BC Art with Linda Thomas: Beginning printmaking class

Linda Thomas, an Arts professor at BC, shows the Printmaking class a panoramic view of a shoe box full of tissue paper.

After asking what they did with their weekend, she asks, “Who’s ready to print?”

A few raise their hands. Thomas says she’ll show them the demo later, but for now they’ll be given time to work.

Right now, they’re doing a method called “intaglio,” in which you cut grooves into a metal, pour over ink and wet paper to go over the piece. The materials used are copper plates, scratching tools, burnishes, and de-burring tools. The de-burring tools take away the ridges and edges off the copper plates.

Plastic gloves are necessary for the ink stage. One student spends five minutes at the sink trying to rid his hands of the stain. He says that coming up with designs is his favorite part of class. He wishes to remain anonymous for an “air of mystery.”

Another student, Naomi, says that her favorite thing is that the class “forces you to think of things in a different perspective…you have to reverse the drawing process. Sometimes you have to carve stuff out each time you make a new print, so that you’re layering stuff. It made me think about the process in a different way.”

They’re paired in groups of three for an intaglio project in which all three do different parts of a body. None of the group members are allowed to see the other parts until all the finished parts come together.

The class has a fun atmosphere. People are talking as they work, many smiling (a good sign!).

The slideshow is the only hint of a traditional classroom setting. Still, it’s different: People continue working on their projects during the presentation or wash their hands or plainly listening. No one takes notes, but there’s almost a question for every slide.

The setting of the room is also different than that of a typical class: The class has white, lab-like tables.

On the class, Thomas says that “it’s really fun to help students find a new technique for them to express their ideas. It’s fun to see them excited about learning new techniques. It’s fun to help them solve problems, and it’s fun to see them solve problems themselves as well.”

There are no perquisites for the class, though Thomas thinks “this would be a hard first art class for most students.”