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.



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.

Recovering. A Book and a Ball of String.

on Jul 02 in Blog, Bookmaking, Process

I whipped up a sweet little jotter cover as a quick Happy birthday! present for a friend this weekend.

Though I often find myself making reminders and to-do lists on my iPhone, I find more often that I enjoy most the quickly scrawled and handwritten kind on a page of paper. I like the pressure of the pen scratching across the paper, the sound  of fast writing, the frenetic look of part-cursive part-printed hybrid script. I like the parsed words, and the little envelope picture that I always draw after a lowercase “e” when I am jotting down a list of e-mail reminders. The little envelope, nowhere on my phone’s keypad, only on millions of my paper trails.

I keep books at my ready for all sorts of note-needs, and list making. I have several stacked on both of my desks, one in my handbag, and two in my car. Always at-the-ready with a pen. Books make me unbelievably happy. I even save my all-filled-up one’s, they are such a great seasonal record. My all time favorite and now filled little jotter, is the grocery list book I made while Dave and I lived in Florence. It’s sweetly evident by our food list, and other scrawlings––including metric measuring conversions, and necessary ingredient translations––that this book lived its life elsewhere than Cleveland, and well before children. Our lists today are drastically different.

The piles of books I make, and all their potential pages bring me terrific pleasure. Like this ball of string I love also, it’s all the beautifully waiting potential–– measured out and used up slowly. A book and a ball of string.

I Believe in Pink.

on Jun 12 in Blog, Process

The realization came with my most recent purchase.

It’s a brightly pink plastic, overly decorative and floral little charmer. Shiny, nicely-shaped, and absolutely alluring. The beauty beyond it’s use beckoned me. The NEON pink floral, the nubby side seam assembly––obviously shipped flat-packed––and simply assembled. The bright honesty undid me. A poolside basket for my hours ahead this Summer of watching the Craunlets enjoy swimming lessons? Or maybe it’s simply just another lovely object to join the growing crowd on my studio desk.

I remember and find the yardage of cord I bought a few weeks ago.

And as I clear out piles and stacks of in-progress prints, I treasure upon two terrific see-through folders. Piped in this same delicious and decadently bright pink.

Then I notice nearby, also among the objects strewn about my large work surface, the tiny doll-sized cast that I couldn’t bear to toss. Couldn’t close that door entirely. That long, long, and still-going medical journey that we are on with our daughter. This sweetest and most beautiful kiss from a stranger who became a dear nurse-friend in our accumulated years of casting.

The collection brightens the backdrop of my workspace. And I find with no other reason outside of their beauty, they are all needed, and part of a larger narrative. Now, to mine out what all those connections might be. To write that story.

And to think fondly of Audrey Hepburn as I get started:

I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”

On Color, and Timing.

on May 25 in Blog, Process

I find myself often mixing a certain color of ink, and then nearly immediately identifying it’s exact match in my local life or surroundings. I labored pretty intensely over the color selections for the edition of pressure prints that I created for ArtCares. I knew I wanted a richly saturated dark and warm navy blue for the symbols, and a nearly-green brightly glowing and hopeful yellow underneath. It’s a color pairing I don’t often make in my work, and I was crossing my fingers that the layers wouldn’t mash up into some kind murky green field.

Because I was working on the letterpress, with super stiff-to-mix rubber inks, I whipped out the Pantone swatch book to have a parts-to-whole ratio to work with for each of my my colors. I finally made my two selections, mixed them up, and tested them out together in the small study print pictured below.

Exactly the colors I envisioned, the glowing yellow still visibly heard under the haze of blue. I snapped a few pictures for my process records, and after editing them, I saved them onto my desktop. It was then that I noticed.

This February, we sponsored a friend’s mission trip to Jamaica to build a house for a family there. I looked again at the photographs that she had sent me via her phone, I had kept them also on my cluttered desktop. I remembered the day and moment exactly when I received them in a text message, all the way from Jamaica instantly. I remember the delightful surprise of seeing color. Such an unexpected beauty in the otherwise functional project. I remember thinking how heavenly the yellow interior walls poured out a fiercely glowing light from the windows and [at the time of the photograph] roofless blue house.

I saw on this second looking, with my photographs now side-by-side, a palette that had worked it’s way into my heart first, my thoughts second, and thirdly into these prints. It’s an absolute wonder sometimes, at our connections to color. The way the mind stores up beauty, and the innate desire we have to recreate.

To Done, and Time to Clear the Desk Again.

on May 09 in Blog, Process

It’s been a whirlwind of making here from all of April and into May. It’s sure nice to see the to-do list all crossed off, and have several pieces shipped off and delivered for various upcoming exhibitions.

It’s also quite refreshing to have a moment to take a quick breath, clear off the studio desk and get back in there and keep making. Next on the list is finishing up a long overdue commissioned print for a family member. It’s nice to slide into something a bit more open-ended after all of these deadlines and specificities. [My, that’s a terrific made up word there…] And it’s a big print. Big, as in 26 x 30 inches, and absolutely demanding the entire desk be cleared.

In the Mix.

on May 04 in Blog, Process

This weekend will not find me in the studio printing.

I’m breaking the long weekend printing hours of the last handful of weeks for a little rest. I’ll spend my minutes and hours instead just hanging with the family. There will be a little printmaking in the home studio with the Craunlets, and I’ve got a few prints scheduled for an exhibition that need wrapping for the post. Otherwise, it’s a catch-my-breath kind of weekend as I gear up for a pretty busy May.

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