Tom’s Etching Studio: A print making workshop.
Have you ever fancied learning to print? Its much easier to get started than you might think. I had never done it before and at an art bloggers social evening in September I produced this simple design.
If you live in London there’s a great new print studio that has recently opened in Peckham, South London. Its stowed away in a cavernous railway arch near Peckham Rye station. At the far end of Blenheim Grove you walk through to a rear courtyard to find the entrance. As I climbed through a small opening in a vast wooden wall to enter the studio, I felt a bit like Alice entering a mysterious land.
Once inside I was given a warm welcome by Jenny and Tom who run the studio together. Artist Tom Moore and art curator Jenny Judova (Art Map) set up the studio to offer a space for both artists and novices to make work via different printing methods such as etching, lino cutting and engraving.
Lino cutting workshop
There were 5 of us novices that night. And we were going to produce lino prints which are made by cutting a design into a small square of lino, inking it and then pressing the lino onto paper to print the pattern. It really was that simple.
I was a bit nervous before we started because I hadn’t been to an art class in years. Should I have planned something in advance? It turned out that wasn’t necessary. There were some designs in a book we could use for inspiration. Or we could experiment.
The first step was to design something on paper. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. We were too busy getting to know each other to worry too much about our designs. That’s how I felt anyway. So we chatted away as we doodled.
Once the design was completed the next step was to transfer it to a small square of either lino or vinyl. I chose vinyl because it was softer to cut. After the design was transferred, we were given an array of cutting tools to carve out our image or design into the lino.
Carving the vinyl was enjoyable. And I’d forgotten how much pleasure I get from making things. As this was my first attempt, I deliberately kept my design simple.
Next we had to choose a colour for our print. A squirt of ink was squeezed onto a marble slab and then using a small roller, the ink was worked into a square.
But we weren’t going to lay our lino face down on the inky square. What we were doing was making sure we had enough ink on the roller to colour the lino successfully.
Once properly inked, the lino was placed face down on paper, sandwiched between tissue paper and it was ready for the press.
The Press was a beast to behold. It was built by Tom himself and there’s a great account of this on the blog for Tom’s Etching Studio website.
We took it in turns to press our own designs. And that was part of the fun. It was surprisingly light to turn the roller.
And the excitement that I felt as I peeled the paper back and saw my idea come alive was magic. I’d highly recommend trying this out. Amongst the 6 of us because Tom joined in too, we produced a really varied array of designs. Its a very versatile medium.
And we also took photos for our blogs.
Halloween Party, Friday 30th October 2015
For Halloween the studio threw a party with a twist. Instead of having to dress-up as witches or ghouls, we were invited to see some live printing of something ghostly.
When I arrived I was offered a choice of beer or eyeball juice. I played safe and had beer.
And Jenny had carved some fantastic pumpkin designs. We wondered if they could be used for printing but the pumpkin flesh would turn to pulp in the press.
I noticed Tom preparing something mysterious and possibly explosive. I still had no idea what was going to be printed live.
And then it was time to carve the plate. But instead of tools or acid to etch the plate, a small explosion and heat would produce the design. They called it Fire Etching. Tom lit the touch paper and we all stood back, cameras and phones at the ready. And not quite sure how big a blast we would see.
Fellow artist Sarah Jarman was then in charge of the next stages of the procedure which I couldn’t stay to see.
Tom’s Etching Studio is a great space for artists at any level: check out link for details of what they offer. They encourage all kinds of printing and creative experimentation. I’d highly recommend the power of their press.
The studio can be found at Railway Arch 229 Blenheim Grove, London SE15 4QL. contact email: tom@tomsetchingstudio. co.uk