Tian Gan | Printmaking & Design
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Tian Gan's Printmaking Blog

Tian Gan's design and printmaking blog. The Stockholm-based artist writes about her work process.

Ghetto Printing 101


It's not until I started pulling prints that I realized how tiny our apartment is. Only after a couple of prints I find myself standing on a tiny piece of floor with no where to move my feet.

The inking of rollers (I used two; above is the softer and smaller Speedball one) happened on the kitchen counter; the actual printing process - as you can see above - took place on the table (minus the table cloth). The lights in our kitchen actually proved to be a much better option compared with the unreliable and often non-existent Scandinavian winter daylight.


Here's a sneak peek of the lower part of the print. I focused on a part of the print at a time when proofing and tried to adjust the amount of ink and pressure applied during the printing process. Small changes were also made to the design at this stage.

I planned on using the bamboo spoon (you can see it in the first image) as a baren and was disappointed. I used Japanese Yamashiro paper, and the spoon gave too much pressure within a very small pressure point, causing uneven ink. I then ended up using my hand - I wrapped cling film on my hand (so that I didn't get ink on my hands or tear the paper), then used my palm to ease down the paper onto the block. The paper is very thin and not so much pressure is required before you see the image clearly on its back.

In the working proof above, not enough ink was rolled out and the print was far from perfect. But this is my first linocut print and the learning process is a big part of the fun.


Fully-inked block.

Bearing the idea of ghetto printing in heart, I bought a picture frame from a second-hand shop, sanded it a bit and painted it black. I used acrylic paint and then a layer of matte coat. On the end of the table is the salt bottle which I experimented with as a baren (and which didn't work as one), and the lens cap of my camera.


I kept on printing until late into night. The learning curve was a bit unpredictable and I managed to get a couple of good prints now and then, until my paper supply ran out. I used both Yamashiro paper (the three prints further away in the picture below) and Hosho paper (the closest one). I personally liked Yamashiro more - its texture adds so much more to the design. Admittedly the shrinkage after drying is a problem I'm fighting with today. I'll write about it in my next post!