Fresh Ink!

So what was in the mystery boxes?

Over a month ago, I told you that my tiny print shop was undergoing a major upgrade. Sorry for the delay. One of the many things I have learned this past year is that the time commitment required to teach Art History is no joke. 

Now I am happy to finally share the secret of the mystery boxes: 


Fellow printmakers will understand my enthusiasm. This was not a minor investment, but I am thrilled with the results.

I now have the inks, both etching and litho, that I need to loosely follow the Pantone color formula guide. I say loosely because they are not official Pantone colors. That's ok. I don't need to mix exact Pantone formulas. I am only using it as a guide. 

I chose to buy all the new colors from Hanco Ink. I've always had good results using their product, and their customer service was truly outstanding.

The inks are oil based, and "all inks that Hanco Ink produces are vegetable-based products". Oil based inks are often seen as a detriment to a safety conscious studio, but this is due to the traditional solvents used for clean up. Since I clean up with vegetable oil and a non-toxic all-purpose cleaner, this is not a concern for me. 

The beautiful new custom ink shelves were built by the other half of Team Necessary. We have a good production system going at our house. I design and draw what I want. He corrects any physical impossibilities and builds it. Then, I paint/stain the finished product. 

For this project, I used a gloss ultra white paint. A word of advice, don't try to save a couple of $$ on the paint. I did, and it ended up taking four coats of paint plus one coat of primer. FOUR COATS OF PAINT! That was another reason for the delay in this update. I won't be doing that again. An electric HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) spray gun is now firmly on my wish list.  

I'm also really excited to see these guys! I have been saving honey bears for a few years now, just waiting for this moment. Each bear contains a different viscosity of litho varnish or burnt plate oil. These are one of the many modifiers you can use to change the characteristics of your inks to facilitate different print processes. 

Now it's time for the really hard decisions. What will I print first? What color will it be? 

Print Shop Upgrade - Mystery Boxes

My tiny print shop is in the midst of a major new addition! No, it's not a sink or an extra room. Wouldn't that be nice! Still, I am super excited about the new arrivals.

What do you think is in the box? Stay tuned to find out.


Paper Piecing at Asheville BookWorks

What a wonderful winter weekend!

We had a fabulous time learning about printmaking and the quilts of Gee's Bend in my Paper Piecing collagraph workshop at Asheville BookWorks in West Asheville, North Carolina.

Loretta Pettway,  Remember Me , 2009. Color softground and  spitbite aquatint etching   with chine colle. Printed at  Paulson Bott Press.  

Loretta Pettway, Remember Me, 2009. Color softground and spitbite aquatint etching with chine colle. Printed at Paulson Bott Press. 

After a series of introductions - people and print based - the class headed over to the exhibit Gee's Bend: From Quilts to Prints at The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design in downtown Asheville. There we were treated to a private tour led by two exceptionally well-informed students of Warren Wilson College (Thank you Fern and Genevieve!).  

The exhibit at the CCCD features original quilts from the Gee's Bend quilters, along with original prints made in collaboration by the quilters and the printers at Paulson Bott Press in Berkeley, California. A primary focus of this exhibit is the use of the intaglio print process and how the quilter's work transformed in the switch from one medium to another. 

Channeling this spirit of translation and beginner's mind, our class returned to the BookWorks studio to start creating our own collagraph prints.  Throughout the workshop, participants were encouraged to use the inspiration of Gee's Bend, directly or indirectly, as they saw fit. 

Asheville BookWorks

Asheville BookWorks

So, what exactly is a collagraph?

Collagraphs are simply printed collages. Collagraphy is a fun and versatile process that offers the opportunity to use found objects and materials to create a print rich in diverse textures. Common everyday materials such as paper, burlap, sandpaper, string, lace, craft foam, and masking tape are glued to a chipboard plate, inked, and printed on an intaglio press. In this workshop, we used two methods for inking the plate – relief and intaglio – that created very different results.  

Lovely collagaph textures!

Lovely collagaph textures!


Texture plays a vital role in both the Gee's Bend quilts and prints. 

Below, we have a more direct interpretation of the Gee's Bend prints. I am completely in love with the various shades of blue used for this one. Check out that bright blue! Isn't it amazing? And that tiny dark spot! So good. 

A quick run through the press...


...voila! The magic of pulling up the paper on the press never seems to fade.  

Beautiful! To the right, the print is shown side-by-side with a ghost print. The term ghost print is used to refer to subsequent prints that are pulled from a plate prior to re-inking said plate.  (We normally ink the plate before each print you see). 

