Printfest 2017 – Ulverston UK

I had a fabulous day visiting the Printfest exhibition in Ulverston this Saturday accompanied by fellow printmaker Clare Phelan.

The range and quality of the work that was on exhibition was very impressive. The venue itself  well designed and set up. Walking around it was an enjoyable experience.

There are links to a number of the exhibition printmakers websites included on this page so please do check them out.


The highlights for me were the work of Fouzia Zafar – Printmakers Printmaker. She has a fascinating approach to printmaking, and generates work which is emotional and evocative. A couple of her prints can be seen here : website

It was really great to meet Jason Hicklin, Printmaker of the Year, who was actually  one of Fouzia Zafar’s tutors. Jason will be speaking as a guest tutor in a few weeks time down at Hot Bed Press. I am looking forward to gleaning some top etching tips from him. I will be doing a blog entry on this session too.

Printmakers to add to my watch list

Joanna Bourne – Newcastle based printmaker who’s work we,(Clare Phelan, Suzy Robson and I), admired at the Reghed print exhibition. She uses such lovely understated muted colours that give her work a real dreamy soft atmosphere.  Clare couldn’t resist a wee purchase from this printmaker to take home.

Annwyn Dean – Embroider, Book Artist & printmaker . I loved this work, and couldn’t help but think of Barbara Johns, a fellow printmaker at Hot Bed. I will pass this link on to her. You can look at her work on her website

Alex Mcintosh – Printmaker / Photographer pushing photoetching to new heights and creating new worlds to fall into! Definitely one to watch.

Something different

Now here is a different approach  – In dialog is two artists : Carol Pairaudeau and Paula Gamble-Schwarz .They explain that they are “ involved in an ongoing drawing conversation. Starting with an agreed theme, the artists independently begin to develop their response to the theme, working in a range of media. However, before the work reaches a conclusion the two artists exchange work. Without discussion, leaving each piece they exchange to speak for itself. Each artist then works directly on the piece that they have received. This exchange process continues until one of the artists feels that a piece of work is complete. The work is then framed and presented, rather than exchanged.”

Anja Percival creates moody, photorealist etchings with her own approach to etching see :  A Plate Etch in Progress

Chris Salmon  creates such beautiful etched images, not cheesy or cute despite often depicting cats dogs goats & children. I fell in love with the image of his big cat, George, a girl cat of course. She has such a fab expression. An etching titled ‘Pole cats’ was another favourite, but its an old & popular etching and I think he’s only one left. I have seen it before, at a close friends house. I tempted to break into my savings.

Loads of other fabulous artists – check out the line up:

Saltaire Event

Clare Phelan and I decided to try out the Saltaire Arts & Crafts Exhibition in Spring 2017.

This is a lovely venue in the beautiful Victoria Hall in Saltaire town centre, loads of amazing talented makers, and good footfall.

The weather, however, just never stopped changing, one minute it was roasting and the next thunder and hail.

We used our grid wall display – first time, we were quite pleased with it, although we only managed it with help from our partners.

We put on Geli Print – try it out sessions, at regular intervals through out the day which was greatly enjoyed by a variety of ages and generated lots of interest in this printing process.

Will I do it again? – possibly, but I think the arts trail in houses might suit artists better than the fair in the hall itself.

Etching and Collagraph Printing Basics

Etching Press

Hand-Made Prints

Here I briefly describe two main printing processes which I employ in my work; etching and collagraph.

My hand made prints are totally different to giclee & other mass produced reproductions confusingly also called prints. In brief, I make a plate, ink it up, put it on the etching bed of my press. I cover it with damped paper, lay blankets on top. I then hand wind the bed through the rollers of my press to transfer the image from plate to paper. Printmaking this way is an uncertain, exciting, frustrating and messy process with no guaranteed outcome!


For etchings and drypoint processes I use sheet aluminium, zinc or steel and a copper sulphate saline etching solution. The back of the plate is protected by parcel tape & various soft & hard grounds applied to the front and scratches & marks made through them to the metal surface. I have used photo-etch processes to transfer images too, sometimes in multiple layers onto one plate. Then I submerge the plate in the etching solution allowing it to bite into the unprotected metal areas generating indentations. It is these indentations and the way they hold ink which ultimately form the image . Usually a plate will have multiple sessions in the etching solution with grounds removed & reapplied each time. After each session,  I  check the image by making a test print to determine the requirements of the next etching phase.


A collagraph plate is made from a collage of materials glued onto a support which is usually a piece of thin cardboard or mount board. I use different types of papers, fabrics, plastics, fillers, carborundum(fine grit), plant materials, adhesives, paint. Sometimes, I resort to a blow torch or soldering iron to produce an image on the plate. Many of the collagraph plates I make are fragile and have a very limited life span. My print runs are usually very short editions rarely more than 10 and often just one offs. Even the way I ink the same plate can make the resulting print very different.

Inking the plate

I use intaglio inks to ink up both collagraph and etching the plates. Initially a lot of ink pushed and spread over to get in all the nooks and crannies. Then excess ink is wiped away using scrim and newsprint and tissue. This wiping process has a big impact on the final image and can be a long trail and error process.

Printing the plate

The inked plate is then placed ink side up on the bed of the press and damp paper laid on top. Tissue paper & blankets are carefully laid over the damp paper & plate and the whole pile wound through the rollers of the press and the pressure forces the ink onto the paper.

The Reveal

You never quite know what you will find when you take off the blankets and carefully pull the paper away from the plate – no two prints are ever the same! Often a plate needs further work before I am happy with the prints it produces.

Antique fair ground merry-go-round horses head.
Antique cast iron fair ground horses head used as weight


I carefully dry my damp prints between clean dry layers of blotting paper interleaved with corrugated boards and flattened down with a piece of ply board with a heavy weight on top. In my case I use an old Iron fair ground horse head!