Sunny skies combined with autumn temperatures provided the perfect backdrop for some creative outdoor art projects at Montgomery County Community College on Saturday, Nov. 6. Galleries Director Patrick Rodgers, art faculty and members of the Cheltenham Printmakers Guild held a unique printmaking workshop using a steamroller, while students and community members carved pumpkins as part of MCCC’s annual Pumpkinfest event.
Prior to the event, the artists used chisels and Dremel drills to carve their designs into 2-by-3-foot and 2-by-4-foot wooden panels. At the workshop, they used rollers to apply an even coat of non-toxic ink across the panels. Then, they placed each carving on plywood in a row with spacers in between and covered them with paper and blankets. After some adjustments of spacers and covers, Rodgers fired up the steamroller and slowly rolled over the inked carvings, creating the prints on the paper. Using a 6,000-pound steamroller to create some one-of-a-kind prints was a little tricky at first, but the final results were worth the efforts.
"The best part of this event was the sense of community art-making,” said Rodgers. “None of us have done anything like this before, and there are a lot of variables to figure out (surfaces, timing, pressure, even ambient temperature), but all of us--faculty, printmakers from the Guild, visiting artists--just kept experimenting and having fun with it until we figured it out. And I hope this isn't the last time we do something like this, there are so many possibilities!"
To create the optimal prints, they repeated the process a few times, experimenting with different surfaces and media. After the third or so attempt, they determined it was best to place the carvings directly on the asphalt surface, dampen the print paper with some water and roll one print at a time.
A sample of the final artwork is on display in the gallery, which is open Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., along with the Cheltenham Printmakers Guild’s exhibition, which will be on display through Dec. 3. Masks are required inside the building.
While the artists were working on the prints, community members and students were busy carving pumpkins on the patio. Each participant received a free pumpkin to carve on-site using tools and templates provided by MCCC.
In addition to the steamroller printing and pumpkin carving, students involved with MCCC’s Art & Literature magazine hosted a printing event inside the gallery. Led by the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Francesca Santini, participants created their own prints, which may be used in the magazine’s 50th anniversary edition in 2022. The magazine’s 2019-20 edition, “Transitions,” earned a first-place award with special merit in the American Scholastic Press Association annual contest.
For more information about MCCC’s Art Galleries, contact Galleries Director Patrick Rodgers at firstname.lastname@example.org.