Printmaking with Double Elephant Print Workshop

Simon washing the screens in preparation for printing

A couple of weeks ago I travelled to Exeter to work with Debbie and Sara at the Double Elephant Print Workshop, observing the processes they are using to produce two limited edition prints.  At this early stage where the artists are still developing ideas it was interesting to observe the artists working out the possibilities of print and how they might use it to create a print version of their usual work.

Test prints drying in paper rack

Throughout the project the artists have typically worked by building up mixed media layers, Sara working with paint, charcoal and gesso in contrast to Debbie’s precise lines, drawn using the GPS drawing machine. Usually the final pieces are comprised of numerous layers (a minimum of 8 and in some cases a maximum of 20) that are passed back and forth between the artists until there is a natural conclusion. In this case however, they are limited by a tight time-frame in which they have to learn as much, and as quickly as possible, about the vast array of print processes, and then, experiment with these and their various combinations before settling on the final methods and layers needed. The development of the work requires a different kind of forward planning, with considerations and decisions to be made before beginning.

Discarded pieces used to mask print
Discarded pieces used to mask print

The artists are planning to use just three layers to create the final print (as the prints must be easily reproduced for the editions). Working alongside Simon Ripley, one of the very knowledgeable printmakers at DEPW, the day has been spent experimenting with layering up different print techniques such as etching and silk screen-printing, using various images as starting points, such as the GPS lines, video stills and farming paraphernalia.

Photo etchings – prints from last time to use as starting points


Considerations are being made along the way with the sequence of each layer, the type of ink, the colours, the paper and the print method itself, all of which will affect the final results. It’s a fascinating process to watch with lots of stages along the way. Debbie and Sara are keen to explore the possibilities of combining intaglio and relief printmaking to test the potential of print as a developmental process which can inform their collaborative works. The creation of these limited edition prints have been supported by Double Elephant Print Workshop, ACE funding and the Thelma Hulbert Gallery in anticipation of their upcoming exhibition in the autumn.

I’m definitely looking forward to catching up with the artists to see what the final outcome will be!

Lynn and Sara pull masks off of screen after revealing print.

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