We kicked off a new season of workshops for all-ages with a fun printmaking workshop to tie in with our newest exhibit, Realized in Wood: Contemporary Prints from China. This exhibit showcases the work of ten different printmakers, highlighting scenes of everyday life using this centuries-old technique. Traditionally, the woodblock is prepared by chipping away at the wood, creating patterns and images with the remaining raised areas that are then inked and printed onto either paper or wood. This allows for a great deal of detail and creates remarkable prints that may be pressed again and again. However, how can this centuries-old technique be adapted so that it can be enjoyed by all ages?
The answer is decidedly modern, and probably something you have lying around the home: Styrofoam! Instead of creating our plates using traditional woodblocks, we updated our technique a bit by using special Styrofoam blocks that allowed us to create beautiful, detailed images using nothing but pens, pencils, and imagination!
We first brainstormed about our images before sketching them onto tracing paper. All images must be etched onto the Styrofoam plate backwards, so after tracing, we simply inverted the tracing paper and then traced back over our designs so that they would appear in the correct order when we printed them.
Then came the fun part: printing! We used brayers and block printing ink to make our final prints. We started on white paper, but many participants got creative, using colored construction paper and light colored ink to highlight their designs.