There are so many different styles of printing presses out there and the decision of which press to buy required research and a lot of thought. I always knew I wanted an etching press as it can print the thin linoleum blocks I use and allows me to experiment with different avenues in printmaking such as engraving, etching, drypoint, aquatint, and mezzotint. However, there are a lot of different brands and price points. I flirted with the idea of some of the lower price point options, but I know that in the field of art you get what you pay for. I wanted a high-quality press from a reputable seller that was made in America. (I can’t imagine what the shipping cost of a heavy etching press from overseas would be!) After research, I decided to buy from Conrad Machine Co., based out of Whitehall, Michigan. When I called to speak to them about their etching press options, they were friendly and very helpful in answering all my questions. I was happy to learn that it is a family business dating back to 1945. They are recognized around the world as one of the oldest manufacturers of fine art printmaking presses as well as the oldest manufacturer in North America. They have a wide range of press options, and the one I decided to purchase is a 15”x30” etching press. It is the perfect size for my home studio. It will take a few months for production of my press before it is shipped. I am looking forward to the day that beauty shows up on my doorstep!
Image Caption: This is the press I purchased from Conrad Machine Co. Picture taken directly from their website.
Until then, I am doing a deep spring cleaning of my studio. My little spare bedroom in my house is where I make my art and the space limitations have forced me to get creative with the way I store items. I have rearranged the space multiple times to create a nice workflow, but it still isn’t right. I am working hard to make the space cozy and organized with workstations set up in a manner that will allow my process to flow easily. Along with finding the right home for my press in the room, I wanted to rethink where I dry my prints. Up until now, I had two ceiling hooks that had a piece of twine with binder clips strung between them. While this was effective, it required me to step on a step stool each time I’d hang a print to dry. After stepping up and down 30 times, I would get tired and not want to print any longer. “Work smarter, not harder” is what I’m trying to do. So, I built a new drying rack!
Image Caption: A photo of myself lining up the bars on my new drying rack.
To avoid using a step stool but still be able to hang the prints high enough out of my headspace, I decided to build a pulley drying rack system. It is engineered to pull down to an easy height to hang my prints during a printing session. After a printing session is complete, I can raise it up closer to the ceiling so that the prints can dry and be out of the way. While cleaning out my studio closet, I found a stretcher bar for canvas that I used as the frame for the drying rack. In my basement I had a cheap shoe rack that had pieces of wood long enough for the bars needed to place across the frame. Unfortunately, those wooden pieces weren’t thick enough for the nail size, so I ended up going to the lumber section of my hardware store to get thicker wooden dowels cut to size. After building the system and attaching clothespins, I strung it up onto a pulley hanging from the ceiling and attached the rope to a cleat on the wall. This system allows 65 prints to dry at once.
Image Caption: This is the finished product of the drying rack I built and installed myself. I'm quite proud of the end result.
Aside from cleaning out the studio, a lot of my time recently has been devoted to applying to art fairs for the summer and fall months. All of this behind-the-scenes work is necessary but has my creative mind yearning to get back to the art desk and create. I have so many ideas brewing for new prints, and they are being planned out now. My most recent series, ‘On the Horizon,’ of 12 fictional women in the water was my sole focus in the month of March. When my press arrives, I plan to print a large version with all the women together. Until then, I’ve printed the individual women. I’ve offered them for sale at my in-person markets first, and will be working on printing more to have for sale on my online store.
Image Caption: One in a series of 12 women in the water.
For readers nearby the Cincinnati, OH area, this is where you can find me this month:
Pancakes and Booze Art Show
24 3rd Street
Newport, Kentucky 41071
The Market at Medpace
5375 Medpace Way
Cincinnati, OH 45227