As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. As much as we concept and brainstorm our studio workshops down to the last drop of paint, it’s hard to completely prepare for something that is not there yet (as many new parents may relate to). Thus, following our first official day of implementing our Print Making Workshop in our painting studio, I’d like to offer a bit more information, and ground rules if you will. This forthcoming play by play is simply to give you an overview of what to expect when participating in this workshop.
Disclaimer: This workshop is fairly involved, and requires at least two facilitators. When participating, please keep in mind the well-worn phrase that “patience is a virtue.” We want to make sure each child has an opportunity to make a stellar print, thus our supervision is necessary for each step of the process to ensure safety and quality. Parents, please be ready to participate and aid your child with this workshop (especially those lil’ tots who are five and under). Please arrive early in order to insure you spot in the workshop.
Introduction: As you arrive 10-15 minutes early for the workshop, please line up outside of our zigzag wall, and just “hang out for a bit.” Once we get a good amount of children lined up who are interested in the workshop, a facilitator will explain the basic concept of printmaking and walk everyone through the workshop step-by-step. All of this will be done while our little angels are listening patiently outside the wall. After our trial run today, we realized that twelve kids inside the workshop, all ready to move to the next step simultaneously is a bit overwhelming, even with two facilitators. Thus, after our overview of the project, we will lead four to five kids through each step at a time. Think of this like a series of stop signs. If the car in front of you moves, you still have to stop at the stop sign, and when your turn arrives, you can move ahead. In the same manner, as soon as group 1 is finished with the first step, we will let group 2 move onto the first step, while group 1 moves onto the second step. Have I lost anyone? This wave-like rotation is one reason why we would like everyone who will be participating to arrive on time to listen to our introduction, even if you may have to wait for a few more minutes. Maybe we can provide some in-line entertainment, like a court jester or something.
Step 1: The first step of this workshop is to carve a pattern, design, name or image into a wax coated recycled CD. In our studios, one of our goals is to provide sustainable art activities by using recycled materials. We implore anyone who is able to pretty-please bring by old CDs to donate to this activity so we can continue our goal. The kids will be using blunt hexagonal shaped tools to carve their designs. While these tools are not sharp, it is important that the children are carving away from their hands to avoid an accident. Another insight is that all words or letters must be drawn backwards. It’s like Willie Wonka said, “Oh, you can’t get out backwards. You have to go forward to get back.” Only, strike that and reverse it.
Step 2: When all four group-one-ers have completed their designs, they will move onto the inking table, where based on age we will ink their plates for them, or allow the kids to ink their own plates. At this point, we will accept the next round of kids at the carving station.
Step 3: This step is where the magic happens! After the plate is properly inked, the kids will move onto the third station: our hydraulic printing press! These presses are a bit childproof, as they have a locked setting (meaning they cannot be cranked down when locked), albeit caution must be taken with the children’s fingers while cranking the press. It does move down fairly slowly, so after the sixth crank, the kids should get the idea to steer clear of squishing fingers. We will assist the kids in placing their plate on a piece for felt, covered by a damp piece of paper, and another piece of felt. We will then insert this estranged felt stack into one of our six printing presses. The kids will be able to crank the press down, until their little muscles refuse to push any further, meaning the press is pushing hard on the plate. After this, it is simply a matter of removing the plate, unwrapping the felt, slowly pealing back the paper, and voila! A beautiful, original, one of a kind print. The prints are the final product, while the plates (aka, carved wax CDs) are going to be acquiesced into a wonderful blanket like sculpture suspended from a frame on high.
So, there you have it: the printmaking play by play. Please bring by your old CDs and experience our latest workshop!
—Lindsay Preston, Studio Facilitator