Thursday, June 14, 2018

Linoleum in Belmar

The first time I ever taught a linocut class was a workshop in the Studio, part of the Creativity by the Sea festival in Ocean Grove.   The linocut tools that I have go back to this event, though I also used them to take 2nd place in a pumpkin carving contest in Belmar, and one time that I used a piece of linoleum to substitute for an incorrectly cut part of a boardwalk print.  But otherwise they sat in a wooden cigar box locked in my small cabinet, until I got them out a few weeks ago to see what I had.   The occasion was that suddenly I had multiple requests to teach linoleum cutting classes this summer and wanted to see what tools and materials I had in my possession.

The first class was tonight, at the Creativity Lab in Belmar.  This brand new business is up on Main Street, just a few doors down from Pyanoe Plaza and Don's King of Pizza.  Owner Lauren recruited me after seeing my woodcut class on the BelmarArts site.  By day this place will mostly be occupied by kids, and there are plenty of classes and workshops with them in mind, especially with an emphasis on technical stuff.  They build and program simple robots, do some 3D printing and things like that that are popular with parents and schools these days.  (check the above link to see more)  At night it's all adults and alcohol is freely shared.  I use computers plenty in my own life (such as this blog), but for art I tend to prefer an old fashioned approach, as do those people who take my woodcut classes.  Unfortunately, tonight was to be only a one night workshop, which doesn't work for woodcut, which is why I had suggest linoleum.

No experienced printmakers in the class, but they all seemed excited to get started.  I did make them sit though a quick safety lecture, which worked well with Lauren getting some bandaids across the street while we were waiting for a few late arrivals.  During yesterday's test cutting and printing she ended up cutting herself while cutting the linoleum, despite (as she confessed to the class tonight) I had repeatedly warned her not to do what she was doing.  Just a minor cut- she's fine now.  But then we got to work.  She had been expecting 8, but 2 couldn't make it, which was probably for the best as the six we had kept me hopping.

Most of the chosen designs came from the web, so mostly I advised on how to convert them to simple  monochromatic designs and demonstrated the best ways to use the tools and cut the material.  The participants all figured it out quickly and soon were ready to cut and print what they had.  Lauren and provided small tote bags, but some had brought in t-shirts as well.

Lauren and been looking at examples of patterns, and some of the participants decided to try such things themselves.  The above artist chose the leaf shape, which I showed here how to cut, and mixed a color she requested.  I had also demonstrated how masking tape could be used to cover large negative spaces and cover up trace ink marks.  But she took it from there, and before I knew what was happening, this artist was covering a tote bag with a leaf pattern.  Eventually another column of 3 would fill that space on the right.

Meanwhile, another participant wanted a more multicolor design, so after cutting down all the negative space in her design, I lent her a brush so she could paint each raised section with individual colors, and my instructions on backwards lettering were followed.  She liked the results so much, that she reinked her linoleum and printed a second one.

Everyone seemed to be happy with what they did and had a good time.  Lauren seemed like she thought it a success as well, and we are likely to do more things like this.  When I know more, I'll post it here.


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