Archives for posts with tag: printmaking

On a recent trip to visit a friend in Portland, I got a tip to check out Em Space, a letterpress studio and book arts center. Very cool place.

Em Space is located in the heart of the industrial part of the city (south-east), and we noticed that there were other commercial printing companies around, so we suspected we were in the right place.

Em Space is a co-op, where membership allows you rights to use the member-owned-and-loaned presses, sets of type, and more. Rory, the founder, was very cool and explained a little bit about the structure of the organization, and she was very open to sharing ideas for those who want to start a print co-op in their own city.

One of the presses they have in the studio is the Vandercook, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2009! New York printers Barbara Henry and Roni Gross enlisted artists from around the world to create works on this press in honor of its place in history. The collection is named the Vandercook Book. Em Space was lucky enough to have access to one set of the prints, and we checked them out on the studio wall. Amazing work.

“The company was started in Chicago in September 1909 by R.O. Vandercook. Designed to proof a page of type before being sent to the press, the earliest proof presses depended on a roller and the force of gravity to make an impression of type on paper. The Vandercook proof press built upon this technology to incorporate a carriage and cylinder that could be finely adjusted.” (from The Museum of Printing History)

One day this summer, I found myself up in my studio, looking at all of my random hand prints, and I just picked up the scissors and started cutting. I cut them all out (as seen in an earlier post) and had them spread out on the work bench. What do they have in common? What are they holding? What is holding them? Hands holding hands – the support of one life by another, the gentle squeeze that is encouragement, love, small fears, a greeting, an indication…

Next step – draw and carve a large cupping hand – one that contains, holds, supports, and lets go.

I used a large piece (2 x 4) of masonite as my sketching surface, drew a hand (using my own as a model) and then went over it with permanent marker, so that it would show clearly through tracing paper.

I put two large pieces of tracing paper of the drawing, traced it with pencil, and then flipped it over onto the same sized piece of MDF.

To transfer the trace onto the MDF, I rubbed pencil on the opposite side of the trace. The pencil marks on the side faced down will transfer to the MDF. The dark areas in the above picture are where I already rubbed along the trace, the faint marks are the pencil from the other side showing through.

Then I carved out the MDF along the transferred pencil drawing.

Next post – treating and printing from the MDF plate.

I started doing printmaking about 2 years ago, after taking a class with Jonathan Nicklow called Printmaking on Fabric. I was engaged immediately, loving the combination of hands-on carving, drawing, ink, and mixed media!

My first prints were simple, such as these hands:

So I printed a TON of these hands, and then I didn’t know what to do with them. Next step – integrate them into a larger mixed media project. More to come….