Tag Archives: letterpress

Inside the Artist’s Studio with KS Lack

I started working with letterpress almost eight years ago, when I was looking for a way to print a mixed-media piece for a gallery in Brooklyn. I fell in love with the medium:  the richness of the inks, the juxtaposition of typography and imagery, how different paper types interact with ink and pressure—the list goes on. There are so many ways to create something unique, even if you are making multiples.

I also write poetry and both facets of my work have a profound influence on one another. There is poetry in presswork. Nothing makes you understand the weight of words like laying them out by hand.

Laying out type at the London Centre for Book Arts

Laying out type at the London Centre for Book Arts

Squall and Sunset, the two pieces featured in the Land and Sea exhibition, were printed at the London Centre for Book Arts. The prints were created on a Stephenson Blake press, a manufacturer that is common in the UK but rare in the US. For a pressure print, the ink is applied to a base instead of onto the rollers. The paper is then rolled over the ink, and the weight of the press is what makes the print. The cylinder on this Stevie B is very heavy, which makes for great pressure. As for inks, the LCBA has a wonderful collection of vintage, oil-based inks that were great fun to play with.

Some of the vintage orange inks at the LCBA

Some of the vintage orange inks at the LCBA

Printers love this Stevie B model because it has a very wide bed. This let me print on 22-inch squares (I used Redeem 130gsm, a 100% recycled paper), which are quite large for a single letterpress page. I printed each piece four times; the paper became so supersaturated with ink that it took over a week to dry.

Prints drying on the racks

Prints drying on the racks

Finished prints

Finished prints

Then I took the plunge and cut each sheet into four strips.

Cut down to size

Cut down to size

While living in the UK, I was particularly struck by the vitality of the countryside. Everything seemed so lush—the sea off Cornwall, fields of grass and hay with poppies growing by the side of the road, summer sunsets and rainy days—it was all on my mind as I mixed and applied the ink.

The individual strips were getting overwhelmed when mounted with traditional matboard. I decided to use acrylic for the front and back, allowing the vibrancy of the inks to stand out. I also like how the colors seem to float within the frame when hung on a wall. 

RBR  for R&T

RBR for R&T

Green Flash

Green Flash

As a person with a long-term disability, I find there is a lot of synergy between my art and how I try to live my life. Working on a press could be all about its limitations. Instead, I find that the structure inherent in presswork grants me greater freedom by giving me something to lean on. I may not always be able to hold a pen, but I can create something beautiful by working within the constraints of the press in order to transcend them.

You can find out more about my work at my website: www.zitternpress.com.


KS Lack is one of 28 artists featured in “Land & Sea”, a national juried exhibition of landscapes and seascapes juried by Deirdre Aureden, director of programs and special projects at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, NY. The exhibition runs through June 29, 2018.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jenna Rodriguez: An Educator, Papermaker, Printmaker, and Book Artist

I have been an artist and art educator for the past 8 years. The past year and half I was the Victor Hammer Fellow at Wells College Book Arts Center in Aurora, NY. The fellowship allowed me to teach fifty percent of the time and create my own body of work fifty percent of the time.

My work focuses on creating a sense of place within my current geographical location. I attempt to connect with the local community while exploring the public and private experience of social engagement to create work that inspires self-reflection, thoughts, and human connection. Through the use of language and social engagement in the public sphere, I explore everyday life, which opens a dialogue, allowing me to investigate different avenues to create narratives. I seek to give our private thoughts a voice, and our public thoughts an amplifier. By giving them a voice, it empowers their creators and allows us to stop, listen, enjoy and realize that everyone, all around us, drinks from the same cup of humanness. I considers myself a collector, observer, and artist.

Different Spaces  I Create In

When I lived in Chicago I collected authentic thoughts that occur while in commute on public transportation. I asked every stranger that sat next to me on the train to participate. I transformed the project in a letterpress Printed Accordion Book with a downloadable soundscape and a video installation. You can view both pieces here: Running Thoughts

Cayuga Nation: Now & Then is a three hole pamphlet stitch book structure and was offset printed. I printed this book during a residency I had at Columbia College Chicago in the Center for Book and Paper Arts.  Three weeks after I moved to the shores of Cayuga Lake, the local gas station was barricaded with trucks, police and members of the local Cayuga Tribe. This event inspired me to explore the long history of the Cayuga Nation and the events that lead to the recent conflict within the tribe itself. Depending on which cover you open first you receive a different story. One side of the book tells the “Now” story (current issues) and the other side tells the “Then” story (history) of the tribe. I created this two-sided artist book to showcase my own observations, experiences, and research on the Cayuga Nation.

My most recent project is called Still. It memorializes roadkill I encountered in the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York. Moving from Chicago, IL to Aurora, NY I was overwhelmed with my daily encounter of roadkill. The book transforms into a creative non-fiction narrative allowing me to connect with my environment. The deceased animals were found on my daily commute and treated with respect. The cover is handmade paper to resemble asphalt. The book proceeds with an image of crows around an animal to represent the flight of their soul. Following is a pullout map indicating where animals were found. Animals are letterpress printed in two colors with linoleum blocks and polymer plates. A veterinarian allowed me to take x-rays, which are printed on transparent paper with vertical text stating statistics about roadkill. Each animal has an obituary that states factual and humorous information with a pullout photograph showing the crime scene and the longitude and latitude. At the end of the project a private ceremony was held where the animals were buried on an island to pay respect and give thanks.

My Process for “Still”

Final Product

This project has turned into something much larger than only an artist book. I have created handmade paper using the animals, I created an animation about the animals, I created screen-prints of the animals and then did embroidery work on top of the  prints. All of this work will be in a solo exhibition called Still at The String Room Gallery at Wells College in Aurora, NY. If you you are in the area you should come for the opening in Mid April.

View Jenna’s artwork online at www.jennarodriguez.com. Stop by Main Street Arts to see Jenna’s artwork in our current exhibition, Ink and Paper. The exhibition is up through Friday, March 25. Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by book artist Alicia Taylor.