A review of 2023 in printmaking
I started January with a print for Alice's birthday. It is based on a song that she loves called "Bears" by a band that we loved called Pete and the Pirates. The print features four panels of song lyrics and illustrations which are screen printed.
It was a very tough print to print. I had to print six to get one that was ok. Also it had some very fine lines. I am learning (too slowly) that positive fine lines become thinner when exposing the screen. I really need to do another exposure test to see if that's the issue.
Bears screen print
In January I also printed Boscastle Harbour, a five colour screen print of the harbour in Cornwall. This is not my most favourite print but is part of my printmaking journey. I painted brush strokes onto paper and photographed them to get some of the brush strokes in this print. It also uses a lot of pencil lines.
I made the rocks in the foreground deliberately look much more stylised with outlines.
Boscastle Harbour screen print. View in my shop.
In March I worked on the two remaining Take Flight bird prints (having printed the first four a year before). These were screen prints and linocuts. The colours are screen printed and the black detail is a linocut printed over the top.
The two prints were Goldfinch and Tawny Owl. I particularly like these two prints, especially the trees behind the owl. They took a long time to carve!
Tawny Owl linocut
Final Tawny Owl print. View in my shop.
Final Goldfinch print. View in my shop.
In March we also attended the Hepworth Wakefield Print Fair for the first time (having got into it previously but at the last minute been unable to attend).
It was a wonderful print fair in a very nice old building which has been renovated. We met plenty of printmakers including some we knew and some we didn't know but have wanted to meet.
We would definitely like to do this fair again, and have applied for 2024.
The Hepworth Wakefield Print Fair
May was another busy month. I completed a project I had been working on for some time – my Fowey linocut. This is a two colour linocut of the coastal town in Cornwall and was made in memory of my friend Emma Litten who helped to run the White Doll Arts shop there.
I am very pleased with how the print turned out though I didn't know what to do with the sea. I ended up making it look realistic but I wonder if I should have made it stylised like my St Ives print. It is something I could potentially change in the future.
Fowey linocut blue block
Fowey final print. View in my shop.
May was also the month of our second Winchester Print Fair. This event took place in The Nutshell in central Winchester and this time we had 25 printmakers and took over both floors of the venue.
It was a great success again. I think it is down to our secret weapon; the big sign we hold outside in the street which attacts people inside.
We had some really great names in printmaking attend the event and hope to continue to hold Winchester Print Fair again. In fact the venue is already booked for May 2024!
The secret weapon we use for Winchester Print Fair
Upstairs at Winchester Print Fair 2023 at The Nutshell
June was also a very busy month for me!
I printed my largest, most ambitious screen print so far — Mevagissey Harbour. It is a six colour print and is large - 48cm x 38cm in size.
I specifically went to Mevagissey to take this photo in order to make this print. I already knew that the harbour view was really stunning, with the boats in the foreground and the houses on the hill in the background.
I made it look stylised and much taller than Mevagissey really is. I used all my natural media techniques as well as employing textures (for example, the ink scraped sea foam). It has pencil marks and pastel on top of a paper cut style illustration.
I think the print turned out really well, I am very happy with it and it has been popular; we took four to Bovey and sold all four.
Mevagissey Harbour screen print. View in my shop.
Not only did I print my most ambitious print in June but we also attended Craft Festival Bovey Tracey for the first time. This is one of the most prestigious events in the craft fair calendar and I had tried and failed to get in before. We also had got in one year and couldn't attend so this was a really big event for us.
Craft Festival Bovey Tracey is like no other craft fair. It is more like a music festival. There are marquees, food stalls, live music, a bar and a mobile cinema as well as lots of demonstrations of crafts. It has such a wonderful atmosphere.
We enjoyed the event immensely and sold a lot of prints. It was wonderful to meet all the enthusiastic customers who were really interested in printmaking. I'm delighted to say that we will be doing Bovey next year!
Our stand at Craft Festival Bovey Tracey
In July I realised something I had wanted to do for a long time: a laser cut, hand printed wooden scene. Of course I had to do something coastal!
I illustrated a completely fictitious harbour scene in three layers, all slotting into a base which would be the sea. It was designed to fit onto a sheet of plywood and be printable when all the pieces were in the sheet of plywood so it had to also fit onto a screen.
