Images from the successful castprinting workshop September 2016

We were fortunate to have the pleasure of Jon George sharing his expertise and castprinting technique in the workshop at the gallery 24-28 September. All the places were taken up and everyone enjoyed themselves and worked hard.

This post has photos from the workshop. I’ve included at the end a list of all of the equipment and materials needed for this process. It isn’t a full explanation of the process, but just intended as a reminder for if we run the course again or any people who attended. And the photos are roughly in the order of the process except for the prints that I have included next to their glass painting or cast block for comparison purposes. Clicking on any image will enlarge it and allow you to scroll through the set as a slideshow.

For this printing process you need:

  • Ingredients for gesso – chalk and a water soluble binder
  • A small water bottle with suitable lid for allowing small drops of water
  • A piece of glass to paint your image on, bigger than the image you want to make
  • A smaller piece of glass or tile to mix the gesso on
  • Another piece of glass to roll out your ink on at the printing stage
  • 4 pieces of wood the same thickness, bigger than the image you wish to make
  • Palette knife (knives) to mix your gesso
  • Paint brushes to paint your image with gesso
  • A handful of clay to seal the wood on to your glass as a frame to then pour plaster into
  • Plaster
  • A bucket to mix the plaster in
  • 2 cups – one to measure the dry plaster the other to measure water – preferrably with handles
  • A wet area for washing off plaster from any buckets and cups and washing the gesso of the plaster cast
  • Ink
  • Paper
  • White spirit or turps (to clean off the oil based ink)
  • Rollers for the ink and for pressing the paper on to the cast block
  • Lots of cloths and newspaper for cleaning up

Future plans

Jon George is working on a book about his work, life and the castprinting process. We hope that he will be able to return to the gallery next year and run some more workshops on this technique and also painting with egg tempera. If you are interested in any of these things, please contact us  (if you are not already on the mailing list for updates) or check back on this website regularly.

Photographs by Karen Cropper and Bernard Young.

Learn Unique Castprinting Technique from Artist Jon George


We have the exciting opportunity to learn from Jon George about his Castprinting technique in a workshop running over four afternoons (24th-28th September not including Sunday) at the gallery. The workshop will be along the lines of the workshops he runs regularly from his London studio.

The Castprinting Technique

Castprinting is a new block printing method, which Jon developed when wanting to ‘reinvent woodcut with brushes.’ In most relief printing methods the image is carved in the block. However, in the Castprint block it is derived from painting – not cutting.

The three basic stages of Castprinting are:

  1. Making artwork on a plate of glass.
  2. From the artwork a plaster block is cast.
  3. Print impressions are then taken from the block.

In our case the timetable is 2-5pm each day, as follows:

  1. Saturday 24th and Monday 26th Sept will be making the artwork on the plate of glass.
  2. Tuesday 27th Sept artwork to plaster block.
  3. Wednesday 28th Sept print impressions from the block.

Character of Castprinting

Castprinting is a successful form of printing. People of all kinds love its simplicity and find working with gesso as a painting medium appealing. While the final results in the print faithfully render the brushwork in surprising and unusual ways. Castprints share those qualities expected of block printing, such as solid deposits of ink and colour that one wants to touch.

It has a tonal quality

Due to a subtlety of relief depth in the Castprint block, a wide variety of ink deposit creates the equivalent of tonal variation in the final print. This is new to relief printing.

Mirror imaging is solved

A typical relief print produces a mirror image, as it has but two phases A-B. But the three phases of Castprint: painting, casting and printing make it an A-B-A process and so the print emerges right-handed.

It is a viable printing method

The hard plaster of the printing blocks, make them capable of producing any number of prints.

The workshop will be fun and can be experimental

Castprinting courses are always interesting and challenging and different groups have brought new approaches leading to innovations. An example of this was with some art students in Morocco who insisted on using toothbrushes to flick the gesso to get a textural half tone effect. Jon said it probably would not work – but it did and their work was lovely.

Workshop fees, materials and equipment.

The cost of the full course is £60 plus £5 for materials which will be provided. It would be best to try to come to all 4 sessions to have the chance to see and try out all steps in the process and produce your own art work with the technique. But if you are only able to come to one the cost is £15 for each plus materials used. Please wear appropriate clothing for getting messy.

Here is a video about the technique, of a workshop at Jon’s London studio. This workshop will be taking place at St John’s Hall Gallery Barmouth, which is a different set up.

About Jon George

Jon’s exhibition of paintings and prints can be seen at the gallery 4th-30th September.

More information about Jon George:

Vine print
‘Vine’, photo-castprint 57x68cm (23″x27″) copyright Jon George

Open Day and Carnival

carnival-poster a4

Giant Puppet Dance – Calling for Puppeteers


Fancy being a Puppet Master? We are experimenting with creating a Giant Puppet Dance Group, to perform, initially, at the Puppet Carnival on July 23rd. The aim is to create simple round dances that can be performed by these giants. Hard and hot work, but could be a lot of fun.

First meeting will be on Friday 15th July at 7.30pm in St John’s Hall Gallery, Barmouth

Just turn up if you’re interested.

Arabic Calligraphy Workshops on Wednesdays in August

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Atelier Day Information: Every Thursday 11am – 5pm

Image details: École des Beaux-Arts – Atelier de Peintre. ‘Students painting “from life” at the École. Photographed late 1800s. Public domain
Image details: École des Beaux-Arts – Atelier de Peintre. ‘Students painting “from life” at the École. Photographed late 1800s. Public domain

Every Thursday from 11am to 5pm in St Johns Hall Gallery. Parking is available.

