Printmaking can be messy and take up a lot of space, but with a little planning, you can easily print at home. Whether you store your equipment in boxes and print at the kitchen table or are lucky enough to have a craft room or art studio at home, these are our tips for setting up a home printmaking studio space.
Divide your printing space into four zones:
STORAGE | PREPARATION | PRINTING | DRYING
Often these spaces can double up so that you might design and cut your stencil on the same table that you use for printing. The important thing is to clear up between each process and always work in a clean and clear space.
“A well organised printing space is easier to work in than a messy disorganised space.”
A mixture of cupboards, shelves, hooks, pegboard, trolleys and boxes makes it easy to store and find your tools and equipment.
Inks should be stored upright, out of direct sunshine. Make sure the lids are screwed on properly so that the inks don’t dry out.
Hang rollers from a hook or stand handle end down in a container. Don’t leave the rubber resting on anything as it may damage the surface and make sure they’re dry before you store them.
Protect the rubber strip of squeegees by storing them flat or upended. Alternatively, screw an eye hook into one end and hang them from a peg.
Stand or stack screens face to face and back to back, making sure they can’t be damaged by sharp objects or heavy items sitting on top of them.
Paper and fabric should be stored somewhere dry and clean, out of direct light.
Keep sharp tools such as lino cutting tools in the box they came in, in a fabric roll or upright in a stand. Make sure the blades of knives are retracted or covered.
Store inks, solvents and sharp blades safely; blades should be covered and all should be kept away from children.
Each printmaking technique has its own preparation requirements, so although you may be cutting out stencils for screen printing, cutting lino or etching Perspex sheets for drypoint, the basic requirements are the same.
Choose a sturdy desk, workbench or table at a height that’s comfortable for you, depending on whether you prefer to stand or sit. Protect your work surface with a cutting mat if you’re using sharp implements. Good lighting is essential.
Again, different printing methods have different requirements, but you will need a large, flat table or workbench that’s the correct height, with good lighting and ventilation. Lay a yoga mat or stack of magazines on your worktable if you need a softer surface for printing.
Remove anything that you don’t need and make sure the surface is clean.
Organise your printing area according to your workflow. You may want to have your clean paper on the left, your printing plate in the middle and your inks on the right, depending on how you work. Leave room to set down your finished print.
Plan where to lay down inky palette knives, rollers and tubes of ink.
How will you keep you and your equipment clean while you’re working? Do you need a box of wet wipes or paper towels? Will a bowl of water be sufficient or do you need to be close to a sink? What facilities do you need to clean up at the end of a session?
Your drying area should be warm, dry and clean with enough room to keep each print separate so that they don’t stick together.
Set your prints to dry away from the print area to avoid accidental splashes and spillages.
Dry your prints flat on a table, the floor (not where you might tread on them) or on a stack of cooling racks used for baking.
If you prefer to hang your prints to dry, use clothes pegs or bulldog clips to suspend them from a drying rail or washing line.
Commercial drying racks are expensive but there are plenty of DIY alternatives on Pinterest.
Printed fabric can be pegged outside on a dry day.
No matter how much room you can allocate to your home printmaking studio space, a little organisation makes it easy to print at home.
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