Category Archives: Printmaking

Inside The Technician’s Toolbox – Part 4: Kath Van Uytrecht

Specialist Printmaking Technician Kath Van Uytrecht shares the contents of one of her toolboxes with us. Kath is a toolbox super fan and has at least three different toolboxes. One might say this is over the top, but Kath claims that collecting and using tools gives the same enjoyment and satisfaction as it does collecting stationery.

Kath’s printmaking toolbox is small standard Stanley Hardware Toolbox, and contains most of the tools she would need in the printmaking area. It has two small compartments on the lid and and a low tray that sits in the inside compartment.

The Contents of Kath's toolbox show
Kath’s open toolbox showing its contents

Kath’s toolbox has two top compartments. The left compartment contains various erasers and a loupe. The erasers are for ‘print aftercare’- cleaning up dirty boarders and marks. Kath uses the loupe to see how deep an aquatint is etching. The right compartment contains two squeegees for inking up plates. Kath uses the cream squeegees for inking up plates with pale coloured or transparent ink so that the rubber of the squeegee doesn’t affect the colour.

The main compartment holds clean sponges and brushes for printing lithographs as well as for dampening paper when there isn’t a paper sink. Clean sponges can also be used for cleaning up borders and paper after they have dried. The compartment also contains different sized flat ended palette knives for mixing inks. There are a range of permanent markers for making registration sheets and a compass for drawing circles. Additionally, there is a roll of masking tape and some very fine steel wool for polishing metal plates.

The removable tray holds a range of etching tools including various needles, burnishers and roulettes. All Kath’s cutting tools are housed here as well as a steel ruler, a pencil and a chinagraph marker.

Kath’s toolbox has been built up over many, many years and contains many specialist and some expensive tools. As much as she enjoys these tools, she stresses that the most important tools are high quality basic ones. Because we use these tools often, they affect your work flow as well as your enjoyment of working. A sharp pencil, steel ruler, fine marker pen, sharp cutting knife or good quality masking tape are all basic tools that can make a big difference when working.

We asked Kath:

What is the one must-have basic essential (most used) tool in your toolbox?

A clean, sharp pair of scissors.

Kath's sharps collection: Scissors, cutting knife, scalpel, paint scraper, and compass cutter. There are also spare blades for each cutting tool.
Kath’s sharps collection: Scissors, cutting knife, scalpel, paint scraper, and compass cutter. There are also spare blades for each cutting tool.

What is your favourite tool?

A paint scraper for cleaning up ink slabs after printing.

It hugely reduces the amount of chemicals needed to clean as well as the clean up time. It’s the best!

Kath's favourite tool is a Stanley brand paint scraper with replacement blades
Kath’s favourite tool a Stanley brand paint scraper with replacement blades

What is the weirdest/quirkiest/most specialist tool you have?

Agate burnisher for burnishing creases out of paper.

Kath's etching and printing tools which include from left to right: a bone folder, agate burnisher, steel scraper and burnisher, two roulettes with different sized dot patterns, square tipped etching needle, sharp pointed etching needle, rounded point etching needle and a pair of jeweller's tweezers.
Kath’s etching and printing tools which include from left to right: a bone folder, agate burnisher, steel scraper and burnisher, two roulettes with different sized dot patterns, square tipped etching needle, sharp pointed etching needle, rounded point etching needle and a pair of jeweller’s tweezers.

Print Curiosities: No.5- William Crozier

Written by Specialist Printmaking Technician, Kath Van Uytrecht

Abstracted garden scene in bright orange, pink, yellow, green and blue.
William Crozier, ‘Garden’, Carborundum.

‘Garden’ is a limited edition print that was commissioned to accompany a special book publication about the work of William Crozier (1930-2011). William Crozier was an Irish Scottish artist that studied at The Glasgow School of Art. His work is often associated with bright colourful landscapes. In 2019, Flower’s Gallery had a retrospective of his printed works. The gallery also has a selection of paintings that you can view on their website.

The book titled ‘William Crozier’ details the artist’s work from the past fifty years of his life. It was designed to offer ‘substantial critical attention to an artist well known within the UK and Irish art worlds, and gives new insights into the still under-written history of figurative painting in Britain.’

