Pressing Matters

Pressing Matters

Variation Bumblebee soft ground etching on zinc. The pattern can be found in Barbara G. Walker’s Charted Knitting Designs.

I am struggling with what to say at this moment. I pulled my first print way back in 1988 if memory serves me, I still have that first plate, based on a sketch I had done, based on an image I had seen on the front of National Geographic.

The latest chapter in my printmaking life has much more to do with textiles then it does visual art. Or at least that is what I continue to say, true or not, so be it. I’ve thought about transferring the texture of my knitted and woven fabrics to paper for more then a decade. Initially I thought it would be more of an embossing rather then a print, seeing a piece of Bob Hainstock’s work back in 2008 brought this to the forefront once again. The framed piece, which my boss Susan Hanrahan took home from a fundraiser at Ross Creek Centre for the Arts was ripples in the sand, embossed on paper, no ink, just texture. Brilliant.

As I seem to do, the idea had to sit for a while. Next surfacing on a trip to Toronto in the fall of 2010 where I saw the work of Betty Goodwin. I was overwhelmed. Her notebooks, hundreds of them were like nothing I’d seen. Then I turned the corner to see the prints that came from those pages of notes. It is a special moment when you are physically moved by a piece of art. Betty Goodwin’s prints have that impact on me. She printed everything. Vests, shirts, bird’s nests, unwrapped packages, gloves. This was it. This is what I needed to be doing with my textiles. I walked away inspired.

Luckily enough, the Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council member exhibition for 2011 was also “Inspired”. Members were asked to visit galleries and museums in the province and be inspired to create a new work of fine craft based on an artifact or artwork found in the provincial collections. And again, luck was on my side, the work of Betty Goodwin was being shown at the Dalhousie University Art Gallery in early 2011, just in time for me to be inspired once again.

With the help of Bob Morouney of Hidden House Press I created my first two soft ground etchings using my own knitted samples. I submitted one to the “Inspired” show, and was successfully juried in. The road has been long. Wanting to be a printmaker, without a press, takes time. You are always relying on other printmakers generosity. And they are incredibly generous, but more on that later.

So after nearly two years of searching for a used press, and one year of deciding whether to have one built, twelve weeks of waiting for the press to be completed, one month since taking delivery of my very own press, and one week of building the stand to hold it, today I used it for the first time.

Julie Rosvall
Wolfville, NS

(where I am exhausted, and excited, and don’t know whether I should be knitting samples, preparing plates, printing existing plates, organizing and cleaning my space, or reading about printmaking)

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