Sunday, December 8, 2013

This old man, he plays . . .

There is a song, the words of which say, “This old man, he plays one . . .” and those lyrics popped into my head while I was working on the stamps for the printmaking game, “WeeWoodie Rembrandt Press.” I thought about Confucius’ advice that said, “Better to play games than do nothing at all.” That was advice in reference to what a person can do in their old age.
As I try to think of ways to restore my lost career as a teacher—what I had become when I was at the University of Washington School Of Art—I find that career is probably lost forever. In a country where teachers—and especially professors—are as much maligned as they are valued, how can it be otherwise?
I watched a video on TED talks, of Kiran Sethi, titled “Kids Take Charge,” and it brought tears of joy to my eyes to see this teacher, who started Riverside School in India doing so well with so little. Her talk is part of a series of inspiring lectures from around the world, assembled by Pearl Arrendondo.
After I watched this ten-minute video, I turned back to my project—adding words to 51 images taken from my video of assembling a WeeWoodie Rembrandt Press. I am making them into stamp images, which I will print out and . . . and . . . I don’t know what will be the next step. It is, after all, only a game.
When Lynda, my wife, plays solitaire on her tablet, she doesn’t think about being productive or that the result of her game will add up to anything. Although the programmers for this digital game have added a few bells and whistles such as keeping score, these are not important to her. Whoever wrote down the length of time it took to win a game of Solitaire using real cards, on a piece of real paper? People play games for the fun of it, to pass the time doing something; better to play games than do nothing at all.
Yet, the contrast between what people like Pearl Arrendondo and Kiran Sethi are attempting and achieving and what I am about is too great for me to ignore. What can I do about it? I think about it all the time. The skill to make these stamps, if you trace back the steps that have been required to get to this point, and the desire to make a game out of Rembrandt’s achievements has taken me fifty years.
Surely, it must amount to something. If I could transport myself to Riverside School, and show Kiran Sethi our mini etching presses, and ask if it would be possible to make presses like this for 1% the 2 hundred million children in India, and grow a profitable company from this and put money back into education, would she say yes? She would turn to one of the children in her school, and that child would say, “I can.”
Can I not do this in the USA? Is it my impression, or is it true, that our children would not be able to reply in the same way as Ms. Sethi’s students. Why is it my impression that in order to grow a company to make presses and related products for kids I have to spend hours at my computer designing a game, or taking time to make a DVD for the Brooklyn Art Museum, or autograph and package gifts for my associates in the Halfwood Press venture?
In the design of the presses and the theories about learning printmaking—and justification for that learning—there is a gift, given to me by hundreds of people I met in the course of my fifty years in art and teaching. My fear is that I will be the cause of the loss of this gift; it would take someone five years to do what I have done in 50 years if they would study what I am doing at the moment and, like an engineer, reverse the process to get at the essence and value of what it is that I have achieved.

If I find this person, or a coven of people, who could see the value of my work, then I would win Emeralda: Games for the gifts of life.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Molly-coddled Seniors, beware . . .

In our ‘seventies today, my wife and I have many friends of similar age, but the majority of our friends and acquaintances are a few years younger and they make up the Baby Boomer population. Quite a number are financially well-off, sufficiently that they spend their retirement traveling and otherwise enjoying the fruits of their years of employment. A number of them have two homes—one in Washington and one in Arizona. Their seasonal greeting cards have letters enclosed, bragging about the accomplishments of their children and grandchildren. We enjoy these, but we also are concerned. There are danger signs, and I want to mention these and then suggest alternatives to the course that our generation is on.
Primarily this has to do with global issues, and these are huge. Our generations, the “wisdom boomers,” I call the Baby Boomers and ours (born in the early ‘40s, a little ahead of the curve) are having a good time, but we should think ahead. We have Social Security and a Professor’s Pension coming in and both of these are at risk if we fail to ensure the education of young citizens of the USA. We can ensure the learning preparedness of the very young, and we can invest some of our money and intellectual capital in education for all.
I think our friends who are over 50 are being taken down a primrose path by, among others, the entertainment industry. My theory (call it conspiracy if you like) is that US Americans are encouraged to consume as much as possible in order to keep US Industry going and keep Americans employed. It’s like a timber company encouraging everyone to cut down trees to keep the sawmill going, blind to the inevitable barren hills that will result.
Our traveling friends seem not to give a second thought to hopping on a jet to travel, often for the most trivial reasons—a birthday party, a round of golf, or a cruise. I’m afraid this happens in my own family, too. The “carbon footprint” was a popular expression for awhile, but it fails to stop the enormous consumption of fossil fuels. This is an environmental issue. It is ironic that conservation is taught in the schools, but the lessons do not seem to come home.
This is all old news and if you have read this far, I am preaching to the choir; and I don’t think anyone is going to cancel their plans for a winter trip to Mexico or Hawaii just because I’m writing these things down. Everyone knows these things.

Your Social Security and Retirement plan is an education issue

Young people are alone in paying money into your social security for as long as the current system is in force. Young people, as the wage-earners of tomorrow, are alone in paying into retirement plans of various kinds—their own and ours, too.
Social Security has been around since 1935 and is always under discussion as to its liquidity and viability. Retirement plans are generally based on US Business and Industry plus the value of the dollar on the world money market. These all depend on the employment of US Americans, and as competition for productive work grows with the growing world population, no one will get the paying jobs merely because they are US Citizens. American youth will have to compete, albeit indirectly, for the jobs paying the most money and, hence, put the most money into social security and retirement plans for us Seniors.
If children in other countries come out of school ready to work before US American children are ready to work, the jobs will go to those other children. They will pay into their tax systems, wherever they are, and their industrial base will get the benefits of those children’s educations. The country with the best education system wins.

Senior requirement

Seniors in the USA are required to invest in education if they want their future dollars to be worth much on the world market, their Social Security checks to keep coming, and their retirement funds to keep paying their pensions. If US American youth are not as well educated as foreign children are, they will not get the best jobs. If US American youth are educated in the wrong way (such as training in over-spending, high consumption of resources and wasting valuable, early education years), they will work for foreigners at lower-paying jobs, and their lower salaries will yield lower Social Security input and poorer retirement funds for themselves. Industry will suffer, which will, in turn, be reflected in lower payouts from pension plans.

