Jen Craun


All that Sparkles.

on Jul 30 in Blog, Print, Process

I’m testing toner transfer foils in the studio today, and looking for alternative options for screen printed adhesion. Initial results are promising, and certainly sparkly.


So far, direct transfers fused onto black toner are working the best. I was hoping a toner transfer laid down enough toner, but initial results are looking scratchy and inconsistent.


I’m trying to avoid having to run my oversized prints through a plotter, so I have more testing to do with various adhesives that have a good open time in my screen and on the cottony print paper. I also need the printed layer to become slightly tacky with an application of heat and pressure to create a smooth transfer. The glue stick, above left in blue, certainly sparks some promise though, and I love the mark it’s making immensely.


The foils also seem to prefer office paper, and other coated stocks, so getting a smooth transfer on print paper seems another challenge to overcome.


NOADA Art Expo 2015 | New Wood Intaglio Pieces

on May 06 in Blog, Exhibition, Print

I am excited to have work included in this year’s NOADA [Northern Ohio Art Dealers Association] Art Expo being held at the Transformer Station from Thursday May 7th through Sunday May 10th. My work is being represented by the Maria Neil Art Gallery. Hot off the press, you can catch the first glimpse of two new wood intaglio pieces, including Inherent Structure, below:

Inherent Structure

The other new piece that will be included in the Expo is Clarity Inclusions, below:

Clarity Inclusions

These two prints join the growing Mine Series of large wood intaglio pieces, see the other three right here. Also at the Expo, are many new small etchings from the Mine Studies Series, including You’re a Gem, below:

you're a gem

And Diamond Extracted, below:

diamond extracted

Visit the 2015 NOADA Art Expo this weekend to see more of these works, and many other fine treasures. Tickets are only $10, and you can grab those right here.

Coming and Going; the New Work is on the Move.

on Apr 13 in Blog, Exhibition, Print

My exhibition at the Urban Orchid was wildly successful, and I was so honored to have such great support of friends and family at the Opening Reception. I enjoyed a slew of sales, and had many encouraging conversations about next steps with the work and additional exhibition opportunities on the horizon.

The wide and tall walls of the gallery space made my enormous prints [30″ x 44″ framed] feel more manageable [read: smaller] in scale than they did at the press!

Large Frames Urban Orchid

It was great to see the small etchings hanging adjacent to the large wood intaglio pieces, and the dialog that they have with one another was exactly as I envisioned.

Small Framed Sold

The show came down last week, and it was such a pleasure to only bring home half of the work due to sales. The pieces that did come back to the studio are already sorted out, and headed in several directions for their next opportunities — it feels great to be hitting such a stride with the new work.


on Mar 10 in Blog, Print, Process

I’ve been stretching out wide with a return to making large work in wood intaglio. Using the small etchings from my Mine Series as sketches, I’ve been translating several of the compositions onto big and grainy wood panels.


Mark-making on the luan involves carving tools, wire brushes, sand paper, a dremel tool, and thin coats of polyurethane. It’s a physically direct and an exhausting-on-the-arms process that I truly enjoy. A lot of the plate work is nearly imperceptible to the eye, a few scratches here, a thin additional layer of poly there, and yet it yields the most gratifying indexing at the press. The loyalty of print to record a mark is astounding. This is the magic of ink and pressure that has always allured me to the process of printmaking.


I’m printing them up as bleed prints [letting the print run all the way off the edges of the paper] onto 26″x40″ cotton rag paper. I then layer the prints further with screen print, chine colle’, and gold leaf.


Want to see these big prints in person? Swing on out to the Ohio City Urban Orchid this Friday, March 13th, from 7-10pm for the Opening Reception of my exhibition that will be up through April 8th. Get the full event details right here.

Miles and Miles of Lines.

on Mar 03 in Blog, Print, Process

In a recent clean-up effort at Zygote Press, we were all tasked with the job of emptying out our flat files temporarily. In the long process of sifting through my two large horizontal drawers containing a near-decade’s worth of printed accumulation, I found a plate that I etched a handful of years ago. It’s a zillion wobbly lines.


