Riverhouse Editions printers Christie Ginanni, left, an Britt Hoyl precisely position a plate on the press.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Riverhouse Editions printers Christie Ginanni, left, an Britt Hoyl precisely position a plate on the press.

New editions

Riverhouse printing staff settles into renovated space

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Riverhouse Editions printers, from left, Jonathan Hands, Christie Ginanni and Britt Hoyl examine the final print.

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Different colored inks are applied to printing plates at Riverhouse Editions.

— For the artists who work at Riverhouse Editions, making prints of original pieces can be taxing.

"You get the Popeye arm, but only on the right side," said Britt Hoyl, explaining why the repetitive motion of carefully removing thick excess ink from a fresh print can be so physically tiring.

On a day when the staff at Riverhouse is going full-force, the wall in the printmaking shop's main studio can be filled with reproductions of original pieces, made by the artists that owner William van Straaten and master printer Susan Hover Oehme have invited to work in the shop.

That means the Riverhouse Editions staff has to ink, clean and re-ink dozens of plates to pass through the workshop's 10-foot-long etching press.

"We physically can't do more than this wall," Oehme said about the time-consuming process. In its 20th year, Riverhouse Editions has moved out of its North Routt County artists' workshop and expanded its space off Downhill Drive in Steamboat Springs.

"It just suddenly became clear that it was the perfect artists' studio to replace what we were losing up in Clark," Oehme said of the renovated space, which features several rooms for the various etching techniques and chemical processes Riverhouse uses to produce and edition prints. Eventually, the space will include a small gallery and opportunities for artist workshops.

After a summer of working with artists from across the country, the staff at Riverhouse Editions is busy making reproductions of their work.

Those pieces - along with some Riverhouse has made in the past - will go to high-end art fairs in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles during winter.

"Once we finish projects, then we enter into the art fair season, which has been the primary way that we market everything," Oehme said. A retrospective of work from 2008 is on display at the van Straaten Gallery in Denver.

Each summer, the studio space at Riverhouse Editions belongs to a handpicked artist for two or three weeks at a time. That artist produces original work to be editioned - or reprinted in small batches - and might also make a few one-of-a-kind pieces, or monotypes. Oehme said those artists have to be agreeable because the staff at Riverhouse works well into each night and through many weekends.

"We have to like their work, No. 1, and they have to be easy to work with," Oehme said. "They have to be willing to collaborate; that's a big thing with this process."

When visiting artists aren't using the studio, Oehme said she'd like to set up a workshop series, possibly leaving the space empty for one week each month to go over the basics of lithography, solar printing or other techniques. The space also could be available for rent on a daily or weekly basis, she said.

Until spring, the staff at Riverhouse Editions will work to market and produce its fine art prints, the room that will one day be a gallery will continue to hold a pool table, and the printing press will keep running.

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