Exit plan

When industry needs new ideas, methods and products, it has been effective in the past to innovate, invent, discover and imagine new industries or change old ones to meet the changing times. In pursuit of new ideas—especially new ideas that will create new jobs for youth—entrepreneurs are encouraged to come forward with innovative new businesses. As a former teacher, an artist and designer of new art-making products and recreational learning games, I qualify as an entrepreneur.
From this role I am acquainted with financing methods for new businesses—from bank loans and equity investments (which I have used) to venture capital—so I know what “exit plan” means. Investors want to know what the entrepreneur plans to do if and when the company succeeds. Will he quit and move on to another venture? Or, what if he dies? Is the entrepreneur indispensable, or does he or she just think so?
There is another kind of exit plan which you don’t hear people talk about, and that is the self-made man’s exit plan. No one needs to tell me if it is time to quit; I am not one of those stubborn-heads that insists on running the show even though he or she may be running the show out of town. If a CEO is bad, the company will go down. Venture capitalists have good reason to assume control of a venture if their combined wisdom says it will protect their investment and grow profits.

The USA Venture

American capitalism is a kind of venture, but it is not the only kind of economic model. Education of the young is the only kind of model that has a chance to succeed, and without learning the lessons of education, an entire country’s economy can fail. We don’t want the USA to go down in history as a lesson in what happens when the educational infrastructure of a country fails to take into account this reality.
What seniors can do is invest more in education, not in more consumerism. It is a fallacy—a reckless gamble—to think that consuming more fossil fuels and leisure lifestyles will help US industrial growth and a secure economic outlook. The traveler who thinks his or her fare to Mexico will help the young people of America get a better education while they are enjoying the beach is a fool. The “snow birds” who think their winter-time trip to Arizona is somehow good for the economy and only a little damaging to the environment are fools, too.
If you argue, I will argue that kids in Korea, for example, are spending enormous amounts of time in school and minimal amounts in consumerism. What are they studying at with such industry? Could it be that they know something we adults don’t know? Could it be that they are learning things that US American kids are not learning, and—like us adults—don’t know? I wonder if the word is out that those crazy Americans are burning up the world’s resources and everybody else better be learning what to do about it and how.
Could you learn how to change American consumer patterns in a foreign school? US children seldom learn more than one language—English—so it will be hard for us to talk about it with foreigners. It already is, in fact, almost impossible.

I wanted to write my exit plan, and that is to get a factory school going where US American kids can take the lead in learning some art methods and also learn about running a factory making things for those art methods. And then I want to leave this factory school in the hands of young people, who can make it succeed where I have only failed.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Job Destoyer

Reverse engineering

Reverse engineering is the process by which an item—anything from a mousetrap to a combat jet fighter—can be taken apart and designed from the pieces so as to end up with a replica without the need for design and testing. When I was a little kid, I liked to take things apart to see how they work. Clocks, wind-up toys, and—one time—a toy dump truck. It was when I took apart the toy dump truck that I learned something about Post-World War II reconstruction in Japan. The truck was made in Japan from tin that had been a Folgers Coffee can, evident from what I found printed inside the shell of the truck.
This was not as much an example of reverse engineering as it was a blend of that and a lesson in economic development. The lesson was that if there is a market for, say, toy tin dump trucks and you have a supply of empty coffee cans and willing hands, you can provide jobs and income from the customers for toys. Japanese families could not, at that time, afford to buy their kids toys like this, but the Americans could, and we know that the effort to restore the Japanese economy was successful. I was one of the lucky American kids who, in 1947, at age 6, got the toy.
The story continued in a way because today I am able to think through the events that gave me the toy truck and I experienced the desire to take it apart, see how it was assembled (I still remember the little tin tabs and slots that made it easy to take apart and put back together). Also, I remember my surprise at seeing the Folgers label—the same tin can that was on our kitchen shelf—inside the truck. Of course, the truck was “Made in Japan” and although I didn’t know anything about postwar reconstruction, the tin can had come full circle with an economic benefit for the Japanese and Americans both.

How to destroy jobs

We need jobs in the USA for Americans, according to what I hear and see on TV from many sources. We need job creation. And when people think that jobs are being sent overseas, then we think this is wrong because we need people to be employed here—not abroad. Of course, every country wants policies that help its people do meaningful and profitable work so we have education programs, training and sustainability measures.
Job creation is an interesting idea—to make a job where one did not exist before. For example, I have a job. But as I do my job I know that I am putting someone out of work because it is a job that anyone can do. This morning, when this concept of destroying jobs came into my head, I was gluing a label on a box. It’s something anyone could do—from an average 8-year old kid to an older person with some disability that made this task a reasonable one.
The problem with hiring someone is that I had only four boxes to paste labels on; besides, after training the person (which would take about 15 minutes followed up by some checking for quality) they would be done in less than a half hour. The other problem is that only one person, at this moment, is ready to buy the box and its contents, and the hourly labor would take about 12% of the gross net—just for this label! This does not include the cost of printing the label or, working back to my earlier work, the design of the label.
The cost of research and development for this box is a factor to consider in this job, for if it had not been for the ten years of product development that preceded the labeling of this box, then there would be no job.
I am at fault for not developing the business so that labeling boxes for, say, one-thousand boxes is a job that no person—young, old, handicapped or any person at all—will get to execute for a salary or contract. Instead, I struggle every day, as I have for years, trying to find a co-founder who is the business person in this venture. And when I am not searching, I am doing menial tasks—job destroying as I go.
There are at least 1,000 people in the USA alone who would buy this box for its contents, a Do-It-Yourself etching press for under $1,000. But, for lack of capital to contract for preparing the boxes at a price commensurate with the retail price, the job of labeling the box is not created.

Reverse engineer this

To apply the process of reverse engineering, take the size of the market and determine what the value of job creation is. The press that goes in the box is only one of six presses in the line of presses that I designed and sold to 130 people to date, for prices ranging from $500 in 2004 for the smallest, introductory models to a high of $4,500 today for the largest model we make.
Find the size of the market by sampling the demographics—the people who bought the presses. There is the former pilot, a woman, who is active as an artist and in her community. There is the retired police chief from Chicago, who paid an added amount of money for his press so he could have Number 100. There is the publisher of a national paper on fine art printmaking who, despite that she already has a $5,000 etching press, wanted a small one and exchange an advertisement in her paper and will write a review of the press. There is the man who flew from England to Seattle to learn how to make the press himself, and then went back to establish a workshop like mine to make and sell presses in the UK. A woman bought a used press and is exploring an “experience” type of service of Printmaking Birthday parties. In Canada, a woman is studying the feasibility of being the Canadian distributor and providing hands-on press making workshops based on my kit.
From the demographic, I estimated, in 2008, the potential number of people who would buy our presses to about 400,000 in the USA alone. I have sold presses in 12 foreign countries, too, in countries such as Singapore (2 presses), with a large population and high incomes.
The presses two attractive aspects: Its looks and its functionality. It won an international design competition in Italy last year in the “Unexpected Design” category for its design and also for its inclusion of an online educational feature.
This is why, whenever I find myself responding to an order for a press, I feel like I am destroying jobs for people who, if a business person developed this enterprise to the scale to which it can grow, would work for this company in Seattle.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


36 Views of the Locus of Beauty

From January 2014 to December 2017, I want to stage thirty-six productions at the Uptown Hideaway, a kind of “art speakeasy” across the street from our family’s, Mini Art Gallery. Each production will represent a chapter in my life story. I want to fill the walls with my life’s work, framed and for sale. I want to fill the floors with small equipment for making artisan etching presses, frames for artworks, and stages for improvisational theater, readings, music and multimedia. I want to populate the place with a “staff” of co-investors who practice the idea of the “Perfect Studios,” where Teaching, Research, Production and Service are continuous and seamlessly integrated into an experience. This will be a profit-making program—no grants—only contracts with individuals or organizations who can pay with no strings attached, to buy services and items of our productions, my artworks and all the contents of my family’s art collection.