More amazing plates and prints! 

I need to mention, there were many more plates and prints made this weekend, but someone (me) forgot to photograph all of them. 

Finally, I want to send a big thank you to all of the workshop participants! Your energy and enthusiasm is infectious. I can't wait to work with you again. 

Last Chance For Good Neighbors

Last call for my current exhibition Good Neighbors. The show will be on view through December 5th, 2014 and I am proud to report rave reviews from The Clarion, the student newspaper at Brevard College. 

If good press is not enough to entice you to visit, I've included a sampling of images from the exhibition below. 


The show is on view in the Spiers Gallery located within the Sims Arts Center at Brevard College. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. I hope to see you there!

The exhibition Good Neighbors features original prints, drawings, and installations from two ongoing projects, Good Neighbors and Almost Nowhere.

Inspired by the 1914 Robert Frost poem “Mending Wall,” the Good Neighbors project investigates the complex role of boundaries in individual and community place making, as evidenced by common domestic structures.

For the past eight years a vital aspect of my artistic practice has been the daily walk I take with Clutch, a contender for world’s largest miniature schnauzer. The pace of walking compliments my slow, contemplative nature. It can takes months of daily walks through a neighborhood before I really start to see the beautiful quirks that compose the place.

As I walk, I find that the ideas of identity, culture, property, and community foreground my thoughts. These are the same ideas laced throughout Frost’s “Mending Wall”; ideas that remain relevant 100 years after publication. In this project I aim to create a suite of works that reflects the intricate conceptual ambiguities and deceptively simple presentation found in Frost’s poem.

Almost Nowhere is a project aimed at visually and conceptually exploring the staging of entry-level real estate to create a domestic environment that appeals to the widest potential audience. The project investigates what such staged spaces can reveal about local assumptions and aspirations surrounding first-time homebuyers, and the connection of homeownership to the national vision of the American Dream.

Starting in the summer of 2012, I attended weekly open house events throughout Iowa City, Iowa in character as a first-time home buyer. I quickly discovered that I was extremely uncomfortable posing as a serious first-time homebuyer and chose instead to overcome this describing my intentions as “looking to see if I am looking.”

At first, I found myself conceptually stalled when my research visits to the open house events did not show extensive staging, but rather, focused on the depersonalization and neutralization of the spaces. Moving beyond the typical expectations of staging and strategic editing in, what can best be described as an emptying of space, these attempts to create a neutral environment served to highlight the smallest of deviations (or character) and render the spaces as incredibly strange.

I found that this practice of emptying the space with a forced focus on meeting the expectations of neutral color and ‘correct’ materials, the attempts to fit in while hoping to stand out, left me with the impression that the space had been compromised. The sameness contributed to an overarching sense of displacement as all of the properties I visited began to meld into one unremarkable space in my memory.

This project is supported in part by a grant from the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and from the National Endowment for the Arts.

(This project is supported in part by a grant from the IAC because that is how long it has taken me to carve the woodblock for If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now! I started working on that print in 2012!)

Opening Soon!

I am excited to announce my upcoming solo show in the Spiers Gallery at Brevard College! The exhibit will feature a variety of work from two ongoing projects, Good Neighbors and Almost Nowhere.  More words and images to follow shortly. If you are in the area, please join us at the opening reception on November 7th at 5:30 p.m. 

Brevard College will host an exhibition of recent work by Kristen Necessary from Nov. 7 to Dec. 5, at the college’s Spiers Gallery. An opening reception will be held Friday Nov. 7, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the gallery, which is located in Sims Art Center on the campus of Brevard College.

Necessary, a BC adjunct professor, searches to find the elegance, the humor, and the humanity in our constructed environments. With a focus on domestic space and vernacular culture, her work explores the ways people structure place and how, in turn, a place can shape a people. To create the work, Necessary uses the mediums of printmaking, drawing, and assemblage. Often merging traditional fine art techniques with the languages of decorative and craft culture, she presents her explorations in the forms of image, installation, and book.

Gallery hours for the show are 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. weekdays when the College is in session. Spiers Gallery is a contemporary 1,500 square foot gallery located within the Sims Art Center on the Brevard College campus. Exhibitions in Spiers Gallery are ongoing throughout the year and include shows by Brevard College students and faculty members, as well as visiting artists from Western North Carolina and around the country.



