Planning a print
|Carving in progress|
First Repeat Pattern Print
The Columbian Press
I wanted to investigate the possibilities of using some kind of printing press as I have been using other ways of burnishing the print, such as rubbing the paper on the wood with the back of a wooden spoon, and simply using my hand, I saw printmaker Merlyn Chesterman (below) using this method at Art in Action in Oxford.
I located the fine art printing room where I was introduced to the extremely impressive Columbian press which is over 175 years old. I was given and induction to the printing room and how to use the equipment. My first carving was unfortunately too thick to fit in the press which was a bit of a let-down but I used another block to learn how to use it and how to pad the press out to get enough pressure. The physical action of using the press feels a long way from sitting at a sewing machine or designing at a desk, I like the physical activity needed to produce a print.
What I learned from using the press:
1 To carve deeper lines and use less detail as fine lines seem to get blocked with ink after about 8-10 prints and images start to look less sharp and more blobby.
2 mix colours more carefully and don’t use a new colour on an already inked block without cleaning it.
3 plan designs before printing, maybe with small sketch
4 cut away background of carving or will leave an impression of the wood even without ink
5 use the right amount of pressure, always print in the middle of the press for even prints, don’t forget to reposition paper or it will look very patchy, although I think this effect could be used in small amounts to add to the handmade look.