Title: Plastic Wrap + Red Plastic Net Bag
(Proof of concept test print for the “Trash Fingerprints” series.)
Artist: Amy Redmond
Size: 8×10 inches
These proof-of-concept test prints were inked with a brayer and printed by hand on text-weight sheets of French paper. The printing blocks were made using a red plastic net bag that used to contain Clementine oranges and discarded plastic shrink wrap.
About the “Trash Fingerprints” project
The amount of single-use items in our daily lives alarms, disgusts, and motivates me to action. Yet even after efforts to reduce, reuse, regift and recycle, I am still left with tiny bits of plastic in my trash. As recycling programs around the U.S. diminish to shadows of their former selves, I am compelled to give these frustrating scraps a purpose. I recently began a new print series that turns the trash into raised blocks that can be letterpress printed, leaving not only the image but also an impression on the paper.
The process begins by cutting and gluing cleaned pieces of non-reusable garbage to various sizes of “wood furniture” (planed blocks that hold letterpress printing forms in place on press). Once dry they’re sealed to withstand the inking and printing process, and raised to 0.918 inches in height by gluing chipboard scraps to their undersides. Precision is critical in this last step, so that the finished blocks are equal in height to the metal and wood type the presses were designed to print; otherwise they’ll damage the press and rollers.
I am just at the beginning of this project, but am already seeing these discarded bits in new ways. Twist ties from organic kale become straw-like grass; plastic wrap film becomes churning water; plastic netting from a bag of oranges shifts into geometric patterns of clouds. What natural feature will the crimped edges from an energy bar wrapper inspire, or the frayed bristles of a toothbrush?
I started this printmaking project to foster hope and personal change through action. Rather than using it to justify my participation in a system of thoughtless consumption, it has pointed me in a direction of a mindful, less wasteful, approach to the business of everyday living. I hope it encourages others to do the same.
Amada Press is the private letterpress studio of Seattle visual artist and designer Amy Redmond. The main focus of her work is on handset typography using metal and wood type. Amy offers letterpress classes for beginning and advanced students through Partners in Print and teaches typography at the School of Visual Concepts. Her professional design work can be viewed on AmyRedmond.com.