Printmaker in search of a etching press
December 12, 2017 7:57 AM   Subscribe

I'm a printmaker who prints everything by hand, but it's starting to cause problems. I'm looking for etching press suggestions!

I carve Readycut, which is a soft rubber from Blick Art Materials, and use a Speedball baren to make prints. (It's basically linocut, but with soft rubber instead of lino). This has been working well for several years, but my business is starting to grow now, and I'm making more prints. This is causing some stress on my body; most mornings I wake up with tingly fingers (I have a doctor appointment next week to address carpal tunnel symptoms). My back is also suffering. So I'm looking for a press!

I'm eyeing the 906 Etching Press from Blick, which looks great. The max print width is 12" though, which isn't very big.

Any printmakers who might have personal experience with a press? Ideally, I think a tabletop version would be best, but I'm willing to get something bigger if needed.
posted by sucre to Shopping (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have this one, which is a little smaller than the one you’re looking at (and a little cheaper). The Blick presses are reasonably priced and built like tanks. It’s great for printing small intaglio; less so for doing relief work, especially with something as flexible as Ready Cut. I’m not suggesting it’s impossible or even difficult; just fussy to get right.

That said, I would certainly recommend the press You’re looking at. A friend has that model and it’s so easy to use and maintain, that she regularly uses it to teach printmaking to grade school kids.

The size can be limiting; but I also have regular access to a much larger press, so it’s not that big a deal.

I hope that helps.
posted by jrchaplin at 6:51 PM on December 12, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks so much jrchaplin! Very helpful!
posted by sucre at 9:26 PM on December 12, 2017

Best answer: There's an inexpensive die cutter called the XCut Xpress with an adjustable bed height that makes it perfect for printmaking. It's around $150 if you're in the United States. Colin Blanchard has a lot of good blog posts and videos about it, and there's a Facebook group called Printmaking on the XCut Xpress full of advice and inspiration.

How thick is Readycut? I've used mine with the Speedball equivalent (Speedy Carve) and unmounted linoleum, but mounted lino blocks don't fit. A felt blanket is really helpful; I wasn't able to get consistent results in fine/detailed areas without one. If I were in the UK I would have ordered from this place to get the extended bed and blanket, but they don't ship to the US.
posted by xylothek at 4:36 AM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ooh thank you xylothek, I’ll check that out! Readycut is a bit thinner than Speedy Carve, I believe. It’s 5mm according to Blick’s site.
posted by sucre at 7:18 AM on December 13, 2017

Best answer: I have been an occasional printmaker for about 15 years and have the Blick 906. In my hands it definitely doesn't play well with soft plates. After being a kitchen-table artist for a long time, I pretty much had to rework my entire process to start making work that I was happy with when I started using the press. I'm ambivalent about the 12" wide print bed--in some senses it seems really big, in others it seems too small.

On the off chance you're in the Boston area (or in reasonable travel distance) I'm happy to let you play with it to see how you like it. Memail me!
posted by Sublimity at 7:04 PM on December 13, 2017

Response by poster: Sublimity, thank you so much! I was a little worried about pressing with the soft rubber. So maybe I need to rethink. I’m in Minneapolis, but what a nice offer- thank you!
posted by sucre at 12:08 PM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you’re on Facebook, there is an absolutely wonderful group called Linocut Friends that is exactly perfect for talking about issues like this and getting great advice. There is a huge range of experience in the group, from complete beginners to professionals with breathtaking work. Also lots of excellent discussion about every imaginable topic related to Lino (well, relief) printing. Definitely worth joining, if you need to troubleshoot.
posted by Sublimity at 7:59 AM on December 15, 2017

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