Category Archives: process

Relief presentation

I teach a Print Basics class at Chicago Printmakers Collaborative on Tuesday nights. It is a very full class but somehow everyone manages to make it despite the snow and subzero temps… we have a lot of fun! and snacks! :D

Anyway, this week everyone rocked it! I have to post about it. Here is a photo and video of Casey Engel, my badass TA, showing off some of her relief prints and blocks. Afterwards we got the carving and printing demos… I will be posting some of the prints next week.

relief class CPC

NEW! ‘The Nutcracker’ Screen prints

I’ve been busy in the studio, finishing up a new collection of screen prints.

These four new prints are based on E.T.A Hoffmann’s “The Nutcracker and The Mouse King”. The illustrations were completed for a graphic anthology of classic children’s stories, coming out in Spring 2015 from Seven Stories Press, New York.

I chose The Nutcracker, because the original story by Hoffmann is actually much darker and weirder than the later, more well-known version by Dumas.

Below is a peek at some of the process. The images are originally drawn in brush & india ink, then screen printed by hand in four ink colors in limited editions.

These are now available for purchase in my etsy shop ~ and make great handmade, holiday gifts too! :)

Check it out here: * The Nutcracker Collection on Etsy *

Nutcracker & The Capital prints

screen pull

first color

The Mouse King
The Seven-Headed Mouse King

The Doll Kingdom
The Doll Kingdom

Doll Kingdom, detail
The Doll Kingdom (detail)

The Nutcracker, printing
printing The Nutcracker, final color

Upcoming Class: Fundamentals of Relief Printmaking

Beginning next month, Duffy O’Connor and I will be co-teaching the relief printmaking class at Chicago Printmakers Collaborative. Duffy is full-time faculty at Harrington College of Design, where he teaches drawing, design fundamentals, and relief printmaking.

For this class, we will be covering everything from single to multi-color relief prints on wood and linoleum, printing by both hand and press, transferring images, and much more. Here are the details:

Fundamentals of Relief Printmaking
Mondays, June 3 – July 22, 2013
8 weeks, 6 – 9pm
For more info, sign up/share, visit: CPC Class Schedule

Here we are working on a woodcut for the poster, which we designed and carved ourselves. We even printed some of the posters using handmade ink!

printing poster

Final woodcut poster, 11″ x 17″ (click for larger):

Relief Poster CPC 2013

Pigment is thoroughly mixed with Burnt Plate Oil No. 3 to create rich and smooth printing ink.


ink mixing

ink station

Snakes and lino prints

A few things I’ve been up to recently.


Working on some quick linoleum prints at home


This is a goofy demo for my screen printing class. I wanted to show the students how to separate colors by hand, without any use of a computer. I made a drawing of the snake in pencil, then traced out the color separations using Dur-a-lar film and opaque black markers. These were exposed onto screens and printed in yellow and blue transparent inks. The green is created wherever the two inks overlap.


A small print of a tiger-like creature in the woods.

Experiments in screen printing using watercolors

I heard about this really fun process and decided to try it last week!

Whenever I write about an experimental process, I always end up realizing that I am actually very bad at taking process photos. I get carried away working and forget all about using a camera! Unfortunately, I only have photos of the final images, and no documented process to help explain what I’m talking about. So please bear with me.

Basically, I used the screens from the previous screen print I had done (see previous post) and applied watercolor to the exposed areas of the screen… All the four screens were ‘painted in’ using a small paintbrush and watercolors; the nylon mesh of the screen is dense enough that the watercolors will basically sit on top until they dry.

Once the watercolor was dry, I proceeded to print the screens in their consecutive order. The way I approached this was to apply a relatively thick coat of extender base on the painted screen – spreading it on like icing – and leave it to soak for about 5 minutes. After the watercolor had been re-moistened with the base, I printed the image onto the paper underneath. As with regular screen printing, once the first ‘color’ had been printed, the prints were left to dry and the second screen was set up to print, and so on…

With this process, it is only possible to get maybe 2-3 good prints, because the watercolor fades out. I printed five, the last one is barely a whisper of the image. It’s pretty fun to see them all together, from the most saturated to the least.

There are many different ways to approach this technique, for example using only one screen, painting in all the different colors and printing the final image with one pull. Since I had four screens, it took much longer, but the overlapping watercolors do produce a beautiful layering effect that would not be possible working with just one screen.

If I were to do this again, I would definitely work with a less complicated and smaller image, with more room for experimentation. Anyway, here are the photos of the first three watercolor prints, you can see the intensity of the pigments decreasing. As usual, click for larger views.

1st watercolor print:
1st watercolor

1st watercolor print detail:
1st watercolor_detail

2nd watercolor print:
2nd watercolor

3rd watecolor print:
3rd watecolor

3rd watecolor print detail:
3rd watecolor_detail