The downside of printmaking for me is the added technicality. I love making images, but prints are more complicated than just brushing paint on canvas. I still struggle some with registration issues and occasional press maintenance, but sharpening my gouges is the hardest ongoing issue for me.
I'm incredibly lucky to be friends with John Kraus, a toolmaker, fiddler, and all around great guy. John teaches tool making at Country Workshops and John C. Campbell Folk School, among others. Once a year or so he's kind enough to put a fresh edge on my gouges that I then gradually fail to maintain until I need help again the next year.
This year he not only sharpened everything for me (photo above), but he tempered a couple of the blades that were too hard to sharpen well (below).
John's partner is Nancy Darrell, a fellow printmaker with a background in pottery. I got my Line-O-Scribe proof press from her a couple of years ago (which has changed my life), and we have a great time comparing work and talking shop.
This trip we also went out and sketched together, painting by the pond on the Countey Workshops campus next door. I did a couple of quick watercolors and enjoyed just sitting in the sunshine a while.
Afterwards I got to play music with John, and Nancy had been kind enough to invite Drew and Louise Langsner over from next door at CW, so we had a lovely dinner with all my friends up there at once. That pair of farms is a real haven for me, thanks to kind friends and a beautiful landscape. I feel lucky to be a regular visitor.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.