Printing for Scotland

There is another international printing event coming, so I am getting ready with post-card size prints to sent to Scotland. Cont(r)act is in fact an exhibition and a print exchange part of the Print Festival of Scotland. Deadline for submissions in June.
I have used my small-format "Happy houses" crumbling lino plates and some nice and colorful rows of houses to suggest Transylvania for this event. 
For more on the festival see their Facebook page HERE
For more on submissions for Cont(r)act, check this page HERE.


Photos from the History of poison exhibition

As this is the first day of the temporary exhibition "History of poison" at the History of Pharmacy Collection and people seem genuinely interested in the topic, I will shared of my pre-opening photos. Feel free to drop by, the exhibition is fully bilingual as I have translated everything into English. You'll find out about cured for syphilis based on mercury and arsenic and that in German "poison" is "Gift" :)



Last preparations before poison :)

I am referring to the temporary exhibition to be opened on Saturday at the History of Pharmacy Collection that has captured the interest of the public and the press. Feel free to join the Facebook event and visit as the exhibition if fully bilingual.
See also recent article in press:
Clujul cultural, Monitorul de Cluj (using old photos of the interior), Faclia, Transilvania reporter, Actual de Cluj (so actual that the image is at least three years old and shows the currently retired museographer).
and previous blog posts HERE.


The History of Poison

The new temporary exhibition at the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj focuses on the history of poison and of the side effects of drugs. It will be open between May 28th and August 27th in Unirii Square no. 28.
It presents the types of "venena" sold in pharmacies (most often drugs containing arsenic and mercury), the way in which possibly dangerous drugs were stored and sold, and historical episodes of failed treatments in Transylvania.


Night of Museums follow-up

As every year, the Night of Museums drew thousands of people to our small museum, the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca. The event has been marked in the city by a trove of overlapping concerts, festivals, parties, and fireworks which also contributed to boosting the attendance. As a side effect, it also brought to the museum people who would not have been otherwise interested in museums alone. I thank all 3000 visitors for dropping by and hope that some of the "non-museum people" were at least left with a sparkle of interest (though this was not visible at the time :) ).

As a first, this year we benefited from the aid of five brave students as volunteers who did a great job and provided useful suggestions. Looking forward to extending our collaboration!



From linocut to flags

I've had another special order, of a flag imprinted with the "draco", the ancient war standard of the Dacians. I had made a larger linocut series with the motif, but did not dare use lino print on textile, as they were meant to be used outside, maybe in harsh weather. I have thus made a compromise, with a specialized company printing the model on special flag material. The flags are avaible on my company's site HERE and the original linos HERE.


Sighisoara and Sibiu

Before turning to printmaking (linocut by preference), I painted and occasionally still do. Here are some of my "classical" small and average-size works, acrylic on cardboard, inspired by trips to the Saxon cities of Transylvania, mostly Sighisoara and Sibiu.


Roman auxiliary soldiers needed

Recruitment is open in Cluj-Napoca for soldiers to reenact the latest troop of  VIRTUS ANTIQUA: Cohors I Batavorum Milliaria Civium Romanorum Pia Fidelis. The first task is to remember the full name of your unit correctly, then you'll have to learn the Latin field commands and formations, and to take care of your kit: calligae sandals, trousers, tunic, lorica hamata (the chain mail of the auxiliary soldiers), shield,  gladius, helmet, and mantle. The rewards of your long labor will not consists of land plots like in the Roman time, but of interesting food (according to ancient recipes), lots of socializing (withing the group of volunteers reenactors but also with the public), a chance to travel (at Reenactment festivals) and learn something first hand. Interested? Contact us!


The Hintz House linocut

The Hintz House in Cluj-Napoca is a historical monument dated to the sixteenth century that housed the Baroque pharmacy of the city that is currently the History of Pharmacy Museum where I work. During the twentieth century it was owned by the Hintz family, hence the name of the monument. It seems a natural source of inspiration, thus my latest Etsy listing is a linocut depicting this architectural landmark.
The print is the second in a small series of three, in my opinion the best of the lot due to the particular color combination and effects. I have employed Van Eyck brown, red ochre, and black inks, applied by roller and by hand, and printed on white graphic paper.


