Battle scars, snow, and the really long Printmaking post from Hell

No joke, I’ve spent twenty minutes just trying to write this first sentence. I was searching for something witty or profound to start this post, but I’ve got nothing. All I can think of is that I’m tired. SO TIRED.

So, printmaking. The project is a multicolored print. The subject is our decision. Parameters? The final print must have at least 5 different colors. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do. I looked through the gazillion or so pictures I took this summer on my visit to San Francisco and found this:

When my friend and I went to Chinatown, we stopped in an All-You-Can-Eat Chinese restaurant. The place was cramped with tons of people. The walls were barren, not very appealing. This window display was the most eye-catching thing in the room (besides the food, of course!) I loved how there were tons of plants, the string lights hanging over the window, the OPEN sign illuminating everything. I loved the intention and effort of making something in the room inviting. There’s something gaudy and odd about it, but there’s also beautiful and unique about it too.

So last week is when we began, and I spent most of that time drawing out the print, trying to figure out how many colors I wanted to attempt. I wanted fifteen. I settled for nine.

This is how multicolored printmaking works

FIRST: White

If you have white in your image, that’s the first thing you cut out. Then, going from light to dark, you pick you next color. After I drew the image I carved out the white.


The first color to print will be the next lightest color, which in my case is pink.

I made the color pretty easily, but after a few test prints I decided I wanted more white. TWICE I cleaned my linoleum off with mineral spirits and carved. My stubbornness was worth it when I cranked out these beauties:

Yeah, the color burns the retinas, but not long after I print the next colors.

THIRD: Light Blue

To prepare for the next color, I went back to the linoleum and carved out everything I wanted to stay pink in the picture.

Mixing a very LIGHT blue took forever because I didn’t want to  use all the white. I kept adding white in small drops until I got the right color. I added a glob of Cobalt Dryer to the mix, which helps the ink dry faster.

I need to stress at this point that putting a GLOB of Cobalt Dryer is a BAD IDEA. If you do, your color gets a grayish tinge and the ink application is sticky and appears scaly on your print. Definitely not awesome. Instead, a DROP or two is more than enough.

I was so annoyed with the print that I left without doing another color like I planned (that and it was also 11 at night when I finished).


FOURTH: Light Purple

Next day I got over the Light Blue failure and figured that I could add another blue color. So the grand total of colors became ten (including white). With that in mind, I determined to get at least two colors printed.

I carved out what I wanted to stay Light Blue. Then I mixed a light purple.

Printing went very smoothly and I was happy with the results.

I left for two hours to get lunch (so the ink would dry) and came back to start the next color.

FIFTH: Lightish Blue

As always I carved out what I wanted to stay purple. Carving is a lengthy process. Reflecting back on the project I think carving caused me more grief than anything else.

I really liked this blue color.

It was a very successful printing day. I was so relieved. :-)

SIXTH: Toothpaste Green

Weather Channel predicted that Georgia would get snow. Usually if the Weather Channel predicts snow, it does not snow. But I was very surprised when it began snowing heavily while I walked to the Printmaking lab.

Carving out what I wanted to stay light blue took some time since there is much of this color in the picture. As I was carving I kept stealing peeks out the window:

After noticing that the snow was accumulating on the sidewalks and roads, I decided to run back to the dorm room to get the snow shoes my parents brought me the day before just incase I needed them. Walking to the dorm in my tennis shoes was a very difficult task. I slipped and almost fell five times before arriving safely at my dorm.

The snow shoes were brilliant and I easily walked back to the Printmaking lab. You can see the footprints made by the snow shoes below.

These snow shoes were fantastic.
When I got back to the lab this was the view out of the window:

By the time it got dark outside, I finally finished carving my linoleum block and proceeded to make the light green. It reminded me of toothpaste. It was one of the things that first struck me odd when we went inside the restaurant. The wall color was horrendous.

After carving and mixing the ink color, printing is a breeze.

It was 9 PM when I finished printing so I decided to call it a night and enjoy the snow day I missed. I walked around campus and took the best pictures I could with my iPhone camera.

Outside the Burd Center, where the Printmaking lab is.

A lamppost on front campus. Very Chronicles of Narnia-esque. I couldn’t pass it up. :-)

On front campus, The Pearce Auditorium.

In Sorority Circle. See the snowman? One of many I saw on campus…oddly lots of them were half-made and then left.

Awesome day. We seldom get snow like this in Georgia.

SEVENTH: Darker Blue

I woke up near noon. The snow was melting away in huge clumps.

I realized that I was running out of time. I had two days to finish four colors. I went into the Printmaking lab carved out what I wanted to stay Toothpaste Green and made my last blue color.

It took me a while to make a color that would compliment the light blues in the piece and  the odd toothpaste green and still work as the contrast in the work. I think the end effect was successful.

EIGHTH: Dark Green

After carving out what I wanted to stay that Darker Blue, I realized how little of the linoleum was left and that there wasn’t that much work left to do.

Mixing the dark green went smoothly.

But, of course, when everything is going right, something always goes wrong. On my practice print, I noticed that the ink that got on the linoleum that I already carved out made a very unwelcome appearance on my print. A fellow printmaking student told me that after I ink the linoleum I need to tape over the places where ink got on the carved out linoleum.

Seems simple enough, right? Well…not really. The tape hardly stuck to the linoleum and I had to work around the small details. Such a pain.
I eventually got so annoyed and started to carve out the inked places and stupidly sliced the side of my pointer finger.

After an annoying, labor (and emotionally) intensive process these prints were the result:

Finished by midnight. Last two colors to go.

NINTH: Brown

After carving, I made a brown color. After printing two, I decided to make it a little bit lighter by adding more yellow.

The lighter brown suited the picture better.

TENTH: Purple

I forgot to take a picture of the purple color. But I think you get the general idea from the next pictures.

After printing two, I decided that I did not like the dark color over the sign and in the mirror.

Good for me, I got to carve out most of the linoleum, which makes taping down the linoleum a little easier.

After printing…FINALLY finished.

After a week of printing this , and another week just getting around to write this post…I’m done. Finished. And really tired of this project. Onto the next one.

6 responses to “Battle scars, snow, and the really long Printmaking post from Hell

  1. Fucking Fabulous!!!!! That is all I have to say. And… I’m REALLY glad I didn’t take that class!!

  2. c1Sk2U Excellent article, I will take note. Many thanks for the story!

  3. Kelly, this turned out awesome! I think the last pic you sent to me was the lighter green. The finished version looks great! But maybe you should do a slightly less ambitious project next time, lol.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s