The day after I arrived, I did the woodcut printing workshop. I've done some printmaking but never with wood, so I was exited to give it a shot. We were led by a man named Franco, who frequently teaches at the school and is a master printmaker. He spoke passionately about the process, explaining that wood is alive and you need to respect it as you carve your design. As I began gouging at my wood plate, I realized that I was most certainly NOT respecting it and should probably apologize. Carving was...difficult. I had an idea of a design in my head (a view looking up at a window in my apartment), but I hadn't taken into account the direction of the wood grain and things got real splintery, real fast. I muddled my way through and ended up with what I thought might be an ok image.
We inked the plates and lined up to take turns at the printing press, Franco guiding us through the process. We held our breaths when each person's paper was peeled back from the plate to reveal their image. Each time a print was pulled, Franco would say, "Ahhhhhh!" in an appreciative tone, as if to say, "Ahhh, how lovely!" Everyone was getting Franco's "Ahhhhh". People with no art experience whatsoever! Old Venetian men who didn't know how to draw! Each and every one had produced a glorious work of art!
Then it was my turn. I placed the paper on the wood plate, cranked the press, then grabbed the corner of the print and pulled it back. "Ahhhhh!", Franco said. Except his voice sort of dropped while he was saying it. Instead of "Ahhh, how nice!", it was more of an "Ahhhh, well, that's disappointing." I hadn't carved enough, so there was no contrast and it was super dark. In his limited English, Franco said, "I think...maybe you still have the jet lag?"
As the workshop wrapped up and we all chatted, Franco was extremely nice and assured me that this was just practice. He thought I'd get better if I tried again. So that's what I'm doing, and I'm realizing that trying again seems to be a recurring theme on this trip. Try again to contact someone about finding your suitcase (I did get it, by the way!). Try again to order coffee correctly. Try again to make a good print. I'm getting used to it, and it's not so bad. Tomorrow I'm going to carve a new plate and see if I can get the coveted "Ahhhhh!" the next time Franco is in the studio.