If you’ve been around Wrays of Sunshine for a while, you may note our number one commenter (besides Mama Sunshine) is Dale. We met in a printmaking class taught by one Natalie Niblack. We both loved it so much you can find us as paper placers in the steamroller printmaking project.
Dale is the easiest to work with, most enthusiastic and just generally one of those people who are so multi-talented that skills seem to seep out of his pores. He can’t help it, he’s just brilliant! And he was so kind as to submit to a quick interview and show Honeybee and I around his lovely home studio.
Hello world, Meet: Dale
Anyone who walked around your lovely home for even a few minutes could see you have a propensity for making and fixing. Where does that come from?
My upbringing. I grew up in a family that valued curiosity. Questions were never frowned upon and someone was always tackling a unique challenge on a shoestring budget. Not just siblings, but parents too. I was surrounded by a get-r-done drive. As my Mom obtained upper level amateur radio licenses, it motivated me to study and pass the exam for my own license. Then, there was my Dad, a mechanical genius—his nickname was Tink. I watched him modify machinery in ways that seemed impossible. Every time, I’d say something like “Dad, there’s no way that can be fixed.” He’d respond, “Well, let’s take a look. I bet we can do something with it.” All the while I’d watch for his grin that meant he was about to share some mechanical wizardry with us. It had a huge impact on me which can be seen in how I approach life as a bit of schemer. Not in a negative way, but more in a harebrained project sort of way. Nothing is too complex or too crazy of an idea to tackle. I recall one of the first over-the-top projects I tackled. It involved dragging home an old 1960s pinball machine. How many parents do you know that would let a kid bring pieces of an old arcade game into the house? Mine did and quite happily too. Over the span of a summer I rebuilt the thing using parts I scavenged from other machines and managed to have a fully functional machine shoehorned into a bedroom. Never mind the fact it dimmed the lights occasionally. My parents certainly never minded, even with all the noise it made. Oh, what parents go through. Especially mine.
That’s amazing, I can’t say that my parents would’ve been amenable to full size arcade games. It’s a great testament to your character that you waited and watched for Tink’s telltale smile. What are you working on right now?
Well, there’s the butterfly booklet project. I take small paperbacks and cut them in the shape of a butterfly. Initially I was carving up discarded fiction books with a scroll saw. Now I’m looking at ways to do this with blank paper so that I can fill the pages with my own stories and illustrations. Other projects include investigating ways I can use fading technology such as offset press technology (lithography) with a focus on possible ways to manipulate color separations for creating unique images. Digital might be more cost effective and definitely the way of the future, but there’s something I like about getting ink on my hands as I tinker with older machines like letterpress and offset press. It feels real, gritty and open with possibilities.
YASSSS! Digital is important for the speed and, yes, cost effective potential, but nothing beats the original techniques that laid the foundation for everything we do now. My Color Studies professor just said in lecture today, “big-name software designers must have first had the ability to make any and every transformation by hand.” And as the world relies more on that software, the skills are lost. If you had to pick one medium, which would it be and why?
Ink fascinates me. It’s tactile, it can be vibrant and sometimes it ends up everywhere you don’t want it to be, but it’s just so beautiful. Sliding a knife blade covered with deft blue across the ink disk of a letterpress is a pleasant feeling that’s hard to describe. You have to experience it firsthand to know just how much fun it is to take on the challenge of learning the personalities of ink, paper and mechanical machinery.
Dale produces all sorts of great print materials, you guys. Issue 4 of his zine, Spare Ink, is now available while supplies last. Trust me when I say you want it, nay, NEED it in your life. How can we get our hands on it?
For now, my blog Spare Ink is where you can request copies (only $4 donation!!!) or find news about the latest developments. I’m actively looking for distro to send copies to though so in the future there will be better accessibility.
With that, I’d like to say thank you to Brianna for kindly doing this interview. She’s awesome!
Dale! Thank you so much for sharing your home and your inspirations with us. We had a blast, as usual when you’re around.
And thanks for clicking your way to my little corner of the internet. It is truly my pleasure to share artists’ stories and collect them here, where we can all benefit from such wisdom and beauty.
There’s been a HUGE gap in interviews due to some complications and scheduling issues, but keep an eye on the horizon for more coming soon. Can’t wait? See the Meet: archives.