SparkBox Studio Residency

September 2, 2015

A few weeks ago, I returned home from a wonderful residency in Picton, Ontario at Spark Box Studio, a lovely print and studio space on a farmhouse in Prince Edward County. It is the home and workspace of artists Kyle Topping and Chrissy Poitras, whose spirit and hospitality make the place welcoming and full of possibility as soon as you arrive. Once I dropped my bags I started drawing, but I really yearned to find out more by walking.



glacial formations in Prince Edward County


On Tuesday morning, I took a four mile walk to pick rocks and draw from at a small hill near town, one that I had seen on the brief drive the evening before. The weather was gorgeous and felt as welcoming as Kyle and Chrissy's farmhouse. What I enjoyed about the walk was the chance to be alone with my thoughts: the quiet country road had very little traffic, and no one noticed if I stopped to stare for a long while at wildflowers or granite pebbles, or if I leaned against a tree to take in the sight of a well-aged barn. (For example, just stopping to stare at a hummingbird in a park in San Antonio - a moment so fleeting that it caught my breath - I was asked by passersby if I was alright, as if to question why I wasn't walking.)

When I arrived at the hill, it was steep and seemed to be comprised of glacial till. I climbed the hill, not as adeptly as I'd like, but made my way through brush and wild grapes to find a place to sit and draw. There were rocks of all kinds in the hill, from pebble to boulder size, comprised of limestone, granite, and some bits of conglomerate. I figured this was a drumlinoid, but there was no way for me to be certain. I liked the guesswork and the digging - the questioning and the drawing are part of why I make the work I make. I feel more connected to the earth when I am curious about it.



work table at SparkBox Studio


I found several fossiliferous limestones in a field on the walk home. I began sketching immediately, centering on this little hill and the marine creatures that once inhabited the place that I spent all morning walking around on my two legs. I moved on to making a few watercolors, then went into the print studio with a renewed sense of color and purpose.



rolling out color and templates in the printshop


In the short time I was at Spark Box, I created a series of monotypes that reflect an intimacy with that initial foray into walking in Prince Edward County and a reverence to the local rocks that I connected to in my exploration. Though I went on several other forays, including a trip to Lake Ontario, this first walk set the tone for the work. These monotypes are a series of prints that are mostly in beginning stages to take shape into other works; some are in a final form and require no other work.



a few final pieces


Prints are wonderful in that they can remain at once an effecient means of communicating an idea, or take shape into books, works on paper, mixed media, or constituent parts of other artworks like sculpture or painting. I am incredibly happy with the results and look forward to sharing more of these Spark Box prints as they become finalized.

Finishing Fossils & Whispers

August 3, 2015



translucent Gampi-shi over printed images on Rives


On Friday, Cat and I finished our book edition, Fossils & Whispers. It is an edition of 20 small, 3.5 x 5 inch artists books, printed and typed on Rives Lightweight and Gampi-shi. There is still some small work to do in order to get the book in the final editioned state, so we will release the book when that work is finished. I currently have one book that I can use for teaching and showing to students and interested collectors. I am really excited about this project and will definitely write about the process in a longer post.



the center spread of Fossils & Whispers


After these past two weeks of intese work, it was nice to spend this weekend relaxing and catching up on some rest. I have really enjoyed slowing down and appreciating the effort that we sustained in order to create Fossils & Whispers, and am already pumped to make another artist's book soon.

Book Arts Residency Update

July 26, 2015

After a full week in the studio, Cat Snapp and I are well on our way to finishing the printing of our book pages. The next part of our efforts will include checking all pages for accuracy and quality, making sure that anything I hand-typed is correct and lines up as it should with its corresponding page. After this, we will begin to build the book block by folding and sewing our pages together in the correct order, then trimming off the excess edges.

After this we will glue in the body of the book to its front and back cover, including end sheets. This will be a long process as we will have to wait for glue to dry and will have to press the books with weights to secure and ensure the craft of the process. I am excited to see it all come together and can't wait to hold it in my hands.


checking the mockup against a stack of prints before typing the last line of text


Today in the studio, I will be typing the colophon. Thirty-five times. I think I'll need to eat a good breakfast.

Residency and Book Progress

July 19, 2015

The time has finally come for Cat and I to print our book! We have been communicating back and forth for almost a year using e-mail, Skype, Dropbox, and packages sent back and forth to one another in order to get ready for this. To finally be in the same place has been well worth the effort. Our thoughts and work together are uniting and it is a joy to see the book finally coming into its own, bit by bit.



working on book text and imagery for the mock up


We are just starting this journey, as we will begin printing our imagery on Monday in the shop. We have a ways to go, but with our residency at the Southwest School of Art Book and Paper Arts Studio, we have plenty of space to work and options to pursue to get our book to its final, best form. I think I speak for both of us when I say that we are excited to see how it turns out. So far, it has all been dreams and drawings, typed text and journal entries to one another. It is going to be fabulous to smell the ink, to fold the pages, and to sew the bindings. Pulling a physical form out of every idea that has been our shared goal will be satisfying.



Printmaking Video

May 28, 2015

I recently created a quick video that documents how I make a print, from etching to mixing ink to printing. It's a very shortened version of the process, but if you've ever wondered what the printing side of the creation of original prints looks like, here is a quick peek into how I work. Enjoy!

Two Minute Printmaking from Nicole Geary on Vimeo.

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