Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Nitty Gritty (Ink)


 
Flowerpress posted recently about Marthe Armitage - if you haven't seen it yet, go and look now! Her work is beautiful, but even more interesting to me were the photos of her at work, printing. And as usual, my first thought was: "I wonder what kind of ink she uses?" And what kind of paper and how dense are the rollers and how soft is the lino and how does she get the image onto the block?

These are the geeky things that printmakers want to know, but it's not always easy to find out. To satisfy my own curiousity, I've started a new blog, PrintSpecs, listing materials and supply sources. If you're a printmaker and would like to join in, email me.

Much of printmaking is done by instinct and superstition* (otherwise known as experience). Ask 20 printers, and you'll most likely find that each one soaks their paper for a different length of time, "just long enough". Each one uses a slightly different amount of ink, enough to "feel right". Printmaking is a tactile process, and a print coming out right is an accumulation of lots of other things coming out right, things that are hard to measure or explain. The bite of the block hitting the press rollers, the sound of the ink being rolled out, the resistance of the ink as you scoop it out of the tin, the weight of the paper as you lift it to lay on the block or plate: all of these things add up, and tell you how the printing is going. Once you've found a system or routine that works, it's unlikely to change, unless your ink supplier goes out of business.

You need to know your own materials intimately. But that doesn't mean you might not want to play with someone else's, just to see. No-one's giving away secrets; anyone trying a new ink will still do their own experiments, make up their own minds. But it's useful, interesting information.


*I mean that in the nicest possible way.

16 comments:

laurabucci said...

Very nicely written, kinda deep and philosophical. PrintSpecs is such a great idea. Neat!

andrea said...

Great idea and resource Jesse. So glad you put it together....

mizu designs said...

Yay for printmaker geeks! I was thinking all those same things when I read the Marthe article. I was fascinated (honestly I thought about it for about an hour) as to how she got the wallpaper through her press. It's so long and awkward. How does she not crush it?

I was check out your new blog.

CrowNology said...

:)

sakurasnow said...

This is a great idea, for what will no doubt be a very useful resource!

ibb said...

It is a great idea, and thanks for your sharing your work. And your tips for printing.

Yardwork said...

Jezze, you are amazing. What a great blog - I learned a lot of new stuff already. I've never seen those easy cut lino blocks.

Fatima said...

I've been following your blog for close to a year now and I must say, that this is a fantastic idea for a new blog!

I started fiddling about with printmaking last year and I always encountered difficulties in sourcing suppliers in SA, even more specifically, Johannesburg.

I moved to the USA for a year and I must say it's been absolutely heavenly to find everything I need right there a few blocks away from me.
My only problem is that I'm a beginner and I'm still unsure of what to do.
I wanted to enroll in a course here but they're quite expensive ($'s of course and I'm here as a dependent on my husband's scholarship) and I can't afford it.

So I turned to books, they've helped a lot, but I still like I need help from someone who is actually a pro in the field ;)

I'm just starting out with lino and screenprinting, but do you think you could give me some helpful hints/ideas or an idea of what an essential basic startup kit should look like?

I would appreciate it if you could email me.

belladonna786[@]gmail[.]com

Pippa said...

This is such a good idea. I'm always fascinated by other people's processes. I haven't done any printing for a few months, and I can't wait to get back into it!

beatnik said...

I would LOVE to attend a workshop of yours, if you were ever to hold one. Just so you know.,..just putting it out there.....I'll bring brownies!

Sonya said...

Great post and I know I'm going to enjoy your new blog too! You really, beautifully captured the tactile nature of printmaking, one part that I really never gave much thought too.

L'Atelier said...

well writen- and very interesting. i always wanted to try printing- but it seems such an omnious business that i suspiciously stay away from it.
love the stamp photo... of to check the link :)

Brittany Noel said...

I love seeing all of your carved blocks piled up like that! I'm going to be block printing this semester, both onto fabric and through the letterpress. Can't wait to carve that buttery linoleum :)

Fox & Locket said...

Wow Jesse what a great idea for a blog! I especially love your sharing; open-hearted and 'artist's learning from each other' approach.

Being creative is something no one can copy anyway; but sometimes its hard to learn things when info is a closely gaurded secret! So I am so stoked to be able to learn from those who know about printing! I'm gonna give it a try for fun.

Greta

Dijanne Cevaal said...

Just stunmled on your blgo jesse- wonderful and please join me into your Print specs!

Anonymous said...

Please add me to Print Specs

jen ( at) jenfolio (dot) com