Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Whirlwind Northampton Printshop Tour

Hello all. Recently I was lucky enough to tag along on travels to Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton (thanks to being the printer for Jay Bolotin's most recent work- for details on this fabulous show, click here). And what did I decide to do when given this chance to travel? Why, print shop tour! With not a moment to spare, I made the first stop at Zea Mays Printmaking, a lovely non-toxic studio just outside of town.

They've recently moved to a large industrial space where they now have two floors of workspace plus an annex.

The first room upon entry is the gallery. I couldn't help but peruse through all the work. Here are some nice clamshell portfolio boxes. The prints were held between folded sheets, complete with letterpress for the titles and text.

What impressed me even more, was the highly organized member artist directory:

One can leaf through several binders to find artist info as well as thumbnails of prints, with their complete details and location.

Each number corresponds to a drawer...

…as well as a number that corresponds to the folder in that drawer. It was incredibly quick and simple to find any piece of art. What a great way to facilitate prospective buyers!

Above is some lovely work by the organizer of this system and the shop director, Liz Chalfin

And amazing photopolymer plate intaglio work by the monitor and my tour guide, Nancy D.

Plus the delicate and beautiful work of Louise K, who teaches here as well as RISD, works at Smith and formerly printed at Wingate Studios - she also gave me a fabulous tour of town and the college.

In the gallery was a description of this interesting process of combining photopolymer intaglio with digitally printed color.

I didn't know what to expect from the description, but these actually turned out quite beautifully.

Now finally to the studio! I had to sneak by as they were in the middle of a workshop.

Here is the Zea Mays lunchroom.

And upstairs, the member artist area. Look at those rows of presses and inking tables!

And look at how pristine all the glass table tops are! Drool…
They also have an enormous, custom Takach etching press in the editioning annex. Now darn, why didn't I get a picture of that?

Here, artist Sandra(?) shows her lovely handmade paper, while Nancy assists her with photopolymer plate-making. Nancy also has her own print studio outside of Boston, where she works with artists.

Next stop- Smith College printshop!

Here be the rack of stones- this is only one shelf.

Yet another graining sink to add to the world

Brand litho press

They had several offset presses, goodness!

And this interesting contraption- a pressurized aquatint box?

The main rosin valve, ready for action

Can't escape the panda.

Or warnings from Clint. Take note professors- supposedly celebrity threats keep students in line.

Sadly, Prof Pogue suddenly had to skip town, so alas we did not meet (his new book, Printmaking Revolution is a must-read). But I did get a behind-the-scenes tour of his experiments and contraptions. Here is a warning not to mess with the electrolysis etching tank- beware, you might get zapped!

The beast of an offset press used in their annual print workshop.

Check out the inset water bowls and refrigerated bed, oh la la!

Got to love random prints. 'Nuts' says it all.

Listen to your rollers!

Gettin spooky in the darkroom- oh yeah

And here's the spooky darkroom...

…with Dwight's photo plate coating experiments. Don't worry, this is all illuminated by safelight. We didn't ruin anything, right?

A photo-exposed stone- pretty nifty.

More threats from Clint, ya dig?

And my lovely tour guides- the Asst Prof Clark-Ryan and tech asst in print and photo, Lauren on the right. Thanks gals!

Next, just to warn you, the Smith Museum has artist-decorated bathrooms, right down to the bowls. Where else can you relieve yourself on art without being escorted from the premises?

Here, a warning of Jay's lecture to come.

In the meantime, small children were subjected to drawing Jay-like objects for the museum's youth programming. I saw a lot of triangles being made. The artist approved.

Sadly, no pictures were allowed of the exhibit, but this pretty much says it all.

Some details on Mr. Bolotin. Smith did a really wonderful job with the show. It includes woodcuts, intaglio prints, drawings, writing on the walls, a room for viewing the woodcut motion picture in its entirety and some clips from the second film in production.

So come check it out! The show runs through Sept (although you won't see Jay still sitting out front)

Next morning, next stop: Letterpressthings in Chicopee!

Wow, what an amazing place! Endless supplies for all ye letterpress nerds.

And a wonderful perk about this trip was a visit from my friend, THE east coast press repairman, Perry Tymeson. You all know Perry, right? Well if you don't, you should! Send him a note or check out his blog on presses for sale.

Yes, I need this font

More endless rows of cabinets and equipment

Lots of nice startup kits of spacing and furniture

Mmm, quads and spacers

hi-speed quoins

Lobster time!


Wow, look at all those cuts!

I liked this one- that would make an electrifying announcement


Fred(?) in the back sorts through EVERYTHING that comes in. They buy out entire shops and weed through/fix up all the equipment. I've never seen a more organized shop. Plus, a big bonus of great prices!

Presses ready to go

The press emergency room


Lots of posters- mostly APA work

I'd love to know this story!

Here's the man, Perry with owner and brain behind the shop, John Barrett. Thanks for the great tour and goodies, guys!

And now onto Flying object

- a neat printshop, gallery, publishing, reading and workshop space in Hadley

And of course they had a ping pong table out front

Inside, it was being set up for a demo. Salad demo I thought? Nope- it's kimchi making, yum!

Guy's nice little press

And last but not least, a building up the road that houses Art Larson's Horton Tank Graphics along with a whole slew of other presses, dang! Sadly no one was open on a Saturday. Oh well, that means I must come back.  Fun times, Massachusetts!

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