cat would have been nicer with a much softer pencil outline (“Pencil” setting is actually great for duplicating pencil texture) and the six guys could have just used a few extra lines on the black layers instead of a whole new linework layer on top.

Here are the final images:

A final note – choosing tones for greyscale layers can be a bit of a hit and miss. So it’s helpful to have a printed value scale of all inks. Another invaluable item is paper tape for taping the image on the scanner, so it would move as little as possible.