Poundland Printmaking: Travels with a portable printmaking.

Jim McBride

Research output: Non-textual formWeb publication/site

Abstract

For some time I have been making and printing hand-made rubber stamps. I buy cheap pencil erasers and cut into them using different tools, then print the results using a stamp pad. I realised I could devise together a kind of portable printing kit, since I commute over a long distance to Edinburgh College of Art. This kit comprises of a rubber stamp pad, ruler and some erasers. It also has a linoleum cutting tool, brush,hobby knife and a small sketchbook to print on. I liked being able to go into discount shops to buy the erasers to print with. I think it is possible to make interesting work from cheap everyday materials.

When I buy these cheap erasers from a shop like “Poundland” I know that a shop like this represents affordable, instant gratification.These discount shops are in every town centre. They sit beside charity shops competing ruthlessly for every pound. Walking into a pound shop isn't at all like walking into a specialist art materials store with their air of specialism and access to creativity at a price.

Making a rubber stamp by hand takes some concentration. First I draw the image on the eraser with a pen or pencil before carving the block. When carving the block of eraser I have to work within a small 5x2cm space, cutting the synthetic rubber with a sharp knife. Cutting the rubber is very pleasant. The tool glides through the material very easily, with very little pressure applied. It is possible to carve very expressive lines in this surface. The technique is related to another form of relief print, the linoleum-cut. Unlike wood, linoleum has no grain, so the cutting tool can go unimpeded in any direction on its surface.

I have also been making stamps from a material with the faintly amusing name of “SpeedyCarve” manufactured by Speedball. Purchased from an online stamp supplier, this material comes in larger sheets which I call “the pink stuff”, since it has a fleshy pink colour. Why is comes in this colour is a mystery, though preparatory ink and pencil lines show up very clearly. It is also very easy to carve and cut into, though lacks the pleasing grittiness and grainy quality of an eraser print. Though this material is the expensive version of a cheap eraser it allows me to make larger stamps.

I have ran a couple of stamp-making workshops with students in the ECA Illustration Dept. What was interesting was how quickly work could be produced. Since a rubber stamp can be used hundred of times, students were producing sheets of repeat- patterns as well as single prints. Several students were surprised that a good quantity of work could be produced in a short time. I think the gap between thinking and doing is less with a rubber stamp, and perhaps this allows a more spontaneous production of work.

There is more for me to do with stamping, and I would like to make a edition of books of some sort containing my stamps. Rubber stamp ink (also known as endorsing ink) isn’t lightfast. It will fade quite quickly when exposed to daylight. Containing the prints in a book should prevent this from happening.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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