A year in the life of a village printmaker
Article originally published in our village magazine: "Valley News" - MARCH 2018:
In the February edition I mentioned that I would be giving a talk and demonstration on printmaking in Sandbanks, and as promised I am reporting back on how that went! The venue was the Royal Motor Yacht Club and I was in a room with large windows overlooking the moorings – I can’t really see how anyone would want to sit and listen to me for two hours when they could sit and quietly contemplate that beautiful view instead. The sun was out and the whole room was bathed in light. Glorious! Anyway, focusing on the job in hand ….
The first challenge was to get all the boxes of “stuff” upstairs in the lift. I managed to enlist the help of a nice young man for that! I had about half an hour left to lay out everything ready for the demonstration and get my mind straight. When the time came, I found myself addressing about twenty five people of mixed ages – but all above 50! Nearly half the audience were men, and I was told afterwards that this was an unusually good turnout for them, as they tend to stay away from the artists’ talks.
My advertisement for the talk promised some hand-inking and printing with a real intaglio press. For this I took “Ian” along. Ian had only arrived from Italy a few weeks before. I had ordered him specially because he looked the part, but was small and could be carried around. Unfortunately, I only found the time to test him out the day before the talk and I realised he was going to be a tricky customer – this is why he earnt himself the name Ian, after someone of the same name who was equally as awkward (nobody in the village, I can assure you). Ian is a mini intaglio press, if you hadn’t already guessed. The trouble with Ian is, having a small roller and not being firmly attached to a heavy work surface, it is difficult to hold him still with one hand whilst turning the wheel with the other. In my test run I had to loosen the pressure on the roller and also help encourage the collagraph plate to move along underneath the roller with my fingers … Not ideal! Three hands were needed.
Anyway, when the time came for my inking demonstration I introduced Ian to my audience with some trepidation. I made some excuses for him, mentioned we hadn’t been together long etc. and off we went! Having inked my plate (a yacht scene!) and wiped the edges, I placed it on the “bed” of the press. Then I blotted a pre-soaked piece of paper and laid it carefully over the top, followed by the thick felt blanket. By this time, everyone was rooting for us. A few people shouted out: “Come on Ian! You can do it!” and many in the audience were out of their seats and standing round me as I fought with Ian to produce the first hand-inked print. Giving birth was easier.
I managed to produce several prints, a bit of mild sweating ensued, but the results were actually not bad. Not great either, but fine for a demonstration I feel! Ian and I won’t be divorcing quite yet, although I shall be speaking to a carpenter friend shortly about how to clamp him down onto a piece of heavy wood!!!
At the end of the talk, a lovely man came up to me and said he found it very illuminating and asked if he could buy the book. What book? Then the penny dropped. “Well, I would love to sell you my book, but I haven’t written it yet!”