Artist James is drawn to the fine print

MUCH happens at James Green's kitchen table.

Here, in his Meersbrook semi, the unassuming, wipe-clean tablecloth is the foundation upon which many wonderful things are created.

It's in his kitchen that James runs his personal cottage industry - print making.

And soon, James will be running workshops around Sheffield.

Already, the artist is a member of Sheffield craft collective Craft Candy - and the only male craftsman on the organisation's books.

Giving a quick lesson in lino-printing, James swiftly transforms his kitchen into the setting for a serious craft operation.

Curious-looking tools are placed carefully on the table, and a wooden chopping board is set down alongside pencils, tracing paper and a glass plate.

"Now, did you bring an image?" asks James. "It's wise not to pick an image that's too complicated to start with," he says, somewhat alarmed at the variety of intricately-detailed pictures I have brought to the table.

But before long, and in spite of the intricacy of my pictures, I'm tracing a postcard of two naked mermaids.

"Once you've traced it, you have to transfer the image to the lino," he says, securing the traced mermaid image to a small piece of lino.

"I rub it down with the back of a spoon."

Once the image is drawn on the lino, it's time to start cutting it out.

"Remember that you're getting a reverse effect - the areas you cut out are going to end up being the lightest areas."

I've automatically cut out the darker tones of my image. "Don't worry - it can look really good when you get a reverse effect," James said.

According to James, it's the mistakes that can make for the biggest artistic surprises in lino-printing. "It's a slightly unpredictable medium," he says. "No matter how precise you are with what you do you will always be surprised by the results."

And where art forms such as photography and graphic design progress at warp-speed as a result of emerging technologies, lino-printing is definitely a more archaic, unchanging art form.

"It hasn't changed much in around 500 years," says James. "That's why I like it - it's a really vigorous art form and when you've finished you feel tired. It's a physical craft."

James' prints vary from the surreal - such as a space-age type illustration of a Victorian maid - to the natural, such as scenes looking over Sheffield from Meersbrook. His prints are attentive to detail while being bold and stylised at the same time.

He explains: "Some prints take me longer than others.

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Latest sport One print of a forest scene took me about three months to finish."

And while, judging by James' ease with the medium of lino printing, it seems he has been doing this work for years, it was only last September when he decided to do it on a full-time basis after giving up his job in administration at The University of Sheffield.

James plays in Sheffield folk-classical outfit Big Eyes and the Family Players, who recently toured with folk maestro James Yorkston.

"The opportunity came up to tour for a month with James Yorkston and I realised I wanted to stop working and pursue the art and music.

"It was a good time to take stock of what I was doing and to have a go at something else. I'd visited craft fairs and thought, ‘Hang on a minute, I can have a go at this'."

James joined Craft Candy, which is renowned for taking on quality craftsmen, and sells work at The Old Sweet Shop on Nether Edge Road as well as at farmers' market across Sheffield.

He will be selling his work at the next Craft Candy fair at the Millennium Gallery on November 27.

One forest scene took about three months to finish

Making a good impression: Printer James Green swaps the nine to five routine to follow new opportunities.

Cutting edge: Reporter Rachael Clegg has a go.