As you all know, Saturday I went to a Surface Printing Workshop at Lotta Jansdotter’s Brooklyn Studio. To sum it up in three words: hands-on, experimental, inspiring!
Her studio is located in the industrial Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn and has high lofted ceilings with huge windows, which provide an ample amount of natural light. You enter through the “shop” portion of her Work+Shop and are immediately greeted by natural linens screen printed with floral imagery, striped and polka dot pouches, textiles with simple designs and interesting color palettes, candles decorated with cute illustrations of flowers, colorful stationary, fabric calendars, even ceramics decorated with Lotta’s icionic imagery.
Taking in all of the colors and designs, one is immediately filled with inspiration and a desire to create things. Her shop exudes her personality and design style, right down to the plants on the floor and the window decals of bottles, vases and bowls whose shapes echo the plants on the windowsill.
We got started with the workshop right away, as Lotta wanted us to be able to have as much time as possible. We started with a round of introductions – there were eight of us in the class – and talked a bit about our backgrounds. Although there were a couple textile designers and a graphic designer, the class was very diversified in careers, interests, age and even location, but the one thing that brought everyone together was a desire to create. Regardless of what our backgrounds were, Lotta made us all feel welcome and excited to be there.
During the four hour workshop, Lotta showed us three different techniques for printing by hand. We started with the most basic printing method. Can you guess what it was? I’m sure you tried this when you were in elementary or middle school. Yup! Potato printing! Who would have thought that a professional surface designer uses potato printing as a method of creating designs? As Lotta stressed throughout the entire workshop, you don’t need to use fancy equipment or come up with an elaborate design in order to produce an interesting print. Going back to the basics and using simple elements and techniques can get those creative juices flowing and you may find something in that potato print that is really exciting.
The next method we experimented with was block printing. This is when you draw a design on a linoleum or rubber block and carve away the negative space. Then you apply ink to it and what prints is the raised surface that you left on the block. I liked this method better than the potato because the rubber was much easier to carve and you can achieve finer details. I also just really liked carving out the rubber! It has a meditative quality to it. We printed on notebooks and stationary cards using this method.
The last method of printing we learned was stenciling. In some of the printing books I’ve bought, they talked about all of these different types of papers to use for stenciling, so I had no idea what to get in the store. Lotta, however, just used transparency paper. So simple! With this method, you can create cleaner lines in your design, which appealed to my perfectionist side. With this method, we switched to fabric and printed on tote bags.
I think I enjoyed the stenciling the most because I walked away with something I can actually use!
This workshop was a really great experience. Lotta was so nice and helpful and was more than willing to give us as much information as she could, not only in regards to printmaking, but also to running a small business. I also really liked her approach to teaching. She showed us methods that we can just as easily do at home with inexpensive tools and materials. Her hope was that we walk away with the confidence and inspiration to continue to print at home. I left yesterday with so many new ideas in my head. I have a burning desire to continue to create things by hand…and I want to start today! So, I’m off to the art supply store to purchase all the tools I need to do my own block printing and stenciling!
I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience! I’m so excited to continue to share my creations with you! (And I’d love to hear your feedback too!)
Stay Curious & Creative! xo…Alane
(All photographs are taken by me, Alane Gianetti)