“Print Day in May, the first Saturday in May, celebrates the art and community of printmakers. It’s a day to get together in studios across the world to make prints. Each year participation grows; we have had people from Australia, Argentina, France, Mexico, and of course, the US. Printmakers have opened their studios to friends, used their cars as presses, made prints on the beach all to spread the joy of printmaking.”
I love to spread the joy of printmaking. It’s a big part of why I love showing my processes at art demonstrations, teaching printmaking to children, and it is the passion that drives this blog.
It was also great to engage some printmaker friends that I have found on WordPress, Etsy, Twitter and Instagram. Throughout the day, we tweeted photos of the works we created. You can check out these other fabulous printmakers here: Cosmikgoo, Cat Among the Pigeons, Jackie Curtis, Sarah May, Jean Stevens, Darcy Watt, Coco Press.
For my Print Day in May creation, I wanted to create a print in honor of a new baby in my family.
My niece had a baby girl, and her grandmother (my sister-in-law) is one of the best gardeners (and best grandmas!) I know. I also love gardening, and thought that it would be fun to create a print that was a take on the children’s nursery rhyme “Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”.
So I got up early to make sure I had the whole day to create, draw, carve then print my Print Day in May print. (Thanks to my husband who took our two boys out most of the day while I worked in studio on this beautiful Saturday!)
Here is the process of my newest print.
9 am: The drawing is completed on tracing paper with a graphite pencil and transferred to the block with a bone folder.
9:05 am: The image on the block will work as a guide for me to carve the art into the printmaking base. For this print, there was little room for error, so I made the drawing very detailed.
10:30 am: Part way in the carving, the detail starts to appear.
12:30 pm: Pretty close to being done. The pencil is still evident on the block, but will be inked over soon.
1:15 pm: I love the first inking, always! It’s a thrill to see what I’ve done. I’m happy with this and only make a few adjustments to the block before starting to print.
1:45 pm: After a few tweaks and tests, I hand-pull the first print. Here I am using a terrific paper that is so thin you can almost see right through it. I love this paper, but it has a fair bit of texture to it, which is fine for a print where I don’t mind a little bit of irregularity in the ink. For this print, though, I want very strong black lines, so I switch to a different paper to get the final effect I want.
2 pm: After trimming my new paper to size (34 sheets) I print a couple of artist proofs to make sure the print is the way I want. It is, and I am excited to get printing, but I have to take a break because I have a movie date this afternoon with my 11-year-old son. So I wrap my block with plastic, and make plans to come back later.
7:15 pm: After a fun movie, dinner and a bit of a break, I come back to studio to finish my print run. Here, the prints are nicely lined up. Such a good feeling!
8:50 pm: My printing is done, with just over 30 prints. I’ll inspect these again once they are dry to arrive at the final number I wish to offer for sale. Since I also had a lot of cards drying in the studio, I had to use the portable print rack I use for demonstrations to hang my last few prints.
For my grand-niece, I printed one copy on watercolor paper and once it is dry I will paint her copy with watercolors and frame it as a gift. Hers will be unique, and the others in black and white will go up for sale at my spring shows, just in time for gardening season!
What fun it’s been to participate in the Print Day in May. A shout out to those printmakers who are behind organizing this wonderful event. I hear it all started in Monterey, California, which is not so very far from where I live, and one of my favorite places on earth! I may just have to plan a Print Day in California in May sometime in the future!