Adventures in Extreme Home Printmaking

Once when I was very young, I had an incredibly vivid dream. The kind of dream that stays with you for twenty-plus years. In the dream, like some type of cartoonish misinterpretation of a Hindu deity, I was clad in a blue body suit and I had eight arms. For reasons unknown, I was carrying firewood to the set of the Nickelodeon show You Can't Do That On Television. You know the show, it's the one where they dump buckets of green slime on a character's head if they dare to utter the phrase "I don't know".

I can also vividly recall the next day and the incredible frustration I felt by the limitations of having only two hands. I will never forget how awesome it was to have eight arms. I can't stop thinking that they would have really aided my adventures in extreme home printmaking this past week. Eh, even being limited to two hands it has been an action-packed and productive week! Catch a glimpse of what I have been up to recently in the photos below.


Sharing is Awesome

It's nice to have friends who let you borrow their toys. I can't wait to start a week long print marathon tomorrow! Thank you Fall Break, you are truly beautiful.

Project Update: If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now

Block for  If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now  © 2014  Kristen Necessary

Block for If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now © 2014  Kristen Necessary

Almost there! I'm excited (and nervous) to finally print this block. I have committed a ridiculous amount of time to it so far, and I still have more carving to do. Soon, very soon.  

Feel free to share tips or techniques for printing large block prints in the comments section below. The block is 32" x 32" and I hope to print it on large sheets of fabric. 

Etching Station, Check.

Did I ever tell you about the time we met a stranger from the internet in an empty parking lot, after dark, to buy plywood? As shady as that sounds (and felt), at $4 for an odd sized half-sheet of 3/4" plywood we were willing to take the risk. It all worked out well, and the people selling the plywood were actually very nice.

Now some of that plywood has been transformed into my new, super-awesome, all-in-one etching station!

Skipping my usual application of Polycrylic® I sealed the entire station structure with three coats of wipe-on polyurethane, mostly to save time.

These photos are just after I installed the Z*Acryl Vertical Etching Tank  for Ferric Chloride.

The lid to the station is attached using a 30" piano hinge. With the lid closed, the etching station functions as an additional general studio work surface. I think that no matter what size your studio is, having equipment and furniture that can serve multiple functions is always a wise design choice. 

I added a sheet of contact paper to the bottom of the well, below the etching tank. Drips are almost inevitable when using a vertical tank, and contact paper is easy to apply and remove if things get messy. I have a large box of various contact papers from an earlier project and decided to have some fun with the pattern, which is also something I can easily change if it gets tiring.  

Eventually, I hope to add a second tank to the station. There is plenty of room to accomplish this, so if any one knows of a  good deal on a new or used tank please send it my way. 

 I added a dry-erase sticker to take notes and easily track etch times. 

The dry-erase board got some flair using a hole punch, contact paper, and a few random vinyl decals I had left over from another project. Using adhesive velcro tabs, I attached a dry-erase marker and eraser to the inside of the lid for added convenience. 


In the well, I have stashed a few etching essentials. Tape, clothes pins, baby wipes and a tray. 

The biggest challenge of my tiny printshop (other than the simple fact that it is tiny) is the lack of plumbing. I know some of you are laughing at the baby wipes, for which I admittedly have an almost obsessive love, but I think they are indispensable in a studio without running water. 

The tray can be used to carry your plate to a source of running water, or filled with water and baking soda itself and used to neutralize your plate between etches. 

I am constantly searching for trays at a more affordable price point than the professional developing trays so many of us are accustomed to using. This tray is a turkey roasting tray available for $1 at your local discount store. This is what I use when stripping vent covers and hinges at home, so I thought I would give it a try.

However, I have found that it is not ideal in the studio and it has already been replaced. Better options include the $3 turkey roasting pan available at the grocery store that comes with a metal rack and handles. This version claims to support up to twenty-five pounds.  Another option is an extra large baking dish or lasagna pan.  A plastic storage box or a (unused) cat litter tray can also work really well. 


Note: plastic storage containers also make excellent soaking trays for paper. 

You can see that it didn't take long for me to fill the lower shelves with a variety of supplies. 

On the top shelf I have the ingredients for a few non-toxic grounds, nitrile gloves, and, of course, a stash of phonebooks. I know the phonebooks belong with the inking station, but right now, there isn't room.

On the bottom shelf I found a very nice storage container at the home improvement store. I like this one because it is relatively wide and very square inside. Both of these aspects influence the maximum size plate and/or paper that the container will accommodate.

I am going to use this container to hold a solution of soda ash and water which will remove the non-toxic grounds from my plate.