For the 4-page essay background to this vision, request it by email,

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Persistent Online Open Course

I took a couple MOOCs, 'Massively" (the word came from the MMRPGs) Open Online Course and I like them a lot. I am convinced I learned things which I could learn only in this way—on my own volition, on my own time, in my own space. It’s a great idea, and I want to do it, too. However, I think I am barred from working on a MOOC because ALL the MOOCs are premised that they must start in an institution of higher learning.
Even if they may be the new kid on the block, or even the L'Enfant Terrible, they have found safe haven on campus. I am reminded of a time in pre-war United States when people who were thinking outside the walls of academe were at first written off as kooks were later embraced and given stations in the universities. They were a big draw, in a sense, like hiring a movie star.
Sometimes this neutralized an otherwise powerful individual as it made their ideas okay and worthy of consideration. I think it was due partly because the universities wanted to appear to be cool, and appear to be doing what they are supposed to do. Usually, the new ideas would die on campus because of various reasons—they could not be accredited, there was not enough money, they involved illegalities, etc. It was a case of indispensable enemies—where the two forces needed each other to keep from doing what it must appear that they were trying to do.
I wanted to teach printmaking online in 1980, but it couldn't be an accredited course, so I took the concept to noncredit learning. They couldn't support it because the art school wouldn't approve it. It was a catch-22 situation, sort of, but mainly it was to protect the jobs of the professors and administrators. When a person in a distant, rural town could learn something they otherwise would have to move to Seattle to learn, they would be less motivated to move and pay the university tuition and conform to the accreditation in place.


The solution to the problem of teaching printmaking the way it really should be taught—as experience and as a preparation for future learning—is to put it where almost everyone can get at it. In the toy store, have the Wee Woodie Rembrandt press to start with. Online, have the instruction for trying to use the WeeWoodie, even building one from scratch. In schools, have a model on hand for after-school. At home, have clubs for vacation-time activities.

Next, create a persistent world—call it a Website—very like the persistent online games that became MMRPGs. Some parts of the world might be adventures in the game sense, in that they feature unnecessary obstacles to keep the user involved for awhile. But, mostly, it is a place to explore the techniques associate with the act of making exactly repeatable images, from the making of the press to the making of the plates to the making of the prints.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

On the eve of starting a MOOC titled Video Games and Learning, from the University of Wisconsin I think, "We could'a been a contender!"

Missing in Seattle

An opportunity lost?

I first became aware of the University of Wisconsin in the 1970s when I was a professor of art at the UW. By someone’s ranking system, the UW-Seattle and the UW-Madison were somewhat alike in terms of scale and reputation as research universities. It was natural, then, to focus on the printmaking department of the art school at Madison and then to compare it to our printmaking department. 
When the chairman of our department retired, one of the potential replacements that was interviewed was a professor at Madison, over-qualified and out of the range of the salary that was going to be available, but he was flown out and interviewed, anyway.
It became obvious, later, that the hiring committee here had already chosen Kurt Labitsky to whom to offer the position of the new chairman of printmaking. The other two candidates were window dressing; they were brought here to legalize Kurt’s hiring as per the requirements of affirmative action.
It seems to me that the UW-Madison was perhaps above the UW-Seattle in one matter—the matter of ethical practices. In Seattle, the administration of the UW School of Art was having its way with the printmaking department, bending the rules and manipulating the outcome.
The reason they did this was because I was pressing for a fundamental change in the way printmaking was being taught. While the majority of the faculty saw printmaking as a mere extension of painting and drawing and as a kind of craft with little significance to art.
My view, that printmaking is part of a larger topic—media arts—and as such, therefore, printmaking should be taught in the context of new technologies which were emerging on campus and all around the Seattle area. Today, these find their finest expression in video games, and they all date back to printing. Today, too, a MOOC for printmaking is imminent and would—if it were to happen at the UW—would put Labitsky out of a job.
It is likely that the printmaking department at the UW-Madison is still being taught as an extension of painting and drawing. A visit to the Website might show the studios with large-scale presses, sophisticated toxic chemical safety facilities, and great spaces for printmaking.
In other words, the training was to continue the position of printmaking as a second-rate art form—something not quite as grand as painting and sculpture, installation and performance arts. After their initial grounding in the rules of 2-D composition, graphic design, reflective color laws, etc., printmakers could aspire to make huge, multi-color prints and expend their resources emulating painters. They might compete for space in art galleries and museums; but they will be wasting their resources in the process, in my opinion.
“Bigger is better is the rule” at universities like the two institutions, UW/Seattle and UW/Madison. It is the result of political and economic plays carried on by art school faculties backed up the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and other major accreditation boards.
I wonder, what could have happened if I had not lost the battle for change at the UW-Seattle? It is possible that—today—there would be an effort like that which is behind the current MOOC coming out of the UW-Madison (which I am starting in a couple hours).
If it had happened my way, then the Seattle version would not only be a course which on the value of video games for learning, my course would connect antiquity with today’s games in general because printmaking is the ancestor of games. It is the ancestor not only of games, but all technologies which depended on exactly reproduced words and pictures in time and space.
What is missing in Seattle is a company that produces games for learning with printmaking as one center of focus. Games for learning is a huge topic, and printmaking is only a small part of this; but it is one which exemplifies the social value of games and technology in an age when hands-on learning has been diminished by a perceived lack of resources.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We can change this by means of which I have made a beginning—with the help of a handful of friends and hundreds of people who think the mini press is worth having. The mini press can be a console for learning, not only about printmaking techniques, but also about the social value of the art. The most important thing about it is that kids can do printmaking—in groups—given the mini presses our company makes.

