Tugboat Printshop, Pittsburgh
During my 24-hours in Pittsburgh I also got a chance to visit one of my favourite woodcut printmaking studios; Paul Roden and Valerie Lueth of Tugboat Printshop, where we chatted about woodcuts and all things print.
If you’re not familiar with their work, take a look at their site - they are an amazing duo, consistently producing amazingly detailed and vibrant prints, every one of which I’m itching to buy. Paul and Valerie live and work at their home studio, and have been making and selling prints since graduating from college. They have also produced commissions for various clients, including The Decemberists.
The pair posses a wonderful illustration style, perfectly suited to the medium they work in. Paul usually cuts the blocks from plywood sheet, after the illustration has been sketched onto the surface and marked-up.
Above: Plywood block, sketched and inked-up, ready for engraving, then proofing.
All of the work is printed using a beautiful Conrad Machine Co. press, and registration is done using a wooden jig, ensuring that each colour layer prints in exactly the right position.
Above: Tugboat Printshop’s press and front room of their home studio.
Below: Registering a print using a wooden jig (block shown is RV from the Life of Leisure series.)
Maryland Institute College of Art
While visiting Baltimore I had the pleasure of a guided tour of the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) printmaking department, courtesy of Kyle Van Horn, who teaches there.
The printmaking studios are located on campus, close to Mount Royal. In their own words, “MICA printmaking offers a broad range of studio experiences, from traditional to experimental, in our exceptional printmaking facilities.
"The department’s approach to the four major printmaking disciplines - relief, intaglio, lithography, and screenprinting - is fine art based, allowing students to realise their personal vision."
They offer intaglio, letterpress, screenprint and lithography printmaking, as well as a well-equipped papermaking studio and other facilities: dark room, plate-making, film output studio.
My visit, unfortunately, coincided with the start of the end-of-year shows and so I didn’t get a chance to see the studios in action. They have loads of space, I think they’re probably the biggest printmaking studios I’ve seen that belong to a higher education institution.
It was also quite interesting to see that stone lithography is indeed alive and well at MICA - it might be my own personal experience of the medium, but it doesn’t seem too popular and/or represented as much as, say, etching or screenprinting is in the UK.
Papermaking also seems to have quite a presence here; again, more than I think we have back home (although I could be wrong - are there any HE institutions in the UK that cater for papermaking on the scale as MICA etc?)
Many thanks to Kyle and MICA for the opportunity to visit!