Today's postings

  1. [Baren 27713] Why I hate MDF ("Love Me")
  2. [Baren 27714] Re: Why I hate MDF (Mike Lyon)
  3. [Baren 27715] RE: Baren Digest (old) V31 #3026 ("marilynn smih")
  4. [Baren 27716] Re: Why I hate MDF (P Rashid)
  5. [Baren 27717] Re: Why I hate MDF (FurryPressII #
  6. [Baren 27718] Re: Why I hate MDF (Charles Morgan)
  7. [Baren 27719] Re: fun sort of work (Wanda Robertson)
  8. [Baren 27720] another fine baren day (Robin Morris)
  9. [Baren 27721] Re: Electric carvers (Aon97 #
  10. [Baren 27722] Little Journeys to the Homes of Great Printmakers...Vol. II (Robin Morris)
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Message 1
From: "Love Me"
Date: Thu, 7 Apr 2005 00:10:58 +1000
Subject: [Baren 27713] Why I hate MDF
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Mike asks either why I hate MDF or why I recommend its use in California:

MDF (medium density fibreboard) is chockfull of toxic chemicals, similar to those in plywood I guess. Essentially it works like cardboard. Because it has no grain structure, it fluffs up easily, if you add water it epands and turns into a sponge (not that I have tried printing with it) Compared to timber it is horrible to put a chisel into.. it does not sand well, shall I go on? It has a horrible colour. Umm... I just hate it. It is however suitable for one purpose, constructing disposable flim-flam, like film sets (thus it is suitable for use in Hollywoods CA). Having said all that, I admit to having built shelves from MDF, but always with a timber strip to hide the edge.

Tom K
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Message 2
From: Mike Lyon
Date: Wed, 06 Apr 2005 09:44:39 -0500
Subject: [Baren 27714] Re: Why I hate MDF
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OK, Tom, now I _do_ understand your objection to the stuff... BUT... the
concerns about MDF toxicity MOSTLY surround the uncertain long-term effects
of potential bleeding of gases into the air inside a home built with lots
of sheets of the stuff -- AND the potentially toxic nature of the very fine
dust (and gases) produced when MACHINING the stuff (which is really not a
problem at all for most hanga carvers who are making chips, not dust and
only handling a small amount of the stuff (compared to home builders and
furniture manufacturers)... And if we want to freak out about hazardous
materials, check out the problems associated with various WOODs:

Anyway, for woodblock carvers the danger from MDF seems to me to be
insignificant... and MDF-core plywood really _is_ VERY well suited for
hanga -- it's a 'sandwich' of hardwood veneer with a smooth, consistent,
relatively soft and VERY easy-to-carve MDF core and there are no voids
(which was the original question)... Doesn't warp when wet (nor does it
swell or degrade during hanga printing)... Honestly -- it's an excellent
material (except for the glue which in some plywoods seems to be very hard).

Taunton Press has a nice article about sheet goods including plywoods here: which reads, in part:

"Selecting Sheet Goods -- A furniture maker offers tips for sorting through
the stacks of hardwood plywood -- by Mark Edmundson: For a hardwood
plywood core, I prefer MDF because there's no chance of a void being
telegraphed onto the surface veneers. The face grade will most likely be A
if you've chosen plain- or quarter-sliced veneer. It's also helpful to know
that veneer-core plywood tends to run a little under its stated size,
usually by a light 1/32 in., while MDF core is usually dead-on."

-- Mike

Mike Lyon
Kansas City, Missouri
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Message 3
From: "marilynn smih"
Date: Wed, 06 Apr 2005 07:47:52 -0700
Subject: [Baren 27715] RE: Baren Digest (old) V31 #3026
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Never used cherry. Have used solid basswood planks, myrtlewood and black walnut. I put a design on a left over piece of shina plywood. Good greif is this stuff awful! Spare yourself the greif and spring the money for good solid wood planks. If money is an issue look through the scrap bins at your lumber yards. Work smaller to save on costs, but use better stuff. My scrap box of mostly myrtle wood has some odd shaped pieces, they only inspire my imagination. But when I get back I will look for that piece of cherry and see why Maria is pushing us to give it a try! After those first few carvings on soft basswood do give solid hardwood a try, it will change you forever.

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Message 4
From: P Rashid
Date: Wed, 06 Apr 2005 11:13:28 -0400
Subject: [Baren 27716] Re: Why I hate MDF
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I read recently in an article in International Artist magazine,, who actually paints on MDF board instead of
Masonite. He uses 1/2 thick board and goes through the painstaking process
of applying 7-8 thin coats of rabbit skin glue and whiting, gelatin....etc
to prepare the board for painting in oil. His work is beautiful.