Therefore, I reach out to people to join me in forming the company that will produce all kinds of learning opportunities in ways similar to what is happening all over the world—using old printmaking and new technologies to restore education.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

No more prizes for me

     In the art world there are many awards given to artists for reasons of their art, their contributions to the community and their impact on the culture of their nation and its people. For over twenty years I thought I might someday win a big award and I kept my eye on prizes. This notion may have started when I was in high school when I became aware that, besides good grades, someone like me could get awarded for jobs well done in art and publishing.
By the time I was ready to graduate from my formal education (graduate school) I had a few sips from the awards goblet and I liked it. Getting a job at the University of Washington School of Art was quite a big gulp; in fact, it was bottom’s up! For the next nineteen years I continued on my binge, winning all kinds of awards from prizes at local art fairs to a National Endowment for the Arts grant for video work and, along with these, promotion to full professor.
Prizes came also from the UW in the form of research grants—usually less than a thousand dollars, but helpful for paying for non-budgeted items such as videotape and experiments in printmaking. Two sabbatical leaves—in 1976 and 1983—plus unpaid leaves of absence were wonderful perks for a young, ambitious artist and teacher like me. The sabbatical in 1983 was a substantial win, coming as it did in a lean year for Washington State colleges.
To me it meant the crowning achievement of my career because, with a fact-finding trip around the world, I would have the proof that would justify a shift in my field—printmaking—toward a new union of the antique printmaking arts with new technologies. It would give my students a new outlook on their future as global artists. My family was willing to go along for the ride, and we took on a $50,000 debt to make the trip to augment the 66% of my $29,000 salary.
It did not turn out the way I wanted, however; instead, that sabbatical was the last major award I would receive for the rest of my life, the beginning of the end of my career in education. The leave was given to me so I would go away long enough to let the administration put a choke hold on the changes I was pressing for and fortify the old guard determination to limit printmaking as a minor art and craft in the UW School of Art.

When I started this essay, I titled it, “Why I will never win an award for what I do,” but then I removed the title because it sounded hopeless. I probably will never give up hope for the union of antique printmaking arts with new technologies. If I can marry these, my award will not come from the established, award-giving entities but from the thousands of individuals who purchase what I have participated in making—a company that makes hardware and software for printmaking experience.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A MOOC leads to surprises - sometimes

People talk about education being a good thing, but what happens in school is not necessarily the best thing as it would appear. If you take a course in Economics, for example, the best thing that might happen is that you meet someone who, later, hires you into her company - or you marry!

The Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC) which have lately come into being are great except that you rarely, if ever, sit next to someone in a lecture all. You usually do these by yourself. It doesn't have to be that way. I enrolled in Coursera's Gamification, taught by a law professor at the Wharton School of Business. Immediately there was a weekly Meetup group every Saturday, so we talked about gamification.

The last MOOC I took was Songwriting, taught by Pat Pattison of Berklee College in California. It took more work than I could handle, and my handicap was that I never had music lessons. I survived five of the six week course, however, before I flunked myself out.

And, in the same way as school is like a box of chocolates ('you never know what you're gonna get"), you never know what will happen when you experience a MOOC. In my case, when Pattison assigned lyrics, I got words as my subject from my story, the Emeralda, a story about a doomed ship full of etching presses.

I came up with one song to satisfy the recording requirement. The surprise came when the exercise was the solution to a problem in the back story: A pet monkey! this led to my storyboard for that scene, the song being the subtext. I made a sketch and uploaded it with the canned music background (it was required) and my singing the song.

You can hear my one-minute song by clicking on this link.

My plan is to be part of a MOOC on printmaking - either as a teacher or someone in its team, and I know that whoever enrolls is going to get a lot more than what they expect.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Money bags?

 When I moved my studio early this year, I hastily stuffed prints from one of the drawers—which had served as a kind of catch-all—into sandwich bags. Today I had occasion to take out one of those bags to locate a certain print and as I did so, it occurred to me that this bag of prints might be worth something. But what?
In the art market, they are saying there is a depression. Many of the artists I talk to say so, that there’s no market for art now. Other people I talk to (who are not in art but who talk about raising money) are excited about crowd-sourcing for technology projects. They cite instances where thousands of dollars have been raised for projects to finish everything from movies to smart transportation prototypes.

I see more people in technology and business these days than I see in the inner circles of art and printmaking. It’s a consequence of my thinking that printmaking is the ancestor of all technology and therefore, to understand and practice printmaking on the artistic level you need to know where printmaking came from (cave handprints) and where it is today (video games, as one example). Therefore, I meet a lot of geeks and hackers.

Wishing to share the printmaking gospel with more people (that’s what printmakers do), I go to many meetings where I can stand technology on its head and show my etching press as an example of technology antiquity. Then I ask these groups—hackers, business people, engineers, etc.—for help to create a factory school of printmaking art where I can walk my talk.

In starting a school the subject of money always comes up, and I think many of the people who watch me do my dog and pony act wonder when I’m going to hit them up for money. I never do, because the real value of the idea of a factory school is so great I couldn’t handle the amount of money involved by myself.

The bag of prints I took out of my cabinet that day, containing twenty-five or thirty etchings, is worthless on the art market, I think; but as a component of a fundraising scheme—a crowd-funding scheme or an auction for example—it’s worth at least $100 - $500. This isn’t enough to start a school, but it is worth a lot in the larger scheme of the school.

Considering these aspects of my bag of prints, I extracted a print and looked at it in the perspective of crowd-sourcing or auctions. It was a gritty-looking print I remembered as having made on a sailboat, the Kadeca, with Tom and Margie Kughler. Tom did the engineering and steel work of the Mini Halfwood press. I wanted to demonstrate printing a Solarplate (a technical process for plate-making in the sun), and to do this I brought my Mini Halfwood Press (Tom built both the Kadeca and the press, by the way) and the print I happened to pull out of the bag resulted.

By the standards of the art world, the print would not meet the professional, technical standards demanded by a commercial art gallery (such as Davidson Galleries, where I had my last one person showing in 1998). However, by standards of entertainment and teaching, storytelling and technique, it meets other standards and, as something of dollar-value or part of a larger scheme (such as a factory school of printmaking art) it may be worth a great deal.
Bears thinking, does it not?

Art Action

It was around 1977, I think, when I was faced with a need of quite a lot of money in a hurry. C. T. Chew suggested I have an art auction. Since the law requires licensing for auctions, he invented the Art Action to get around the legal issues. His Art Action was similar to a Dutch Auction, where the prices go down instead of up.

At the live event, the audience is challenged to bid on a piece at the lowest price; they must resist the urge to call out, “Stop the Clock!”—the clock which was an Apple computer screen programmed with numbers that ticked down in $5 increments. Beer was served at the Art Action, which was held in Kent Lovelaces’ Stone Press art gallery, in Seattle.

