Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Letterpress Revelations

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I am taking a letterpress class with Jenny Wilkson at SVC Seattle right now. Class has been so much fun and I have learned at least a couple of new things about letterpress. In the first picture on the top our instructor, Jenny Wilkson, is showing us how to set type and how to transfer it from gallery to press without dropping type on the floor. It's all in the flick of the wrist. During the first class we all set our names in type and printed them all together on the press. We all got to take turns to crank out a sheet.

For our second class we were joined by Carl Montford, who is accomplished in wood engraving. He brought some of the most amazing broadsides to show and explained the process of carving to us. At the end of the class, we all got to work on our own linocuts.
I learned a new way of transferring an image onto your linoblock. Here's how you do it: First make a lazer copy of the image you are transferring. (either from computer lazer printer or lazer copier) Make sure it is very dark, and this will make the whole process easier. Cut the image smaller and tape one edge of it to your block. Below is Carl explaining the process, you can see the lazer printed image with one side taped to the block.

Put the block down and pour a little mineral spirit over it (please have well ventilated area, I would also advise gloves). Wipe off the excess mineral spirit with a rag and distribute it evenly onto the back of the paper.

After that we took a heating tool, and pressed firmly on the back of the paper where the image is. Some smoke will arise but it's (apparently) normal. Don't press too long or the wand will lose too much heat. You'll notice the image gets fainter if the wand gets too cold if you have a large image to work with. You could also try an iron on the highest setting or one of the small hobby irons.

The transferred image. I liked this, because the image will not rub off, when you handle the plate and it is more accurate than using carbon paper or pencil rubbing to transfer your image.

Here we are hard at work carving our linocuts...

This is my two block print that I started working on. I can't wait to print it at some point in the future. Last class we learned how to mix ink. A tip for some: make sure you use a different ink knife for each can of ink you open, and yet another one for mixing the ink. That way if you have to get more ink out of the cans, you wont contaminate the clean ink with any other colors. For next week, we have to have mockups ready of our prints. I am running behind on this, so I need to go in really early today and try to finish my design before class starts. I'll take some more pictures tonight! I can't wait to see all the cool prints that are going to come out of this class. :)


dhereid said...

Hello Mirka. Do u know any place to buy offset ink in norway? I was looking after SunChemical. Could be some online shop :)

Mirka Hokkanen said...

Hi, this is way after your comment, but I don't know of any place. I'd try to find the graphic artists organization and ask them. I'm sure there is a store.