BIG INK 

Large Woodcut Print Sessions
Dates of workshop: June 3rd – 4th, 2017
Exhibit Dates: June 2 – July 15

3S Artspace and BIG INK invites artists and community members of all ages to witness the wonder of fine art printmaking in action. Over the course of two days, visual artists from the seacoast region and beyond will converge at 3S Artspace to print giant hand-carved woodblocks on BIG INK’s 4’ x 8’ mobile printing press. The press, appropriately named, “The Big Tuna,” is a one-of-a-kind piece of printing equipment that travels to museums, arts centers, festivals, and schools up and down the East Coast. The rain or shine event, located at 3S Artspace’s gallery at 319 Vaughan St. in Portsmouth, is free and open to the public from 10 am – 5 pm. Additionally, 3S Artspace will be curating an exhibition of BIG INK prints that feature past artists which will be on display from June 2nd until July 15th. The opening reception for the exhibition is June 2nd from 5-8pm, and is also free and open to the public. 

BIG INK, located in Florence, MA, has collaborated with creative organizations across the country. BIG INK’s director Lyell Castonguay has provided the means and equipment to produce countless woodblocks prints by over a hundred artists since the project’s inception in 2012. This event is sponsored by 3S Artspace, a Portsmouth nonprofit arts organization that combines the only midsize, flexible performance space of its kind in the area, a large, non-commercial gallery, and an affordable and approachable restaurant serving as a local hub, ideal as a gathering place for patrons and locals alike. 

Woodblock is the oldest form of printing. The process involves carving an image into the face of plywood to create low-relief handcrafted stamp. The areas that display ‘white’ on the finished print are cut away from the face of the plywood using a chisel. This leaves the original surface level of the plywood to define certain areas of the finished print as ‘black.’ The surface level of the wood is then covered with ink by way of a roller. Once inked, the wood is impressed into paper by means of “The Big Tuna” which transfers the ink resulting in a finished woodblock print.

“We're excited to show how this traditional art form is being practiced in innovative and exciting ways,” said Castonguay. “We're essentially printing these amazingly complex giant hand carved stamps which take months to create.” The event at 3S Artspace will include 13 participating artists that live locally or as far away as Rhode Island and Ohio. 

Those in attendance at the event will also have the opportunity to choose from a variety of smaller hand carved woodblock designs which they can ink and print to create their own mini masterpieces. “Inking a woodblock, printing it through ‘The Big Tuna’ and seeing the final image is a wonderful and rewarding experience,” says Jeffrey Fay of Willimantic, CT. Fay will be printing his 24” x 48” woodblock at 3S Artspace. He adds, “When you show your art making and get the community to actively participate, it’s a winning combination. It creates a deeper appreciation for the creative process.”