Carl’s plan worked; I think we cleared about $7,000. With it I was able to transfer a certain videotape art work to film, using what was then a then-new technology for which I had to go to Los Angeles. The only problem with the Art Action that it alienated art dealers, and it was a long time before people forgot how I had actually depressed the value of my art. But I made a lot of new friends, a lot of people got art, and I got my video project done.

What it taught me was that there is an entertainment value inherent in printmaking—and that I was able to part with examples of my prints—which spanned decades—with impunity because I had multiples. It was for a good cause—the video-to-film work. It taught me that printmaking is an art form which builds bridges, not only a form of making consumer products, but also as a social art with economic power capable of achieving wonderful things.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Photo is a screen shot of Pat Pattison, teacher at Berklee Music College and creator of a MOOC in the Coursera program today.

My MOOC Blues - I'm slipping in my songwriting course!

I’m dying by the time I watched the video for this one, feeling the pain of having I missed out on years of music lessons, knowing that it would require a lot of practice on my part and memorization, and no time. 
My reason for taking the course was to learn something about the mechanics of songwriting—if such they are—but when the teacher, Berklee College of Music, Pat Pattison, suggests that we move across the aisle from the lyric-writing side to the melody-writing side of the room, without essential, basic knowledge, I'm dead.
I'm not a musician, and there's no place to hide. 

What am I doing here?

This MOOC, Songwriting, would prepare me to deepen my understanding how printmaking and a performance art—in this instance, songwriting—are related. A cursory understanding of songwriting mechanics (if you can call them that) will help  me to know how to create an online printmaking course the way Pat Pattison has done his course on songwriting. 
Combining Thadeus Hogarth’s MOOC on guitar I started earlier (until I was drowning, unable to keep up) and Pat Pattison’s MOOC on songwriting, feels to me like boot camp so I might on a team to make the world’s most effective printmaking teaching method for online and blended learning.
 Coming out of the two Coursera/Berklee MOOCs, I can neither play the guitar nor can I write a song, but I have, through the process, learned what experiences musicians might go through as the learn their art and craft by seeing, on the screen, how two music teachers have approached the creation of a MOOC in their arts.
During my lessons over the weeks, I look up from my work on the MOOCs and I can see a way to teach printmaking. When, for example, Thadeus was naming the parts of the press, I took screenshots and substituted parts of the etching press where Thadeus was showing guitar parts.
 When Pat Pattison was explaining the ways to achieve prosody in music, I thought of ways to do something similar in composing  and printing etching plates—rotating the plate, for example, to get bi-symmetry.
I recalled Stanley Hayter’s lessons. This printmaking pioneer knew there was a connection between musical counterpoint and visual art, and the soft ground etching method gave him a way to show students one way to achieve a good composition by trial and error, since the soft ground allows you to erase and start over without much work
This is the third Coursera MOOC I enrolled in. The first was Gamification, with Professor Werbach at the University of Pennsylvania. An online course in printmaking will work better with a game feature combined with my point view that printmaking shares properties with performance art, especially musical performance.

Give it up?

No, not so fast, my wife said, and she handed me the little Casio keyboard I keep by the computer keyboard. In one minute, she showed me it's easier to look at the black-and-white keys and see and hear the A-minor and G-major chords Pattison is using.

Not as hard as it sounded and seemed, looking at the MOOC onscreen. I still have one more day to write my song, give the words their correct weight and feel, paste in a loop and pick out the tones for the keywords in the verse and chorus. I might be able, after all.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Shutting down the printmaking world?

I got a bill today for $60, which included an overdue payment of $25 because I let my registration fee for lapse. It’s one more indication that I am not cut out for management of Internet accounts. It’s another reason I look forward to being free of these administrative tasks—the kinds of things that other people are very good at doing because they are not trying to reinvent printmaking or any such thing like it.
In fact, I have heard that I am paying way too much for domain registrations—that I could get the same service for about $10 a year! If that’s true, then I wish I had known that three years ago when I got I would be money ahead, that’s for sure. As I am reinventing printmaking—taking the 20th Century printmaking world and re-shaping it to fit the 21st Century world and future printmakers’ education today—I don’t have the inclination to stop what I’m doing today to shop around for and reorganize my Websites accordingly.
In that light, $60 is a small price to pay for the freedom to continue working on the Print Maker Faire for next year—the first of its kind in the printmaking world. By next year, when I get notice that the domain name,, is up for renewal, I will not care because the decision to keep it or let it go will not be mine alone. It will be a matter for the Factory School of Printmaking Art to decide.

Looking ahead

It is my disposition to always be looking ahead and thinking about the future. I think about trends and forecasts. While it’s true that no one knows the future, it is also true that anyone can look at probabilities and make a pretty good guess as to what will happen based on past experience and probabilities.
For example, if you don’t watch your expiration dates on domain name registration at your ISP Website, or have turned off auto renewal, the probability is pretty good that—amid the exciting prospects of a Print Maker Faire—you will forget to renew and you will probably have to pay if you’re not ready to let the domain go.
But when you’re alone on a quest for a redefined and better printmaking world, you have to do the best you can with what you have and—if you overlook putting it on your calendar—then you will pay the costs. Life is like that when you are reinventing something as big as the printmaking art world.


Since 1994, when I set up my first Web site, I have initiated and used about twenty domain names, with varying sizes of files and varying purposes. As this period coincides with the rise of the persistent virtual worlds and the massively multiplayer online role-playing games, my goal was to create something like these virtual worlds where printmaking was the main thing.
Every time a new proposition would come to mind, it would generate a new Web site. The last one I added was, which was inspired by a service called, a kind of help desk for contractors. This site serves contractors and freelancers of all kinds—writers, artists, designers, it-specialists, programmers—every kind of specialist in the world who could do for you what you need to have done. was a service for printmakers who, for example, would be willing to print an edition of, say, 50 prints from an etching plate a printmaker had made. Or, someone might want 200 Wedding invitations printed from a family heirloom engraving and this person could advertise this on Somewhere in the world, there would be someone who could produce the invitations. made its money by charging a service fee that covered things like contractual agreements, etc. It’s a commonplace in the publishing industry already, with companies like’s CreateSpace and others.
I registered the name almost a year ago; I will let it expire or, if a team develops around the Print Maker Faire project, offer it to someone on the team to develop into a full-blown service for printmakers worldwide and the general public. It is, after all, unlikely that the name,, is hot property. Also, someone else might come up with a better name for it; or, there is already a company doing this!

