Letterpress I: Wood and Metal Type (Jan 2017)

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 letterpress printing, typography and the history of these two art forms. On day one, students will be able to browse Spudnik’s collection of over 120 drawers of type, and using a composing stick, hand set their first line of type. From there, projects will increase in scope, gradually introducing more advanced project planning, technical considerations, creative approaches to printing, and even new fun vocabulary words like reglets, quoins, chases, leading and much more!

After carefully setting type, students will become familiar with our printing presses and learn to lock-up their type, set pressure, mix and modify ink and safely operate our rare old presses. Throughout the class students will acquire the technical skills needed to continue printing independently at Spudnik Press and the creative skills to produce inventive and alluring prints for years to come.

Risography 101 (January 2017)

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 efficiency 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.

DIY Valentines: Screenprint Your Own Cards

Regardless of how romantic one feels about Valentine’s Day, a clever valentine is always a thrill to receive. Impress friends and coworkers with hand-printed valentines featuring your own design.

Students each bring a one-color design that they would like to transform into a stack of greeting cards. Designs can be a black and white drawing, simple text, a Photoshop or Illustrator file, or found imagery. Students will learn how to make their image “print ready”, expose a photographic screen, mix their own custom ink color, and register their image onto cards. Students will print 20 unique valentines and are encouraged to swap cards with their classmates and bring home a DIY variety pack of cards.

Make Your Own Wall Art: Chicago Edition

Do you love Chicago architecture? What if you could make your own Chicago wall art featuring your personal favorite photo? Ditch the stock photo of Navy Pier in favor of your favorite neighborhood marquee, the Chicago skyline from your own rooftop vantage point, or seasonal foliage along the 606.

With the support of Spudnik Press artists, create your own unique handmade ready-to-hang artwork featuring your own Chicago photograph. Students will learn tricks to transform their personal photograph into a bold and graphic screenprint on canvas. This afternoon workshop introduces the process of using a darkroom to create a screen from a digital image, mixing a custom ink color, and printing a design onto fabric.

After printing, students will choose from two finishing styles, either stretching the canvas around stretcher bars or add grommets to complete their artwork. Students are asked to bring a black and white 10” x 10” 300 dpi digital image. Thick unbleached canvas is provided.

Pro Tip: Grab your camera and take some photos of your own. It’s not cool to download copyright protected photographs.

Printmaking Foundations

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.

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.

DIY Letterpress Coasters

DIY Letterpress Coasters is an opportunity for people new to letterpress printing to dig in to the art form and be creative if not experimental. A coaster is the perfect foundation for printers to play with the art form. Students will get to make their own mixed and matched coasters by printing from various types of materials: wood type to make abstract shapes and textures, decorative antique borders to create pattern, and various contemporary designs cast as magnesium plates.

Through layering color and image, students can make a dozen unique coasters, or settle on a favorite look to create matching sets. Spudnik Press will provide the option of beginning with coasters made from thick cotton paper stock or cork. Students simply need to come to class ready to sift through type cases and dabble in the centuries old process of letterpress printing.

Risography 101 (February 2017)

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 Explorations (March 2017)

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.

Saturday Morning Zine Club

Saturday Morning Zine Club is an opportunity to explore the expansive world of self-published zines with a supportive and creative group of peers. Teaching Artist, Leila Abdelrazaq, approaches alternative comix and zines as a medium for storytelling and community building, and invites her students to do the same.

Throughout Zine Club, students will develop their illustration, narration, personal style and page layout, and use these skills to augment the themes within their work. As the class progresses, students will explore the possibilities that come with handcrafted production. Through considering the paper type, color pallet, foldouts or interactive elements, each student will create publications that integrate form and function.

Each session will begin with generative warm-up activities, discussions, and the chance to interact with a wide array of zines. Throughout the class, each student will produce two publications. First, students will warm up by creating and trading a single-sheet, foldable mini-zine. Next, students will develop a longer quarter-page or half-page zine. This final project will put to use lessons on conceptualizing, sketching, inking, formatting, pagination, reproduction, and binding methods.

Special Bonus: The Zine Club will head to Chicago Zine Fest on Saturday, May 6 for an unofficial 9th week of immersion into the world of self-publishing!

Color Theory for Screenprinters

The process of screenprinting is well known for its disposition for color. Saturated or pastel, metallic or fluorescent, subtle or vibrant, screenprinting is an art form that can handle it all. Sign up for this one-day ink-mixing boot camp to push your skills both conceptualizing color palettes and mixing ink to match the aesthetic you want.

Through conversation and hands-on printing, this workshop will address building colors through layering transparent ink, taking advantage of the paper color, controlling ink colors to create depth and form in a flat print, and using a Pantone guide to perfect color matching. We’ll experiment with when to use white ink and when to use transparency and discuss how mixing ink is not actually that similar to mixing paint. Using a Spudnik-provided images, each participant will leave with a set of prints that illustrates the concepts and skills covered in this workshop.

The Great Pronto Plate: Polymer Plate Lithography

Polyester plate or “pronto plate” lithography is an immediate and often playful printing process that offers a non-toxic option for artists to incorporate visual elements as disparate as photography, digital designs and hand drawn illustrations. Pronto plates offer a ton of possibilities for artists, illustrators, photographers, and anyone who wants to learn a low-cost, versatile print process. Photographic plates can be made using a standard laser printer, then reworked or added to with a variety of tools like ballpoint pens, crayons and markers. Taking advantage of the hydrophobic (water-fearing) and hydrophilic (water-loving) properties of the polymer plate, the image is printed with oil-based ink from a flat surface.

The Great Pronto Plate introduces polymer plates as a low-cost process ripe for experimentation. Over the course of four weeks, students will develop a portfolio of prints using a set of plates printed in various combinations. Adding to the possibilities, students will learn and experiment with range of monoprinting techniques. Finally, students will construct of folio case to house their culminating project.