Deadline to Register:
Midnight, May 26, 2020 – Deadline Extended new date TBA
Event Location:
Center for Maine Craft, 288 Lewiston Road, West Gardiner, ME, 04345 see map
Event Date(s):
September 26-27, 2020
Event Time:
10 am – 5 pm

BIG INK, a nationally recognized print arts organization, is traveling to the Center for Maine Craft in 2020! The Maine Crafts Association has invited BIG INK to host a two-day event where prints will be pulled from large-scale woodblock plates using BIG INK’s giant portable printmaking press “The Big Tuna.”

CALL FOR ART: MCA is seeking image proposals from emerging, mid-career, and established visual artists who would like to carve a woodblock, at least 24″ x 36″ inches in dimension, to print at the event. No prior printmaking experience is required. Any artist that has an interest in print media and wants to achieve a deeper understanding of woodblock carving is welcome to apply.

Upon registration, artists will have several months prior to the event to carve their design. BIG INK has assembled how-to videos that guide participants through the carving process. The series draws from invaluable technical observations made by BIG INK’s directors and past event participants. The artists’ sole responsibility is to bring a fully carved and ready to print woodblock on their assigned printing day. Consumable materials including paper, ink, cleaning supplies and equipment are included with registration.

The event itself is an excellent way to network with other participants, plug into a growing creative community, and produce high-quality work that can later be used for sale and exhibition. 

About BIG INK:
BIG INK’s mission is to inspire a greater public appreciation for large-scale woodblock printmaking and extend its practice. Founded in 2012, BIG INK was originally the brainchild of Lyell Castonguay and his partner. Castonguay, whose personal woodblock work is often monumental in scale, wanted to organize a community of large-scale woodblock artists. Castonguay began to host informal gatherings at print studios around their local area. These happenings evolved into the collaborative working model BIG INK utilizes today. BIG INK establishes a temporary print shop on site using “The Big Tuna” giant portable press at affiliate organizations, most often at museums, universities, art centers, studios, and galleries. Artists attend these events and print original woodblocks at least 24” x 36” in dimension. Since the program’s inception, hundreds of artists have participated in BIG INK events across the country.

Participant Benefits:
BIG INK events are a constructive way to collaborate in a creatively inspiring space while gaining an in-depth knowledge of how to create a large-scale woodblock print. The program is designed for printmakers who understand basic woodblock principles but want to expand their expertise and working scale. The program is also designed for those not yet trained in woodblock but whose visual aesthetic would lend itself to the medium. This includes illustrators, sculptors, designers, and painters who use bold contrast, strong outlines, and patterning. Participating in an event often inspires artists to incorporate more print work in their studio practice.
BIG INK’s role is to make the production of a large-scale woodblock accessible and easy to understand. We make the experience rewarding and informative by imparting our knowledge of preferred materials and techniques. We do so through a tutorial series of over 20 videos. Step-by-step instructions guide BIG INK participants with preferred materials and methods including plywood types, image transferring, carving, creating textures, fixing mistakes, tool maintenance, incorporating power tools, and more. BIG INK remains in contact providing guidance and technical support when needed.

How Many Prints Are Produced?
BIG INK assists in the creation of three impressions from each participant’s woodblock. We pride ourselves on producing high-quality impressions despite that events typically happen in a community setting. Work is printed using oil-based inks on archival paper and the quality is comparable to what you would receive working at a private studio.

What happens to the prints produced at the event?
All impressions remain property of the artist.

How do participants register?
Email your name, email, and phone number to Whitney Gill, Manager, Center for Maine Craft:

What material should I use to carve my woodblock?
Artists are responsible for purchasing plywood and carving tools. Purchase links to recommended materials will be provided.

How big can artists work?
Images must be at least 24” x 36” in dimension but no larger than 40” x 96” in dimension.

Artists pay $300 dollars to participate. This covers all consumable materials for the event including printing ink, paper, cleaning supplies, equipment use. The artist is only required to bring a fully carved block.

We are unable to offer scholarships. However, past participants have received funding through local and state grants, The Awesome Foundation, Kickstarter and the Chenven Foundation.

Other Commonly Asked Questions:
Q: Can two artists collaborate one block? A: Yes
Q: Are participants expected to attend both printing days? A: No, but participants are welcome.
Q: How many prints does each artist produce? A: Three, all of which remain property of the artist
Q: Can participants bring paper and print more? A: Because we work with many artists at one time we standardize for time’s sake. There isn’t enough time to print more than three impressions of each woodblock during the event.
Q: What type of paper does BIG INK use? A: Masa
Q: What type of ink does BIG INK use? A: Oil-based relief ink, bring an apron and wear work clothes.
Q: Do participants have to bring any other materials besides a carved block? A: No
Q: Can participants print in color? A: Because we work with many artists at one time we standardize for time’s sake. There isn’t enough time and space for color printing.
Q: How do participants transport the finished prints? A: BIG INK provides newsprint to wrap the work.
Q: Can participants create an edition of prints after the event? A: Yes
Q: Can BIG INK print the edition? A: Yes, for a fee.
Q: Can a participant cut their block in half to facilitate transport to and from the venue? A: We recommend it for images over 6 feet long. We will abut the pieces together on the press before printing.