Rail Tees Beginning - Part 2

I’d like to say that I was hooked on printing after that field trip, that I was fascinated with the techniques and wanted to explore all the possibilities.
My first introduction to printing happened in 1980 on a 3rd grade field trip. I was a student at Lowell Elementary in Boise, Idaho, under the tutelage of Mr. Klein. (For the life of me, I couldn’t tell you what his first name might be.) On that day, our class visited the Art Center at the Fort Boise Community Center, tucked at the bottom of the foothills behind St Luke’s hospital.
It seemed like such a magical place. Sunlight streamed through large windows, casting a warm glow upon the space and the artwork and photographs that hung on the walls. In one corner, there were easels on canvases – some blank, some half finished. Old glass jars with ripped off labels full of brushes, and containers and tubes of paints lined the window sill. Another corner was crowded with pottery wheels and a kiln. Everywhere you looked there were books or magazines covering more types of art than I knew existed. In the heart of the space was a large communal table with stacks of paper in various colors and size, as well as plastic tubs full of wood blocks.
There were bottles of ink in a rainbow of colors, and just as many rollers that were used to apply to the ink to the blocks. There were piles of rags and cans of cleaning chemicals. The amalgamation of smells was almost enough to knock you over. (To this day I still get comments about the smell of my shop from the random customer. They often mention how it reminds them of childhood art classes.) Here, it seemed, creativity knew no bounds. The entire space felt like a sanctuary where dreams took flight and transformed the ordinary into the extraordinary. It truly was a place where magic happened.
We were we were given a demonstration on block printing, then allowed to try our own hand at the millennia old technique. If you’re unfamiliar with block printing, you can read more about it here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodblock_printing. Of course, block printing is quite different from the screen printing that I do today, but it’s the same basic premise – a single stencil is used to produce multiple copies of the same image.
I remember to this day the image I chose to print that day. It was a tree with a large round crown and some dangling fruit. I inked up the block and made the first print by pressing the wood onto some paper, applying as much pressure as I could with my hands. Then, without re-inking the block, I made a second, then a third print onto the same paper so that I had three trees on a single sheet. The second and third prints were less opaque and more distressed than the first. I then used brushes to color in the trunk and the crown and the fruit with a variety of color. By the end, I was quite pleased with the result. I have no idea what happened to the piece of paper. I’m sure it was lost in the shuffle of one of the many moves I still had to look forward to in life.

Wrapping Up

I’d like to say that I was hooked on printing after that field trip, that I was fascinated with the technique and wanted to explore all the possibilities of woodblock printing and other printing techniques – linocut, cyanotype, monotype, pochoir, gel plates, etc. But, I was a third grader with a short attention span and very little means. And, as such, the things I learned on that field trip slipped from my mind by lunch the next. It would be another 6 years before I printed anything else.

Welcome to Rail Tees!

Located in Boise, Idaho, Rail Tees Custom Screenprinting & Embroidery is not your average print shop. Since 1986, Rail Tees owner & operator David “Rail” Colcord has been providing top notch screen printed & embroidered apparel to a wide range of clients, including businesses, non-profit organizations, churches, schools, bands, restaurants, and anyone else looking for exceptional branded products.

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