This is a technique I learned at university when Molly Lemon (WSA alumni) dropped by to lead a workshop on this and wood engraving, the latter I wasn’t sure I wanted to introduce first time printmakers to. However pressure printing involves cutting, layering, and a little elbow grease which I thought would be perfect.
We began with a bit of a demonstration using random scraps of card to illustrate the process. Simply, the thicker the layer, the darker the ink.
And although my first couple of attempts were (unintentionally, as is the way with printing) unsuccessful, I was able to use this to help the girls understand the process and what methods perhaps worked better than others… fortunately they were better than I was!
Firstly ink must be rolled out, and blotted as with the monotypes the previous week. I figured by slowly introducing the basics week by week they were more likely to be remembered than if I were to bombard them with several things all at once. After all, we do have plenty of time! As such ink rolling was introduced in the first week, to be used all subsequent weeks, and blotting was introduced during the second week to be used again in this session. This method seems to work pretty well as everyone seemed to know what they were doing (and as discussed in the previous sessions, kept hold of their blotting sheets to work back into).
Then it was time to cut out the different shapes, or gather the different items to be used as our pressure plates. Some quickly had ideas of what to do with flowers, and bees being popular natural forms, and others took a trip outside into the playground to collect some leaves!
The printing in this session was the biggest learning curve so far. Our plates this session took the longest amount of time to develop, as with process printing they were readymade, and in monotyping it’s a much more impulsive and fluid approach. This session the plates were made beforehand then printed, and as with my demonstration sometime unsuccessfully, so there was a little trial and error.
This may have been frustrating because of all the time and detail they had put into the plates, however I feel it was a good lesson in experimentation, trail and development. You weren’t able to simply make something and print it, extra paper had to be added to the plate; more or less ink tried, or different materials used.
We discovered midway through the session that fabric took the ink far better than paper for example, so most people moved onto playing around with this. Our leaf prints were very successful too with the thick veins making some beautiful patterns. One of our young people used the same base plate each time, but experimented with all the different variables until she got a very successful and clean print. This showed a really nice trajectory of the piece.
Although not all the prints were necessarily the strongest of outcomes I feel like this was a good lesson in understanding the importance of trial and error and development.
The upcoming few sessions will all be based around lino cutting, and growing skills in this extremely common method of printing. It is also one of my favourites, so I am excited to see what we come up with!
Next week I am moving them on to pressure printing, and completely deciding what they will be printing. In our first session we were using predetermined plates, and today mostly tracing photographs. However now they have gotten to grips with the basics I think it is time to move them on to working with their own illustrations. Occasionally this is difficult as young people don’t know what to draw, or have issues with concerns their drawings aren’t good enough (an issue I have too!), but I have high hopes for their pressure prints! Do check back next week to see how it goes.
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