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Zelda, my amazing tiny press, demo

Her name is Zelda, and she is a 5-year-old tiny press – and I owe her a huge apology. For the past five years, she has been my steady, reliable and loyal printmaking friend. She is the press behind my first photopolymer relief shoe series, four color-flower prints, drypoint print exchange images and countless relief-based holiday cards. And yet, I have been so vain. I never admitted to printing on her (or if I did it was in a limited way). I thought if people saw Zelda, they would not be able to look past her pink plastic and bling exterior.

Then this summer I went full steam ahead with my printmaking dream life. I bought an Ettan Etching Press. It is actually a little more high-maintenance than my Zelda, but that might be another blog post in the care and feeding of larger etching presses.

Happy in my honeymoon phase with the Ettan, I saw a call for a Tiny Press roundup during the Southern Graphics Society International (SGCI) Conference. Side note: going to an SGCI conference has been on my bucket list. Imagine over a thousand printmakers in one place spending three days doing nothing but talking about, looking at and creating everything printmaking. Heaven.

So I answered the call…and for a first time, I revealed the truth about Zelda. I described her as she is: a Sizzix Big Shot (die-cutting craft machine) with an L Letterpress bed. I also mentioned that she is somewhat pink with bling.

Before this, my tiny press was unnamed. As I was filling out the application, suddenly my little press told me her name: Zelda. Of course. And to my astonishment, the good folks at SGCI accepted us.

And so I branded Zelda with her own business cards and matched her with a new apron, rubber gloves and cap.

Using my Holga digital camera (toy press, toy camera), I shot a series of images in my usual “please tell me I am in another century” aesthetic based on the conference theme of Terminus: Arrivals and Departures. Since Terminus (a railroad thing) was the beginning of Atlanta history, my Holga and I spent a few afternoons on the other side of the tracks in Pulaski County.

I originally planned to do Photopolymer gravure for the roundup, but with the advice from Deborah Souser, the event coordinator and consummate printmaker, we decided this would be too time-consuming. So, I turned to Boxcar Press to make my Photopolymer relief plate as too much time had elapsed for me to do my own at that point.

On March 16, Zelda and I printed 150 relief prints in six hours at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. Ken also deserves a mention for being driver, cheerleader, table helper and soda provider.

As I set up at table 21, I had to quell the stage fright – this was terrifying. Here I was, about to show my extreme silliness with a pink press in front of potentially 1000 vetted printmakers.

So, I made a huge mess of thin green oil-based ink and my favorite Graphic Chemical process black ink and started running prints. When I looked up, there was a line of printmakers of all ages in front of the table that never really ended.

And the response?

“That is the cutest press I have ever seen,” said a large majority of fellow printmakers.

And so I made prints for them and told the abbreviated story or Zelda. If I were an affiliate of Sizzix, I believe I could have a sold of ton of the Big Shots for the number of people who mentioned wanting one.

For those interested in how Zelda works, I have included a handy dandy demonstration video. To see prints I have done with Zelda, please visit lskingphotography.com/zelda.

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The Unwinding Path is the blog of L.S. King – photographer, want-to-be printmaker and sometimes hypnotist. By day she is an arts communications officer at a rural university (translation: photographer, writer, and media content provider), and most of the rest of her time she is an MFA graduate student at Radford University.

http://www.lskingphotography.com

5 Comments

  1. This is just so cool! I would love to learn more and am heading over to your site to find out!

    • She’s a lot of fun. Just google L Letterpress and you’ll find versions of her.

      • Thanks! I would really like to explore printing my own images-there is a hands on quality that I am seeking and this might be an avenue to explore-

  2. Great story, say hi to Zelda for me.

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