Printmaking's been going on since ancient Mesopotamians used round cylinder seals on clay tablets. Later, Asians innovated woodblock prints on silk and fabrics. Then, Europeans got in on it. Today, there's etching, engraving, monotypes, lithographs, mezzotints, aquatints, screenprints, and more. Plus the cranking gears and crushing force of a steel American printing press stamping ink into paper.
Master Printer Louis F. Dow of Fulwood Press in Wynwood knows a hell of a lot about it. He's been running a two-press studio for over 30 years.
The studio he runs is open to the public and offers rental time for use of the space and equipment, as well supply sales of paper, etching plates, and anything else required, like this 50 year old Lake Erie Directomat, capable of exerting 16 tons of pressure, or 160,000 pounds.
"This is a comfortable place to work." says Dow, "And there's a fresh feeling here in Wynwood. It's all coming together here."
In "etching," a metal plate is covered in what is called "ground," an earthen or waxy acid-resistant material. Lines are scratched into it with a needle, and then the plate is dipped in an acid bath.
The acid bites into the metal where the lines are exposed and leaves a long lasting impression to ink and print from. Here's a detail of a finished plate.
And a final print:
Mary Lynn Blasutta is a freelance commercial illustrator by trade. Her clients include Pepsi, Frito Lay, and she illustrated this year's Starbucks Holiday Mix CD cover. She lives in the area and rents 25 hours a month of studio time at the press. "I very much enjoy it," she says, "It's refreshing, and it gives new life to my commercial work."
"I don't really know what I'm doing, but I'm having fun experimenting with monotypes."
"Louis is great to work with. He's very knowledgeable and a gifted artist."
"The consistency of the inks is like honey."
"The setup takes a while, but the printing is pretty fast."
"It's a tactile thing. And I enjoy the process of the way the ink gets on the paper, and the texture that you just can't get from painting."
"I like the feeling of putting the press in motion."
Here's a fresh inked monotype.
Here is what it looks like to ink a plate.
Here are some printer's tools.
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And a table full of them.
The prints laying around the shop testify to the artists' skill.
Fulwood Limited Edition Press, 251 Northwest 23rd Street Miami, FL 33127