Oak leaf / coral leather earrings

Linocut making can get tiresome at times, especially when using an off-balanced printing press and the solution is manual pressure. Over the weekend I have thus enjoyed turning to more malleable and docile medium, that of leather. The result was yet another kind of long, soft, colorful earrings - the shape of which is inspired by that of the oak leaf, with its asymmetrical veins, but wearing the pair in black and red made me think of corals as well. Anyway, works open to interpretation are less boring. Another (un)intentional advantage is the fact that through wearing the pieces become 3D, with the tips turning in like in the case of an actual curved leaf. Even better! The earrings, in their various color variants, are available on my website HERE.



Ovo -the hatching dragon

I have just added another linocut to my Etsy shop, part of the series made for the Print Day in May.
"Ovo" is a baby dragon ready to hatch. It can be interpreted alchemically (as symbol for the transformation of matter) or philosophically (as the ouroboros, the snake biting its own tail, symbol cyclical time). Or you might imagine I am in fact working in Harry Potter's Transylvania, with plenty of dragons around to inspire me :)



Oculi cancrorum

One of the interesting ingredients of animal origin preserved at the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca is crab's eyes (Lapides Cancrorum or Oculi Cancrorum). The strange product was in fact used as a natural source of calcium carbonate (for calcium supplements and against stomach hyper acidity) besides oyster and mussel shells, pincers, and coral. The term designating them stems from the confusion of their aspect, resembling an eye, but they are calcareous concretions found in the head, or rather stomach, of river crabs. They are generally about the size of peas, or larger and have a laminated inner structure (through which they can be distinguished from fakes).
Read more on crab stones as pat of materia medica in German HERE and in Polish HERE and on how crabs produce these gastroliths - in English HERE.


Historical engravings

Among the fabulous exhibits of the History of Pharmacy Collection I discovered three engraving plates for apothecary labels. Used in the nineteenth century, they are a collage of various such labels, with decorated cartouches, symbols of pharmacy, inscriptions with the name of the pharmacy they were used in (for commercial purposes, naturally) and sometimes the initials of the pharmacists themselves. The plates have been recently used to create new prints, thus revealing the details. Such labels were then cut out of the common sheet, filled in by hand with the details of the respective products, and used individually either to wrap a small number of pills or other types of solid medicine or they were glued to wooden boxes that contained larger quantities of cures.

Detail of one of the plates, with a cartouche inscribed "Apotheke der Kaiserlicher Adler" (the Imperial Eagle Apothecary) - in reference to the double-headed eagle of the Austro/Hungarian monarchy

Detail of a plate with the depiction of the imperial eagle and of pharmaceutical implements.


Special order

I hereby present my first ever figurative depiction - a nude even! It is a combination of Matisse and myself, but it had to have some decorative features as well. The discrete pomegranates in the background are also symbolic.
The colors are the same as those of the last few projects, as I am not finished experimenting with them. The linocut is entitled "Venus pudica", inspired by the iconographic type of Venus shyly hiding her pudenda. I have made several variants, in natural colors, with the ink applied in various ways/combinations.


Bouquet in brown and ochre

One of my recent linocut projects consisted of my attempt to depict flowers - in a geometric, stylized manner as it came out. The linocut series was thus entitled "Geometric bouquet" and some of the prints are available online in my Etsy Shop HERE.
For the Print Day in May I have tested the newly acquired typographic inks: Van Eyck brown and red ochre from Charbonnel. 
Here are some of the new imprints of the geometric bouquet in these colors, with the ink applied in a combination of ways: by roller, finger, and sponge. I had no time to sign them yet, but the signature will add some balance to the composition, as I have tested several variants and decided to sign them vertically, on the right side. I also like the new inks, except for the fact that they are so new and fit, that they are very predictable. I do enjoy the old colors as well, with the pigment loose or too sticky - don't get me wrong, it is just me, enjoying printmaking materials "with personality" :)



New apothecary jars linocut

The main part of the Print Day in May was dedicated to making new prints after the apothecary jars linocut I've prepared for the occasion. I have managed four new prints, due to their large size and the manual application of the inks. Another thing is that the paper was too large for my printing press - and it is anyway a bit off-balance and does not work well for large-size lino plates - so the printing itself was done by hand. After four prints my fingers and arms hurt, even if the actual pressing was done with grandma's old silver spoon :))


The more pictural effects were generated by the old black ink which got bad, with the pigment separating from the oil. It is somehow pure accidents that add that "extra something" to an art piece, the detail that makes people wonder how you did it. The paper I used was also a bit textured, and this also contributed to the antiquated, rusty look of the depicted jars - perfectly suggested their age and patina. I must confess I am happy with the results of this experiment.

I liked this third print best and thus made it available on my Etsy Shop HERE. Feel free to check the other linocuts there as well :)