The book contains critical texts and many colour reproductions of his work. The hardcover book is housed in a bright yellow slip case and additionally contains the limited edition print.

Book with garden print and yellow slip case.
‘William Crozier’ by Crouan, Kennedy and Vann, 2007. With limited edition print ‘Garden’ and yellow slip case

‘Garden’ is a small multiple plate print made with carborundum. Carborundum is a technique where grit is added and mixed into PVA glue. The paste is then painted directly onto the printing plate creating textured painterly marks. These marks emboss into the paper when printed. The grit is porous and can hold a lot of ink. The result is a textured print with intense colour.

‘Garden’ was made and printed at Graphic Studio Dublin with Master Printmaker Robert Russell. There were only one hundred and twenty five prints made in this edition. I love this print for the intensity, depth of colour and the amount of textured detail that is contained in such a small print. It also reminds me of my time working at Graphic Studio Dublin. Meeting the artists who collaborated with the studio was a highlight. I will always remember William Crozier for his kind and gentle manner.

Featured Graduate: Neelam Bhullar

The Monarch Butterfly, photo-etching. Circular image filled with Monarch butterflies in a monotone copper colour
The Monarch Butterfly. Photo etching.

1.Tell us about yourself. Have you always made art?

Like many artist’s creativity has always been a part of me from a young age. My mum would always get me craft kits, glitter and colourful pens which all contributed to my creativity and helped me to grow as an artist.

2. How did you get started in printmaking?

I wanted to learn about printmaking which I noticed I hadn’t done much of throughout the first two years on the degree, at the beginning of my third year I spoke with the technicians about learning some of these techniques. The intaglio process was what I was most drawn to having produced a few plates, eventually I fell in love with the process and found myself making as many plates as I could in the remainder of time I had left on the course. I feel like learning all these techniques has helped me to develop my art in new and exciting ways.

3. Who are your biggest influences?

I find many artists influential, some of my favourites would have to be Yayoi Kusama, Edvard Munch, Hieronymus Bosch, Andy Warhol, and Gilbert & George.

4. Where do you make work now that you’ve graduated? What does your current work setup look like?

In the near future I’m looking to produce work at open access print studio’s as a starting point, I have many ideas constantly flowing through my mind which I wish to see through and continue to learn more about printmaking in the process. My current work setup consist of a small work space which serves me well for all my research and initial stages of my image making, my desk is usually a mess when I’m image making which I quite like as I feel it helps me to put a range of ideas together, sometimes they happen by accident.

Illness and Identity. Photo-lithograph. Mono-tone circular image with collaged figures and abstract shapes and textures.
Illness and Identity. Photo lithograph.

5. Looking back on your time at LCC, what advice would you give to yourself, if you could travel back in time?

My only regret was not getting into the print workshops earlier. During my time in the workshops this year I have seen a pathway to producing work which I would have never imagined. Having learnt so much in such a short space of time due to the help of the technicians, I will continue to apply everything that I have learnt to my work in order to strengthen my practice. I have developed a passion and fascination for print and the techniques it has to offer which has become an essential part of my practice.

6. Where can we see more of your work?

Instagram: @nbhullar19

Photopolymer print in made during Return to Make. The image is in a sepia tone and depicts collaged nude figures amongst snow drops and other flora.
Photopolymer Print made during Return to Make

Inside The Technician’s Toolbox – Part 2: Klara Vith

Drawer full of multiple containers holing tools.
Klara’s tool drawer

Specialist Letterpress Technician Klara Vith shares her sketching and bookbinding toolbox with us.

Klara’s tools are housed in various boxes, leather and felt roll cases and pencil cases that all sit neatly in a drawer.

We asked Klara:

What is the one must-have basic essential (most used) tool in your toolbox?

Knife protectors for all sharps, this includes cutting knives, scalpels and shoe knives for cutting paper. Sharp covers can be easily made using paper and tape. These covers provide protection and keep points sharp

shoe knife and paper knife protector.
Shoe knife with paper and washi tape knife protector

What is your favourite tool?

My Rotring Isograph technical drawing pen. These pens can be refilled, the ink flows really well and the nibs come in various sizes so you can draw with super fine lines.

