First a bit of background and a disclaimer: A few months ago I was contacted by Obby, a website offering hundreds of different classes and workshops, from different people around London. (Like an Etsy for workshops!) Obby asked if I'd like to try a class and to review my experience. This post is the result. Please note that I chose the class, and tuition was free in return for honest feedback. The class host did not know in advance that I was there to write a review.
Arriving at Artichoke Studios in the heart of Brixton, felt like stepping into a picture from STUDIO (reviewed here) and will admit to feeling a bit nervous, knowing absolutely nothing about Lino Printing. I'd selected and booked the course a while ago, and then it suddenly crept up on me so I didn't have time to research or plan anything until the day before, at which point our internet was down so I couldn't.
In fact, none of this mattered because Megan Fishpool - my host and teacher for the day - quickly put me at ease with a tour of the studio and a bit of background. The studio is celebrating its 25th year and over that time Meg has become accustomed to working with everyone from absolute beginners like me, to the well-known artists who also use the facilities. Having a great deal of knowledge as well as patience and humour, she was a wonderful teacher and very encouraging.
As the day progressed, being in a proper working studio (as opposed to a classroom environment) really made a difference - as well as using professional tools and equipment, it was possible to see examples of other artists' work and a stunning copper plate etching work-in-progress that one of the artists was working on that day. Plus it felt like being 'a real artist'!
As the only student for the day, I had the benefit of one-to-one teaching. Meg taught me about different types of lino and how to cut into it, as well as deciding on different stylistic aspects of the desired image. I got to try out a range of tools - from lino cutters and ink rollers to the huge printing press pictured above left. It was really good fun, and also quite physical - a few sessions of ink rolling and printing must be the equivalent of an hour at the gym!
After trying out different tools and selecting my favourites (above) I moved onto a bigger piece of lino. With nothing prepared in advance, I decided to 'wing it' without planning or sketching first. As I love intuitive painting, I was quite comfortable just making marks for fun and could have done this all day. The black and white print in the drying rack below was my initial attempt...
We experimented with various pressure settings on the press and with different types of paper, before Meg showed me how to chalk the lino to cut into it again. We began experimenting with a second colour, before our time was up. You can see some of the experiments below, as well as the lino block I cut.
We covered a lot in four hours, and it's certainly left me with the desire to do more printing. I'm not sure how practical it will be to continue at home at this scale without spending a small fortune on equipment, but I will be getting some smaller lino pieces for sure. I hope that I will get to go back to the studio again - perhaps with a particular project to work on.
I began by telling you that this class was arranged through Obby, and that I was asked to write about my experience. If this class is an indication of the quality of workshops in their listings, I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending them. The website was easy to navigate in order to choose this class. The hardest thing was choosing only one - I'll probably be back for more! Communication was clear and appropriate - email confirmation at the time of booking and a reminder in advance of the class, plus a feedback request soon afterwards. When I had a few questions, they were answered very promptly.
There is a great deal on offer via the website - everything from arts and crafts to baking, health and beauty to photography, wine-tasting, floristry and more. There are also group classes for larger bookings and a page specifically listing classes for 'this weekend' if you find yourself at a loose end. If you live locally or you're heading into London for a special occasion, perhaps with a group of friends, you're sure to find something you'll enjoy. If Lino Printing interests you, I would definitely recommend the class I took.
From the teaching perspective, Obby take care of everything so you can focus on the bit you enjoy the most without worrying about payments, cancellations, sending out information etc. If you're someone who might like to list your classes on Obby, you can find details here.