Tuckamore Design is a very small handcrafted card and print company based in Buffalo, New York. I'm a Canadian transplant, originally from Newfoundland. I've been a printmaker for 15 years, almost as long as I've been an architect. I never formally studied art, but I've taken classes from a handful of amazing artists at Dundarave Print Workshop in Vancouver, BC, and NSCAD in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

I love paper, especially since I spend a lot of hours every day working on a computer for my other business, Design Synergies Architecture.

I also love to create handcrafted greeting cards for everyday and seasonal occasions. When the inspiration hits (and I have time), I make the occasional original print. Every piece is printed by hand or on an etching press.

In the early days, my prints and cards were featured at the Canadian Craft Museum, the Craft Association of British Columbia shop, and various exhibits in Vancouver and Halifax. My cards have been sold in shops in the Maritime Provinces, Buffalo, NY, and most recently in Martinsburg, West Virginia! Through my Etsy site, my cards have been sent all over the world.

My work is influenced by Celtic and Art Nouveau design, by Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and by the Arts & Crafts movement. I found inspiration for several years in my front porch container garden in the Elmwood Village in Buffalo, and now I'm daydreaming of spring in my new backyard garden.

My favourite medium is linoleum block printing, especially blind embossed prints (deeply impressed and printed without ink). I'm about to embark on a watercolour adventure, and I'm wondering how that will find its way into my printmaking....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A fellowship in embossing

Embossed Gerbera Daisies card
The deadline for the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) artists' fellowships is next week, and this year Printmaking is one of the eligible media:
- Digital/Electronic Arts
- Crafts/Sculpture
- Nonfiction Literature
- Poetry
- Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts
    Last year, Architecture (my day job) was eligible.  A colleague and I put together an application for a research project that was based on a design competition entry.  We didn't win (the competition or the fellowship), but it was an interesting exercise.  It made me think about architectural design in a different way than I do every day - more academic than the day-to-day practical approach.

    Embossed Daisy Card
    This year, I've decided to submit as a printmaker - just me, as an artist, essentially asking to be taken seriously for what I do in my spare time. It's more than a little intimidating, but it's the encouragement that I've received from fellow printmakers that has convinced a very small part of my brain that I can do this.

    I've been told by other printmakers that few artists do embossing.  I have no idea why.  For me, it's the easiest method of printmaking that I've ever done!  Well,  I've Googled it, and it appears to be true.  I've found some wonderful work in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, using Northwest Native American and Canadian imagery.  Alaskan artist Arnie Weimer combines finely detailed etchings with embossing to create some really beautiful work, but I don't know exactly how he produces his embossings.

    Embossed Snowflake card
    I discovered John Ruszel, who produced an incredible embossing of typewriter parts that made me gasp the first time I saw it.  So it may be rare, but there are indeed a few masters out there who do it incredibly well.  Something to aspire to.

    This lesson plan by Ken Schwab, formerly of Leigh High School in San Jose, California, is for high school students to make embossed prints using layers of mat board.  Wonderful images on the website - check them out.  I've never used mat board for anything but collographs, so this is intriguing.

    The idea of having paid time to explore printmaking - and specifically embossing - on a bigger scale than I've been able to so far is really enticing.  I've been thinking about doing that for a few years, but just haven't had the luxury of time to do it.  A $7000 unrestricted fellowship would certainly take care of that obstacle, at least for a few months.  It would give me more freedom to structure my time the way I want to, to make art a bigger part of my life than it is now. 

    Embossed Celtic Knots card
    I decided to write a proposal for an embossing project for a couple of reasons.  First, it's the type of printmaking that I think I do best, and I want to get better at it.  Second, it's simply so much fun to do.  And it will give me an opportunity to pursue the development of my skills as an artist, something that I really haven't done seriously before.

    Plus, chances are there won't be a lot of other artists doing the same thing.  I haven't got all the details figured out yet, but I'm really interested in moving beyond embossing greeting cards and more into larger embossed prints.  I have some ideas that I've been playing with, but haven't given them serious thinking time.  This would be a great opportunity to do that.

    I've been printing for almost 15 years, and I firmly believe that learning the techniques is only the beginning - practice is essential.  Still, I sometimes feel like a poor cousin to "real" artists who have BFA's and MFA's, those who are working artists.  I know, it's about ability and talent, not what degree you have, but that doesn't stop the doubts from creeping in every now and then.

    Embossed Rose card
    With a day job, I have the luxury of printing because I want to, not because I have to, to pay the bills.  I do appreciate that luxury, no matter how difficult the job is at times.  A fellowship would allow me to take a step away from that job and move closer towards my ideal of being a part-time architect, part-time artist.  I'll keep my fingers crossed.