Rotring technical pen packaging.
Rotring technical pen

What is the weirdest/quirkiest/most specialist tool you have?

My handmade ‘Nifty Tool’. I designed a clear sheet of acrylic that has a pica grid laser engraved into it. It has a small wooden handle and allows me to make square alignments easily and square off the edges of my prints.

Featured Graduate: Romario Williams

Two plate etching of half faces. Lines in black, background red.
Two plate etching made during Return to Make

1.Tell us about yourself. Have you always made art?

I have just graduated from Illustration. Since I can remember, I have always created art. One of my earliest memories I have is of drawing on a computer in nursery. The teacher said that I was definitely going to be an artist one day because my drawing had the most colours in it. I play the piano but art has always been the main focus for me. Even from the things that I watch. I watch a lot of anime. I decided to come to LCC Illustration because although Illustraion is quite broad, at LCC it wasn’t combined with fine art, so it was more tailored.

2. How did you get started in printmaking?

As part of the Illustration Course we had to do inductions in the Printmaking Workshops. I didn’t really enjoy printmaking at first, I thought it was long round about process, where you could just draw more directly and quickly in other media. My tutors really encouraged me to reconsider printmaking as they could see the potential of my drawing going into print. Their passion when talking about printmaking made me want to try it again.  I tried printmaking again, but it was only when I tried etching that it felt right for me. I learned that I could break it down into two processes- the drawing and the printing. Once I focused on the plate making and then printing I found that this worked for me.

3. Who are your biggest influences?

Quentin Blake is one of my favourite illustrators. I really like his illustrations, from my earliest memories I remember Roald Dahl books. I just really like how everything seemed to be so energetic, everything seems to be moving. It’s art with the stories. So when I was introduced to his adult stories later I really felt like Blake was missing. William Blake, the Pre-Raphaelites, Anime have also been strong influences. At the moment, I tend to look generally at artworks on platforms like Pintrest, rather than an artist’s body of work.

Etching of geometric face. Line in black, background red.
Etching, editioned during Return to Make

4. Where do you make work now that you’ve graduated? What does your current work setup look like?

I am currently working in a spare room at home. This is my current studio. I draw and paint here. I don’t need a lot of space. In the future I will look to make prints at an open access print workshop.

5. Looking back on your time at LCC, what advice would you give to yourself, if you could travel back in time?

In the first year when using the print workshop I didn’t absorb much of what I was doing. I was associating this time with completing projects and project briefs. I never took a lot of time to really learn the process. In my second year I began to see the process as its own thing, and work in itself. Now that I have graduated, it is all print, this is the first time I have created work that is all art without a brief.

In first year, I thought I had ticked a box and that I was fluent in printmaking and I knew what I was doing.  I would advise myself to take time to reflect and appreciate the work and the process and the time it takes to develop a practice. I didn’t understand printmaking at the time, now I understand it much more. It has a whole following.

Close up of etching of half faces. Lines black background orange.
Detail of etching during the colour proofing stage

6. Where can we see more of your work?

Instagram rome_in_rio

Inside The Technician’s Toolbox – Part 1: Lisa Chappell

A 'loupe' or 'thread counter' or used viewing printed halftones
A ‘loupe’ or ‘thread counter’ or used viewing printed halftones

This series of posts will explore the inner world of the technician’s toolbox. All of our technicians are practicing artists as well as educators and have built their tool collection to suit their changing needs and interests over the years.

A tool collection can be very personal with each tool having its own story and emotional connection. Tools can also range from being an essential basic to a specialist bespoke item. It is always very important that when borrowing a tool from someone to remember to be respectful that there may be this personal attachment to the tool. A tool that may seem like a standard piece of junk may have particular significance to the owner.

Toolboxes store and protect your tools and can be as varied as the tools themselves. Everyone has their own preference from a hardware store style compartmentalised box to decorative biscuit tins to leather roll up bags.

We have asked some of our technicians to share their tool collections and asked them three questions about their tools. We hope that these will inspire you to start you own toolbox.

