Letterpress I: Wood & Metal Type

Letterpress printing uses moveable type, cast from metal or carved from wood, and a mechanical press to crisply transfer ink to paper. Since the advent of letterpress printing in the mid-15th century, printers have been enamored with the process of hand-setting lead and wood type. Today we remain fascinated with this tactile process. Artists and printers continually find new ways to approach the art form.

Letterpress I uses a range of projects to familiarize students with the history and practice of letterpress printing and typography. Learning through doing, students will build confidence not only printing, but also understanding the vocabulary around letterpress printing. The class will begin with hand-setting linear type to print business cards, a short poem, etc. Students will practice setting printing pressure, adjusting ink, and will gain a respect for our antique presses and our collection of lead type. Students will then continue to acquire the technical skills and creative approaches to print through independent and collaborative projects.

Our 12-week format*, longer than the typical introductory class, allows students to print on both our platen presses and our Vandercoook, set lead and wood type, distribute type, color match ink, finesse pressure, practice multi-color printing, and of course master the most efficient way to clean and care for our presses.

*Because this is a long commitment, we have designed the class to allow for occasional planned absences. Students will sign up for time slots to use the presses, spending time between print sessions setting type, mixing ink, distributing type, and otherwise falling in love with the time-honored art of letterpress printing.

Note: Class does not meet on July 5 in honor of Independence Day.

Letterpress 201: The Vandercook: Maintenance, Adjustments & TLC

Not many would dispute that the Vandercook is a pretty special printing press. It is an eloquent machine, an irreplaceable piece of equipment and Spudnik’s more popular printing press. Yet, many printers feel a little uneasy when it comes to daily maintenance, diagnosing printing issues and making minor adjustments when needed.

This workshop is an open forum and safe space to ask all the questions you can in regard to the Vandercook Letterpress. What knobs and screws are okay to adjust? What sounds are healthy sounds? How do you use that tool that looks like a lollipop? What is the right amount of packing? Is there an easier way to clean this thing? How can I leave the press in better condition than I found it?

Spudnik member and accomplished printer, Lydia Evans, will guide fellow members and Spudnik Press printers through the finer points of the Vandercook, helping students understand the mechanical nature of the press and how wear and tear can be reduced through actively listening to the press, using a keen eye to spot and identify issues, and taking notice when the press doesn’t quite feel right.

Students will leave the workshop with more confidence troubleshooting frequent press issues as well as printing issues like uneven ink, too much/too little pressure or inconsistent registration.

Risography 101 (June 2016)

The Risograph is an automated duplicator from Japan that efficiently produces offset-like photocopies. Though not originally intended for artistic application, the machine has recently gained traction (and notoriety) in small-press culture for its distinct footprint and efficiently as well as being rather finicky.

This workshop will walk students through the fundamentals of Risograph printing for making books and fine art prints, and familiarize students with techniques to best reproduce their imagery. Students will become acquainted with the mechanics of the printer and learn basic maintenance, including how to change the master roll and a drum’s ink tube. Lastly, students will learn how to best design for the Risograph, taking into consideration ink drying time, ink density, paper options, registration, and patience. Everyone will leave with a three-color collaborative print produced throughout the workshop and authorization to continue making Risograph prints at Spudnik Press Cooperative.

Screenprinting Refresher

Open to anyone with prior printing experience, this refresher workshop will assume that students already understand screenprinting and have previous experience, but are feeling out-of-practice or fuzzy regarding the finer points of the process. Students should have already completed a one-day workshop or full class, although it need not have been at Spudnik, or even in the recent past. We also welcome printers that would like support working through a particularly complex project or reoccurring printing issue.

Spudnik Press staff will review an assortment of skills such as: selecting the best mesh count, applying the perfect coat of photo emulsion, troubleshooting and identifying the source of exposure and printing issues, ink mixing, registration, and screen reclamation. Perhaps more importantly, we’ll learn how to take these technical factors into consideration when designing a project for screenprinting.

While students should have a project in the pipeline to put their newly learned skills to practice, during the workshop, students will choose from a variety of images designed to hone nuanced printing skills. During the workshops, each student will expose a screen, and work with peers to print a two-color image.

The workshop will end with Spudnik Press staff meeting with each printer to provide consultation for their next project, ensuring they are able to produce a fantastic project while avoiding technical issues. Plus, to help build confidence printing at Open Studio sessions, students are expected to return within the week (free of charge!) to put their freshly acquired knowledge to use. Through this workshop, students will not only brush up on old skills and become authorized to print at Spudnik, but are sure to walk away with new morsels of useful information regarding the art of screenprinting.

Letterpress 201: Perfecting the Platen Press

Do you avoid printing with a platen press because you fear smashing pins? Do you find yourself using too much packing to get the pressure you want? Do you know what to do when your plate prints unevenly? Platen presses are simple machines but can none-the-less be intimidating.

This workshop will refresh and refine platen press printing skills including registration, pin placement, proper packing as well as how to diagnose printing issues and make adjustments to the press.

Spudnik member and accomplished printer, Lydia Evans, will guide fellow members and Spudnik Press printers through the finer points of the Pilot and Pearl presses, helping students understand the mechanical nature of the press and how wear and tear can be reduced through actively listening to the press, using a keen eye to spot and identify issues, and taking notice when the press doesn’t quite feel right.

