In 8th grade, I went to an art class across town every Wednesday. It was a fun class and I learned a lot, but I was super shy so I hardly talked to anyone. As usual, by the third class everyone had their own "assigned" seat, and so over the school year I slowly found myself becoming friends with the girl I always sat next to. Her name was Jenna. She was pretty cool. Jenna and I had many giggled conversations as we sat drawing and painting in that art class. I wish I could remember one of those conversations, because that would make for a very entertaining blog post. Unfortunately, I cannot. However, I can remember making this print in class:
The assignment was to draw four 4"x6" print designs incorporating our first initial. Mine, therefore, had to have a C. The teacher, Mrs. Carabello, then helped each of us choose which design to use. With my horse obsession, it was no surprise to anyone when I came up with this "C-Horse". I made three other designs just because that was the assignment, but they were a formality.
When we finished our designs, we transferred them and carved them into rubbery 4"x6" printing blocks.
And finally, after weeks of working diligently on our printing blocks, it was finally time to make our prints. We took turns going to Mrs. Carabello's desk and carefully inking and stamping our designs on the paper. We each made five or six prints, and when they were dry we picked out each of our best work to display at the end of the year.
It was my first experience with printmaking. I'l admit, I've never been able to keep the various techniques straight. I've read about intaglio and etching, lithography and embossing, but I have no idea what each of them are or what the differences between them are. I know one printing method involves etching a design into a metal plate with some sort of acid. I also heard that usually the artist decides on a certain number of prints, and then breaks the plate after finishing (I was too proud of my rubber block to want to break it. I still have it somewhere). That's the extent of my printmaking knowledge. I don't even know what to call the printmaking process I did in 8th grade!
I happened to do a lower-budget version of the same printmaking method a few years later, using styrofoam and a ballpoint pen instead of an actual printing block and a linoleum cutter. Someday I think it would be fun to take a printmaking class, just so I can figure out what method is what. That's all I want; to be able to distinguish one from the other. But for now, I'll stick with styrofoam and pens for my printmaking endeavers, and maybe I just won't try to sell any of those poor quality attempts at that old and revered art technique.
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