Maybe you are asking yourself, if soda ash dissolves latex paint and acrylic grounds, won't it also dissolve the plastic container? I don't know. I do know it won't happen right away, so I am going to try it. I will let you know if it starts to eat through the container.



Slowly, this tiny print shop is starting to take shape. Next up, I continue to build more storage solutions and start etching copper, yay!


Taking a quick look at the other side of my studio, it appears a work table and/or desk may need to be moved to the top of the project list. 


Etching Station Sketch Up

Check out the sketches for our next studio building project!

I can't wait to add this dedicated etching station to the shop. Woodcuts are great, but copper is my true print love and it has been way too long since we were last together.

For my etchant, I will use Ferric Chloride in a Z*Acryl Vertical Etching Tank.  The tank will be recessed into the well of this station and supported by the shelf below.  Incorporating a hinged top provides easy access and creates an additional work table when the etchant is not in use. Since I plan to experiment with switching to primarily acrylic based grounds, the lowest shelf will be used to store a tray of soda ash and water stripping solution.  


*Pro tip from the resident Grey Gardens printmaker and homemaker: the soda ash and water stripping solution also does wonders on antique door hinges and vent covers that have been coated with countless layers of latex paint over fifty odd years or so. 

Unpacking the Print Library

Spring is a tumultuous season. Exhilaration flows from the sun filled sky and the verdant mountain landscape. Warm morning breezes sing with promises of long summer days, and then the afternoon thunderstorms rush in to temper your enthusiasm. 

A season of remarkable growth with a complex essential order, spring can all too easily feel unpredictable, chaotic, and even violent. Maintaining a proper perspective is difficult. Attempting to sustain an appreciation for the larger framework becomes an hourly challenge.  

As a member of Team Necessary, a tempestuous spring is also an annual occurrence in the work schedules of our day jobs. (Yes, like most artists, I have a day job.) For us, spring is a long and exhausting journey to be endured as much as enjoyed. So, after finally acknowledging that we needed to try and reclaim a more sustainable life/work/play balance, the pace of renovation work has slowed dramatically at Grey Gardens.

Given our hectic spring schedule, I am super excited that we found some time yesterday to build and install a couple of new studio shelves. After almost a year, I no longer have to shift through a stack of banker boxes to browse the books in my print library! And yes, I am slightly embarrassed to admit that it look this long. Oh well, this project just did not make it to the top of the list until now.

The shelves are simple 3/4" plywood with a wood veneer edge banding and a few metal brackets. They fit nicely in the previously empty space above the print dryer without hampering its function in any way. More on the print dryer another time, but for now, just know that I am still slowly working on that write up.

A very basic solution in studio design, this is the first of many wall mounted "stations" I have planned for this tiny print shop. For me, it is that reward of progress, of taking a step, and the accompanying promise of soon achieving my goal that makes this project so exciting. 

Small steps in a small studio. I am moving forward and that is all that matters, especially in the the spring.

What books are in your print library? Share your favorite titles and authors in the comment section below!

Listed below are the books currently in my library. The library also includes the notes, handouts, and course-packs I accumulated throughout my student days. Many of the books were gifted by generous donors or found at swap meets, flea markets, and book sales for bargain basement prices. Always be sure look for print books in unexpected places!

Magical Secrets about Thinking Creatively, Crown Point Press, Kathan Brown

Magical Secrets about Line Etching & Engraving, Crown Point Press, Catherine Brooks

Magical Secrets about Aquatint, Crown Point Press, Emily York

Magical Secrets about Chine Colle, Crown Point Press, Brian Shure

Ink, Paper, Metal, Wood, Crown Point Press, Kathan Brown

Non-Toxic Intaglio Printmaking, Keith Howard

Safe Photo Etching for Photographers and Artists, Keith Howard

Intaglio: The Complete Safety-First System for Creative Printmaking, Robert Adam and Carol Robertson

The Complete Manual of Relief Printmaking, Rosemary Simmons and Katie Clemson

Moku Hanga Primer, Robert McClain

Japanese Woodblock Printing, Rebecca Salter

Monotype, Julia Ayres

The Complete Printmaker, John Ross and Clare Romano

The Complete Printmaker Revised & Expanded, John Ross, Clare Romano, and Tim Ross

Printmaking: A Complete Guide to Materials and Process, Beth Grabowski and Bill Fick

