At the end of October, I decided to get out of the studio and take a day playing in another medium. I've long been fascinated with printmaking and enjoyed it immensely in high school. Finally the stars aligned with my schedule and I was able to take a workshop at Saltgrass Printmakers down in Salt Lake City. The very talented and lovely, Stefanie Dykes ran a Saturday workshop in stencil prints and I couldn't be more pleased with the results of my first real time working with a press.
Stefanie spent an hour with us first explaining the process, mixing inks, loading the roller, then the plate and finally printing with the press. She did a simple example with snowflake foam stencils for an upcoming holiday party she was decorating for. The results were really fun and gave me a good example for how the process works. Understanding the process of printmaking is really the art of it. Here Stefanie and another workshop attendee line up the paper before running it through the press for the first print.
After drawing and cutting out all my stencils, I set to work mixing inks. My plan was to create some foggy, atmospheric pine trees (no need to reinvent the wheel, right?), so I wanted a green that faded into smoke. I mixed a phthalo with an umber to warm up the green. Then I thinned out a dark charcoal just a smidge.
Here Stefanie starts to load up my roller and shows me how to fade colors into each other.
After a good 20 minutes of rolling and learning proper technique, this was my color palate. A green that faded into smoke. From here I transferred that color onto a plate. It's a multi-step process!
Then with the plate loaded with color, we brought it over to the printing press and I began laying out my stencils.
We ran this paper through twice to achieve a lovely ghost image around the trees. It's hard to see in this image - much better in person. What was challenging for me to get at first was how the ink would transfer and what effect the stencils would have on the paper. You really have to think it all through before you print, otherwise you will get wonky results or waste all that time you spent with the ink. In retrospect, I wish I had placed my fade lower so you get a better sense of it and I wish I had thought through the layout of my stencils a bit better. But for my first print, I was pretty happy with how it turned out.
And then here is the real ghost image taken with all the leftover ink from the plate.
Finally, these are my leftover stencils covered in ink. I made my stencils from card stock, but in retrospect, I should have cut them into a material that I could have reused over and over. I also learned that sharpie can affect the ink and that the paper soaks up all the ink and won't release it for a second print. I look forward to going back to I can try all of it again and see what other results I can get.