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Can I use a mini press to create mini prints with big impact?

Mini Masterpieces

The Beauty of Miniature Art

I have always been drawn to miniature creations and tiny works of art. There’s something obviously sweet about their small size, but also the level of detail and precision crafted into these intricate, tiny pieces. More than just cute curiosities, they are little doorways into new worlds, accessible whenever we make space to notice.

Quite a few years ago I made a tiny print for my neighbour, who uses miniature lathes, saws and other woodworking machinery, to craft dolls houses and furniture, to be placed within. She created a fully-mitred wooden frame, which I then filled with a tiny print of a sweet, delicate wild flower, I'd carefully plucked from our garden. I made the print on a full sized press, but years later couldn't resist buying a fully functional mini etching press.

A small print of a bee with gold to mimic pollen
A simple dry point with gold highlights

Some things just ask to be reproduced in miniature, don't they? Like a tiny dry point guided bee print!

It wasn't long before I was using my pressed flowers, leaves and seedpods to print paper gardens.

I use offcuts from my large prints so the paper is the same beautiful quality.

I use Somerset from Jacksons * as they softly welcome details. Going to my presses on short winter days to discover what I'd pressed in the spring or summer, helps make me think about seasons past and gives a hope and promise of what is to come.

circular plywood shelves hold many tiny botanical mini prints
Our Dorm Shelf with an ever changing display

As you can see, making the prints becomes somewhat addictive. To date, I have used both black and white papers as my substrate and have experimented with a monochromatic palette, as well as copper and gold inks, to give a lustre to those delicate details.

The paper garden looks great on the shelf unit - although a single print on a shelf would quietly draw attention too!

The circular shelves, known as The Dorm Shelf, were from Nordic Nest *

At one print fair, in Nottingham Contemporary one collector bought a mini print, intending to have it framed with a huge oversized mount, something I would have liked to have seen the result of. People at fairs often buy them in 3s and some have indicated that they will display them more simply, perhaps propped up on a shelf in front of books.

A hand is putting a mini print on a wooden circular shelf unit
Placing a black print amongst its garden friends

Then, I found a way to combine my love of tiny artwork with my passion for connection.

- Trading tiny prints with global print makers.

After inking up and pulling some ceramic inspired tiny prints, (which you can see at the bottom of this post) I sent 10 of them abroad to Germany, to take part in the Open Press exchange. Here, inky artists trade their small artworks. No money is exchanged, you simply send 10 prints and receive 9 unique masterpieces back, using any kind of print technique an artist can feasibly make a print of.

So far, I've received whimsical art from America, India, and detailed stamp marks carved by a printmaker in Italy. My mini prints are also traveling the world and being cherished by other art enthusiasts!

nine prints are laid out in a 3 by 3 grid showing a range of printmaking processes and subjects including a small bird, some trees and a truck, There is a brown envelope places above these and they are on a painted green box.
The prints I received from The Open Press Exchange

Hung in a Mini Exhibition

Not only are my 3D printed press and botanical prints incredibly small, but I had the fortune be part of an exhibition of other 2D mini art!

The world of micro art-making and botanical miniatures is creatively fulfilling and endlessly surprising. I'm enjoying exploring miniature printmaking and sharing these little impressions of nature's beauty around the planet. I may create an isolated barn or kintsugi mended bowl for my 2024 participation...ohhh I could also try a tiny solar plate of some wild grasses...

During my Printmaking experience at Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair last year I met one of the guys responsible for the creation of the Open Press. Martin Schneider, a designer from Cologne, Germany. He told me they had sent out prints to over 700 people from 34 countries. He was part of the duo who designed the tiny 3D-printed etching press I use.

For a person who sometimes has difficulty recalling my own mobile phone number, I then surprised myself by recalling my unique print exchange number so he was able to immediately look me up in the exhibition catalogue to show my tiny piece entitled, 'Lustre.' We talked about how great the pieces look together and the diverse ways he curates the gallery hangs, depending on the spaces they are to be displayed in (see the galleries at the top) along with our passion for inky fingers and denim aprons.

My paper garden tiny prints were featured on the Open Press Instagram page and as you can see got lots of views.

Please get in touch if you’d like me to print a custom piece of a favourite flower or perhaps an entire garden, a herbarium of a special place, just for you!

Right, I'm off to have some more mini adventures...

*(for clarity I do get a small commission if you purchase from an affiliate link).

Please note: the gallery photos on this blog are credited to the Open Press Project

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