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Workshop Heaven – Russborough House

We want to share with you a wonderful, creative and very productive day we spent in Russborough House Craft Courtyard at the end of November.

Window in Jocelyn Stephen’s Studio

There are a number of different artists operating studios in the courtyard buildings of Russborough House and some of the artists offer workshops where you can learn the basics of their craft.  We organised to participate in two workshops – one with Jocelyn Stephens, Fine Art Printmaker and the other with Eleanor Swan, Ceramicist. The weather was cold but we were toasty in their cosy, welcoming studios. In this post we will show some of the processes involved in Jocelyn’s workshop and next week we will share the lovely ceramics we produced with Eleanor.

Etching design onto acrylic plate

The main emphasis of Jocelyn’s work is on drawing and etching.  She clearly explained the intaglio technique we were about to learn – dry point etching on acrylic plates. We would trace a design by cutting (etching) into clear acrylic plates using a drypoint etching needle. Jocelyn had a selection of simple designs for us to use.  This took a bit of practice as it is difficult to see what you have etched until the plate is inked up!

Inking up the plate

Jocelyn walked us through the process of inking up the plates and then removing excess ink so only the etched lines contained ink – easier said than done!  We then had to rescue the pre-cut sheets of tiepolo paper from the tray of water they in which they were soaking and remove the excess water.

Using the printing press

The next step was to use the wonderful, manual printing press to transfer our ‘artwork’ onto paper. The damp paper was carefully positioned on top of the inked acrylic plate and then we slowly cranked the printing press to produce our first ever print.

First print off the press!

The sheets were then hung up to dry for a few hours.  It was such a great experience that each of us rushed back to the etching table to see what other image we could produce in the time available.  Jocelyn gave step by step instruction and support throughout and she encouraged us to produce as many pieces of work as we could manage. She was very generous with her materials too and, as well as learning a new skill, we came away with a couple of framed pieces each.


As you may have gathered from the photographs, Jocelyn shares her studio with a candle maker….. I feel another workshop coming on!     Visit Jocelyn’s website to see some of her detailed and exquisite work.      http://jocelynstephens.com/index.html


And check out Russborough House – a visit there offers walks, a playground, a coffee shop, the artist studios and, of course, the house itself.  http://russboroughhouse.ie/

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