We begin our journey with Specialist Screen Print Technician, Lisa Chappell, and her current set of tools. Instead of using a toolbox, Lisa has a set of pencil cases, tins and boxes assigned for different items and processes. Her pencil case collection includes:

birdseye view of lisa's collection. 2 tin boxes with tools inside. 4 pencil cases with tools inside.
Lisa’s Tool Collection stored in a tin, various pencil cases and a small box.

A small one for pencils, replacement leads and erasers.

A medium one for pens, including Sharpie markers, opaque pens, Staedler and Rotring fine liners.

A large one for tools such as spatulas, scissors, craft knives and scalpels.

A clean one for bookbinding tools

In addition to her pencil case set she also has a tin for relief print that contains rollers, a wooden spoon and a baren, as well as a small box of etching tools

Photo of white plastic spatula and pink retractable pencil.
Lisa’s Favourite Retractable Pencil and Must-Have Plastic Spatula.

We asked Lisa:

What is the one must-have basic essential (most used) tool in your toolbox?
A plastic spatula with flat edge for scraping up ink & mixing.

What is your favourite tool?
A retractable pencil for consistent line.

What is the weirdest/quirkiest/most specialist tool you have?
A loupe, for a halftone addict

Loupe showing halftones from a print below
Loupe showing halftones from a print below

Print Curiosities: No. 3 — Double Dagger

Print Curiosities: No. 3. Is selected and written by Specialist Letterpress Technician, Andrew Long.

Today I am sharing with you Double Dagger. A newspaper printed the traditional way, but it’s not what you might expect. It’s bright and colourful with amazing artwork and a focus on letterpress, unlike your typical newspaper. Every contributor includes an element of their work which makes each issue different and unique.

“The binding agent between all of our pages and contributors is a desire to print from the third-dimension, using both the tools that Gutenberg left us over 500 years ago and the tools of today such as the laser cutter. Printing using wood and lead type cannot be replicated digitally – the look, the feel, and even the smell offer an antidote to much of today’s commercial printing.”

(Loaring and Randle, 2021)

Double Dagger is a collaboration between Nick Loaring, of The Print Project, and Pat Randle, of Nomad Letterpress. The idea was formed, rather oddly, in 2013 on a sunny Somerset field. This was the first year Glastonbury festival had attempted to print their daily newspaper on a Heidelberg cylinder press using hot-metal type. The Linotype machine, which casts the hot-metal type for printing, had decided it no longer wanted to work. The newspaper was still printed on the Heidelberg, but the use of polymer plates rather than hot-metal type was the spark that started the Double Dagger conversation.

The first issue was released some 3 years later. To date they have released 3 issues, all full of letterpress goodness. Each issue is printed with lead type, none of that Polymer they had been forced to use at Glastonbury. Contributors include Stanley Donwood, Dafi Kühne, Ellen Bills and Thomas Mayo amongst many others.

You won’t be surprised to hear Nick & Pat are two of my favourite printers. Nick produces some of the most beautiful bold prints, you’ll find his work at The Print Project. Pat works out of Whittington Press and is the printer of Matrix ‘the finest periodical of the book arts of the 20th Century’. His imprint is Nomad Letterpress, where you’ll find some of the amazing books he has published.

If you want to know more about this publication check out the Double Dagger website, issue 1-2 are sold out but you could get your hands on issue 3. Follow Double Dagger on Instagram for any updates and to find out when / if they release an issue 4.

Congratulations Florence Hawkins!!

As many of you probably know, our Screen Print technician Florence Hawkins flew the nest mid-November. After 7 years at LCC, Flo was ready for new challenges and has moved onto a very exciting role at CSM as a Print & Dye Specialist Technician. Flo’s practice focusses on printed textiles and natural dyes, where she researches and creates colours from biowaste and foraged plant extracts. We were all sad to see Flo go, but knew that this job was made for her! In the new workshop Flo has quickly felt ‘at home’ and is inspired by the environment and new courses she teaches, from BA and MA Textile, Fashion, Biodesign and Material Futures. She is excited to see more projects focused on sustainable material practice and hopefully turn the roof terrace at CSM into a dye garden!

This blog post is a sneak preview of our new series ‘Inside the Technicians Toolbox’, where Flo has shared some of her favourite tools and studio must haves. Keep an eye out for our new series in the coming weeks to see the toolboxes of other technicians.

