Castle Montefiore Conca

Linocut and letterpress workshop in Italy

Linocut and letterpress workshop at Opificio della Rosa

I have just got back from Italy where I was running a linocut and letterpress workshop at Opificio della Rosa, Montefiore Conca. This is the third year I have run the course and it was as fun as ever playing with wooden blocks in an old castle in Italy. I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to run workshops in such an inspiring place.

The workshop this year had a very international feel with students from Italy, Germany, Denmark, USA and the UK. All of them loved being in Montefiore, a place without the distractions of modern life but full of inspiration (and great food and drink!) Opificio della Rosa, which was set up by Umberto Giovannini, is the first low environmental impact printmaking studio in Italy and offers workshops throughout the summer and a series of international artist residencies.

Castle Montefiore Conca

Montefiore window

Montefiore skies

Opificio della Rosa is a stunning place to work. The views from the studio look out over olive groves and farmland towards the Adriatic coast. This year the weather gave us a different vista every day, with a dramatic mix of thunderstorms, sunshine and sunsets.

Over the last six years Umberto has collected (and continues to collect) a mass of beautiful wooden type for letterpress printing. On my first visit I fell in love with the blocks and knew I had to come back and print with them. I was lucky to be invited for a residency, during which I created a little book based on Pinocchio, called Onomatopinocchio. This formed the basis for the workshops I have run over the last three years.

Umberto Giovannini

Opificio della Rosa

The aim of the workshop was to combine letterpress and linocut in an experimental way to produce an illustrated book. This is quite a lot to ask in six days but all the students were up for the challenge. The first two days were spent learning carving and printing techniques and exploring the collection of type. The letterpress element of the workshop is very free and non-traditional, using the shapes of the letters, numbers and ornaments to work closely with the lino blocks.

Letterpress prints drying

Inking up type

Below are some photos of the books the students made. They are all beautiful.

ugly_ducklingugly_duckling4 ugly_duckling3 love_letters love_letters3 love_letters2 il_bruco il_bruco2il_bruco3 fish_teapot fish_teapot2umbrell_fish Cow_canalcow_canal2 cow_canal3 amore amore3 amore2

Next year I am hoping to run another workshop, possibly based around the prints of Ulisse Aldrovandi, one of the founders of modern natural history. I discovered the woodcuts of Aldrovandi a few years ago and you can see his carved blocks at the Palazzo Poggi in Bologna.