MONMOUTH — Taylor McClure carefully guides the teal T-shirt and wooden block under the massive roller on a press at Western Oregon University.
The roller has to be completely level or the print won’t turn out right.
He pauses, picking up a massive wrench fabricated specially for this homemade press, adjusting the roller before turning the giant crank to complete the process.
On the other side, McClure carefully lifts the wooden block to reveal an embossed black print of a lizard.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Megan Leach, third-year student at WOU. She brought the teal colored shirt for the project.
McClure and Kate Dedlow brought Drive By Press to Western’s campus on Thursday for a day of outreach and education about the art of print making. Printing T-shirts is a way the organization can make some money, as well as spread the word about prints.
“It’s really old technology and doesn’t require water or electricity,” McClure explained, “so it’s easy to take on the road.”
The wooden blocks are durable under the 2,000 pounds of pressure applied by the press, so long as they stay dry.
The event had been planned in the sculpture garden behind the art building at WOU, but with the spotty rain on Thursday, McClure and Dedlow didn’t take any chances.
Rather than use Drive By Press’ portable unit, they used the one in the art building.
“Every press we use is totally different,” McClure said. “This one is made by hand. It’s been a little bit of a learning curve. I’m going to name it Sasquatch.”
By the end of the three hours, and roughly 40 T-shirts made, McClure had figured out the tricks of the old machine.
Drive By Press is a national traveling organization with headquarters in New York City and Los Angeles. It promotes the practice and appreciation of printmaking as an art form.
During its visit to Western, McClure and Dedlow presented a lecture on the history of printmaking and shared a traveling portfolio of original contemporary prints.
The goals of the organization is to enable students to gain an understanding of printmaking today, as well as the themes and subject matter used by contemporary artists; to familiarize students with the most popular and most recognizable works from print history; and to expose students to the origins and evolution of printmaking technology from the earliest woodcuts to contemporary fine art print publishing.
For more information about Drive By Press: drivebypress.com.