It was a morning where I found myself less motivated to sort through the stacks and piles of prints and papers, and a morning that left me with a week still on the ticking clock ahead of the deadline for emptying out my two drawers. On another gray kick, I decided to print up the plate in relief. As I pushed and pulled the brayer back and forth through the ink, and across the plate, I contemplated about how little time I have actually spent with this plate. It looked so neglected, and prematurely stashed away in the abyss of later. I’ve actually invested more time drawing and etching in the lines than I ever have in the printing of the plate. And before this morning, I never printed it in relief — only intaglio.

It was a couple years ago, and the lines then were gray on white paper. Now the space was nearly absorbed by gray, and the thin lines revealing the paper were warmly white. The image changed right there before my eyes from a charged and noisy pile-up of graphite lines, to a smokey and soft atmospheric landscape of hazy gray subtly interfered with whispering lines of white. I think that’s printmaking’s grip on me, the many iterations and possibilities of printed outcome, even within a single plate. I can be a maker of many images. I can change moods, and meanings with ink and time.

And this print is my right now. It’s a softening of demands, and a craving for stillness. It’s a mandatory carving out of peace. Making a space to catch my breath, and look with hope towards the distant but certain horizon.

Flocking. First Tests.

on Jan 06 in Blog, Print, Process

Lots of fuzzy red fibers flew through the air in little puffs to land in carefully painted adhesive. Test one is looking pretty fantastic. And fuzzy.


Next up, I plan to test how well the adhesive will work with screenprinting. Because fuzzy should most certainly be editionable. Obviously.


on Dec 28 in Blog, Print

How are we already approaching the New Year? I had such a great plan charted out for keeping this place frequently updated, and then the surprising busy-ness of this semester swallowed up all of my extra time and energy. I managed to maintain some fairly consistent studio time each week, however, but had very little spare time to process it here.  I have committed more time for the studio in the coming semester, by lightening my teaching schedule, which I am looking forward to immensely.

Just before Christmas, I started up a new suite of prints about struggle and surviving, and the duality of definitive words. Many of the finished pieces currently hang in Heights Art Gallery, as well as Zygote Press through the New Year. Several that are still in progress are slated for exhibition in a show titled Salvage, that will open at the Tri-C Gallery West on Tuesday January 22, 2013 with an Artist Reception on Wednesday January 30th from 5-7 pm.

Craun Dash

Describing the exhibition, the curator–Lisa Schonberg–writes:

“This group exhibition displays a wide range of images and dynamic ideas produced through various printmaking processes. The works incorporate salvaged materials or the idea of salvaging, either in the process of printing, in the content or in the assembly of the art object. When using a variety of unconventional materials, an inventive range of concepts can develop which prove to be a basis for each artist’s unique aesthetic goals.”

The pieces I am working on this week include some collage of security print envelopes, and potentially some flocking [fingers crossed!], I’ll post some here as I finish them up. Promise.

This Big and Small World.

on Jun 27 in Blog, Print

The phone rang on Saturday afternoon. I was busy at the table pitting cherries for a large batch of jam. With red and sticky fingers, I let the call go to voicemail. After washing away all the ruby, I listened with interest to the message left by an intern of Zygote Press. It seems there was a customer in the gallery, looking specifically for my work, a piece he intended to purchase. I returned the call, and heard the booming familiar voice of this customer in the background pacing the gallery; I knew who it was with certainty before the intern had handed over the phone.

And it was moments later [from my studio at home] that I sold him the very print from the series he was seeking, and had visited Zygote specifically to purchase. Down to only four–three now–and the framed diptych that hangs in our Master Bedroom.

The circumstances–still a bit unbelievable–are so apropos to the print itself. It was from the Postcards Unsent Series, that I created during my 5-week Artist Residency to Dresden, Germany.  The trip was transformative to my work, and the very person that I am. It was an experience that further made my small world larger, and the big world seem all the smaller and so accessible, connected. I spent these 5-weeks mostly on my own, apart from my husband, and pregnant with our first child. This is more than seven years ago now. And when I see any of the few remaining prints from this series, I am transported immediately back with fondness, like it was just yesterday.