At the Faire

Custom hand-printers are very rare nowadays. In the Seattle area, for example, I know of only one, which is Sidereal Press owned by Sheila Coppola. In Portland, Oregon, there is Mark Mahaffey. It would be my hope that both would be at the Print Maker Faire launch next July. They are not what the “maker” movement is about—which is like a grass-roots movement of small, independent people doing hobby and crafts for pleasure and entertainment—but more like the 20th Century model of industrial-grade fine art.
Printmaking has always been at the top of the brainstem of media arts. Printmaking is where industry meets social and cultural demands. We point to Gutenberg as the quintessential representation of industry meeting the needs of a public, resulting in a far-reaching revolution in every aspect of Western history. He borrowed idea of moveable type—invented in Korea—invented a way to organize re-usable type blocks in a holder (called a chase), and changed the world forever. Prior to that, printmaking was for entertainment and illustrating the canonical principles of the day.

The Print Maker Faire is a grass-roots, small affair for print collectors, hobbyists, teachers, crafters, students and entrepreneurs and it will include representation by major service providers like Sidereal Press and Mahaffey Fine Arts. The former representation is important because it shows the work of little kids and “big kids” in one place at one time. More importantly, the Print Maker Faire is intended to show how extensible printmaking art can be.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Real estate for Emeralda

A different financing plan

Walking down Roy street one day I came to an empty building. It has been empty ever since the Drachan Foundation moved. You may recall Ali Fujino was the Executive Director, and Scott Skinner is the Drachan’s board president and they both own Halfwood Presses.
The building at 400 Roy Street is a one-story office building and it is, at present, a sore-eye in the neighborhood.
I started thinking about this building, wondering if it could be the home of the new factory school of printmaking. With a footprint of 5,000 square feet, and zoning to grow a higher structure, it’s the right size. It’s in the right neighborhood. The building is under-performing, as they say in real estate investing, I think.
After some thought, it occurred to me that to get investors to finance the new factory school of printmaking, perhaps their investment should be on real estate, first, and performance (the products and services—i.e., the factory school business) second.
Who would prefer a real estate investment over a factory school? Almost everyone, I believe.
Real estate that pays its way by leasing to a profitable venture is a good real estate investment. Investors in real estate who buy into the venture, knowing the mission of the lessor and believing in it, could be more assured of a good ROI.
Investing in education is the long-term plan, and investing in a product and service of good design is as good a bond as you can get today.
The new factory school of printmaking is based on learn-by-doing, and is built around several strong trends. One, specialized art equipment; two, online education; three, games. There is a fourth element—chocolate (more about that some other time). The mix is complicated and is enticing to people in the arts and education for that reason.
Investing in real estate is a better investment than investing in art; investing in real estate for a new factory school of art is the best of both worlds.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Another Day, Another Printmaking Game

The picture is of a game called "Erase," the ninth in a series of Trading Card Games I hacked from pre-existing, real games listed in the book, "Trading Card Games for Dummies." I'm making a game out of inventing games (well, mods, actually, where you modify a real game to make it fit printmaking, video art, or computer art).
The process takes place in my imaginary place called "Emeralda," which is a printmaker's heaven; but not printmakers who have to die to go to Emeralda, but who can go to this mde-up, Virtual World to meet the ghosts of printmakers and learn how they managed to take commercial, industrial tools and make them instruments for fine art.
"Erase" is based on another game I made up called "Video Dig Reloaded," inspired by C. T. Chew's even from the 1980s. The background photo for the box design, above, for "Erase" is an image Carl made in his Artist's Portraits series.
Emeralda is the name of the new school of printmaking I am launching next year, and getting the money to start it up by converting my artworks into Preferred Stock. You can read all about this in my newest paperback/Kindle book, "PressGhost Investor," available at
Today, July 22, is the tenth day on my self-assigned challenge to "invent" ten TCG's that fit on each of the ten islands in Emeralda Region, and I'm working on the last game of the series, "Bon A Tirer," based on the real game, "Set."
It is fun! Hard fun. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Games, Songs and Printmaking Online

It's been an interesting week in Emeralda Region, and getting more interesting by the day. Today, for example, I started my third MOOC with Coursera, the great resource for Massively Open Online Courses. My first was GAMIFICATION; next I finished GUITAR, and today I started SONGWRITING.
Yesterday I designed the box cover for a game I titled, "Available." It is the sixth game I made up as part of my own self-given assignment to reinvent an existing collectible trading card game to fit my new school of printmaking. In my school, students do projects like this, so I have to know what I'm doing and I practice what I assign.
At the beginning of SONGWRITING, the teacher (Pat Pattison, Berklee School of Music) asked everyone to fill out a survey. My method of creating the world's first MOOC on fine printmaking, I use the method taught by Dr. Frank Napoleon Stein, where you copy out an original and then stitch in your original parts. Here is my version, what a printmaking student would see:
Why do you want to take this course? (check a box)
General interest in the topic
Extending current knowledge of the topic
Supplement other college/university classes
Decide if I want to take college/university classes on the topic
Professional development
Interest in how these courses are taught
Cannot afford to pursue a formal education

Geographically isolated from educational institutions

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wanted: Managing Director

  Caption - Bill's book, the investor guide, and at the right a display
of his Certified Collectible Convertible Preferred Shares.

Neither before nor after

Finding a director and manager for Emeralda, the new school of printmaking, will require dancing around the questions of leadership, timing, and authority. There is nothing new to say about a director or, if this person does both managing and directing (the Managing Director), again, what is there to say? Will one come before or after? I say neither because the roles are complementary.
In my new school of printmaking, Emeralda, there is no simple division because a Managing Director has to have a foot in each of two worlds—the world that is, and the world that is coming into being. It is my role to be most concerned with the world that is coming into being, because it is my vision of the future that is the compulsion for Emeralda.
The world that is, on the other hand, is the world in which I need the help of a Managing Director and his or her team. Books such as, “Reality is Broken” by Jane MacGonigal is a view of the world that is and which she says is propelling huge segments of the younger generation into virtual worlds akin to the Land of Oz and other fantasies.
Rather than get down to the hard work of dealing with the five elements described in the USC’s list of things that need to be fixed, Jane suggests the gaming generation worldwide is retreating into a kind of early childhood retirement. The tasks are so awesome, and worsened by government inaction and reactionary politics.
My new school of printmaking will redirect younger people away from retirement and compel them in the direction of early childhood development, focusing on the media arts in both hands-on and virtual, virtuous ways: Hands-on printmaking plus a hand in the production of a cooperative venture that develops manual, mental and social skills concomitantly.
Who will be the Managing Director of such a bold operation?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Eleven months later . . .

I'm attaching a picture of the first Launch/Plasteel press--a press made of all-man-made materials.

