At Indiana University Kokomo, student artists are adding a new and more unusual tool to their repertoire — an industrial steamroller.
Eight students, one faculty member, one alumna, and visiting artist Bryan Tisdale are carving wood blocks as large as 4 feet by 8 feet, which they will coat in ink, cover in muslin, and run over with a steamroller. The pressure from the steamroller impresses the images onto the fabric. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, April 25, in the Fine Arts Building parking lot.
Senior Mark Thompson could not pass up the opportunity to participate in this advanced print making class.
"How often do you get to use a steam roller?" he said. "When I heard about this, I dropped another class for this opportunity."
Essentially, the students created very large stamps, said Minda Douglas, assistant professor of fine arts, who taught the class.
"You carve out what you don't want to print," she said. "We don't have a press large enough to print this size, so the industrial steam roller will put pressure on it, to press the ink into the fabric and print the image."
The public is invited to watch as students work in teams to place the blocks, created from three-fourths inch plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF), in place for rolling.
The artists created their designs on Photoshop, printed them in sections, and then transferred them to the boards before carving the image into the board using either hand or power tools.
Thompson put in nearly 30 hours carving his design into an MDF block. He'd never worked with it before, and likes how easy it is to carve. He said some students used power tools, but MDF must be hand carved.
After printing, he hopes to sell some of the prints, and to find another use for his block.
"It would be a really awesome table," he said. "I don't want to get rid of it. It's more valuable to me than my prints."
Once dry, several of the pieces will be displayed in the campus Art Gallery as part of the senior thesis show, and in the Kelley Student Center. One of the woodblocks will hang in the Cole Room, in Upper Alumni Hall. Some students plan to cut theirs into smaller pieces, to make smaller prints.
"We definitely plan to recycle and use these after we've printed them," Douglas said. "We're all proud of what we've created. The students are feeling a great sense of accomplishment for taking on such a large project. For all of them, it's the largest they've tried to do."
Douglas and her students are grateful to Sunbelt Rentals for donating use of the steamroller.
The Fine Arts Building is at the corner of Lincoln Road and LaFountain Street, in Kokomo. There is no charge to attend. Other student artwork will be displayed inside, and there will be refreshments served.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.