Well. This was a big day.
I was actually looking for lessons on bookbinding when I found Union Street Printmakers. They may well be the only place offering these workshops in SA; previously, there was a former NSW Bookbinder’s Guild member offering one-on-one or small group classes at Henley Beach, but I’ve had a hard time finding out if they’re still offering classes.
Yes, there are YouTube tutorials, but some things are better done in a workshop that has the tools and an instructor who’ll spot your mistakes.
I had a little interest in linocut printing, after trying to use stencils with my tea jars and finding them to be a great big hassle. I wished I could make a stamp for the lids, so I didn’t have to fuss around with the stencils.
Later, when I took up bullet journalling, I bought some little stamp markers from Officeworks to use as references to my computer, my Google Drive, and so on in task lists. They weren’t cheap - $4 each - and despite only being 4 months old and not that heavily used, some are already running out. Again, I wished for two things - that I could make up my own designs, and that I could just ink them as needed.
I looked into linocut, but was scared off by the tools and the stories of injuries. I’m kind of clumsy sometimes, and so was scared of that. I was also a little intimidated by the price of everything.
The workshop was $160, but it seemed perfect - a day with people who knew what they were doing, with good quality tools, and where (presumably) there’d be a first-aid officer on standby.
Happily, no injuries today!
Getting there was a bit of a drag - I caught a bus from Currie Street instead of the tram to the Entertainment Centre, the latter of which would have been much faster - and not much fun in 33C heat. But I made it in the end.
In the morning, I tried EasyCarve rubber stamp making. EasyCarve is, well, easy to carve - but its drawbacks are its higher cost, that it tends to split and tear more readily than lino, and that it’s hard to do tiny little details. But, its advantages are also that it’s easy to mount onto a handle for stamping, and it can be shaped to stamp on difficult surfaces (like the slightly concave jar lids).
Yeah, I'm a nerd. I thought stamps for warchalking (warstamping) would be cool, but...chose Bluetooth for some reason, even though that's not part of warchalking. Quicker and more discreet too. The square spiral was me learning howe to straight lines. The curves were...kiiiinda based on a Norse trimming pattern called 'endless dog'. I'm not very good at drawing.
In the afternoon, it was time for some real lino. I tried two designs - a paisley-inspired shape, and a shape based on a motif from Graham McCallum’s book. I ran out of time to finish the second block, but I did finish the first. (Carving here was extended by needing to keep warming the lino - it becomes devilishly difficult to carve while it’s cold.)
The two blocks (I didn't get time to finish the flower block; I wanted to do it as a reduction print, where you cut the design in stages and print in between). Then, the paisley test print, and my experiments. The blue and black offset was not meant to be offset that far, I don't know what happened there.
Bonus: here’s a page from Graham Leslie McCallum’s ‘5000 Flower & Plant Motifs’, which inspired the flower block. I found it while I was looking for patterns to fill my paisley symbol with. The flower motif I was going for is figure D, in the top right-hand corner.
The sea dragon print here (made by another participant) also shows an example of an effect that can be obtained with superimposed ghost printing.
Almost a Moire kind of thing.
I have a lot of ideas, but I’ll need to save some money to get a set of good tools and some EasyCarve and lino pieces. And find a better way of warming the lino than sitting on it, since I don’t trust a hotplate. (And apparently, track down an old office printer and pull it apart to get parts for a hand-held printing roller, since printing rollers are large and very expensive.) I’ll put some links on my wishlist, if anyone feels generous or wants some gift ideas.
Union Street Printmakers runs a variety of full-day intensive workshops, at different locations. I went to one of the intensives, at Stone & Quoin Studio, 6 Manton Street Hindmarsh (it’s behind Pony & Cole Cafe). You can request a full-day workshop, and it’d be really good if you have a group - either beginners, or people who can’t do printmaking at home.
- Low-toxic intaglio processes – drypoint, etching, monoprints/monotypes, collagraphs, chine colle, etc.
- Relief processes – lino printing, woodcuts, wood engravings, collagraphs, embossing, photopolymer, Japanese woodblock, etc.
- Stencilling & screen printing – DIY kitchen table techniques, screenprinting with hand cut stencils, screenprinting with drawing/masking fluid, screen monoprinting, beginners repeat pattern textile printing, etc.
- Other print processes - waterless lithography, gelli printing, printing without a press, etc.
And coming soon to Stone & Quoin Studio in Hindmarsh:
- Letterpress, book arts, zines and textile screenprinting.
They also provide casual classes, which run Mondays 2-5pm (for intaglio) or 6-9pm (lino & relief). They have a Saturday class in Stepney, but the Hindmarsh studio was really nice and has an attached cafe. The casual classes are $40 per person for single classes, but you can book 10 classes in advance (and they should be booked well in advance). There are also evening classes for a group of at least 4 people, Tuesday-Friday 6-9pm at Hindmarsh, for $50 per person
And finally, the teacher today, Simone Tippett has a portable workshop press and can provide equipment and materials for schools or other studios. My parents (and others of their generation) got to do basic printmaking and stamping at school - Mum made fabric stamps with potatoes, on more than one occasion. I didn’t get to do any of that at school - the first three schools I went to were severely underfunded and didn’t trust the kids with equipment anyway, and the last school I went to (a private school) just didn’t do any of this. This would be a really fun activity for older kids or teenagers, especially those interested in doing stuff like zines or fashion design - if you want that patterned fabric that doesn’t exist, the first step is to make it yourself, and fabric stamping is faster than trying to handpaint. And even though I had no disasters, it’d be best to do it under supervision - this does involve some sharp things, after all.
They have a ton of upcoming full-day intensives throughout April and May, on all sorts of techniques as well. It’d definitely be worth emailing ahead to find out if the classes are full or not.
Then, there’s the workshops that attracted me in the first place: the guest print program.
I’ll be there for the Basic Western Bookbinding workshop, because there’s almost nowhere else to learn this stuff under supervision in Adelaide (at least, nowhere that advertises it). I’d really recommend looking at that workshop if you’re a traditional media or sketch artist who might have to bind sketchbooks one day, or if you’re into fountain pens or unusual papers, or if you just want to make a neat custom notebook for yourself.
They have a Facebook page as well, which has lots of photos of different types of prints if you’re not sure what the technique you like is called, or what different kinds of prints look like.
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