Printmakers Open Forum

This is a guest post by Nancy Stock-Allen, who amongst her many talents, writes about design, history and traveling, on the delightful blog, Designtraveler.

PMOF opening
(Photo Credit: Stephanie Bell)

Shelley Thorstensen’s Printmakers Open Forum (PMOF) was launched during a joyful opening that extended over the 72 hours of Memorial Day Weekend. We arrived in the middle of the first day, greeted by guests and helpers who buzzed around with contagious enthusiasm. We wondered about the somewhat remote location (deep in the rural, rolling countryside of Oxford, Pennsylvania, surrounded by Amish farmland) but were informed by one of the participants, “If you build it they will come”. And they did — over 150 people stopped by to celebrate.


Certainly, this structure is a “field of dreams” for its founder, printmaker Shelley Thorstensen. After years of working in her home the opportunity for a large scale studio arose when she and her husband, Dale Baggerley, purchased a mid-century Modern home with a backyard with room enough for her dream studio.

Thorstensen and Baggerley did all of the work themselves during the two years of construction. The couple collaborated on the building plan, land grading, erecting the structure and devising the mechanics (along with help from friends and family). Since the entire project was self-funded, keeping the cost low was imperative. Baggerley, a native of Wisconsin (a state he describes as intensely DIY) used his ingenuity combined with purchases from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore (a source for inexpensive sinks and building accessories) to keep the project within the budget.

Building process
Thorstensen points to images chronicling the 2-year building process— much of it going on around the presses.

Baggerley demonstrates part of his extensive air venting system.

Taboret Dale
Baggerley rolling under table taborets –good for storage and additional flat space when needed.

The 48×96 Takach etching press, once owned by painter Kenneth Noland in Vermont, arrived in excellent condition.

Thorstensen’s works are muti-print processes requiring a full range of different presses. In addition to the large Takach the shop houses a 36 x 60 Conrad Litho press, 36 x 54 Dickerson Combination press (above), 24 x 48 Brand etching press, 22 x 38 Shin Nihon Zokei Etching press, and a 12 x 24 portable Brand Etching press, that she uses for offsite workshops.

Ink mixing area, nearby a litho stone graining area.


Processing room
The processing room has a large spray booth, etching trays, exposure unit for silkscreen and photolithography and a silkscreen washout sink.

Jon Irving printing free goodies for the guests.

Pof details
More printed give-aways displayed by event designer Gaux Folie / Logo design by Tyler student, Jess Stoltrin. (Photo: Margaux McAllister/Gaux Folie)

Current past and future students
The front room is multipurpose. The garage door (left) opens to permit open-air expansion for events such as the upcoming Tibetan paper- making workshop in August. It also functions as a life-drawing studio.

Thorstensen is deeply committed to teaching and collaboration. Currently she is on the Printmaking faculty at Tyler School of Art of Temple University. She realized that there was a potential for expanding her teaching in her new studio, and struck upon the idea of offering continuing education opportunities in annual atelier sessions for advanced printmakers and by inviting visiting artists to conduct short, intimate workshops (limit of 5- 8 participants).

Located midway between Philadelphia and Baltimore, Thorstensen sees PMOF as a destination for international and national artists traveling to the East Coast, as well as regional artists. With the wall paint barely dry workshops have already been scheduled for this summer. In addition to her July Atelier Intensive, she has scheduled a special event team-teaching with engraver Richie Lasansky and in mid-August Alexis Granwell will instruct on the age-old process of Tibetian paper making. The rest of the season Thorstensen will be preparing for an upcoming show at Union Gallery at Wagner College on Staten Island. Her work is in numerous museums, public and private collections and is represented by Dolan/Maxwell Gallery in Philadelphia.

Views of the backyard from inside and outside of the studio.

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Categories: Interesting Printmaking, Printshop Tour

One Response to “Printmakers Open Forum”

  1. Ann Kalmbach says:

    Shelley (and Dale), That is one beautiful studio. Bravo!