Free Press Serendipity Edition

What is Printmaking?

Free Press is an event where students can create and witness the art of printmaking. People go for the awesome shirt and poster designs, and to also create their own stamps. There’s so much about printmaking that people do not know (No, it is not a piece of paper coming out of a machine). I asked to wonderful seniors who are studying printmaking. Taylor Brown, and Grace Van Fleet both help me understand printmaking.

Here are some of the tools and material:

  • Ink- Medium that is mostly used for printmaking. Starts off as a block, can be loosened by thinner. Oil based ink is used more often than water based ink because oil based inks take longer to dry, which is helpful since printmaking can be a long process.
  • Brayers- Rolls the ink
  • Pallet Knives (scrapers) – Takes the ink out of their containers. Also good for mixing colors together
Pallet Knives (Scrapers)


  • Glass slab- A surface of glass to place the ink. The glass will not absorb the ink
Glass Slab, Inks, and other printmaking tools
  • Wood block- … A block of wood that is carved into.
  • Etching plate- Usually covered with copper or zinc. Acid eats away at the surface where there is copper or zinc.
  • Printing press- I learned of two types, Geared and ungeared. Ungeared takes a little more effort. Two people usually work together on different ends of the printing press.
Printing Press


  • Linoleum- a material usually carved into. If heated it is easier to carve. Taylor stated, “Equivalent to carving butter”. If linoleum is stored improperly or gets cold, it can crack

During Free Press only a few of the many ways to create prints were used: screen printing, woodcut, and stamp making.

Screen-printing is sort of like a stencil. A mesh like screen is painted with a type of paint that blocks the ink so it won’t go through the screen. The designs are created by the negative space of that paint. With screen-prints they have to be rinsed often or they could be ruined. Ink can block the design if it hasn’t been rinsed after a certain point.

Stamps are made in a way that is similar to the woodblocks printed on the press. In this process a small block of linoleum is typically used, you carve out the material that you don’t want to show in the design, and mount the linoleum to a wooden block. After carving out the desired design ink is rolled onto the block.

I can go on to talk about the other aspects of printing, but that is another story in its own right. Printmaking is not one solid thing. There are so many cool ways to create prints. Just from what Grace and Taylor spoke to me about I learned about lithography, etching, the printing press, and multi-block processes. It’s very interesting and I encourage everyone to experience printmaking at the future Free Press events.

♥Special thanks to Grace VanFleet, and Taylor Brown for explaining this art to me.

♥Edited by Kate Collier

♥Photos by Erin Kye


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