I cannot tell you the history of this structure located on Harbour Drive in St. John’s, Newfoundland. I’m sure if you google the name you can find it. I want to tell you about my experience doing a print making course with Mike Connolly who has been there for 11 years.
I signed up for the 4 night $250 course with the hopes that someone from Torbay would be in the course and Id be able to hitch a ride. That didn’t happen. On the first night we did a monoprint using plexiglass and there was only Marguerite and myself. She lives close to downtown so I was stuck doing some things I don’t like doing such as driving downtown after supper and leaving my vehicle unattended for 3 hours!
The second night Chuck showed up and we did linoprints. We carved images into the pieces of linoleum and inked them up. We each took our turns using the brayer and press. Band aids were ready in case we cut our fingers but there were no mishaps that night. During the first night we put black ink on the glass with a brayer and rubbed off what we wanted white or shaded, using rags, cardboard, toothpicks etc. This class we brought images and tried to cut lines using various sharp tools, remembering that the images would be reversed and the cut out parts would be white.
On the third night we learned about sanding down copper in preparation for etching it. I love trees so my copper had a big tree and some bushes and hills etched into it. After inking the copper and running it through the press, we could improve parts of the etching and then ink up the copper, then run it through the press a second time. My tree was too thin half way down so I etched to make it look fuller. I really liked my tree when it was printed the second time. I also joined up some limbs that seemed to be just floating away from the tree! Thanks Mike for all your good suggestions. I can see why you stayed at SMP so long. You’re a born teacher!
I nearly missed my 4th class as my sister in law died and I thought I had to go to the west coast. But after I read the obituary I realized I could leave the morning after the class. I really didn’t want to miss this class as the three of us were doing a lithograph together. Preparing the limestone had already been done by Mike so we were ready to get educated about how grease and water don’t mix and we learned about the various mediums to use to draw on the limestone slab, how to mix the acid and other liquid to allow the etching to take place after we drew our trees, clouds, trail, rocks and bushes. We learned how to set up the press and how to wet the slab before and after each inking. It was a long process and I really respect printmakers who use many rounds of etching and different color inks. It is very tiring and while Mike did most of the inking, he let us try it once. We did all of the sponging and etching. By 9 p.m. I was ready to call it a night but we had clean up and then we said our goodbyes.
It was quite a labour intensive course. And we couldn’t have had a better teacher! Thanks Mike! I’m very proud to say I did it and no harm came to my car or me in the process!