Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Last night I held a demonstration of relief printmaking at the Federation of Canadian Artists on Granville Island. While the turnout was pretty small (four), it did mean that everyone got to try their hand at carving. The ink was playing up (atmosphere too dry?) so I couldn't really give them an opportunity to roll up, but I think they had fun nonetheless. Everyone said they learned something, and were keen to try when they got home (apparently, all had their own lino cutter tools, ink and brayers). The most common problem that they'd had was way too much ink blobbed onto the plate, and loss of detail. Now that they've witnessed such fine inking finesse on my part (hint - that's pretty heavy irony; I'll discuss the ink disaster shortly), they have a better idea of how to tackle it again.

Showing how to carve the Safety Kut block

Participants try their hand at carving

First roll up with Speedball water soluble ink

Transferring print to paper by burnishing

The reveal - demonstrating (on purpose!) too little ink

Creating crab prints for participants, using Graphic Chemical ink
(too little ink, this time not on purpose!)

So, the ink fiasco. I had been warned that Speedball inks are finicky in certain environmental conditions (well, you just have to search the Wet Canvas! printmakers forum for "Speedball" to get an idea of the opinion there!), and while I'd had experienced it to a certain degree at home, I'd never had a complete lack of any functionality whatsoever. I definitely had that happen last night! The ink dried almost as soon as I rolled it onto the Plexiglas plate. I think that the atmosphere was just too dry, but I'm not positive what the reason was. I did have a fan blowing down on me, so that might have been the problem. Anyway, I had to switch to the Graphic Chemical ink, but I'm not yet able to get a very dark print using it with the Safety Kut blocks. I have yet to try on linoleum to see if it makes a difference, but perhaps I just have to keep layering. It's really difficult, because I am so used to Speedball that I think I must have a ridiculous quantity of ink on my block, yet it isn't dark enough. I'll have to keep experimenting.

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