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Tour of Magnolia Editions Fine Art Print Studio

Magnolia Editions, 2527 Magnolia Street, Oakland CA

Because this year’s conference celebrated both printing and papermaking, there were many possibilities for connections between people with different interests. The trip to Magnolia Editions fine art print studio provided such opportunities. It was a fantastic tour of a spectacular place. Don Farnsworth, the maestro, took center stage, and his fellow artists were delightful guides for the behind-the-scenes tour.

Detail of the Second Avenue subway project. (Tina Re)

Detail of the Second Avenue subway project. (Tina Re)

The Magnolia crew is involved in many projects, such as Chuck Close’s Second Avenue subway station installation [in New York] for which they are printing on ceramic tile. Farnsworth explained how the tiles will be tested for durability to the city’s specifications: boiled rat urine will be sprayed on the frozen tiles to see what happens—a fascinating detail.

A Magnolia tapestry. (Tina Re)

A Magnolia tapestry. (Tina Re)

They create tapestries, by bringing innovative computerized methods to the time-honored tradition of weaving with astounding results.


Leftover plastic remnants from 3D printer and sketch for a watermark. (Tina Re)

They demonstrated how a 3D printer could be used to create watermarks for papermakers. The flexible, non-rusting plastic shape–of any design–can be “printed” and then attached to the screen of the papermaking mould. Another interesting blending of new and old technologies.

Experiments with couching materials. (Tina Re)

Experiments with couching materials. (Tina Re)

Farnsworth described his research on Renaissance-era paper and his attempts to re-create paper with similar qualities. We saw evidence of their painstaking research with couching materials which included all varieties of animal hair, couch stuffing, and the like. A serendipitous meeting occurred between Farnsworth and Angela Campbell from the Metropolitan Museum of Art whose research on Albrect Durer’s paper provided similarly challenging mysteries to solve.

It was an incredibly worthwhile bus trip which included great views from the Bay Bridge, a insider’s tour of a shop full of creatively engaged people, and lots of knowledgable colleagues to chat with during the travel time.

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