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.