Thursday, February 7, 2013
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.