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Finding Luscious Pigments

(c) Sebastiaan Bremer 2008, "Little Silver Breakfast," silver leaf on vintage Yamato paper, 24.5" x 36" image and sheet.

When I visited The Lower East Side Print Shop I admired the print “Little Silver Breakfast” by Sebatiaan Bremer.  I was trying to figure out how it had been made, as  it was intriguingly described as being made of silver leaf. I gave up, asking Christine Walia who had shown me around if she could please tell me about the process. She looked up the record of the work stating that a patent silver imitation leaf made of aluminium pigment had been brushed onto screenprinted Rhoplex adhesive medium. She also fetched one of the technicians, who talked to me about the process and the artists interest in using unusual pigments. He showed me pulverized rubber from pigment manufacturer, Guerra, down in the East Village which I decided I had to have!

Yes! Open!

On my art material buying day I headed down there and after having my heart sink because I’d found 510 and the roller shutter was down, I realised I was looking at next door.

Guerra was open and I felt like I’d walked into Aladdin’s Cave.

The seductive sample wall.

On my left, the wall was covered with large samples of the different pigments showing changes in intensity.

I wished I had the skill and patience to make my own printmaking inks. A good-looking man in paint spattered clothes (what else – this place was down and dirty genuine) showed me the pulverised rubber and talked about the pigment business. There are some links to great articles on the Guerra website for more on this.

I was then given a demonstration down the back of the store, of how to use an acrylic medium and a surfactant with the rubber. But I didn’t need a mixture, just the powder. (This sounds like some kind of illicit activity – I swear it was innocent!!)

They have an extensive catalogue to fantasise over (and then order from!) Does anyone else lust after colour and pigments like I do?

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A pressing place

Lower East Side Printshop open access studio

Got here. Eventually. To a”printshop” the word used more often than not in the local (North American) parlance. This one is the Lower East Side Printshop.
Also in NYC there’s The Robert Blackburn Printmaking Studio -the exception that proves the rule? In Australia we usually say “printmaking studio”, rather than printshop. Or if you’re in a French speaking part of the world, just let “atelier d’estampe” roll off your tongue.

Squeegee wall

The Lower East Side Printshop,  is no longer on the lower east side, having outgrown the original premises in 2005. Like the other places I visited it’s in a non-descript building up a few floors, but it’s a clean, light-filled welcoming space. There were only a couple of people working there when I was shown around by the incredibly helpful Christine. She filled me in on what the printshop offers – 24/7 studio access, classes at all levels, residencies (- available to legal US residents), master printing and of course details for all of these services are available on the website.

Exhibition space with "Collaborations" show on the walls

"Collaborations" in the exhibition space. All works (c) the artist

Apart from the etching presses, silk screen printing area (and areas for processing plates and screens of course) and digital facilities (complete list of facilities?: yes on the website), there is also an exhibition space.

The day I visited, I saw
“Collaborations” a selection of work done by artists working with the master printers in the Special Edition or Publishing Residency programs.  Pictured L-R: William Powhida, Ars Magica, 2010, screenprint, portfolio of 13,(I loved the humour of this work) Joe Fig, Inka’s floor, 2008, screenprint, Joe Fig, Brushes (Bill Jensen), 2008, screenprint, (stunning use of colour in these prints about the mess and well, colour of the painting process) and Sebastiaan Bremer, Little Silver Breakfast, 2008, silver leaf (loved, loved this! Technically intriguing and beautiful -more about this work in a future post).
You can see these and more artists works on the website, biographical details about the artists and purchase work through the online store. Other artists in this show were Emilio Perez, Havard Homstevdt, Joan Lindner and Amy Cutler. Each artist has used different techniques in their work – evidence of the breadth of technical knowledge available to artists working in these programs.

I would love to come back and do some work here… maybe when I find a patron or win the lottery! It’s just a bit far from home for me, but if you’re in NYC I’d recommend doing some printing here!

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