Mixed Media Shadow Boxes / Shrines Workshop
March ATCs - In the Garden

Fun with Printmaking

If you follow me on social media, I'm sure you've seen that lately I've been a bit obsessed with printmaking. I'm block printing, making my own "blocks" to print with, and I even dipped a toe into screen printing! Why, you ask? Well, more and more I want something really customized in my work, and if it's also a pattern that's unique or special, or even better, something I've designed myself? All the better!

I started by experimenting with some of my previously unblemished Indian woodblocks and tested out the best papers and paints. 

Printmaking - Testing Blockprint Papers - Gwen Lafleur

I'm really liking printing with rice and mulberry papers, and I've settled on fluid textile paints as the medium that works best for me (especially in this dry climate!)

From there, I tried printing on BFK Rives paper and then adding watercolor (and glitter, because I couldn't resist!) I LOVE how this turned out! This particular peacock woodblock is about 7-8" tall and it's absolutely fabulous.

Printmaking - Blockprints with Watercolor - Gwen Lafleur

Having determined that I really love making my own hand-printed papers, I decided to do something to allow me to work a bit more large-scale... I got some large sheets of craft foam and a big sheet of foam core and assembled my own jumbo printing mat. This gives me a lot more surface area to print on larger paper, or to print multiple papers at the same time.

Printmaking - Printing Station 2 - Gwen Lafleur

My studio is fairly small, but luckily I have the perfect little alcove upstairs where I'm able to set up a table and work. This is normally my sewing table, but for now it's a printing station! I lined up all my woodblocks along the ledge (which also doubles as a drying station.)

Printmaking - Printing Station 1 - Gwen Lafleur

I started churning out papers right and left - I was so thrilled with how they looked!

Printmaking - Blockprinting 1 - Gwen Lafleur

It didn't take long before I was experimenting with two-tone printing... it takes a lot longer since everything is printed twice, but it looks soooo good!

Printmaking - Blockprinting Close-up - Gwen Lafleur

From here, I decided to pull out some of my own stamp / block designs and print with them. (You can print with paint on a rubber block, but you need to scrub it out completely as soon as you're done!)

Printmaking - Hand Printing with My Designs - Gwen Lafleur

I think they look pretty good next to the ones from professionally carved blocks!

This encouraged me to start something I've been meaning to do for well over a year - I had all the stuff to make my own screens for screen printing and just hadn't done it. Finally, I buckled down and assembled a screen, then drew out a design, let it dry, filled it, let it dry, and then washed out the drawing so I'd have a finished screen. Once it was ready for printing, I got my inks and some rice paper and had a good time!

Printmaking - Screenprinted Lotus - Gwen Lafleur

I'm pretty happy with it, especially for a first try! I have the stuff to make about 5 more, I think, so we'll see what I do next :)

Finally, I decided that I needed to print some butterflies, but I didn't have any woodblocks and I didn't want to use commercial rubber stamps. So I found several woodblock designs online and used them as the inspiration to design and carve my own butterflies. The large one is about 4" across, and I used Eco-Karve rubber for the first time and I LOVED it!

Printmaking - My Butterfly Stamps - Gwen Lafleur

Of course, I had to do some printing with these beauties as well... 

Printmaking - Handcarved Butterflies on Mulberry - Gwen Lafleur

Finally, this last weekend I decided to do something that's been on my list for a while - I've long wanted to carve some large versions of different Chinese characters; I decided to start with "prosperity" and "double happiness."

Printmaking - Handcarved Chinese Character Stamps - Gwen Lafleur

I'm really pleased with how these turned out, and they print beautifully! I can't wait to try these with some red rice paper.

Printmaking - Chinese Characters on Mulberry - Gwen Lafleur

Whew! That's a lot of printing going on here... I think I've done close to 100 pages in just over a week. I'm excited to start using these in my work, and also to put these into some fabulous themed embellishment packs I'm making up to put in my shop (coming soon!) Of course, this has been so much fun that you can count on seeing much more printmaking from me in the future :)

 

Comments