Printmaking – getting up and running

I’m putting together a capability to make prints in my studio. I took a workshop last November with Amy Nack during the Art of the Carolinas and fell in love with the technique. I’ve been looking around my area to find a community press group that supports intaglio, but haven’t yet found one. Well, yesterday I sort of did find one. More on that.

I decided to see what I could do on my own and in my own studio. I have a Big Shot press that I’ve been using for card making. The trickiest part is getting the padding correct to have the right pressure on the plate an paper. The Big Shot isn’t adjustable, so need to test with various sheets and an impromptu felt sheet cut to size to mimic the felt pads on an expert press.

Photos from top left: the original image from the color printer. The set up for the ink, brayer, plastic plate to roll out the ink, palette knife and the jar of ink in the upper corner. Gloves to protect my fingers from the ink, wiping cloth, phone book (others have said to use phone book pages during the wiping stage, so – ready). Second row, left to right: the Sizzik Big Shot machine; one of the typical Big Shot plates with an Akua PETG plate taped to the underside; and the combination of papers to get the right pressure: carved plate, paper, ~1/2 dozen newsprint sheets (taped together) and 2 sheets of regular felt from the craft store.

I found that although I had spritzed my paper yesterday, the papers I had prepared weren’t quite wet enough, so I added more water and am right now giving them time to absorb. I used a mix of papers I had on hand: rice paper (thin) and a few hand-torn to size pieces of watercolor and also handmade papers (handmade but store-bought!). Most likely a proper printing paper might be more helpful, but it’s what I have.

Back to the presses. Also to note: I ran each piece forward and back again through the Big Shot press. That seems to help with this set-up.

Since I had prepared a bunch of paper, I decided, “why not” and kept printing. Good thing. Learned something new.

I’m reminded why I thought this was such a fun experience in November. There is something provocative about this for me. I didn’t have many that turned out all that good, but learning along the way was cool. I want to do more, on one hand: it’s just paper, but I don’t want to waste it either with too much trial and error. Recording what I do, like above, really helpful. This has a lot of potential for me, it feels like the right thing. Stay tuned, this is gonna be good. (eventually)

I found a class and studio that supports intaglio! I guess it’s a little different set up required for this particular process. It’s at my local community college and the fee for taking the class that allows me access to the equipment is $50. (woohoo!!) Can’t believe it! I’m responsible for my own supplies, and that’s ok with me. The studio is about 5 miles (?) from my house. I can hardly wait. I just emailed the instructor to see if I can still enroll. Fingers crossed!

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