Time to make pasta…er… Prints!

Last February, we had a massive ice storm crush through our region. Our power was out for eight straight days. We had no heat, no hot water, and no practical way to cook. The house dipped to 50 degrees F during the daytime.

I was cold, tired from the crashing sounds of falling trees during the night, and anxious. Mostly, I became restless.

I remembered that I had an old pasta roller somewhere in the studio that I’d been saving for the right time. I’d read that, in a pinch, a pasta room could be made into a printing press. Could it be true? I loved etching copperplate in college, but hadn’t done it since. This was the time to try. I rounded up some paper, measured the width of the feed into the roller, and tore my paper to about 5×7 inch pieces. What to use as a plate? I’d also read that acrylic,plexi, or any stiff plastic could be etched with a sharp stylus. Using a mechanical pencil modified to hold a sewing needle, I cut plastic into shape and started to work. I draw quite a lot when planning paintings and have small moleskine sketch books filled with material. I simply laid the plastic sheets over the drawings and traced my work. The lids from old spinach containers became a favorite material of mine. It would hold a mark well. Using a piece of rough sandpaper, I was able to achieve what I hoped would be a toning effect, like aquatint. Here’s some early examples using water soluble oil paint as ink.

After the roller failed and the storm was over, I bought a cheap table top press online. Now I print to my heart’s content, bigger and cleaner prints with proper ink. I used water proof ink that I could paint over.

Have you experimented with alternative printing methods? I’d love to see what others get up to when restless!

Published by Lucas Nickerson

Lucas Nickerson is a world recognized Portland-based fine artist. He specializes in whimsical work featuring animals, puns, and portraiture.

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