12 April, 2007

Big Damn Print Day

We couldn't have asked for a nicer day for the steamroller print session: the sun was out, it wasn't too cold, and the wind was only a minor inconvenience. We pulled the first print at around 9:30 AM, and went right through to about 5:30 PM, inking blocks and printing them. I don't think Aristides, the steamroller driver, ever got off the steamroller, even for lunch!

In the morning, we were visited by a small crowd of children (presumably from one of the local schools or maybe Pratt's Saturday Art School, I was too busy to chat them up and ask), who all proceeded to 'ooo' and aaah' all over the place. Fucking adorable. Some of the printmaking students had set up a station for making silkscreen prints on t-shirts, so the kids got to take home their very own self-printed souveniers. At noon-ish, some of the Pratt printmaking kids brought out their music gear and set up a badass punk rock cover band, which proceeded to be very loud and fun for an hour or so. Dennis hooked us up with pizza for lunch, and bananas and Mountain Dew for snacks (weird, I know, but Dennis is a huge MD freak, so he had us all hopped up on that crap!)

Everyone who walked by had to stop and chill for a while, just to see what the hell was up with these crazy printamkers and their heavy machinery. There was some wonderful work printed, not only from Pratt students, but also from Martin Mazorra's Parsons printmaking classes, as well as some blocks by Swoon, and other artists from the NYC print scene. The best part about it, for me, was that since it's practically impossible to ink a block and pull a print all by yourself, we all got to work collaboratively. For someone who is used to working alone, in the dark recesses of my studio (or office, depending on the day) the spirit of camaraderie and cooperation among the printmakers from Pratt, Parsons, and the NYC printmaking community was wonderfully refreshing. There were no egos flying, very few bad vibes, and everyone looked out for everyone else's work. For more pictures of the process, and images of some of the final printed pieces, go to my Facebook album here.

We got two good prints out of my block, although I printed it three times. Since I hadn't shellacked my block, the first time I inked it, the wood sucked up all the ink, so it made for a bad, faded print. Once the ink had sucked into the wood, and the new ink could sit on top, all was good. I think I want to pick up some large pieces of nice paper and hand-print the block, though, just to have it on paper, and a sharp print. Although the steamroller is fun, and a great way to do large-scale prints, there is some unavoidable slippage, which leads to ghosting and double images sometimes. I want a so-called 'prefect' print in addition to the ones I've pulled so far.

As soon as I got home, I hung up the better of the two prints I took home (the third one -the best one- is still drying on the racks at Pratt, since we pulled it at the end of the day). Since the ink still hadn't settled completely, my house now smells lie a print shop, which is great, since I love the smell of fresh ink. Also, if you come into my house now, you can get high on ink fumes for free!

In all, a fantastic time was had, and I have the farmer's tan, blisters, and sore arms and back to show for it. Oh, and some nice zombie prints, too. . . .

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