What is the one must-have basic essential (most used) tool in your toolbox?  

Sharp fabric scissors.

What is your favourite tool?

A range of different natural fabrics which will take natural dyeing in different tones.

What is the weirdest/quirkiest/most specialist tool you have?

My collection of tried botanical, kitchen waste and plant materials that come in different sizes, shapes, and shades of colours. They evolve with time.

Print Curiosities – No. 2: Maev Lenaghan

Print Curiosities is back! We have expanded our series to include a variety of print and book curiosities from the personal archives across the Printmaking, Book Arts and Letterpress Team. We have asked our technicians to delve into their collections to select, share and write about some of their favourite, special or unusual works of art.

Print Curiosities: No. 2. is selected and written by Specialist Printmaking Technician, Kath Van Uytrecht.

Having spent nearly a decade editioning prints privately for artists and for Graphic Studio Dublin and Stoney Road Press publications, I have accumulated a good collection of printer’s proofs. Some of these prints are large colour multiple plate prints created by some of Ireland’s top established artists.

Small bear printed in grey and gold ink with hard and soft lines and a pale grey wash for texture
Maev Lenaghan, ‘Small Bear’, etching.

Today I have selected to share something a little more subtle and delicate, but equally noteworthy and special.

‘Small Bear’ is one of the most prized etchings in my collection. The print was gifted to me by artist Maev Lenaghan. Maev studied printmaking at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and holds an MFA from Konstfack in Stockholm. She currently lives and works in Sweden.

Maev is interested in narrative and storytelling across Fine Art, Illustration, Literature and Design. Her work explores our relationship and connection to wilderness, working with media such as books, drawing, painting, pastel and printmaking.

Maev is a contributor to I DO ART, an ‘independent dissemination platform for art, with a focus on personal stories and attitudes, visuality and process’.

“My artistic practice springs from ideas that are in essence narrative, that take stock of life in the face of an imperturbable wilderness.”

In 2012, Maev created a series of etchings depicting oral storyteller Clare Murphy in action on Story Night, a regular monthly community storytelling event in Galway, Ireland. These prints were exhibited as part of a solo exhibition titled ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Woods?’.

She describes this show as “a peek at the richness of our interior lives, and then takes a walk to the edge of our society, in search of wilderness. As a species our strength lies in communities, in imagination and communication, and we are reminded of this amidst lively human interaction. We gather together in communities for protection, vulnerable as individuals. Most of us live removed from places where nature is still wild and foreboding. Yet even amongst those of us who have lost sight of our vulnerability beyond the societies of our making, there are yearnings for wilderness, for the great outdoors.”

Most recently Maev exhibited in The Space Gallery in Shanghai, China, with a show titled THIS BRIGHT EARTH. Another recent exhibition ROOTED IN SILENCE at Galleri LOKOMOTIV, Örnsköldsvik in the north of Sweden received an excellent review. The review is written in Swedish, but you can translate it online.

Open page of book with text on the left page. On the right page is a woodcut image that has an abstract texture and is printed in grey.
Maev Lenaghan, ‘I am a Maev, not a Moose’, artists book

“My latest work encompasses woodblock prints, linocut prints and artist books. These culminated in an exhibition in the north of Sweden which I called ROOTED IN SILENCE. There are two levels to the work: as a balancing of line, colour, emptiness and movement to create energy on the picture plane and to reflect experiences whose very nature are unspoken. Whether recalling the feelings of watching a  bonfire burn on the Swedish traditional night of ‘Valborgmässoafton’, visiting the  zen rock gardens of Japan or observing the exposed roots of trees; these are memories of being mesmerised by something. These are experiences that quiet the mind and speak to the unconscious and that I believe elicit the emotive response of stillness that you are looking for with the exhibition titled ‘Silence’.”

Detail of a small bear shows the bear's head and front paw printed in grey and gold ink. There is a combination of hard and soft line and a pale wash
Detail of ‘Small Bear’ by Maev Lenaghan.

I met Maev whilst working in Graphic Studio Dublin, one of Ireland’s oldest printmaking co-operatives.

