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Pooki People - An Artist spotlight with Grace Wong
August 29, 2023
Tell us some more about yourself, your work and your printmaking style!
Hi I’m Grace and I live in South Yorkshire with my husband and 2 children.
I’m mostly a self-taught artist and printmaker. I studied and practised Architecture for many years before doing photography, then sewing before I came across linocut printmaking about 2 years ago. I did a beginners course at the local art school to establish the basics and really enjoyed the process of linocut printmaking.
I started sharing my work on Instagram and was encouraged to progress when people asked if I would sell my prints! My online shop was then born and my prints and cards are now available in a local art shop for browsing and purchasing in person.
Where does the magic happen?
I work from home in leafy Sheffield. As soon as breakfast is finished and my children leave to school, the dining table is transformed into my magical workspace! I have a limited time frame to get my work done before picking up my children therefore I tend to work on smaller prints and simpler designs at the moment.
I'm very fortunate to live near the Botanical gardens, two large parks and I'm usually inspired by the beautiful plants and flowers there. With my Chinese-Malaysian background and my love of Japanese art, I often find I incorporate eastern elements in my works.
Explain to us the journey to a finished print.
I love using my sketch book first, eye to hand to capture images in a traditional way. Then I’ll play with composition, review depth and shadow to best represent that initial inspiration and characteristic. Once the design is finalized and I transfer the sketch onto a battleship grey artist lino plate. I love the subtle details you can carve from the Lino and it is fully compostable. I give my lino sheet a quick sand and stain it with some acrylic ink before transferring my design over with a tracing paper and pencil. Then I carefully draw over the pencil lines with a permanent maker/ fine liner pen and the design is ready to be carved. It all has to be reversed, so there’s quite a bit of thinking to the process to get a composition back-to-front!
I find the actual carving process meditative and my favourite cutting tool is Pfeil. The mushroom shaped handle is comfortable to hold onto and the tools are so sharp! You have to fully concentrate on what you’re doing or else you might make a mistake. And once the lino piece is cut there’s no turning back.
Inking and printing come next and this is the exciting part when the print is revealed! The depth of cuts, the shapes designed, the expression of light and shadow will all take an inked definition that isn’t immediately obvious in the lino itself. The alignment, the press and unveiling can be nerve-racking! If it worked, the prints are hung out to dry like laundry on a line. The finishing touches involve adding the edition number, title, my initial and finished with my Chinese ‘chop’ (a stamp with my name on).
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a collection of botanical and birth flower prints. Flowers are an endless source of inspiration with a complex variety of shapes, colours and textures. They have meaning for people, triggering memories, being your official ‘birth flower’ or just reminding them that beauty is everywhere. This summer I’m taking as much advantage of the colourful blooms around me as I get ready for my first craft fair in October this year. Details to follow on Instagram!
How did your Pooki Press change your Printmaking?
I treated myself to an A4 Pooki Press in Christmas 2021. I was hand burnishing with a wooden spoon and bamboo baren prior to owning a press and would often get a sore wrist or aching arm, especially when using a thicker paper. Pooki Press is easy to use, helps to print quicker and produces a more consistent result when working on an edition. I also love the portability of the press. It can be tidied away in the cupboard after printing when the workspace becomes family space again.
Do you have any tips for other Printmakers? What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
I’m quite new to printmaking and still have a lot to learn. If I would to give any advice then it will be always keep both of your hands behind the carving tool! Don’t forget to have fun with the process and embrace the imperfection.
Do you have a Favourite Print that you have made?
I think my Japanese Maple leaves print is my favourite at the moment. My neighbour has a beautiful Maple tree that I walked past nearly every day and I was told the red tree symbolized hope.
The print was initially an Instagram print challenge entry for the Pressing Matters magazine. The print was very fortunate to be included in their showcase gallery issue 21.
Where can people learn more about you, engage with you and find your work?
where I share my printmaking process and latest work.
My work are available to browse and purchase in person at Sheffield Makers Hunters Bar shop or you can have a peek online https://gracewongart.etsy.com
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