The artist name is Mike Smith. If you go to his gallery and click on the
image "Theadora". That was done on MDF board. The process was illustrated
step in the magazine.

Princess Rashid
Jax, FL
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Message 5
From: FurryPressII #
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2005 11:15:09 EDT
Subject: [Baren 27717] Re: Why I hate MDF
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wood as a WMD who would have known lol

john c.
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Message 6
From: Charles Morgan
Date: Wed, 06 Apr 2005 08:35:44 -0700
Subject: [Baren 27718] Re: Why I hate MDF
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Not quite true. I did experiments two years ago ... soaked a piece of MDF
in water for 24 hours ... got a very slight expansion at one edge ... went
back to dimension after 24 hours drying. I printed it before and after, and
you would be hard pressed to tell the difference.

There are various grades of MDF ... old style "particle board" will
practically dissolve in water ... but higher quality MDF is much better
stuff, much more resistant to water.

MDF does NOT warp, as does "natural" wood, MDF does not "check" or crack
when it gets very dry, nor does it radically change dimension in response
to humidity. MDF does not have voids, as does most plywood.

In my experience MDF does carve readily with sharp tools and will hold a
moderately fine line ... depends on your carving skill. There is no
splintering as with many "natural" woods or veneers. And since there is no
grain, it carves the same in any direction.

As for sanding, MDF comes dimensionally very flat to close tolerances. It
is pretty hard stuff. But with little effort and fine grades of sandpaper,
you can sand two blocks so that when placed together they form an "air
seal" ... they seem to stick together.

MDF is CHEAP, and it is readily available almost everywhere.

My exchange prints, except for "pine spirit" and "wood" were all carved on
MDF ... that includes my new years cards.

Certainly the glues are NOT good for you ... do not inhale them. The same
goes for "natural" sawdust, which for some species is carcinogenic. The
same goes for the glues in plywood. The same goes for pigment powders. Etc.

If I wanted to carve blocks for later sale, I certainly would not use MDF.
For other stuff it works just fine. I would be happy to try Corian, which
many like, but it is quite expensive here.

If you want interesting wood grain, forget MDF. MDF is "ugly", but then so
is lino. Yep, I much prefer the look and feel of "natural" wood. But MDF
has its place, as does plywood.

Cheers ...... Charles
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Message 7
From: Wanda Robertson
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2005 10:32:06 -0700
Subject: [Baren 27719] Re: fun sort of work
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Just got time to go and look at your Christmas Book project - how
beautiful! I especially love the 'Three Wise Men" print. Glad you are
so busy -- your work deserves it.

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Message 8
From: Robin Morris
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2005 13:28:27 -0700
Subject: [Baren 27720] another fine baren day
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I will post just a taste of my trip to sacramento yesterday's
impressions tonight
when i have time. It was a great vist... cool to see Carol's window
display, just one of the day's many high points.
a Little Journey if you will, to a place where positivity and art rule!
(hmmm maybe i should make my place like that....)
My hosts were wonderful and we had fun.


(btw that person at after 5 who is acting drunk and disorderly is an
imposer, i mean an imposter (hic...never mind)
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Message 9
From: Aon97 #
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2005 20:35:39 EDT
Subject: [Baren 27721] Re: Electric carvers
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Mike Lyon wrote:

> So, my short answer to your question about electric gouges and chisels is:
> Don't get near 'em!

Oh, good, a wiseguy. Okay, I'll admit I'm prejudiced against technology, and
will further admit that John Henry is my one true hero (yes, I'm aware he dies
in the end). I'm not sure how this happened, and I guess it's time I deal
with it (I'm glad I was born after the invention of electric light). Thank you to
everyone for the input (can't say I'm glad to have not heard from any
anti-electric folk, tho). If Dylan could do it, golly, so can I.

Maybe. Someday.
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Message 10
From: Robin Morris
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2005 18:25:20 -0700
Subject: [Baren 27722] Little Journeys to the Homes of Great Printmakers...Vol. II
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Julio asked me for a report on my videotaping odyssey so I will share
it here and I hope you all enjoy it, thanks-
I'll get quiet for a few after this long post and try and do some

Hi Maria! get back to work... : )

Little Journeys to the Homes of Great Printmakers...and a poem by


If you know Carol Wagner, she needs no introduction. If you don't, I
would favor you with this brief description, which no matter how
ebullient is unlikely to give her the credit she deserves as a vital
hostess, teacher, artist and scholar, not to mention a doting mom,
rightly so proud of her son who is organizing large and complex Public
health education efforts with a crack international team of young
doctors at a brand new Medical College in Bangladesh.

