Local Women: Wendy Shaft

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Wendy Shaft is returning to her roots in geology, her line of work before she was a print artist with Limner Press. She finds connection between geology and art and is revisiting the link between the two. Outside of her artwork, Wendy also cares for her mother and is learning to play classical guitar. Q: TELL ME ABOUT LIMNER PRESS? A: It was started in 1984 by my husband and me. When we met, his father and grandfather were both oil painters — he was familiar with different art forms. I was doing block printing, and he wondered why I wasn’t using a letter press. We acquired a letter press, and I went to art school and discovered that book arts are their own entity now in the art world. I did letter press printing down in California College of the Arts, and then we started our card line. I’ve carved hundreds of wood blocks since. Something great about moving to Michigan from Alaska, where we used to reside, is that now we’re nationally marketed. Since we’ve come here, we’ve been doing all these beautiful wedding invitations. Although my husband and I design together, when it comes to commercial printing, Don does all the printing. My input is really during the consultation as the artist. Q: HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE PUZZLE PRINT PROJECT? A: I found out about it, and thought I was so busy. But it’s not that big of a commitment. The theme is “city of the world,” and Maria Arango Diener did the drawing and cut out all the blocks and sent them out to all these people. There are only so many blocks. I got on the list, I got my block and she’s now receiving blocks back from everyone. The first one that came back was from Japan. It’s kind of fun because it fits my lifestyle. I can’t do big projects right now because my mom is my first priority. But I can commit to a block. My job was to — keeping in mind the theme — represent my part of the world. I’m doing a floral because it represents me and this is what my world is about. All the puzzle pieces will eventually fit back together, and it’ll be interesting. Q: HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN YOUR ART FORM? A: I’d always been interested in art, but I got my degree in geology. I ended up working retail while I figured out what I wanted to do, but in the meantime I also took an extremely interesting watercolor class. Later I took a printmaking class, and when I took that class I just knew that’s what I was supposed to be doing. I just fell in love with it. I think the reason I like it is because I love the carving, I love the feel of carving the wood or linoleum and making defining lines. My style is very graphic … and that’s what appeals to me. When you’re a printmaker, you never know what you’re getting until you proof the block. It’s like a gift — it’s either a good gift or a bad gift. I just love the whole process, and I’m still hooked after 34 years.
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Tags: Limner Press, Puzzle Print Project

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