A few words that will bring a reader to the cutting-edge of the Halfwood Press saga--the invention of the Kyber Press. I foresee this will be the last one for me. From here on, it will be for other people, and I hope there will be many, many more people, to make new personal-sized etching presses to enjoy the printmaking experience.
The Kyber Press got its name from cybernetics. Most people who don't know Greek don't know that there is a possibility that cybernetic is not pronounced "Sigh-burr-net-ik" but rather "Ki-burr-net-ik." The name was made famous by Norbert Wiener in the 1940s because he thought the new science he and his colleagues had started went with the idea of a pilot, or steersman. He went to Greek for a word that fit, and chose the word and it starts with what we call "X" but which the Greeks call "Chi" and is pronounced like a "K," or the "ch" in Bach.
My Kyber Press combines the "smart" feature of the Halfwood Presses--the flash memory drive built into the hoods--with the Launch Plasteel, so called "plastic" press. Some call my idea of a plastic press the Volkswagen of etching presses--a press that is cheap enough and fully functional so all kinds of printing can be in every classroom, and in many homes and printmaking studios.
The Kyber Press is an improvement on the flash memory drive because it uses Bluetooth technology instead of a USB extension cable.This means that any computer-type device within thirty feet of the press will be in communication with press. Touch the press' hood and the press--now a Bluetooth device like a cell phone--can talk to the computer and the Internet.
The Kyber Press is one of the growing number of the Internet of Things--a phrase coined a few years ago to discuss the many objects in the world that have a connection to the Internet. The primary reason for putting Bluetooth the Kyber Press is to develop the printmaking world community in ways it has never been possible before, and solely for the benefits of sharing with printmakers, students, and families worldwide.
With the Kyber Press I have discovered the final piece in the puzzle of Proximates, which is a game of proximity in time with other people making prints all over the world.
Now the question occurs to me, What about all the people who bought into the press before the Bluetooth connection was made? I believe there will be a special league in Proximates for these individuals, and that is my next challenge.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

ESL and Printmaking

ESL and Printmaking
Andrew, in Japan, has a Pram Halfwood Press and the two of us are working a a variation of Printmaking Camp. Living in Japan, and with a four-year old daughter, he's highly tuned to the English language teaching programs in Japan. He himself works as a translator. I feel lucky to have met Andrew through his purchase of a Pram Halfwood Press.
It proves, again, that the power of the press is more than one would assume. I think printmaking - the kind of hands-on printmaking that kids sometimes get in school - has something special for kids that the other arts don't have. Since I reinvented printmaking as a time-based art (a printmaker makes a plate and then prints it again and again), I opened up a new experience for people who were wary of trying art for themselves.
When you introduce time as a factor, such as in repetition of making almost the same image over and over from a printing plate, you not only get an experience you don't get from drawing, painting and sculpture, your scope for imagination widens.
I tell people, "You don't have to know how to draw or design to make interesting prints - the mechanics help you out."
Andrew sent me a link to research from New York on art and English as a second language. It showed there was improvement in ESL students who had art included in their curriculum. Andrew and I think ESL programs should include printmaking on a real etching press, too, so our goal is to start a program based on his Pram Halfwood Press.
Reading the New York paper, I did not find one occurrence of the word, "printmaking," but plenty of references to drawing, painting and sculpture. This is typical because the materials and supplies for these visual art media are more readily available and disposable. For printmaking, it's more difficult and tools, equipment and supplies are not so easily thrown out at the end of the day.
With more effort, the rewards grow, in my opinion. If people take up the challenge of more difficult tasks, the experience deepens and can be ingrained in students at an early age. Printmaking requires more focus, more discipline, more intellectual exercise than drawing, painting, and sculpture. Most importantly, in the context of ESL, printmaking requires teamwork and communications.
I have only begun to analyze the paper Andrew called to my attention, and I don't expect any surprises because - in just the first several pages - I see the same old story: art helps.
In many ways, media arts help cross language barriers more than visual arts because we live in an age when media almost dominate our lives. We need to teach young people how to use the machines that are the ancestors of todays technologies that produce everything from music recordings to video games.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

App like Bill Nye:

Metaphor for a product proposal

Bill Nye The Science Guy has been a model for this artist for a long time, and when it was announced that Nye had “made an app,” the artist’s curiosity was piqued because he wants to do for art education what Bill Nye and his ilk have done for science ed.

Copy-writing ABC news about Bill Nye’s App

      The new app available on iTunes is “Bill Nye The Science Guy,” downloadable for free for iOS (iPhone and iPad) devices."
     I took the text off the Web site and rewrote it—like buying a used article of clothing, and trying to tailor it to fit me. All the old radio and TV shows have been models for me when I think how to go on teaching after I die, using every kind of new and old technology I can stitch together.
      “Bill Nye The Science Guy, a PBS show that taught kids all about science, is off the air, but his smart and informative legacy lives on in the iTunes store,” the news article stated.
      In the same way, I am “off the campus” of the UW Art School forever, but I will live on in the iTunes store or the Android-compatible store at
      “Bill Nye The Science Guy is now an app, released earlier this month by Disney Publishing Worldwide. From games designed to teach users about the solar system and planet Earth’s geological history to do-it-yourself experiments, the app brings users all of the informative lessons Nye has to teach in an imaginative manner.”
      If I had a group like Disney to back me up, I know I could do an app for printmaking. I rack my brain trying to come up with a backer, and I haven’t succeeded yet. ABC (an affiliate of Disney) describe’s Nye’s app:
      “You’ve arrived at my desk!” exclaims the familiar voice of Bill Nye as you open the app.”
      It’s so much like my relief printmaking one I started a couple years ago, you can see it on my Printmaking Camp Website.

      In Nye’s App, "You choose from objects on the desk (click on the image) such as a rocket, a robot or a sundial, and the app will bring users into a different lesson. Select the rocket, for example, and you will embark on a mission to the solar system, where Nye teaches you facts about the planets. Tap the robot, and Nye and his dog will bring you on an archeological dig wherein you earn points and learn about the earth’s surface based on the objects you find.”
      It’s painful for me to read this stuff! I ache with envy! My app would have you click on a certain woodcutting knife and it would be explained, and method of using it, too. Click on the little icon of Dusty Cann, the PressGhost, or a caricature of Hiroshige, and take another approach in old Japan. Or, go with C. T. Chew on a Video Dig!
      “In addition to games, users can bring the science lab into their own home; swipe through a book of “do-it-yourself ” experiments and follow instructions to brew up homemade carbon dioxide, for example.” I question the use of the word “games” because clicking on something is not gamification in my book. No challenge, no game.
      “This app offers more than just facts and information. It has humor, too. For example, open Bill Nye’s desk drawer and learn when he started wearing bow ties and even how to tie one yourself.” Gag.
      "It is easy to download, install, and launch the app. Press the fingerprint icon to enter the Nye lab. No scientific laboratory is completely secure without a finger print identification!" Fake. Fake.
      "Bill Nye The Science Guy presents information in an engaging manner combining retro style animations with games and lessons users will find easy to absorb. The one downside: The app is not available for Android." (Well, MINE WILL BE!)- BR

