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The Bluecoat Print Studios. Laura Weston Printmaker and Peter Layton Glassmaker.

September 30, 2013

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It was a gloriously sunny day in Liverpool last friday and I was off to catch up with my printmaker friend Laura Weston. I’ve blogged about Laura’s work previously here. I got a little distracted by a visit to see Grand Central. Formally a Methodist church, it now houses a collection of small businesses who keep the student goths, punks and indie / vintage hipsters happy. It’s quite a building inside, with a strong nod to the Art Nouveau movement.

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From there I went to Bluecoat Display Centre and saw a rather wonderful collection of the work of glassmaker Peter Layton. I hadn’t come across his work before and marvelled at his amazing use of colour and form.

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Upstairs in the Bluecoat I caught up with artist Laura Weston and Studio Manager, Frances Disley who has recently taken over the running of all the print facilities there. They have a well organised Intaglio studio…

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and a second room where you can do screen printing. It’s a wonderful resource and Frances mentioned that they try to be a very green thinking space, using only water based products to print with.

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Very kindly, Laura let me take a few shots of her inking up one of her engraved plates, and printing off a small edition. It was fascinating. The plate is cleaned and then inked. The scrunched up cloths above are called Scrim, and using a rotating movement, help to ease the ink into the engraved design on the plate. The excess ink is then cleaned off, using various pieces of paper and finally, a fine tissue paper. The plate is then ready to print with. The paper to be printed has previously been soaking in a water bath and is the excess water is squeegeed off and then placed between stacks of blotting paper, to take off the final moisture.

The plate is placed face up onto the bed of the press and the paper is placed on top. A variety of firm blankets are then layered over the top and the whole collection then runs through the printing press. You can see Laura spinning the wheel, it looks quite an energetic process.

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The moment of truth when the print is revealed. Laura showed me a second process called Chine-collé which is a special technique in printmaking, in which the image is transferred to a surface that is bonded to a heavier support in the printing process. In this case it was two yellow pieces of Japanese tissue paper, that were glued and then carefully placed glue side up onto the inked plate. The idea being that the force of the press glues the tissue to the watercolour paper and then the ink is printed on top. It’s quite a delicate and tricky process. Laura seemed to master the technique well and her prints looked amazing.

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Here’s a few more of her beautiful prints, available from places like Staacks Gallery in West Kirby or from Laura directly. If you want to find out more about printing in Liverpool’s Bluecoat then contact Francis Disley using or check out their programme of print related classes and events on their site here. Thanks to both Laura and Francis for the guided tour through the print studios and techniques.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2013 1:36 pm

    You always put in a tremendous amount of effort and inspiration in every one of your posts and I appreciate it. You do all the legwork and the rest of us get to sit back and enjoy!

    • September 30, 2013 2:21 pm

      So kind of you to say so. Fortunately I do get a lot out of doing it too : )

  2. September 30, 2013 3:29 pm

    that place is exploding with creativity. I’d love to visit!

  3. September 30, 2013 7:25 pm

    Oh my…look at that press….

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