Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Come See Us at the Paseo Springfest in Pasadena!

Gypsy Mystery Arts will be selling our wares at the Paseo Spring Fest in Pasadena on May 14th and 15th.  Join us for a weekend filled with arts, crafts, food and music at the beautiful Paseo Colorado Center in Pasadena.

More info at: http://laydback.com/

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Art Spotlight: 'Home Blessing'

'Home Blessing' by Cristina McAllister
A Mandala of Protection, Security, Warmth and Harmony

The snail shells represent the Home, as the snail carries its home with it - a safe place of protection that is a part of its being. The snail’s shell also has the form of a spiral, which is one of the oldest symbols in human art, signifying outward growth and cyclic expansion.
The hamsa, or “Hand of Fatima” is an ancient amulet of protection popular in the Middle East and North Africa. The ancient Jews, Egyptians and Arabs believed the Hand represented blessings, power and strength.  The five fingers have many meaning for Jews; they represent the five books of the Torah, the Hebrew number Heth, which is one of God's holy names, and serve as a reminder to use all five senses to perceive and praise God. The eye on the palm is a counter for the Evil Eye, a curse thought to be cast by an envious gaze.
Flaming hearts are sheltered by roof-like shapes, suggesting a hearth - the social center of a house, as a source of warmth, light and love.
Sprigs of sage are included to represent the Native American belief that burning sage can purify a place, banishing negative energy.
In the corners is the West African adinkra symbol fihankra (“house” or “compound”), which signifies safety and security. 
 At the center is the Chinese character for “Harmony”, which is essential for a happy household. 

This mandala makes an exceptional housewarming gift!
Unique, hand-made prints of 'Home Blessing' are available at my Etsy shop:

Digital giclee prints of this mandala are available from Fine Art America.com:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

True Life Story: The Gypsy Mystery Arts Studio and My Evolving Method

There be dragons here!
Our house (known fondly as the 'Technicolor Cottage') has become a fine art screen printing shop. 

  It’s everywhere.  In the living room are folding work tables, paints, inks and other art supplies, shipping tubes, a mat cutter, a printing press, and silk screens stacked against the walls.  The sofa and TV manage to squeeze in as well.  The bathtub is used as much for cleaning screens as it is for cleaning us.  The ‘dining room’ is half-filled with shelves and racks to store finished art and more art supplies. Dore’s garage has become an ever-evolving facility for coating and exposing screens. 
a fresh sheet of paper
          We are getting better at the process, but it can be complicated – lots of little things can go wrong, and have.  So far, we have both made more mistakes than perfect finished products.  But the ones that do turn out are turning out great, and we’re getting better with every try.

     My initial choice of substrate for my screen prints was heavy (140 lb.) watercolor paper, on which I hand-painted a background in acrylic paints.  After many frustrating printing issues, which I determined are 
painting the background with pastels
caused by the heavy paper warping slightly and sticking to the screen (ruining numerous painted backgrounds in the process), I decided to try a different substrate.
        I’d done a small run of prints on colored fine art paper (Canson Mi-Teintes) and the printing had gone much more smoothly, especially when I sprayed the press surface with a temporary adhesive that held the lighter-weight paper securely in place (the adhesive was not quite strong enough to hold onto the heavier paper). 
      The Mi-Teintes paper comes in a variety of colors and has a nice texture and was perfect for working with pastels.  I decided to try painting my backgrounds on this lighter paper with pastels, and it seems to have solved the printing problems I was having.  

the finished background
            For each piece, I trim the paper, then measure out and mark the image area. I mask off the edges of the image area, using scrap paper to shield the paper beyond the tape.  Using soft pastels, I layer colors over the paper’s base color, blending and smudging to create a background that has variation and interest, but is not too distracting.  The background needs to maintain a certain value level in order to let the metallic gold ink really shine.  The pastels actually enhance this effect, as they have a very matte, velvety finish that contrasts beautifully with the shimmering gold of the printed design.
   Once the pastel work is done, I spray it with a fixative to prevent further smudging, and remove the masking.

            Next comes the actual screen printing.  Dore built the press, which is a sort of box with a laminated surface and a pair of Speedball clamp hinges.  He has also taken charge of making the screens (a process fraught with its own technical difficulties and nuances to master). 

gold ink along top of screen
            The screen is clamped into the hinges and I determine how to line up my paper to center the design within the square of background. I mark the corner position with tape and spray a light coat of spray-mount to secure the background paper.

            The screen is pulled down and ink (which is about the consistency of creamy peanut butter) is applied along the upper edge of the screen above the image.  Using a wide squeegee, the ink is pulled down across the screen, pushing a thin layer of ink through the stencil.
Final print

  VoilĂ !  
The gold ink gleams against a vibrant field of swirling color.  Each print is then numbered, titled and signed.