Back to my artistic problem.
I knew what I wanted to print on, even before I knew it existed. I could see a series of panels in the lightest of paper, wafting, floating in the breeze. Gently swaying as the finest branches do with the airiest kiss of the wind.
This picture isn’t sharp. The paper moves with the slightest breath or movement of air. The longish exposure to attempt to capture detail was foiled by the exact quality I strived for. Even while I stood, breath held, waiting for the shutter to clunk open and shut, the paper couldn’t help but move in the most subtle way as if it were breathing itself. This is the most beautiful, delicate tissue of handmade harakeke paper I could have wished for. It’s what I saw when I envisaged the artwork. And I was lucky enough to track down the wonderful artist who made it in two metre lengths, and was prepared to sell it to me.
Its au naturel, not sized to go through the printer. And although I could do this myself if I wanted, I felt I wanted a more hand-made aesthetic with this piece, to match the artisan quality of the paper. To keep it away from artificial coatings and heavy clunky machinery stamping it’s foot all over it. Or tearing it to shreds as it munched its way through.
So I started researching various forms of image transfer. Ways to reproduce a photograph directly onto the paper as contact prints are made in the darkroom. For I still wanted the work to have the photograph as a base. No matter how apparently far removed, but a photograph none the less.
Carbon transfer; use the photocopier as a carrier for the carbon which is then redeposited on the paper. Great. Doable. Done.
New photocopiers don’t cut it. They deposit the toner with heat. And you can’t get it off. Great for photocopies. Not for image transfer. Well then, someone must still be using the old copiers. Wouldn’t they? Apparently not. After many phonecalls, digging and referrals I got to Konica. Who had an old copier they were going to dump that afternoon, “because no-one wants them now you see.” “How much?” “Will you come and get it? …And not bring it back?” “YES!” “It’s yours”. So now, pride of place because it’s so damn big and heavy, in our family room, is the clunky old copier. Which takes carbon toner. Of the old fashioned kind.