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.