Learning to print like a master printer
Compiled by Mary Agnew
Master printmaker Yung Sau-mui and her colleagues hosted three YP junior reporters on September 19 at a special printmaking workshop at the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre in Shek Kip Mei. The workshop was held ahead of XinYiDai! An International University Students Exchange Exhibition at the Hong Kong Graphic Art Fiesta 2011, which begins tomorrow and runs until October 16. As many as 160 students have submitted artworks.
Here, two of the junior reporters recount their views of the workshop.
Heidi Kwan Chak-yin
I knew nothing about printmaking so I leapt at the chance to take part in the workshop.
Our teacher, Tsoi Wai-chung, was patient with us. He helped us to create a simple print of a lively red bird in flight.
After the practical session, we had a short interview with master printmaker Yung.
I was surprised to learn that Ms Yung had only started seriously learning the art after she enrolled in a printmaking course at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
She went on to win an international competition in Macau.
She told us that printmaking was a learner-friendly art form. Yet, as with every creative craft, it poses challenges to those doing it. A printmaker must be disciplined. The craft requires that artisans become intimately familiar with the properties of paper and other materials.
Although it may seem like an easy art form at first, printmaking involves a lot of complicated, labour-intensive and detailed work. The art entails lots of attention to detail.
Ms Yung emphasised that, as with all hard work, the result is always worth the effort. For me, the workshop was not only an inspiring experience, but proved to be a valuable life lesson.
What exactly does the term 'intaglio' mean?
That question weighed on my mind before we headed to the printmaking workshop at the Hong Kong Open Printshop.
I first encountered the 'intaglio' technique in my art lessons in primary school. It involves delicately carving an image onto a copper plate and transferring the picture onto paper or another material using ink.
Yet it is far harder to do it well than I had first thought. Ms Yau explained: 'Intaglio printmaking is a very different form of art from what people usually make of it. You can't just create whatever you want. You must follow the rules and work in a particular sequence'.
Yet I was happy to discover that intaglio is a very approachable form of printmaking. There are two basic ways to make a plate: engraving and etching.
Engraving involves creating an image on a copper plate by carving out the image using a blade or sharp tool.
Etching involves using acid to eat away at the surface and define the lines and contours of an image.
Once a plate is completed with either method, you need to follow four steps.
First, you spread a chosen colour over the surface. Next, you scrape the excess paint off the plate. Then you use a clean muslin cloth to wipe your coloured plate completely clean.
Finally, you place the coloured print on absorbent paper and press it using a printing press, rolling pin or even a pile books.
I learned a lot at the workshop about this elegant craft.
The XinYiDai! Exhibition will run until October 16 at the Exhibition Gallery of Shatin Town Hall