Printmaking, of all my creative mediums, has the strongest grasp on my heart, and I find the many processes enthralling, entrancing and absorbing – with each stage undertaken with bated breath. Whether it be immersing a carefully drawn plate into a bath of acid, or seeing all the collage/cuts into a collagraph plate unified with their coat of button polish, or an exposed screen revealing itself in the washout booth, these points in time are a mix of excitement and trepidation. And with all these techniques, there is a a gap between drawing, processing and then the inking that reveals a certain spontaneity that is hard to replicate find elsewhere.
Etchings, drypoint and collagraphs are my favourite of the printmaking techniques, and although very different techniques are in their creation, the inking up process connects them all. This process is called intaglio and is characterised by pushing ink into the drawn, cut or collaged lines. Beautifully thick paper (usually Fabriano or Somerset Satin) is soaked and blotted, then placed over the plate, which is then rolled through a press (I use the beautiful Rochat Press at Leicester Print Workshop). Then and only then does your image fully reveal itself, reversed in all it’s inky glory.
Last year I was delighted to be Artist in Residence at Leicester Print Workshop, relearning the etching process and studying the work of 1950’s Illustrator and printmaker Suzanne Balkanyi. This residency was generously funded by The Suzanne Balkanyi Trust, and I learn so much from studying her prints and plates – from the complexities of theetching process, and building up different depths of line, to how she captured the residents of Paris, and the animals of the Paris Zoo (where she was Artist in Residence) with such delicacy, gentle humour and astuteness. You can read more about Suzanne and her work here, and see more of her work for sale at Emma Mason Prints.
As you can see, printmaking is a labour of love for me. It is also a family and friends collaboration, as, although I love creating the plates hidden away at home, the printing process is one that requires assistance, and I do feel fortunate that I have my lovely husband who acts as my technician – and does all the clean work – from cutting the paper, to soaking it, placing, and then running the whole print through the press. I was also lucky enough to be assisted on my residency by the fantastic Katy Goodrich, who helped me in ways too innumerable to mention, and was my travelling companion on the journey through the residency.
My prints are for sale, and I am in the process of organising an online shop (after the sad news of the closure of Cank Street Gallery, who used to represent me). At present, my work can be found at my current exhibition ‘Illustrated Worlds’ at The Old Curiosity Bookshop and Tearoom in Hathern, but if you seek a particular print, or wish to commission a new piece, please contact me.