Sunday, April 17, 2011

First Printmaking Class

Class was SO COOL! I felt positively giddy; I haven't done anything like that in so long. I admit to a little bit of apprehension beforehand, but that went away quickly. I understand color; I understand composition; and I was excited to realize I'd already done some of what we tried (on a much more modest level, of course) with my own kids. I'd never used a printing press before though. Super cool.

We were making monotypes, working with thin Plexiglas plates to which we added a thin coating of paint with a brayer. Once the paint was on, we could draw in it, add different elements to create texture or prevent the ink from reaching the paper, or a combination... it was like collage in a way. This is my first print:

I began with red, blue, and yellow paint, preferring to mix the colors myself. The large circles were made by pressing bubble wrap onto the plate and then removing it, before printing. I think I also used wine corks and, um, some other circular items. It's hard to remember exactly what went on when. To make the print, you put the plate in the press, lay the paper over it, sandwich it in newsprint and cover it with blankets, then turn a big wheel to pass the roller over the whole thing, squishing it all together. (That's a very technical description, isn't it?!)

With this one, I built on what was left on the plate after the first run-through. The line was made by placing a piece of yarn on the plate and leaving it there while it went through the press--that prevents the ink from reaching the paper, leaving a white line. This next image is a ghost:

That's when  you leave the plate in the press and don't add any more ink before running it through again. So it gets a lighter version of the first image. I took the yarn off first, so the ink that was squished against the yarn the first time shows up darker against the paper on the second run-through.

And one more, still using the same primary colors, but mixed a little differently. I applied the paint with a smaller brayer, trying for a blockier effect. There's some vegetable netting in there, and some more yarn. The smaller dots were made with a Lego.

We were encouraged just to play and see what happened, not to get all precious about it (in other words, not to get hung up trying for something perfect). No problem there! That's basically what I'm telling my kids about art all the time. It's so much better when you're relaxed and experimenting, open to seeing what happens, especially when learning a new technique. Next week we're slicing these up anyway to make books.

My only issue is... how do I do this at home without a printing press!?


Donna Lee said...

That looks like fun! I took a class in stencil making a long time ago and your post brought back the memories of how fulfilling it was to dig into my own well of creativity. I think we forget to feed it too often

Bells said...

that does sound fun - so glad you got to go to a class and yeah, that idea of not worrying about perfection - a great lesson we all need to remember sometimes!

Michelle said...

Oh my goodness, those are gorgeous! I'm so glad you're able to go to that class. So happy for you. You are going to frame some of your creations up around your house, right?