before and after

In the midst of getting ready for printmaking class I thought I would do a before and after.

Before Class

To get ready for class I have to decide what to work on and gather together my supplies – inks, papers, tool, a snack and a block if I’m printing from one of my relief cuts.  

Normally I try to take advantage of having the big press available but this week I’m going to print up a woodcut that I’ve had languishing in my garage since early summer.  I loved the cut when I was working on it but, well, that’s another story. 

The class supplies everything but paper, but I take my own stuff.  The paper I use is Rives BFK heavyweight 100% rag.  Because I’m fancy.  I tear my paper to size before I go to class, just to save time once I arrive.


I use water based printmaking inks which the class has just started to supply.  Most of the other printmakers work with oil based inks.  I also take my own brayers and spatula for mixing and rolling my inks.

This week I’m taking nori paste and mulberry papers because I’ll be doing some chine colle. This is a method to add color to relief prints where the colored paper is glued onto the print as it is run through the press.  This is a really fun technique and I know I’ve written about it before. Again, very fancy.

I’m also taking my woodcutting tools.  Because this is the first time I’ve printed the block I may want to make some adjustments, carving away some feedback or clarifying some details.  Most “proper” artists would clean the block, let it dry, then do the carving.  As you can guess, I’m happy to carve the inked block and run it through right away.  I just have to be careful to remove all the carved bits from the block so they don’t end up in my ink.  I admit it, I’m a really messy printmaker.  Really messy.

I get all of my tools from Mcleans in Oregon (see my printmaking links).  I wood burned a little Japanese-style flower into the handle instead of writing my name on them.  Have I mentioned how fancy I am?

Depending on what I want to print, prepping for the class can take as long as the class itself.  Of course some nights I just throw some paper in my portfolio, grab whatever ink was in my bag from the previous week and take off.  But I find that if I think things through I make better use of my time.

This week most of the prep work involved the fabrics.  I want to try the block on linen in a couple of different ways.  I’ll run it through once on plain linen then twice on linen that I’ve appliquéd.  The appliqué imitates the paper method of chine colle. Or so I’m hoping. I’ve never done this before, so we’ll see.  Luckily, I never care if things don’t work out.  I love the process and the experimenting as much as finishing something.  And when are you really finished?  This is one of the best lessons I’ve learned from my instructor.


After Class

Here are the results.  I’m so so pleased with all the results. Everything turned out even better than I’d hoped.


The first is a “blind emboss”, just running the dry woodcut through the press with paper.  I always forget to do this and once the plate is inked it is really hard to ever get a really pristine emboss.  I love this.  The next two are chine colle, adding mulberry paper to the woodcut during the print.  Love these, I did six variations of this.


The prints on linen using appliqué to add color.  These are awesome if I do say so myself.  Yes, you will see more of this action in the future…


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