Other posts in the IPRC print camp series:
IPRC print camp: Mimeograph printing
IPRC print camp: Letterpress printing
Darn, it’s already been over a week and I still haven’t gotten around to posting about my trip to the IPRC in Portland, OR last weekend.
The IPRC makes me really, really sad I don’t live in Portland. It is a facility dedicated to self-publishing, and they have a great wealth of resources and tools (page layout software, letterpress equipment, a zine library, a bookbinding machine, work tables, photocopiers, typewriters, mimeograph equipment, art supplies, etc. etc.) that you can access for modest membership and/or classroom fees. The instructors and staff are very kind and open-minded (kind of a Portland trait I gather) and do not make you feel like a doofus about your artistic abilities or lack thereof.
My friend Brandon and I attended Print Camp, which was a weekend-long series of classes including an introduction to letterpress, mimeograph, bookbinding, and block (relief) printing. I’ll start with the last two, as there is too much to say about the overall experience for one post.
This PDF link provides a good visual tutorial (unrelated to the IPRC) about what block printing is and looks like. Essentially, block printing involves carving a reverse image into a wood or linoleum block, pressing the block in ink, and then making a print impression.
I wish I could say I was as talented as my friend Brandon in the matter of the visual arts, but alas, I cannot. He did a beautiful, cardworthy octopus print (I forgot my copy of it at the IPRC, perhaps out of jealousy), but you will have to settle for looking at my botched Strikethru design.
If you have never tried block printing, it is very soothing to gouge linoleum with sharp tools. If you are willing to part with $42 dollars and want to give it a try, Speedball makes a block printing kit with all of the supplies.
I know I said bookbinding earlier in this post, and that is what this segment of the class was originally supposed to be, but there was an agenda change. Before I proceed, it’s time for a little side story.
I have previous experience with bookbinding, which surely I’ve mentioned here before. If I have, indulge me again. Since it traumatized me, I tend to ramble about it at any opportunity. I took a class here in Seattle several years ago with a nameless book artist in possession of a Jekyll and Hyde personality (which one of those guys was the evil one? Mostly that one) who took to yelling at anyone who did not perfectly duplicate her complex signature-sewing instructions on the first try. One student ran from class in tears (!) and did not return the following day (not sure why I returned myself, actually). Ever since then, I have been afraid of bookbinding (Brandon –who was in that class with me too– even called ahead to make sure The Evil One was not affiliated with the IPRC). I was willing to get back on the horse at the IPRC, but as it turns out, I didn’t have to, as the topic had changed to altered books.
Now, altered books present their own dilemma, more of an ethical one. I have posted about this topic before, related as it is to key-cutting and other acts of destroying 20th century media for the purpose of arts and crafts (or Etsy sales). I am not in reality much of a rebel, however, and wasn’t going to be That Kid who refuses to dissect the frog in biology class and ends up on the evening local news, so I took an Xacto knife to an old romance novel, and turned it into a weird collage of pockets and notebooks.
I admit it was kind of fun. Check back in my Etsy store later this week for a lovely assortment of typewriter key cufflinks and pendants.
I’m kidding, people. But really, I find the subject of old media dissection to be fascinating. There has to be some terribly intellectual thing one could say (this has Darren Wershler-Henry written all over it) about what this 21st century artistic compulsion says about our psyches.
Anyway, this post is To Be Continued.