Teaching at the Printmaking Center of New Jersey

Teaching at the Printmaking Center of New Jersey me


I saw the charming building that houses the Printmaking Center of New Jersey (PCNJ) for the first time on Friday the 13th of April, 2012.  After a pleasant morning drive through quaint villages and rolling green hills, Irena Pejovic pulled her car into the parking lot of 440 River Road in Branchurg and announced, “Here we are!” I felt lucky to be there, about to teach in this award-winning center that has been encouraging the fine art of printmaking through exhibitions, education and open working studios for the past forty years.




I discovered PCNJ last winter when Irena contacted me after having read my blog, Printmaking Studios in New York. She prints at PCNJ and serves on the board of directors.  When I visited the center’s website I was struck by their involvement with the community. I was particularly impressed with the Combat Paper Program, where veterans transform military uniforms into handmade paper and then into healing works of art.

PCNJ’s education department also grabbed my attention when I saw the vast selection of interesting workshops offered to adults and children.  Little did I know that a few months later, the list of adult classes would include Introduction to Collagraph with Talleen Hacikyan.




I taught my intensive two-day workshop to a group of five women in PCNJ’s sun drenched etching studio.  This functional space is well organized and pleasant to work in. I especially enjoyed working with their Charles Brand etching presses, that operate with a hand-cranks that turn like butter.  It was a bonus to have Irena in the class, who was my efficient assistant, setting up presses, making registration templates and showing me where to find things.




Students worked intensely.  On Friday they made small plates where they explored many collagraph techniques: drypoint, carving, ripping, collage, carborundum and creating textures with acrylic gel and plaster.  Before the end of the day everyone printed one black and white print and was able to leave with a concrete idea of their day’s work.


Carborundum plate by Irena Pejovic



Collagraph with aluminum foil textures by Linda Bishara



Collagraph with plaster textures


Saturday was printing day. Students had plenty of plates with which to practice the inking and wiping techniques I showed them.  One student came to class with a pile collagraph plates she worked on at home until midnight the previous night. “I want to get my money’s worth!” she told me with a beaming smile. After students printed some black and white proofs, I explained the basics of color printing, and everyone started playing with rich hues, blending them together on their heated plates with tarlatan.





Irena Pejovic with her collagraph proof


The class ended with a tabletop exhibit of everyone’s work.  After a round of constructive and encouraging comments, I left them with one of my favorite tricks passed on to me from a master printer.  I showed how to “erase” undesirable ink marks from the margins of a wet print with a damp sponge.




Linda Helm Krapf, executive director of PCNJ, stepped into the positive energy that filled the studio as we enjoyed the displayed prints.  She looked at everyone’s artwork and exclaimed, “Collagraph rocks!” Linda marveled at how the direct, uncomplicated  methods of collagraphy yield such alluring results.




After the workshop I went upstairs to the gallery for the opening reception of  The Best of Experimental Printmaking Institute. I admired the striking prints and outstanding artist’s books from EPI at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.  This unexpected treat was the perfect way to end my visit to the Printmaking Center of New Jersey.


Talleen Hacikyan

Thank you Linda and Irena for making this visit possible.   



3 Réponses à “Teaching at the Printmaking Center of New Jersey”

  • Dear Talleyn,
    When I see the setting of the New Jersey Print Making center, I understand why they won a prize.
    Thank you for reminding me of your now very ‘professional’ blog. No wonder you are in demand internationally. You collaborate to the understanding of ‘collagraph’ as a very alive and important art printing domain. It is time the word collagraph and in French: collagraphie, shows up in dictionnaries.
    See you soon.

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