Updated: Jan 10
As I delve deeper into my project - Print & Place, I find myself focusing in on the practice. Having uncovered a lot of research about Edmund Potter and the Dinting Vale Printworks I wanted to start evolving that into my printmaking practice.
As expressed in my DYCP application I wanted to expand my creative practice with the support of West Yorkshire Print Workshop, a specialist print studio in Mirfield.
Developing my creative practice through a self-directed brief to build my creative portfolio of work and allow me to be more experimental within my practice.
I want to communicate the story of Edmund Potter through a new body of work, “Print & Place: A creative response to Glossop’s Textile Heritage” inspired by the archive research.
I have attended a number of workshops at WYPW and became a member there in August 2022. I love it there and it's a great place to be to get lost in the art of printmaking. They host a wide range of workshops, offer 1-1 sessions and they have the facilities for all sorts of intaglio and relief printing processes as well as letterpress and screen- printing facilities.
Wood Block Printing on to Textiles Workshop
In August, I attended the wood block printing workshop with tutor Aidan Liggins.
Thinking of the processes used in the early DVP days as mainly woodblock I wanted to connect with that in this hand wood block printing process and attempt to create a repeat pattern onto textiles. Wood block printing is a relief printmaking technique, similar to lino cut where tools are used to gouge out the surface of the printing block and the ink is applied using a roller or sponge to the surface of the block, these are then stamped onto the paper or textiles or the block can be passed through a printing press.
Aidan guided the class through the whole process, from drawing, creating the repeat motif, carving and printing. I took inspiration from a few of Potter's floral prints found in the archive pattern books at Derbyshire Record Office.
There's something quite rewarding about this slower paced print making, working digitally can be quite overwhelming with so many options and variations it can be hard to appreciate the final edit but this is more mindful in the process and focusses you in on completing one design entirely by hand.
Letter Press Induction
I joined as a WYPW member by mid August, and chose to start with Letterpress for my induction. I'm not one to use text in my work but it was a process I was keen to have a go at. I had my induction with Kate Desforges, WYPW technician. I decided to work on creating some type with the project title - Print & Place. Kate guided me through the process of setting up the type, using the galley press, the different spacings and type sizes, setting up a chase and locking it up and using the Adana press. I've really enjoyed rummaging through the type trays and getting to grips with this process. As I mentioned I'm not one who usually uses text but this process has pushed me out of my comfort zone, whilst also being intrigued by it has forced me to think about using text within my practice, I have some ideas in mind now!
Intro to Etching Workshop
Looking again into the processes used at DVP, a combination of hand wood block and machine printing was used, the machine printing would print the outline of a pattern and then the hand wood block would apply the ground colours.
Between 1846 - 1856 the Printworks underwent several expansions. In 1840 the Printworks started with 117 hand-block tables and 4 printing machines, by 1851 all hand-block tables were gone and replaced by another 20 printing machines.
For comparison hand block printing could produce 168 yards of printed fabric per day whilst a printing machine could produce 5,600 - 14,000 yards per day. This is said to be what made Dinting Vale Printworks the largest calico printers in the world.
The below images show the interior of the Printworks in the engraving room and roller store - Photos courtesy of Glossop Heritage Trust
In October I attended the Intro to Etching workshop with tutor Kate Desforges, to loosely relate to the engraving printing process of DVP, engraving is where the design is gouged out of a plate and etching is where the design is bitten into the plate using a mordant.
I wanted to learn the traditional etching process of intaglio printmaking that was famously used by artists such as Goya, Rembrandt and Picasso and apply it in a similar way.
Kate, WYPW tech, is incredibly knowledgable and talented in etching and it was a great pleasure to spend the weekend learning about this process from her. Over the two days Kate taught us how to prepare our zinc plates, apply both hard & soft grounds, how to make marks in to both of the different grounds, use stop out to cover any thing we don't want to etch, etching in copper sulphate solution, the aquatint process for building tonal areas within the plate and how to print the plate itself.
I took inspiration for my design from the architecture of some of the lost buildings of the Printworks and combined some floral motifs that were also inspired by Potter's Prints.
The hard ground plate created a more illustrative print with use of the etching tool and aquatint process and the soft ground allowed for more texture such as pressing materials into the ground and using different tools for the plate making process such as chinagraph and graphite.
Intaglio is the method of printing where ink is applied and pushed into the etched/incised design or marks of a plate and then the excess ink is wiped off the surface of the plate, the plate is then put through the printing press with pre-soaked, damp paper where the design is then transferred onto the paper.
In November, I joined two other printmakers who were interested in photo-etching for a bespoke workshop with Kate. This was a similar process to the previous etching workshop however, this time the plates would be coated with a photo sensitive emulsion to act as an acid resist. The plate is then exposed to UV light through an image on a transparency. It is then developed in a special solution inside a dark room allowing for the metal to become exposed, developed and then ready for etching, once etched the photo emulsion is then stripped from the plate, making the plate ready for printing. This is still an intaglio process so the inking up and printing is the same again.
For this technique I created an image in photoshop before the workshop. Using one of the archival images of Logwood Mill and one of the photos I took of Potter's floral fabric swatches. As someone who takes a lot of photographs in my creative practice this method of printmaking intrigued me as a new way of incorporating my photography into my printmaking practice more.
I have since been developing these processes and ideas at WYPW and intend on displaying them at KIN.DER in February 2023. Please do sign up to the KIN.DER mailing list if you would like to be first to hear about this.
If you're a printmaker and haven't yet heard of WYPW , I urge you to check them out, even if you're not a printmaker but interested they offer some great workshops for beginners too.
I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to secure Arts Council funding to allow me the freedom to make the most of these facilities in such a short space of time, this has allowed me to achieve confidence in my printmaking skills again and given me the opportunity to develop my practice and progress my knowledge in printmaking.
All activity at WYPW so far has been supported and funded by Arts Council England as part of the Develop Your Creative Practice programme.