Printmaking: History and Process, Donald Saff and Deli Sacilotto

Printmaking: A Contemporary Perspective, Paul Coldwell

Practical Mixed-Media Printmaking Techniques, Sarah Riley

Print Workshop: Hand-Printing Techniques, Christine Schmidt

Printmaking: A Beginning Handbook, William C. Maxwell

Printmaking, Gabor Peterdi

Printmaking Today, Jules Heller

Great Prints and Printmakers, Harry Abrams

Japanese Prints, Gabriele Fahr-Becker

The Complete Woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer, Edited by Dr. Willi Kurth

Artist's Proof Volume IX, Published by Pratt Graphics Center in association with Barre Publishers

Print Art, A Whitman CREATIVE Art Book 

The Print in the Western World, Linda Hults

Thinking Print, The Museum of Modern Art, Deborah Wye

Pirnts and The Print Market, Theodore Donson

Handbook of Early Advertising Art Mainly from American Sources, Clarence P. Hornung

Tamarind Techniques for Fine Art Lithography, Marjorie Devon with Bill Lagattuta and Rodney Hamon

The Tamarind Book of Lithography: Art & Techniques, Garo Antreasian and Clinton Adams

The Technique of Fine Art Lithography, Michael Knigin and Murray Zimiles

The New Lithography, Mel Hunter

The Complete Screenprint and Lithograph, John Ross and Clare Romano 

The Complete Guide to Screen Printing, Brad Faine

The Artists Silkscreen Manual, Andrew B. Gardner

Screenprinting: Water-Based Techniques, Roni Henning

Screenprinting: The Complete Water-Based System, Robert Adams and Carol Robertson

Print Liberation, Nick Paparone and Jamie Dillon with Luren Jenison

Screen Process Printing, Robert A. Banzhaf

Silk Screen Techniques, J.I. Biegeleisen and Max Arthur Cohn

Silk-Screen Printing, Brian Elliot

Photographic Printmaking Techniques, Deli Sacilotto 

The Encyclopedia of Airbrush Techniques, Michael Leek

Studio Tips for Artists and Graphic Designers, Bill Gray

Letterpress Now, Jessica C. White

Letterpress Printing: A Manual for Modern Fine Press Printers, Paul Maravelas

A 21st-century guide to the Letterpress Business, Marty Brown

Creative Handmade Paper: How to make paper from recyled and natural materials, David Watson

Papermaking: The History and Technique Of An Ancient Craft, Dard Hunter

The Elements of Typographic Style, Robert Bringhurst

How to Make Books, Purgatory Pie Press, Esther K. Smith









Dear Midwest Travelers

Dear Midwest Travelers,

My work is currently visiting the wonderful Midwest. It will be on view at two separate exhibitions throughout the month of May. If you have the time, please stop by and say hello. 



State Library of Iowa

Ola Babcock Miler Building

1112 E. Grand Ave,

Des Moines, Iowa

1 May 2014 - 30 May 2014

Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 4:30 pm

"Zenzic Press is a cooperative community printshop and a project of the Iowa City based arts organization Public Space One. This exhibition includes past and present members of Zenzic Press: Cassandra Borman, John Engelbrecht, Cheryl Graham, Chris Mortenson, Kristen Necessary, Amber O'Harrow, Kalmia Strong, and Arthur Virnig. The work illustrates the diversity of the field of printmaking, with techniques including relief, monotype, intaglio, silkscreen, collage, and drawing, and subject matter ranging from human language to the natural world."

In addition to the wonderful work on view, this exhibition gives you the added bonus opportunity to visit the truly beautiful Ola Babcock Miller Building.  While you are there, don't forget to pop across the street to tour the Iowa State Capitol Building for more architectural delights, including the amazing Law Library. I promise it will make you feel like a character from the cartoon version of Beauty and the Beast.  


South Bend Museum of Art

120 S St. Joseph Street

South Bend, Indiana 

22 March 2014 - 25 May 2014

Wednesday - Sunday 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm

"This exhibition showcases the emergence of new ideas and inspired voices, articulated in the 45 print works created by 40 members of the MAPC.  The MAPC is a resource to educational and non-profit organizations, universities, and the public at large, providing for the exchange of technical and critical information on the art of printmaking. These goals are furthered through conferences and workshops; through the organization, display, and circulation of exhibitions of original prints, books, hand-made paper, and drawings; through newsletters, and journal articles; through awards given to those deserving special recognition for lifetime contribution to printmaking; and through research, study, and general enjoyment of the arts. MAPC membership is available to all, conference locations are limited to our conference states. The next conference will be in September 2014 in Detroit. Learn more about The MAPC at

The 2014 Spring MAPC Members exhibition was juried by the Segura Arts Studio, which includes Joe Segura, Tamarind Master Printer and Director, Douglas Franson, Associate Director, Jill Lerner, Master Printer, and Jes O’Hearn, Production Printer.  Segura Arts Studio is located at the Notre Dame Center for Arts & Culture on West Washington Street in South Bend."