In the end I came up with a five colour illustration (yes I know, I never make things easy for myself!) but made the illustration details large enough that it would be forgiving if things weren't quite aligned.
I found a local person to laser cut the wood and I tried printing on plywood and MDF. Plywood was much nicer. I discovered that I could move the individual pieces around very slightly to align them.
I was really delighted with the end result. I thought there would be all sorts of problems but it turned out exactly as I imagined it.
The wooden harbour scene in the base board from which it is cut
The finished wooden harbour scene slotted together. View in my shop.
August saw me complete my first commission as a printmaker, though it wasn't a print I made but a fold out scene of Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset. The hill is well known for how pretty it is with a collection of old houses running down it.
I did an illustration in Photoshop, using my favourite ink brush. I kept the colour palette deliberately small. The houses were easy enough but knowing what to do in the foreground was hard. Opposite the houses is a wonderful buttressed wall so I decided to put that in and then put in some Valerian flowers. The final touch was to put in some people climbing the hill.
It was not like my usual scenes in that the slope of this Gold Hill scene is much shallower so the bottom of the scene visible on the front had to be interesting.
The Gold Hill scene complete with ginger cat. View in my shop.
Yes I know in June I made my most ambitious screen print but in September I topped that with a new most ambitious seven colour screen print of the rooftops of St. Ives, Cornwall.
I started off with the view of the rooftops and completely redrew it to make it simpler and more stylised. I employed natural media (such as pencil, hatching, pastels) and lots of textures which I have collected over the years.
I also made the illustration very stylised. I put in someone on a roof ladder, a heron nesting on a roof and someone taking a photo in the square.
The rooftops of St. Ives and the buildings are very interesting and lend themselves to being printed. I used three main colours; yellow, turquoise and blue, and then used two blacks and two whites to enhance those colours. There was a very transparent black to produce more tones and a transparent white.
It came out really well, though was very hard to print. I keep seeming to make things hard for myself! I think I must have only got about half perfect with the rest being no good.
Exposing the screen for Rooftops of St. Ives
The final Rooftops of St. Ives screen print. View in my shop.
In September we also took a holiday to Devon, which I must admit I had been looking forward to for ages. I really enjoyed it, though some places were a bit nasty, other places were absolutely fantastic and characterful.
Ashburton had a wonderful restaurant serving breakfast and lunch, a great deli and other shops including Salty's Studio - a wonderful shop of screen printed prints and goodies. I recommend going there. Beer and Dartmouth were also very nice. We had some execllent meals out including the Japanese Canteen in Totnes which is a favourite of ours.
Deckchairs at Beer, Devon
In the last quarter of the year we moved from printing mode to fair mode with three of the biggest events of the year.
The first event was Festival of Crafts in Farnham, Surrey. This has been a regular event on our calendar for about six or seven years now and it was as good fun as ever.
Festival of Crafts, The Maltings, Farnham
Mum and I putting together garlands ready for fairs. View the garland in my shop.
Then we traveled up North to Manchester for our first ever Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair at Victoria Baths, an old swimming pool. It was really great fun, although cold. We were in the Turkish Baths which was very picturesque.
We had a great time in Manchester and would love to do it again. We ate out in Manchester which was a wonderful experience and if we get in next year we might even see a band.
You can see below one of the swimming pools full of exhbitor stands.
Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, Victoria Baths, Manchester
Our final event of the year was Craft Festival Cheltenham at the Town Hall. This has also become a regular event and this year it was over three days.
The Town Hall is a really wonderful venue and we were in a really good position in the main hall. This time there were some printmaker friends so we all got together for a photo.
Town Hall, Cheltenham
The printmakers at Craft Festival Cheltenham
2023 has been a great year for me, even though sales were down a bit. I want to really push myself creatively next year but I have a couple of exciting commissions so it remains to be seen whether I will have enough time to do so.
I am planning to go back to basics and do some paper cutting and natural media on draughting film to create hand made screenprints.
We have already got into Craft Festival Cheltenham and Bovey Tracey which is really exciting and Winchester Print Fair will return.
See you in 2024!