Carol has a lovely view of sacramento out her window... an 8th-story
aerie in the heart of town. From there the neighborhood looks a bit
like the opening scene in "American beauty",
with the lovely trees waving in the sultry Spring draft, and everywhere
the rooftops and gables of old stately homes poking through the canopy,
rolling out of view beneath the cerulean sky.
She is friends to all kind folk who cross her path, and it was so warm
and cozy there around her place I had a feeling that I had entered
the small town america
that Norman Rockwell used to paint. In her presence though there was
more of a Rockwell Kent feeling, that of being near someone who could
never share all she knows with you,
for she is wise, in art, literature and history, and has spent a good
part of her life becoming thus. I felt like sitting at her knee, as she
related each idea in an historical context citing Plato and Socrates,
without once rolling eyes heavenward for a name or event. You'll see
what i mean on the dvd as she narrates the meaning and origin of some
of her artworks, as though she ahd it all written and right in front of
her, never missing a beat, evry fact and conjecture in it's place, yet
concise and well delivered, and then it is on to the next. Patti knew
how to make best use of the lovely afternoon light, and urged us top
shoot the art while we had that going for us, so the paintings were
shot in a soft diffused glow that will make them look as fantastic as
they actually are. I think there was a tv tucked under the table- just
like the one my place, it looked dusty from disuse.
Books towered over our heads, (no dust on them at all)...Ms. Wagner
has had to divest of so many, she says, to fit into her modest sized
apartment, but the ones she has kept looked like a dream library for
the artist with an open mind.

Besides her eight years at the art store across the street, Carol comes
from a lifetime in art, and her paintings in particular show this.
She treated us to a showing of a series of her paintings inspired by
her visits to Mayan excavations,
and spoke of her teacher, who was the first to mix colors to match the
traces archaeologists found on these temples from antiquity.
So her paintings combine her ideas with the forms and colors of the
original sculpted friezes.
i felt very privileged to view them. i had a feeling of discovery as
though i had dug through sand and found a secret vault deep in the
Yucatan, and flicked a flashlight on
to see art buried a thousand years ago. Even better in a way, because
these images look more like they must have" way back when" than the
actual rock that exists today, worn from time and the elements.
naturally I took a lot of footage of these and they will be available
to see on the dvd, as well as related art from all the printmkakers,
because most printmakers paint or draw or sculpt, or print letterpress,
or make books like Carol's friend Sharon who dropped by the store to
show us her lovely handmade books of all sizes and creative shapes and
and their other art will be a nice set of stills and where we can
manage it, their own commentary about the work. Then prints are not
left floating in air with no provenance but take their place in the
forefront,with a rich background of related arts and crafts to support
their existence.
The window display at Art Ellis is really nice, and trumpets the baren
group and woodblock printing in general. We bemoaned the glare that
made it hard to get a good pic of the whole display, but i shot a lot
of tape from all angles, so it should be usable.
I had brought a handful of baren brochures for carol,to put in the
store, and while i was there another pack of them arrived from Barbara
Mason (you are on it, Barbara!)

