It’s very much a case of ‘waste not, want not’ at Llanfyllin Workhouse as Liz Neal explains:
“First came the copper roofing plate, removed during the recent restoration of the cupola on the Workhouse roof. It was suggested by the Trustees that perhaps I could find an art project to use it in. I immediately thought of copper etching plates. It would be a great opportunity to to engage with the skills I learned at the Royal College of Art. What about a press though? The nearest open access print room with a press is in Wrexham, too far away – plus they wouldn’t allow slightly irregular and bent plates to be run through their nice machines. I needed an alternative so I googled and found printing presses made from laundry mangles. I looked for people who were interested in the project and could help with a mangle conversion. I found Bob Guy and Brian Jones: two experienced and accomplished print masters on my doorstep. Thanks to Bob we received a £500 grant from the Golsoncott Foundation which helped fund the conversion plus materials, paper and tools.
The transformation from mangle to press was undertaken by Cec Jones and Jacek Malinowski of Apex Market Stalls, Llanfechain, who fabricated the press bed and reassembled the unit after Mark Hewlett, a local woodcarver, lathed the wooden roller down to fit inside steel tubing. It works a treat!
Despite the pandemic we were able to complete the alterations and get the printing process ready to provide the first public access etching workshop as part of Crefft Cymru Arts and Craft Fair. We were able to use the Workhouse copper to produce the first prints. Sally Duckers (pictured) and Jane Carrington were the first artists to make prints: they both produced great work and were pleased with the results. Interest has been aroused in the community and the project is ongoing. I am offering weekend courses at £65. You can book, come and learn how to etch and walk away with prints. £5 will be donated to the Workhouse charity each time to cover the cost of the copper that’s been used.”