Printing without a press, Day 1

During a week at the Ringling College of Art and Design’s summer program at Wildacres retreat in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina learning the rudiments of printmaking, I fell in love with the process.  While there, I had the use of beautiful Takach presses. But now I’m back in my studio, sadly a studio without a printing press. Until I come up with a few thousand dollars (no doubt from selling hundreds of my press-less prints), I’m experimenting with various non-press methods.

My first thought was to try relief printing, or linotype. I’d like to be able to make a good number of prints that I can then finish in different ways–watercolor, new print layers, all sorts of possibilities. I armed myself with linoleum blocks and Speedball inks, cutters, etc.  I did not realize how difficult it is to cut linoleum so this block will likely take me a few months to finish!  My arm and shoulder start to ache pretty quickly.  A couple of tips help–just mask that big open area (sky) at the top.  And heat the linoleum.  I applied a hair-dryer and sure enough, it is much easier.

old barn block sm I have a lot more cutting to do, but I ran a proof just to see how it looks so far:

old barn proof 1

Giving my arm a rest, I turned to the “walking press” idea I’d read about.  I inked a plate with Golden Open Acrylic paint, which doesn’t dry fast, and placed some geranium flowers and leaves as well as a few wildflowers on the plate.  On top I put printmaking paper which had been soaked and  blotted, then put the sandwich into a folded sheet of newsprint and onto a board cushioned with newspaper.  More newspaper on top and then–lots of fun–I walked back and forth on top as heavily as I could. The result, along with some other attempts:

geranium 1 sm

I added watercolor and a direct leaf print to the “walking print” as it really didn’t show up too well.


After peeling off the leaves and flower parts, I made a second, or "ghost" print, to which I added some watercolor.

After peeling off the leaves and flower parts, I made a second, or “ghost” print, to which I added some watercolor.

Last week a friend, artist Carol McGraw, visited my studio, where we tried out Gelli printing, a method of monoprinting.  Lots of fun, very messy, allows for multiple layers. I’ll save these for the next post.

4 thoughts on “Printing without a press, Day 1

  1. Hello Elizabeth, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. By the way, I like your ghost print with watercolor added. This is the first time I’ve heard of Geli Product. I’ve tried gelatin printing before in one of my ceramic class (I had to make gelatin pad myself). Wish I heard of this product then.


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