Thursday, 28 August 2014

wood block printing workshop with Sarah Lawton

In July I went to a wood block printing workshop taught by artist-in-residence at East London Printmakers, Sarah Lawton.

Sarah had spent some time in Gujarat state in India, working on a collaborative project with local artisans (block print and embroidery) during an artist's residency. She shared some information about this experience and its outcomes - one outcome was an artist's book Sarah had made called A New Manifesto Ten Indian Insights and another was some garments that Sarah had block printed.

The first thing we did in the workshop was do some block printing on fabric using textile ink and blocks that Sarah had had made in India.

Then Sarah demonstrated carving plywood using Japanese woodcut tools, and the workshop participants each drew their own design on a piece of plywood and cut it out.

I printed my design of birds flocking, onto a piece of cloth. I didn't love the print, but I didn't come with a specific design in mind, this was just an image I had been thinking about so I could develop it more to make a better print. Also I found the plywood difficult to carve as I mostly just use lino when I do block printing. Lino cuts in all directions easily but with wood you have to follow the grain, especially with plywood - or it splinters.

During the workshop we also made a collaborative print on paper using Sarah's Indian wood blocks and gouache paints:

I found the workshop very interesting. Particularly hearing about Sarah's collaborative artistic practice and seeing some natural dyes which Sarah had brought back from India, which she said should work alright as printing pigments if mixed with a medium for textile printing. I love the idea of doing the whole printing process using organic sustainable materials such as natural dyes and wood (although lino is easier for me to carve). I've never tried mixing plant dyes with textile binder but I'd like to.

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