The latest response to our late-semester call for blog submissions comes from VCS first-year student Storey Baldwin, who sent along images of a set of prints she made for the final project in one of Paloma Crousillat’s classes last semester. In the essay below, Storey explains the idea behind the project and the process she eventually arrived at to make the prints.
Toilet Paper Prints
As soon as we got the outline for our final project in Paloma’s History Theory class my thoughts went right to Andy Warhol. I’ve always loved his work and what better way to show my appreciation then to make art that was inspired by his work.
I knew I wanted to make tiny prints. I have only done printmaking once before in high school, but I remember absolutely loving it. That passion mixed with my love for Warhol’s prints made it a done deal. From there I had to come up with my actual design. That was the tricky part.
I was thinking a lot about the culture industry and the COVID-19 world. Finally it hit me. Toilet paper. Why was toilet paper wiped off the shelves? (Hehe see what I did there)?! Toilet paper was once overlooked, used for TPing peoples houses, having mummy wrapping competitions at parties, and of course just the regular use of toilet paper. Now though toilet paper holds a greater significance in society. It has become sacred to an extent. People are rationing out their supplies, hoarding rolls, making sure they have enough, (for what I’m not really sure). If people were to use toilet paper in any other way then just simply going to the bathroom I would not be surprised to see mixed emotions amongst a crowd.
From here I got to work. I sketched out many toilet paper drawings, funny enough I just did a photoshoot with a roll of toilet paper so that made a great reference. My original idea was to make the toilet paper prints very colorful, like Warhol’s prints of Monroe. That meant I would need to carve out multiple blocks and layer the prints.
Once I finished carving the first block and did a few test prints I realized I no longer wanted to carve the other blocks. The prints were so tiny that there was no way I could carve out the right shape and size to fit within my outline of toilet paper. I decided to hand paint my test run of toilet paper prints. Looking them over they just did not sit with me. They looked downright ugly. I compared them with the tests that I did not color and I knew those were way way better. This then led me to print as many prints as I could get out before my block crumbled away.
I started printing on tiny pieces of paper. I made the majority black, then did a few in gold and some in blue. After I made over 50 another idea struck. What if I printed my outline of toilet paper on toilet paper instead of fancy art paper? The irony and the madness this could cause was just so great that I had to experiment.
I ran to my bathroom giddy as could be ripping each little square of toilet paper then running these squares back to my kitchen where I set up my “printmaking shop”. There was no doubt in my mind about the toilet paper ripping when I went to print or that this would not work. Thankfully everything held up until the last square of toilet paper. I printed on it and as soon as I pulled my block up the paper ripped and you could just see on the block how much the design changed from the first print.
This was really such a fun experience. My first idea was not at all where I thought I would end but I am really happy where I got. I took inspiration from Warhol and turned it into a Storey original! Now I have a whole lot of prints of toilet paper on paper and toilet paper which I’m not really sure what to do with yet but I’ve got plenty of time to figure it out!