      ©2013 Bill Ritchie, who thinks printmaking should be taught and learned, practiced, researched and be of community service. He retired from 20th Century teaching to start Emeralda Works—a blender of traditional printmaking and digital arts for producing games that combine curriculum, database, etching press, and a digital game-based interface.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Two desktops

The word “desktop” has been an important term in the software industry for decades. When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak made their breakthrough with icons on a Mac screen, it was a reflection of Jobs experience with calligraphy—how the strokes of an ink-filled brush on white paper were significant, beautiful, and iconic all at the same time. Not only that, but one man I met said in the art of calligraphy it is an instance of maker, making and made concomitantly. In other words, the calligrapher is one with his art. Another wise man observed that an artist shapes a work and then the work shapes him or her.
Then there was the axiomatic, “A computer on every desktop,” which guided Bill Gates and Paul Allen in their development of Microsoft—soon to employ the iconic approach to user interface design. The word itself, icon, is timeless; the word desktop, not so much, but it is the common expression now for another kind of icon; that is, it is the computer screen where a computer user might spread an array of icons which represent “quick-start” shortcuts to open applications or folders.
Today I was obsessing over the relationship between two forms of desktops—my real desktop, on which there is an array of objects you might say have an iconic aspect, and my desktop on my computer screen – shown below.

Then I looked around at my REAL desktop and thought about the objects sitting around on it at the moment. It’s a very cluttered desktop, but I thought about what the things meant. I also can’t help but think about their worth. Anyone coming to the Mini Art Gallery would not know what the objects are, certainly, and they certainly wouldn’t know if they were worth anything at all.
But, they are worth a lot to me. It is partly because I spent a lot of time on the objects on my desktop that I made myself. Someone who designs video games told me that regardless of the fact that things people make in the virtual world—all digital images and therefore having no existence in the physical world—take the makers a long time. Therefore, they are valuable to these people.
It is the same for video game players who live a “SecondLife,” and people who congregate a tribe or team, quest or campaign in a video game. Even though the relationships are held together only by strings of code and managed by algorithms, they are just a valued as the actual objects the people own in their homes and at work or parked in their garage.
I took a snapshot of my desktop—actually the corner of the Mini Art Gallery where my desktop sits—and I think about the value of each of the things I could isolate in the photo:
I can’t help but include the pictures on the wall along with the desktop.
An interesting thing happened when I was saving the files—a typo that made the name come out “desctop” in the spelling. I added it to my dictionary. Then I looked up the word—Yahoo’s Flikr has a group call by this name.
If I had time, I would make a page out of this image and load it with hotspots so people could identify the things and see their worth.
Maybe I could auction them off and pay for my new CNC Router!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What is A Halfwood Press Workshop?

I was challenged by an old friend who offered to help staff a Halfwood Press Workshop in Port Townsend, Washington, when she heard that I want to start hands-on, intensive Halfwood Press Making workshop. I thought about what my friend might be thinking and what others might think “Halfwood Press Workshop” means.

Blind men and the elephant

You know the story. Describing a Halfwood Press Workshop is like that. Each person—“blind man”—will tend to describe the Halfwood Press Workshop according to his or her past experience or professional background. The person with a background in, for example, printmaking, will see it as an alternative to buying a readymade press.
A person who has a spouse or other family member who wants an etching press (and who, him or herself) is fond of making things of steel and wood, would see a Halfwood Press Workshop as a chance to do something to benefit the other person and, at the same time, benefit themselves.
A business person, who is looking for a new line of work, or an owner of a small manufacturing company, may see a Halfwood Press Workshop entirely differently. This is the kind of person who has visited an art supply store and who has noticed the etching press for sale, or who happens to talk about printmaking with someone at an art opening. Their child may come home from school or a community art class, excited about printing.
It makes this imaginary person think, “What is this all about?” and they might do a study online. They put in “etching press” and hundreds of images of etching presses fill the computer screen. Then, to narrow the search, they put in, “Halfwood etching press” and they will come to the Website I began building in 2004, and which I am about to dismantle.

A time to change the game

Ever since I closed my Seattle Halfwood Press Workshop and moved into our Mini Art Gallery, I’ve been listening to music on Pandora. Lynda and I like the Oldies, of course (we are children of the ‘60s) and Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, plus jazz. Dylan’s “Times they are a’ changin’” plays in my head as I write the words, a time to change the game.
The game is printmaking, and my place in it. When I taught in the 1970s there was a song by Bobby Bear—or it might have been Elvis Presley—in which he put in the words, “Time changes everything.” As a professor, I made the adage more sophisticated when I came across the Latin, Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis, meaning “Times change, and we change with them.”
Eight years of making Halfwood Presses—over 125 of them—by hand and thereby developing my view of printmaking in an alternative school of thinking and doing has led to this point in time, a time to change. It’s time to put into effect what I learned in fifty years of college and post-college years:
(1) Printmaking is less a visual art and more an aural art, like music. (2) Printmaking is the ancestor of all technologies of communications. (3) Printmaking is a social art that works best by collaboration and wide distribution. (4) As printmaking is a time-based art like music, and involves instrumentation (presses, plates, tools, etc.) and strategic crowd-production, then the contemporary application of this art and craft is video games.
Now is the time to change in order to go forward with my vision of a worldwide network of Halfwood Press Workshops. I have already taken the first step, which is to quit doing what I've been doing, i.e., doing the finishing work on Tom and Margie's parts of Halfwood Presses.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Finished my novel!

About a year ago I wondered, "How can I relate the 'printmaking experience' to other people without sounding like a teacher? I was making a toy etching press at the time - the WeeWoodie Rembrandt press. I don't know what I was thinking, but along came the idea of using the little machine as a time machine and going back to see what was happening with Rembrandt.

It started me writing a novel, which - because the little press I made seemed to have a voice - I titled, "Rembrandt's Ghost in the New Machine."

By December of 2012, after about ten re-writes (all of which were read and critiqued and edited by my wife) I felt like the book was done, so I published it online through CreateSpace so it's now available at both in paperback and Kindle. Oh, also at Barnes & Noble as a Nook e-book.

To see - and sample - the book, just go to and put in the title. And if you are in the mood, write your review in the space provided at amazon's website.