WE’VE FINALLY STOPPED TRAVELING FOR A WHILE! I loved our printmaking adventures to Nashville and Milwaukee, but I am plumb worn out on the car. Now that we’re home again, in this apartment that is finally starting to feel like home, I’ve gotten started on Kitchen Printshop Project.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what my friend Brian Hitselberger said to me a few weeks ago. He said he’s decided that whatever mediums he has access to, that’s what he’s going to make art with.
It seems like a simple, obvious thought, but it really struck me. I feel like I waste a lot of time worrying about finding printshop access to do detailed screen prints, acquiring the cash for my favorite printmaking paper, or the space to continue my large woodcuts. It’s freeing to throw these worries to the wind and just start drawing, watercoloring and setting up my own simple space at home. Brian, by the way, just recently completed a collaborative Chap Book with a writer friend. You can check it out here: http://thefanzine.com/the-human-work-of-animal-bodies/
Below, I’ve listed some basic supplies I gathered together from around our apartment to set up my mini relief printing shop. I’ll write again soon about setting up the same table for screen printing. Most of this is fairly obvious for those of you in the “Print Club”, but I listed it out in case anyone out there is curious about the supplies I use.
Here’s how to set up a relief printmaking area in the comfort of your own kitchen!
Okay, so food and ink really shouldn’t mix, but besides that, the kitchen is one of the best places to set up shop at home if you don’t have a lot of room. First off, a lot of kitchen supplies are also printmaking supplies including vegetable oil and dish liquid for cleanup, plastic wrap for ink storage and wooden spoons for printing. Also, the surfaces in the kitchen are much easier to clean than, say, the 30-year-old beige carpeting that might be wall-to-walling the rest of your sad little apartment.
If you want to make prints at home, the three easiest types of print areas to set up are relief printmaking, monoprinting and screen printing. For my first adventure in Kitchen Printshop, I’m getting set up to print relief: woodblocks, linoleum blocks, and even homemade rubber stamps, as described in my DIY Eraser Stamps with Uncle Chuck post from last summer.
For linoleum printmaking at home, here’s a list of basic supplies I suggest:
- Linoleum blocks: I prefer the Battleship Gray, usually backed so I can print on letterpress easily. The un-backed is cheap and portable, however, and you can always back the block yourself on MDF or plywood. I DO NOT recommend “easy cut” or “wonder cut” unless you’re working with kids. You can’t get as much detail, and it’s kind of like using training wheels when you know you’re ready for the open road.
- Speedball linoleum cutter kit: I recommend Set No. 1
- Newsprint paper or other cheap paper for proofing
- An old phone book or magazine for cleanup
- An ink knife (a stiff putty knife from Home Depot/Lowe’s/Ace works fine)
- Wooden spoon or spatula for applying print pressure
- An inking palette/slab: I’m using my old metal painting pallet, but a small glass window pane or plexi scrap works well
- Ink! There are lots of options in this department. You can always go with the Speedball brand water-based inks. They come in a lot of colors and clean up easily. Beware the fast drying time, however. Good for prints, but bad for drying out while you’re still trying to ink up your block. My current favorite ink for relief printing is Gamblin, esp. the Portland Intense Black. I got turned onto this ink by the lovely John Hancock and their rep Kristine Joy Mallari. You can read more about their relief inks here: http://www.gamblincolors.com/printmaking-materials/relief-inks.html
- Brayer for rolling ink onto block: Speedball soft rubber brayer
- String, thumbtacks and clothes pins or bull clips to make your own print drying line
- Viva brand paper towels or rags cut from old T-shirts
- Vegetable oil or canola oil for cleanup: ink removal
- Dish liquid for cleanup: de-greasing. Dawn works well.
- Optional: rubbing alcohol and/or Simple Green for final surface wipe-down. Note: never put alcohol on your brayer.
To get started, I went out and bought a cheap folding table from Wal*Mart. I got one of the 5′ variety that folds in half and has carrying handles, which costs about $35. I bought it in part to have an extra prep area in the kitchen, but also with screen printing and relief printing in mind. I then collected together the hodgepodge of printmaking materials I’ve acquired over the years and set up shop. Check out a few more pics of the space and supplies below.
To complete my Kitchen Printshop, I made this print drying line from some twine, two thumb tacks and a collection of clothes pins.
I’d love to see pics of your at home shops! Perhaps I’ll try to collect some from my artist friends and see if I can put a post together.