Carol's good friend and co-barener Patti Phare-Camp joined us and she
acts the perfect foil in conversation to Carol's witty and history
flow of conversation. Few I think could keep up with these women for a
long day like we had. It was so much fun visiting that we ended up
having lunch and dinner, and lingering at the end.
There was a comeraderie going on-in the afternoon their friend Laura
Liano dropped by to show us a lovely, huge coffee table book of art by
Mexican and Mexican-American artists, called
TRIUMPH. She was in a big art show in Scottsdale AZ during the arts and
crafts show there, and said that it wasn't well publicized perhaps, and
was lightly attended. I suggested that next time they buy a booth near
maria's, they would have got more exposure than tucked away in a
gallery or museum!
As for Ms. Phare-Camp, a delightful, happy and bright woman who will
be the next victim of the vidcam when we go to see her work!
Anyone that enjoys reading, history, art and conversation, and
laughter, would have enjoyed to be there. I know carol teaches art
classes but i wonder if folks at baren know what a wonderful resource
she is.
We toured her territory at the art store, where she has over 600 types
of paper to choose from, and can lead you to the right stuff
Ask her about paper at least! She's forgotten more than I will probably
ever know, (and that is not a lot- she has a fantastic memory. From
her brief and interesting lectures about such varied subjects as Dard
Hypatia, the aztecs and Mayas, Palanque, Xenobia, Cleopatra...well we
really got her going because we were so interested.
Patti ,as i indicated is no slouch in conversation herself,and
entertained and informed us (at all moments when we weren't regaling
her. with stories! : )
She told us how her instructor in art school had told the class that
woodcut was a dead art, and how she had nonetheless latched onto it
with a passion and stopped doing other forms, so addicted was she to
carving and printing.
Her part of the video will no doubt be more focussed on the woodblock
form. Patti is a loving mother as well, she has a son stationed in
Turkey right now and a daughter at camp Anaconda, not a place any of us
would want to serve.
Our hats should be off to her two kids for their contribution. They
have gone where they were asked to go, and serve, they do.
She is of indomitable spirit, and knows how to hold her ironclad
support for her children and the defense of America in her mind,
while wishing for an end sooner rather than later to the terrible
conflicts half a world away, as do her children and so many of their
Words in edgewise, we all got. if paid by the word we would have all
had a profitable day i can assure you.)
this letter is like a drop in the bucket of what we covered over a long
and dreamy day..
Coffee was required in the evening , we didn't know how to stop.
I feel i added a few IQ points ( I can always use em) for having
schmoozed with these fair damsels for a day. My heart was healed, too ,
after the wretched car incident of the other night, of which i'll say
no more here.
As the evening wore on, there was a reluctance on each part to pull the
plug. like at the close of a great party. Carol didn't want to end it
but had to teach in the morning, and the stars had been out for quite a
Patti and i said goodnight to Carol and I walked her out, bowing ,
half kidding, half not, respecting one another, newfound friends.
Today I am aware that this 'peak experience seeker' , your humble
reporter, was filled, for once to the brim,
and with a lot more than just coffee.

My dad, rest his soul, spent part of his college days living in what
had many years before been Longfellow's room at Bowdoin College in
so he had an affinity for that fellow's poetry.
I like it too. for you young whippersnappers, Henry WL was kind of the
Walt Disney of poets, all family fare, but quality entertainment of
it's type.

i have two venerable copies of this set of poems (Tales of a Wayside
Inn) with a different ending (he must have published different versions)
that pales compared to this one-I had it memorized once but could only
bring back shards when i tried...
i found the lines I had half- remembered through a net search.
These are the tales those merry guests
Told to each other, well or ill;
Like summer birds that lift their crests
Above the borders of their nests
And twitter, and again are still.

These are the tales, or new or old,
In idle moments idly told;
Flowers of the field with petals thin,
Lilies that neither toil nor spin,
And tufts of wayside weeds and gorse
Hung in the parlor of the inn
Beneath the sign of the Red Horse.

And still, reluctant to retire,
The friends sat talking by the fire
And watched the smouldering embers burn
To ashes, and flash up again
Into a momentary glow,
Lingering like them when forced to go,
And going when they would remain;
For on the morrow they must turn
Their faces homeward, and the pain
Of parting touched with its unrest
A tender nerve in every breast.

But sleep at last the victory won;
They must be stirring with the sun,
And drowsily good night they said,
And went still gossiping to bed,
And left the parlor wrapped in gloom.
The only live thing in the room
Was the old clock, that in its pace
Kept time with the revolving spheres
And constellations in their flight,
And struck with its uplifted mace
The dark, unconscious hours of night,
To senseless and unlistening ears.

Uprose the sun; and every guest,
Uprisen, was soon equipped and dressed
For journeying home and city-ward;
The old stage-coach was at the door,
With horses harnessed, long before
The sunshine reached the withered sward
Beneath the oaks, whose branches hoar
Murmured: "Farewell forevermore."

"Farewell!" the portly Landlord cried;
"Farewell!" the parting guests replied,
But little thought that nevermore
Their feet would pass that threshold o'er;
That nevermore together there
Would they assemble, free from care,
To hear the oaks' mysterious roar,
And breathe the wholesome country air.

Where are they now? What lands and skies
Paint pictures in their friendly eyes?
What hope deludes, what promise cheers,
What pleasant voices fill their ears?
Two are beyond the salt sea waves,
And three already in their graves.
Perchance the living still may look
Into the pages of this book,
And see the days of long ago
Floating and fleeting to and fro,
As in the well-remembered brook
They saw the inverted landscape gleam,
And their own faces like a dream
Look up upon them from below.

Yeah, It was that good.