Posts Categorized: Special Topics

Cyanotypes: The Botany Of Blue (August)

In 1843, a botanist and photographer named Anna Atkins self-published her first book of cyanotype photograms. Anna Atkins, who is often cited as the first woman photographer, has inspired many with her collection of brilliant blue prints that are both scientific and artistic. 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. This workshop commemorates the work of Atkins by sharing the art form and process of creating cyanotypes.

After looking at historical examples of cyanotypes and the work of Anna Atkins, students in this workshop will explore the process through creating their own botanical prints. Part of the day, students will learn to use our NuArc platemaker to expose cyanotypes. Part of the day will be out of doors where 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.

Monotypes & Collographs

Monotypes and collographs are two forms of printmaking that favor organic, gestural, textural, and ephemeral marks and imagery. They are also incredibly immediate, playful, and multi-faceted types of printmaking, and therefore well suited to first time printmakers and artists who typically work with paint, mixed media, and sculpture.

Monotypes usually begin from a sheet of plexiglass as the foundation. Through working additively and reductively with ink, crayons, water or solvents, and stencils, students can capture a large range of aesthetics from subtle tonality to gritty textures to minimal formal forms. Collographs are similar, but incorporate elements of relief by collaging things like fibers, sandpaper, and acrylic mediums directly to the plate. The plate is then inked similarly to either a relief or intaglio print.

Throughout the class, students will develop new ways to build images while learning about the properties of ink, paper, pressure, and how they interact to create a broad range of aesthetic possibilities. Printing techniques will include collage, collographs, multiple plate printing, trace, stencil, ghost, additive, and reductive. Students will make many prints to learn and test these processes before moving on to a project that combines various methods and showcases a personal style or vision. Students will need to supply the paper for independent projects. All participants will leave the class comfortable using our etching press, and authorization to continue printing at Spudnik after the class.

Letterpress Pressure Prints

By combining stencils and low-relief collages with letterpress printing, artists can make textural images reminiscent of rubbings and collagraphs. Variation in the thickness of cut paper, string, plants, netting and other relatively two-dimensional items effect the amount of ink transferred by the cylinder of the press to the paper and leave a rich nuanced image on the page.

Students will work individually and collectively to create a variety of stencils, then experiment with the stencils, composition and the printing process to tell a story, create a mood, or build an illustration. Students will also be able to experiment with hand inking to create one-of-a-kind compositions. Throughout the workshop, students will create a series of up to 10 multi-layered monotypes as big as 19” x 25”!

For the technically inclined, the class will also address how to adjust cylinder packing and form height to achieve various printed results and to read and use a micrometer. Artists and illustrators who like to work with monoprinting, stencils, or cut paper, will benefit from this class, as well as letterpress printers, both new and experienced.

From Plant to Paper: Making Paper with Milkweed

In this class, students experience the entire process of paper making beginning at the
source: the raw plant material. Focusing on Milkweed, an abundant native plant, we will learn how to responsibly harvest, extract fiber from the plant, and process it into pulp. Once processed, we will then learn how pull sheets using the Western method of sheet formation.

Similar to Kozo and other bast fibers commonly used in eastern papers, Milkweed has long fibers. When beaten by hand, this long fiber creates strong paper with a cloth-like surface.

Students will leave this class with an understanding of how plants are processed into paper, as well as skills pulling, pressing, and drying handmade sheets.

This class will meet for SIX Saturday sessions starting on November 2nd until December 14th, omitting November 30th for Thanksgiving weekend. 

Bookbinding: No-Sew Books

This class is the perfect introduction to bookbinding. Students will learn the basic vocabulary and tools of bookbinding. They will learn how to use the guillotine to cut paper for their books and how to use a nipping press to flatten their books after folding. Students will create one single sheet book that will be approximately 5.5’X4. 25’ with 6 pages, one 2.75’X 4.25′ spiral single sheet book with 16 pages, and one 5.5’X4′ accordion fold book with 12 pages. This workshop is great for beginners or people who are currently creating comics or other media that they would like to share in a simple book structure

Papermaking Workshop: Native Milkweed

In this one-day workshop, students will learn about Milkweed: an abundant native plant with strong, long bast fiber. Participants will learn the properties of Milkweed fiber and how it compares to other papermaking fibers, best practices for harvesting and processing fiber, and will learn hands-on how to pull sheets of Milkweed paper using a Western-style mould.

Bookbinding: Hardcover Case Binding

Hardcover books are elegant and frequently sought after structures. Use this class to learn how to make your own journals, sketchbooks, diaries, etc.

This class is designed for people with beginning to intermediate bookbinding experience to delve into more advanced techniques. Students will learn how to sew folded signatures, how to sew onto tapes, how to create a cloth bound case, and “case in” a sewn book block. This class will focus on learning the technique of case binding and will explore on the basics such and importance of paper choice, tools and vocabulary. Previous bookbinding experience is encouraged but not necessary.

DIY Greeting Cards: Relief Printing

The graphic look of a hand-carved relief print makes for great greeting cards.
Relief printmaking is a graphic and versatile style of printmaking that dates as far back as 500 BC. An image is carved in reverse onto a block, which is then inked and sent through a press. The tools are simple and approachable but the possibilities are expansive. On the press, students will learn how to mix ink, handle paper, and finesse pressure to produce a beautiful, personalized set of greeting cards.