Modern Makers Blog - Part 7: Printmakers Studio Visits


Written by Modern Makers participant Katie Billington.

View all of this project's blog posts 

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been lucky to visit the studios and homes of some printmakers living and working in our region.

The first of these was a visit to Wigtownshire where Sarah Stewart greeted us with a lovely homemade cake and tour of her studio space. Since she was all set up for Spring Fling the space looked amazing and Sarah was able to show us her printmaking in various forms, from test pieces above her working desk to handprinted pencil cases and journals, to artist books. It was a great reminded of the endless possibilities of this art form. Sarah also showed us her screen printing equipment and gave us a really useful insight into how she creates her screen prints and builds up layers. We finished the visit with a bit of cyanotype, using various items from Sarah’s studio and home - such as feathers, egg shells and plants - to create some prints in the sunny back garden. This was a lot of fun and gave us all another medium of printmaking to think about.

After this we headed over to Lisa Hooper’s house. Lisa’s studio was a bit of a treasure trove for printmakers; think various bits of printmaking equipment surrounded by heaps of artwork and visual inspiration, with a beautiful garden view and a warm stove. The centre piece was her beautiful Columbian relief press, although we also enjoyed learning about her aquatint etching box. Over coffee and biscuits, we heard how Lisa moved into full-time printing from a different career after taking evening courses and how she moved to the region with her partner to make this work. It was a fascinating story and she dutifully answered all of our questions about starting out. We then talked about her creative process and how she has adapted this with new technologies such as tablets and photo editing software and the impact that this has had on her style. We finished with a look at some of her current work and also her framing space where she cuts glass and assembles her own frames – another useful insight into a part of the process that we hadn’t really considered much before.

A few weeks later we visited Clare Melinsky’s home near Thornhill. As an illustrator, Clare has worked for an agency for most of her career and as such, gave us a completely different insight into making a living out of art. We discussed working to briefs and maintaining a certain style, as well as the realities of illustration work, be it exciting projects, quick turnarounds or fluctuating workloads. After a cup of coffee and a homemade biscuit (happily a strong running theme in the life of a printmaker), we moved into the kitchen where we knuckled down to do some linocut, using softcut and a brilliant homemade relief printer. We spent a few content hours playing around with patterns, colours and overlaying, producing some interesting looking work. Usefully, Clare also showed us her technique for registering multi-block linocuts; a technique which avoids having to keep cutting down a block and thereby destroy it in the process. It was lovely to have some time just to practise line-making and printing – a great way to spend an afternoon.

These visits were a definite highlight of the Modern Makers programme, presenting us with different possibilities, techniques and practicalities to think about - a massive thanks to Sarah, Lisa and Clare for hosting us.

Written by Modern Makers participant Katie Billington.