Dusty and Dustin, A Printmaking Reunion

My childhood friend and art school colleague, Dusty Herbig is an Associate Professor at Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing arts. He teaches lithography, intaglio, serigraphy, relief, and all levels of advanced and graduate courses. He also serves as the director and master printer of Lake Effect Editions, the press of the printmaking program.

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Dusty was in town for an artist residency in Berkeley at the Kala Art institute, and we re-united for a printmaking session over the weekend. I hadn’t been in a legitimate fine-art printmaking studio since college. It made me miss it. And made me almost wish I’d never gone the way of “commercial art”.

We were set to print a large woodcut that Dusty had been preparing over the course of two weeks in the studio. In keeping with his visual language; cords, switches and sockets series, he enlarged an archaic light switch into a wood cut, carving out all of the negative areas, leaving the positive areas to be inked and printed. That’s me in the red apron 🙂

We set up the press, spread ink on the slab and began to roll out the ink. The process of rolling the ink prepares it for printing by creating a thin even layer of ink. Once the ink layer is even on the glass table, it can be rolled onto the block. Then the block is placed on the press slowly cranked through to transfer the ink to the paper. In between each sheet, the block must be rolled with ink again to insure that the print is as rich as possible. But, the amount of ink can’t be so great that it begins to fill in detailed areas.

Each time we ran the block through the press, a new piece of paper was placed on top of the block, and covered with a tympan, a large sheet of plastic that’s placed on the paper to protect the press blankets from any ink that could find it’s way off the block.

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Over the course of three and a half hours, we prepped and printed an edition of  ten, 60″ x 36″ woodcut prints. The printed edges were clean and detail precise. But, the best part was spending quality time with one of my oldest friends.

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