Slinging Ink at Summer Camp

Faculty Guest Blogger: Christine Medley

Christine Medley: Last July, I attended my second Wells Books Arts Summer Institute. This week-long camp for artists offers various workshops in letterpress, calligraphy, papermaking, book arts and more. I chose to attend Letterpress Posters with Big Wood Type, taught by Amos Kennedy. The two main reasons I chose this workshop; one, I’ve been showing Amos’ documentary, Proceed and Be Bold, to my design classes for a few years because his social issues messages are right on and he’s a fascinating artist-printer; second, Wells has an amazing collection of wood type, and I wanted to play.

The first day, the 11 of us did a collaborative print to get warmed up, then we dove into our own projects where we were directed to create variety by experimentation. Normally, a printmaker strives to make an edition where each print matches exactly. Not this time. This week was an energetic wild ride, where we cranked out an amazing amount of work (see our exhibition wall at the top of this page). At the end of the week, we had a print exchange, so we all went home with 10 works made by the other artists and one poster by Amos. I displayed our exchange at my letterpress shop, The Workshop in Downtown Scranton, PA, for the August and September Scranton First Friday walks.


I made this garden print because I was currently battling all the critters in my yard dining on everything I had planted. Amos found a bunch of raspberry image cuts which were perfect for my idea since my yard is filled with wild black raspberries. I also used what’s called pressure printing that involves stencils to create ornamental shapes. The image sequence below gives you the idea of how I made it. I was going for variety, so I played with different background options.

garden series1garden series2

This mid-century fashion print was inspired by the Globe fashion plate loaned to me by Marywood’s beloved, now retired printmaking professor, Peter Hoffer. It appears to be a plate from a newspaper ad that probably ran in the 50s or 60s for the old Globe store in Scranton. After digging around in the basement of the Wells Book Arts Center, I found the “Everything” wood cut. So perfect to put these together. Below shows the sequence of how I printed this, again involving pressure printing using starburst designs I cut out of paper. This print took me about 8 hours. I printed around 40 on 4 different Vandercook presses—Wells has 10.




Detail of My Favorite

And just in case you didn’t get enough photos, here are some shots from Wells showing the Vandercook presses, Amos in his uniform (overalls and pink shirt), and a video of our “certificate of achievement prints” being battered in the wind while they dry.



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