Cardboard Corners

Most of my past weekend was spent framing and packing a print to ship to an upcoming exhibition. No matter how well I pack it, shipping framed work always feels like a gamble (still crossing my fingers that this print makes it unscathed). I've had framed works damaged during transport in the past, and labeling boxes with desperate pleas for special attention doesn't help at all. I highly doubt I'm the only one that has seen a few delivery drivers chucking packages clearly marked FRAGILE from the back of an open truck. 

As I was bundling up this particular work like that poor kid in the movie A Christmas Story, I discovered an easy new method for creating protective cardboard corners. I am so excited about these cardboard corners that I made the template below, which you can download as a printable PDF here.


Print and trace the template as is for frames or packages approximately 1.25" deep. Or, scale it to fit a specific size by matching the height of the dashed rectangles to the depth of what you want to wrap. In addition to framed work, these corners are a great extra layer of protection for flat work that has been packaged in a portfolio of cardboard and foam core. The width of the small cut notch should be such that it accommodates the thickness of the cardboard you are using to construct the corner. 

In our move to Iowa, we did a poor job of packing and the majority of our belongings were damaged in transit (it looked like they dropped the shipping container and rolled it a few times). For the move to North Carolina, my packing was much more obsessive and it included cardboard corners on almost anything and everything. It worked, but the technique I was using created corners that were ugly, bulky, and wasteful of resources. I think that is why I am (unnaturally) excited about this simple, elegant solution.

If I am late to the party and you already know an amazing method for constructing cardboard corners, consider sharing your technique in the comments section. 


Project Update: If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now

Things are happening at Grey Gardens, possibly too many things at once. There are projects spread all around in various states of completion. Still the energy is good and after months of what felt like spinning my wheels, I am starting to gain some traction. 

First project update, the wood block for the If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now project is stained and ready to carve.

Wood block for  If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now  ©2014 Kristen Necessary

Wood block for If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now ©2014 Kristen Necessary

I stayed with my favored hot pink stain for this block. Once I start carving, toning the block with this stain helps me see what I have and have not cut.

To tone wood blocks, I typically mix a few drops of Golden Fluid Acrylic into Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish. I apply 1-3 coats of Polycrylic® and sand the surface lightly with 220 grit sandpaper between coats. No sanding is needed after the final coat. I prefer this method of toning to traditional processes that use mineral spirits, oil based ink, and polyurethane because of the low odor and the soap and water clean up. 

No matter which method you choose, using a protective finish seals the block and prevents ink from soaking into the  wood. This leads to better ink coverage and provides a flat, even transfer of the ink during printing. It also makes it possible to switch colors easily.

In this project, however, I first want to see if the wood grain will show in the print and work advantageously for the image. So, I did not use Polycrylic® on this block. I used only the Golden Fluid Acrylic thinned with water.

At first I worried about about using water on the block, especially since I am working on MDF with a Birch veneer. Proceeding cautiously, I worked to carefully apply the acrylic using as dry a brush as possible, following behind with a paper towel to soak up any additional moisture. This worked well, and the application does not appear to have affected the stability of the block. 

Now, to finally carve the block!  My current goal is to not spend another year carving and printing this project. I will keep you updated on how it's going.

In other updates, I have finished building a Forced Air Print Dryer for the studio. This is a great tool for drying prints made on damp paper and it is relatively simple to construct. I am writing a tutorial detailing the construction and use of the Forced Air Print Dryer (this is decidedly less simple) and will post that information very soon. 

What about you? What's happening in your studios?


Basic Block Printing

Tomorrow I am teaching a basic block printing workshop for a local club. This will be my first time teaching a workshop since we moved to North Carolina, and I can't wait. I've got some work to do to finish preparing, but I wanted to take a minute to share this illustrated How To Print A Relief Block guide I made as a handout.

It's a fun, bare bones guide on how to hand print a relief block. I included a copyright notice on the bottom, but feel free to share this image for reasons of education and/or good in the world.

In fact, download the printable PDF here



This handout is adopted from one I first created as part of a rewards package for the successful Zenzic Press Kickstarter fundraising campaign. I am in North Carolina now, but Zenzic Press is still going strong in Iowa City. If you are in the area be sure to stop by, or check them out online