Monday, August 31, 2009

"Making" Letterpress assignment- now on 100% less newsprint!

I finally shot pictures of my finished letterpress print so I could satisfy my capitalist streak and sling 'em up in the etsy. The bottom one I did with a rainbow light-to-dark blue marbleized roll (which is really easy to achieve on the Vandercooks with the automatic rollers). I already got the rant about shimming and cheating done when I posted the first roughs I did on newsprint, so I'll spare y'all that again. However, I was saving these in the studio so I could screenprint a speech bubble over the text as a nod to Neil's role in comic books, but I just discovered today that I burned the image in reverse, and I took it as a sign that the universe didn't really want me to print it. Also I'm freaking tired of the print dungeon.

I had my last Printmaking and Modern design class on Saturday! We did a print exchange and went to the Wayzgoose festival at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle. I did both of these things highly exhausted and hung over, but incredibly it didn't take away from the COOLNESS of the Steamroller Smackdown at Wayzgoose. Artists printed huge linoleum and vinyl blocks (think 3x5 feet huge- and the average lino block fits in the palm of your hand) using a STEAMROLLER as a roller and PLYWOOD as a tympan. Here are some pictures I ganked from flickr to give you an idea:

They hung the posters on the side of SVC to dry, which is pretty frickin' brilliant when you think about how hard it would be to make a drying rack that big.

There were teams of artists inking each block. Each team got half an hour to pull as many prints as possible- when you know a little about how printing works, watching them go through the process under those time constraints is HELLA nerve wracking.

They used a carpet as a pusher blanket, plywood as the tympan, and then they put a goddamn steamroller on top of it. It was pretty incredible.

Pulling up the finished prints. Anyone who knows a little about printing- think about the registration on this thing. Just- think about it. I saw more than one HUGE piece of paper ruined by shifting it around to make registration.

So now I'm a little bit freer to work in the at home studio, although I won't be producing work at a furious pace to meet class deadlines anymore. Until metalworking starts up in October, at least!


  1. It looks great but HOLY SHIT HALF AN HOUR to do all that?!! I would have a panic attack. not to mention probably have to go through several mistakes, mostly due to uneven ink distribution. Did you use oil or water based? i assume oil because it doesn't dry as fast/some kind of ink extender.

    if only i had a steamroller though. life would be easier.

  2. I know! I mean, they're working in teams, but jesus. It was funny to watch all the other printmakers in the audience, we all held out breathes and let out collective sighs of relief whenever the paper was set down or pulled up.

    I don't know what type of inks they used- probably a fuckload of relief inks considering how fast linoleum sucks up ink. (That was the other thing- watching GIANT sheets of paper ruined and inks gone to waste, and all I could think about was my pitiful student account balance in the print studio). For my little letterpress piece up there, yeah, I used standard relief oil based inks.

    No extender though, letterpress inks are pretty package ready. I would bet that the Wayzgoose printers used some magnesium carbonate to stiffen up their stock, though.

    If I had a, how many fantasies have started out THAT way...