‘Small Bear’ was created for Graphic Studio Dublin’s 50 year Anniversary exhibition titled ‘Gold’. The image is only 10cm x 10cm in size, but by looking at it closely you can see that contains a variety of beautiful line and texture that you can look at for hours. I come to it again and again and it always gives me joy as well as inspiring me to want to make etchings. This deceptively simple image contains three different etching techniques. This really demonstrates the quality and expertise of Maev’s drawing, mark making and printmaking. The etching is made of hard ground and soft ground line as well as sugar lift for a textured wash.

I chose this print not only for its beauty, and accomplished technique, but because it reminds me of the spirit of generosity in the printmaking community as well as the power of patience, subtlety and stillness and the complexity and simplicity of storytelling. You can explore more of Maev’s recent narrative works on her website and instagram.

Farewell Ling Chiu!

We would like to say a fond farewell to our amazing Technical Coordinator, Ling Chiu, who is leaving the Printmaking, Book Arts and Letterpress team at LCC to begin an exciting two-year residency at Thames-side Print Studios in London, and a month-long residency at AGALAB in Holland. We’ve been chatting to Ling to find out about her time here at UAL and her future plans.

Ling joined UAL in 2014, as a temporary printmaking technician at Wimbledon College of Art. She was already working as a technician at Thames-side Print Studio, and as a Curatorial Assistant at UCL Art Museum, and thought “why not try something new?”. Like many artists, she was juggling a creative practice with a mixed bag of freelance education and part-time work.

“Wimbledon’s printmaking workshop was magic – tiny but bold and ambitious. I worked with one other technician to run it, and we covered screenprinting, etching, relief printing and large format digital printing! It was exciting to work with a mix of fine art, costume and theatre students, and the technical team was very closely knit. We had competitive bake offs, Friday breakfast fry-ups, and ran lunchtime origami sessions for staff and students.”

Three years later, she moved to LCC as the full-time Printmaking Technical Coordinator. Formerly the London College of Printing, Ling was joining a College and team with deep and wide print knowledge. She wanted to balance that legacy with innovation, inclusive practice, and promoting printmaking in a College without fine art or printmaking courses.

“If I had to look back and pick one thing I’m most proud of, it would be developing the Printmaking traineeship with the team. We started with a single Arts Temps trainee and a ten-day paid programme! Now we’re known for providing good, paid, opportunities for students to train as technical staff, and get experience supporting day-to-day running, or some of our Outreach teaching. We’ve worked with DPS students, students from across UAL, alumni, and I’m especially proud to promote women in printmaking, and women in technical roles.”

Did you know? Ling is something of a Health and Safety nerd. She actually has a NEBOSH qualification in Occupational Health and Safety, which she completed while she was at LCC, alongside as PG Cert and PG Dip in Academic Practice.

“I think people have the wrong idea of Health and Safety – H&S is super-inclusive, and super-enabling. People think Health and Safety is all about paperwork and stopping people from doing what they want, when actually, it’s about how we can do exciting things, but make it safe for everyone to participate – who doesn’t want that?”

Ling is now embarking on a two-year residency at Thames-side Print Studios, where she also has her own studio. She plans to develop her own visual practice, while writing about, thinking about, and delivering printmaking that is inclusive, sustainable, safe, and beautiful. She will return to AGALAB in Holland later this year for a month-long lithography residency, working with vegetable cleaning agents (VCAs), and researching water use and workflows in printmaking processes.

“There is a place for printmaking 10, 50, 100 years from now, but it is incumbent upon us to be responsible makers; to not live in a bubble. We must use what can be grown when we can, and be precious with anything mined, distilled or shipped. We need to include more people, which means acknowledging where there are barriers: these lovely presses and processes were not designed for my body, my person, my ability, and they may not be designed for yours either… but I am going to do it anyway, and help you do it, too. This is how printmaking not only survives, but thrives.”

Ling will be greatly missed by both students and staff in the workshops, as her enthusiasm and expertise is top notch! She kept us all happy and motivated, with an excellent balance of humour, candidness, knowledge, kindness, respect and of course enough sweet treats!

We are super excited for the future that Ling has created, we wish her all the very best on her new adventure and look forward to following her progress on her Instagram.