They are layered up little gems, using letterpress and intaglio with chine colle’. Each of them celebrates an aspect of freedom, and travel, of documentation and the record of experience.

Yesterday, I received the sweetest e-mail. The print was bought for a colleague within a department of the Ohio Arts Council that is leaving for another job:

…Last week I had asked her of all of the artwork we had at the agency what was her favorite piece and she had mentioned your print from Dresden.  I was so happy that you had a print similar to the piece we have hanging in our office.  Everyone here really enjoyed working with her and we will miss her a lot.  Your print will be a perfect way to remember her time working with us at the OAC….

Of course I love that she selected my work of all the choices, but the words that struck my heart the most deeply were: Your print will be a perfect way to remember, as they certainly have been for me, and how it resonates so perfectly to the very reasons in which they were created. And it got me thinking again, about this big and small world, and how connected we all really are by our experiences.

Beautiful Sound.

on May 11 in Blog, Print, Recognition

At last, my commissioned print for the Cleveland Clinic is all finished and delivered. It was a pleasure of an opportunity, but I am glad that it’s one of the items now crossed off the to-do list of my previous post. The title of the etching is Beautiful Sound, and it’s a good sized image printed up on a 22 x 30 inch sheet of Rives.

Here’s the statement of description that I just sent off to the Cleveland Clinic:

“Swooping etched lines stretch across this piece–three of which are tethered gently to the red chine colle’ birds–as if pulled and held by other birds just beyond the view. The three red birds are pulling up, and taking flight; they are leading out. I have long included birds in many of my prints as symbols of both longed-for and attained redemption and new freedoms. I use a light and softly transparent yellow relief ink rolled directly over the plate tone and printing false-bite from the etching process, in an effort to indicate my hopeful honesty in recording our efforts to make the best of what we have in this moment. I believe time is measured patiently, and marked in seasons. The white and looping line that cuts into the lower yellow section delineates the pattern of a birds wing in flight, as it builds up momentum to soar. The accumulation and  visual increase of this curving line that bends around and crosses over itself again and again as it both widens and heightens expresses these few and precious hard-worked-for moments when we can enjoy the view of right now.”

The print was commissioned as part of an award that they are creating to honor leaders within the Cleveland Clinic. It is a triumphant piece that remembers the explosion and fire at the Cleveland Clinic in 1929, and is part of their 90th Anniversary celebration.  I understand that a range of my work was shown to the committee that was formed, naturally including their art department, and they identified a previous print of mine that they really responded to for this occasion/award. It was a piece that I created in the coming undone suite, titled permanence of place. I drew several sketches for the commission, which were further discussed by the committee. I was happy to learn that the team quickly and unanimously decided on the proposed: Beautiful Sound.

It was nice to etch and print such a large copper plate again, and to spend so many studio days at the press. The print is being framed, and will be permanently installed in the main building by the end of the month for a ceremony planned for May 29, 2012. It was an honor to be asked to make this piece, and I am quite excited to see it on display in the next couple of weeks.

Large Print, and Full Page.

on May 01 in Blog, Print, Recognition

The ArtCares Benefit was this last weekend. I donated a limited edition of prints–40 of them–to be given to significant donors and supporters, benefiting the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland. I was delighted to see my page of appreciation in the program:

I said page, yeah! How cool is that? I got my own page, and my name in big print. I also had a framed artist proof from the edition on display at the event. It was a fun endeavor, creating the edition of prints. I layered up 3 runs of pressure-printing, and then hit them with two more layers of screen print over top. I love the final image; the title is Indeterminate [Pictured above right, and the first image of my current work]. I love the poetic references to time and nature. And the registration of the two dash marks [perpendicular to one another] that turn the minuses into pluses in the lower rows of the print really steals my heart. It’s that little ridge of navy ink that indicates their overlap. Swoon.

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