Women’s Work

Womens Work by Heather Page, relief print, silk screen, and painting on pink gingham, 15 inches x 15 inches

Title: Women’s Work
Media: Wood relief print, silk screen, and painting on pink gingham
Size: 15″ x 15″
Edition: 1/20-20/20
 
process | edition | story | related works

process

Women’s Work is an original relief print, silk screen, and painting on pink gingham in three colors made from one woodburned and carved cherry wood block and two silk screens.

 

We make silk screen prints by pushing ink through a stretched piece of mesh.
 
Images are made by blocking out parts of the mesh. We call this a stencil. For Women’s Work, I used drawing fluid stencils.
 
To make a drawing fluid stencil…

  1. I paint an image directly on a screen with a sugary paint we call drawing fluid. Water-soluble crayons also work.
  2. Once it dries, I squeegee a red paint called screen filler over the entire screen.
  3. When the screen filler is dry, I wash the screen in hot water. The drawing fluid dissolves, leaving open mesh wherever I painted.
  4. When I squeegee ink through the screen, it can only pass through the washed-out image area, creating a print that looks just like the painting I made.

 
More information on silk screen printing

I printed the relief block below by rolling brown ink over the surface of the block, placing the silk-screened gingham on top, and then rubbing over the back with a wooden knob to transfer the ink to the fabric.
 
Key block for Women's Work and Queen's Lace by Heather Page, woodburned and carved cherry, 16 inches x 16 inches

Proof of key block for Queen's Lace and Women's Work by Heather Page, wood relief print on newsprint, 15 inches x 15 inches

Womens Work Key Block by Heather Page, detail image, carved and woodburned cherry, 16 inches x 16 inches
Womens Work Key Block by Heather Page, detail image, carved and woodburned cherry, 16 inches x 16 inches
Womens Work Key Block by Heather Page, detail image, carved and woodburned cherry, 16 inches x 16 inches
 
More information on relief printing

edition

I printed Women’s Work in an edition of twenty prints, most of which were exchanged with the other artists in the Wonder Women Portfolio mentioned below.

 
More information on editions

story

I created Women’s Work for “Wonder Women”, a print portfolio project organized by Amanda Knowles and Lenore Thomas in honor of Frances Myers, who was retiring from teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison at the time.

 
Frances was the intaglio professor at UW. Now there are lots of female printmaking teachers, but for students my age and above, they were few and far between. And they had PRESENCE to achieve renown as artists, as printmakers, and as teachers in a field usually ruled by men.
 
Frances often celebrated women in her art and even did a series about Wonder Woman. To pay tribute to Frances and all the support she gave me during graduate school, to the talented women in the portfolio, and to female artists in general whose artworks have often been neglected or belittled, I wanted to make an artwork using a subject and techniques we habitually label as “girly”.
 
Thus, I printed on pink gingham using printmaking techniques often used to print patterns on cloth. In addition, I chose a floral motif that I drew in a particularly lacy manner.
 
I see lacework as belonging to women. I also see it as one of the few fiber arts made by women with a connotation of great worth. While I really wanted to tat my own lace to use as a printing plate, my skill lies in carving wood. So I made this intricate carving for Frances, as well as the other women who have taken the time to teach a creative kid how to make girly art.