Screenprinting Explorations (July 2016)

Most people are fans of screenprinting whether they know it or not. Screenprinting is an art form known for its bold graphics and its usefulness. A close cousin of stenciling, screenprinting is easy to learn, yet hard to master. Our eight-week class provides adequate time for new printers to complete a range of projects on paper and fabric, gradually increasing in complexity and nuance. With the ongoing support of a pro to help trouble-shoot along the way, students will be familiar with dark room exposure, mesh count, screen tension, ink consistency, and registration. In addition to developing A+ printing skills, this class will help students develop their imagery, be it hand-drawn illustration or digital files, to work best as a print. By the end of the class, students will know their way around the printshop, and be well equipped to continue printing independently at Spudnik Press Cooperative.

Offset Printing: High Speed Print Production

Offset printing a commercial printing process that evolved from Lithography and capitalizes on oil and water’s natural inclination to repel each other. This process has a unique aesthetic and the capability to produce full publications and large editions while maintaining a tactile handmade quality.

Offset Printing: High Speed Print Production will train a small group of artists how to operate our two AB Dick 360 offset presses. As offset presses are rarely made accessible to artists, Spudnik Press is proud to provide this opportunity to printmakers, illustrators, self-publishers, writers and anyone who wishes to learn.

Students will learn pre-press skills like file prep and plate making as well as basic press operation, multi-layer and double-sided registration, mixing Pantone colors and press cleaning. Plus students will learn press calibration, troubleshooting and press assessment, which are all critical skills a press operator must possess.

To become fully authorized to print independently, students will complete a final assessment demonstrating their ability to safely operate the machine.

Wearable Prints: Screen Print Your Own… (July 2016)

Convert your own drawing or design to a collection of hand-printed wearable items in this energetic and informative one-day workshop. Printing an assortment of t-shirts or totebags is practical, fun and incredibly gratifying!

Arriving with a simple black and white drawing, a high-contrast photo, or art designed in Illustrator or Photoshop, students will have time on site to (if needed) refine the artwork to be best suited for screenprinting. Each student will use a pre-coated photographic screen and mix their own custom ink color. Everyone is encouraged to bring about five items of their choosing to print. As long as they are fabric and flat, we can help you print on it! T-shirts, tote bags, tea towels, bandanas, and thrift store jean jackets, will work great. Leave with a sample for an Etsy store, a surprise gift for a friend, or an eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags!

Illustration 201: Shape, Texture and Experimentation

What makes a great illustration? Illustrations have the capacity to tell a story and to suggest many layers of meaning within a single image. Illustrations can evoke the senses, the physiological and the emotional, representing more than a simple scene or setting, but a rich and complex experience.

This workshop will set aside the most traditional drawing tools in favor of alternative and found materials. String, colored tape, fabric, paper bits and more… Focusing on shape, texture, and collage, students will experiment, work spontaneously and discover innovative ways to approach illustration and design. With the goal of breaking old habits, prompts and exercises will help students push their personal style and create rich and compelling illustrations.

The approaches, projects and ideas presented in this workshop can enhance illustration across many mediums. So regardless of what you design for (comics, zines, posters, web, children’s books, home goods, you name it), you will leave this workshop with an array of visual explorations ready to help spark your next art project.

Printmaking Foundations: Relief, Etching, Screen

For anyone who wants to be creative through printmaking, our Foundations class introduces first time printers to the wide variety of resources and equipment at Spudnik Press Cooperative. Students will experiment with three unique printmaking processes throughout the six weeks. With each printing process inducing its own aesthetic, this class offers abundant opportunities to elevate sketches and designs through print and to understand the basic concepts that bridge the many types of printmaking at our studio.

Screenprinting is a form of stencil making that is used to print fine art as well as posters, cards, t-shirts, and more. Relief prints are created by carving an image into wood or linoleum, adding ink to the surface, and transferring the inked image onto paper. Etching, also known as Intaglio [in-tal-yoh], is a family of printing techniques in which the image is incised into a metal plate. Artist can scratch into plates with needles, or can draw through a ground and etch drawings into a plate.

Together, these processes range from experimental to exacting, bold to subdued, and unpredictable to calculated and can open new possibilities for artists, writers, and folks who want to learn a new way to make art. Printmaking Foundations can act as either a general introduction to everything Spudnik has to offer, or a refresher course for artists who have previous experience.

Book Camp: Tiered Box & Coptic Book Set

Join Spudnik Press Teaching Artist duo Nicolette Ross and Elise Forer for a full day dedicated to the art of the book. Together, Nicolette and Elise have developed an intricate two-part project: a tiered box with a sliding drawer, fitted lid and compartment designed to hold a Coptic stich book. Through tackling this complex binding project, students will hone bookbinding skills and their understanding of the geometry used in book and box construction. Spudnik Press Cooperative will provide coffee, juice, snacks and lunch throughout the day.

This in-depth workshop is well suited for artists that are interested in creating their own sketchbooks, artist books, or slip cases. The Coptic book makes an ideal sketchbook since it lays flat, is durable and can incorporate many types of paper. Plus, after completing the advanced box project, students will be able to apply the same methods to building custom portfolio cases. Some prior bookbinding or box making experience is suggested. However, beginners ready to roll up their sleeves are welcome.

The Botany of Blue: Cyanotypes after Anna Atkins

In 1843, botanist and photographer Anna Atkins self-published her first book of cyanotype photograms. The Botany of Blue commemorates Atkins, cited as the first woman photographer, and her scientific (and artistic) cyanotypes.

Cyanotypes are contact prints on light-sensitive paper, bridging photography and printmaking. UV light hitting treated paper triggers a chemical reaction that forms an intense blue dye. After looking at historical examples of cyanotypes and the work of Anna Atkins, students will explore the process through creating their own botanical prints. Working out of doors, students will use sunlight to make images from native flora, flower shop clippings and hand drawn transparencies. No previous experience necessary for this explorative, and playful process.