In yet another round of getting our hands beautifully dirty in the frames of the Creative Chaos workshop series, this time we gave it a go at different printmaking techniques. If curious, check out more on how we previously built useless machines, experimented with plastic waste and invented outdoor games.
In this hands-on workshop we dived into the world of graphic art and tried out different accessible techniques: monotyping, linocut, collagraphy. Wondering what a spoon, a pasta machine and hydraulic press have to do with printmaking? Read on.
In keeping with the experimental nature of the workshop, the children first got introduced to different tools and materials and then enjoyed an hour and half of free experimentation, looking for their own inspiration, receiving just the most essential guidance and learning by making. They discovered on their own what amount of ink produces the best outcomes, which is their favorite material to carve, and how using damp vs. dry paper can affect the final prints.
Monotyping or monoprinting is a technique of transferring a drawing or painting made on a smooth, non-absorbent surface, most easily accessible of which can be glass or plexiglass. After you create your image by adding or subtracting inks and any tool at hand, you press a sheet of paper onto the surface — either done by hand or using a printing-press. What makes monotyping especially exciting is that you end up with a unique print that can never ever be reproduced again as the original artwork is usually destroyed in the process of printing it. Go one step further and try it out with found objects — leaves, feathers, textured fabrics or cut out cardboard shapes.
Linocut or lino printing is a technique similar to woodcut where linoleum is used instead. The design is cut or carved into the surface with special carving tools resulting in a mirror image: whatever is removed remains white on the paper. The linoleum sheet is inked with a roller (called a brayer) and then impressed onto paper. The last step in the process can also be done by hand or with the help of a rolling pin or a spoon. These simple tools, however, got overlooked during the workshop, as our own DIY printing press stole their thunder.
Unlike linoleum, the soft rubber blocks were much easier to use for the budding printmaker and thus quicker to bring joy; we ran out of them quite fast. But those who persevered through with carving the linoleum were delighted with more interesting, rich in texture, grainy prints.
The most experimental technique we attempted borrows inspiration from collagraphy. From pen and paper to unique prints? The children drew their ideas on leftover glossy postcards, applied the ink using plastic cards, carefully wiped off what was extra, sandwiched it together with a damp watercolor paper in between felt and… ran it through the pasta machine! It sure took some trial and error as well as physical strength to achieve a satisfying print this way.
Always looking at the clock afraid they were running out of the time, the children hurried through this workshop eager to try out all the different techniques. The collective creative energy that built up during making thankfully carried over till the end and we all teamed up to clean up the mess we made.
As soon as we were done looking at the outcomes and reflecting on the learnings, the children grabbed their pieces and took them home full of pride and joy.
Workshop and text: Vera Naydenova
Photos: Sigrid Kägi