Artists who wish to be involved in the Atelier Days can make contact by telephoning Bernard at 07767862382, emailing to or, better still, visiting the gallery and booking your working area. First come, first served. There will be space for about 6 artist.

Each artist should bring along a piece of work they are currently involved in, or they may begin some new project. Bring easel and paints or whatever materials you use, whatever medium. We will provide a good working area, as much advice and help as we can give, a kitchen for drinks etc. We have a proto-library of art books and reference material and will soon have access to the internet. Work on video art is possible with the equipment we have.

The idea is to work towards a group show in the gallery next summer. The artists may wish to work individually or in groups.

During the day visitors may wander in from the street to look around the gallery, which will remain open except during any life drawing sessions we may wish to organise. There will be opportunity to interact with the public and fellow artists, and a time will be set aside at the end of the day for a general critique.

Each session will cost £10



Poetry Workshops on Monday 18th August

Poster advert for poetry workshops

On Monday 18 August, poet Bernard Young led two poetry writing workshops at the Gallery. This was a new activity, kindly funded by the National Theatre Wales TEAM, which meant we could offer the workshops for free.

The first workshop, 11am to 1pm, was aimed at family groups. We had a disappointing turnout of just one family of mother, father and 4 year old daughter (3 in total). But the workshop went ahead anyway. Bernard performed some of his songs with guitar (videos will be on the Gallery YouTube channel soon) and read example poems and then worked with the group to write their own, a short one was then read out and recorded.

A participant in the workshop

The second workshop 2-4pm was aimed at adults. This had better attendance. 9 adults in total, 4 who had never written any poetry before. All ‘locals’ not holiday visitors. 1 came by train from neighbouring village. Bernard read a few of his poems then did some short writing exercises and each person read out what they had written. Then they wrote a poem about earliest memories. Then looked at pictures in the gallery and postcards as a source for inspiration. They again read out their pieces. All seemed to enjoy the experience of both writing and performing to others.

It’s hard to know whether the poor response to the morning workshop was a result of marketing not being targeted right or lack of demand. We discussed it and feel that if aiming at holiday makers in future then maybe towards the end of the week (Thursday or Friday) is better, as there is generally a weekly turn around of visitors arriving on Friday or Saturdays, so that would allow time to see the marketing. But we suspect the tourist population visiting Barmouth in the school holiday season are more interested in beach-based activities and we may have more success aiming at locals out of season.

If you would be interested in more regular activities like this at the Gallery, please comment below or use the contact details on the contact us page.

Three participants in the workshop

Jan Wolf writing workshop on Thursday 28th August

Poser advertising 28 August writing workshopOn Thursday 28 August Jan Wolf is leading a writing workshop. The two-hour workshop, starting at 2pm, will involve techniques to get the pen rolling. The writing will be for fun and self discovery, with the accent on enjoyment of the creative process. Jan talks about what she plans to do in the workshop in the video below.

Thoughts on the Puppet Workshop and the Carnival



  • All the masks to be larger than lifesize, with costumes, enabling humans to be inside.
  • All the characters must be mobile, so that we can form a procession and walk down the street.
  • There will be a series of workshops, announced to the public, where people help to make large papier mache heads. Other people will be involved in sewing the costumes.
  • Collect some ideas for figures

Automatons for publicity

I am trying to design an automaton that could be stood in the street anchored, (temporarily) to a lamp post or telegraph pole. They could be left around the town in various spots, but only for a few days, and then they would be re-tethered elsewhere.
The idea is that these little objects invite a passersby to turn a handle. An unseen mechanism causes a head to arise from the box-like object and at the same time its arms will rise akimbo. A sort of wing like thing can be trailed to the lower edge of the arm, something that folds back into the slot of the box.
At the height of the head, with a lot of neck showing and the arms straight out, there is a click and the handle stops while the head and arms return to folded position back in the box. At the base of the box, near the creature’s feet a little door opens and a printed card is deposited on the floor. It is an advertisement for the gallery.
Feeding this creature with little cards will enable us to see how successful it is being at attracting attention. Outside the box will be brightly and gaily painted.
This is only the prototype. All sorts of variations can be designed.
Stoutly made and firmly tethered, I guess these objects should stand a lot of ware. It will be interesting to see. Care must be taken to see that they cannon cause harm.
In this way, among others, we can arouse interest in the Gallery.
So far I have come up with an idea of how to construct a flat 4’ high box that contains a sliding wooden section with a place for a head. Some of these components are now cut out, but I am designing on the hoof. It is curious to observe the way the mind gophers about inside the gormenghast of our minds and comes up with a bright idea. It is very invigorating to be forced to think outside the box, to enter completely new territory, how to make a crank lift a weight, how to use that lifting to power other processes that may be triggered later. Much can be accomplished with string, pulleys and weights in this respect. The use of rocking bars, cams, counterbalances, springs and so on, are engineering problems that the puppeteer endeavours to manufacture in wood, with a few bars and wheels of metal.
The process requires vision, foresight, not with too much precise, but a goal a nirvana. It depends entirely on our ability to imagine, to throw a world view forward in time, into indeterminate space, and envisage a new reality. That facility, it seems to me, gifts us humans a great power. We can circumnavigate evolution by thinking out the pitfalls, foresee the niches and go for it, for the jugular.
I suppose that there is a selective advantage in having an imagination, just as there is a selective advantage in being, or be susceptible to being, a believer.