greeley-lifestyle-artist-issue-3420-550?v=1

Pressed by Hand

Wonderhand Studios’ Mission to Unite Greeley Through Art, One Press at a Time

Article by Taylor Henderson

Photography by Shel Francis Creative

Originally published in Greeley Lifestyle

Wonderhand Studios has an appreciation of art and community in its foundation. The studio and artists specialize in non-toxic relief printing methods like woodcut, linocut, relief engraving, and letterpress. Johanna Mueller founded the studio with her husband, Stan Scott; both have their MFAs in printmaking and experience teaching art classes. They’ve amassed a collection of equipment for themselves since graduate school, but they always knew they wanted to share it with a larger arts community.

According to Johanna, “Printmaking revolves around the printing press, much like ceramics revolves around the kiln. But it is equipment that not everyone has in their home, so public studios exist.” She and Stan used the backyard of their Fort Collins house as a makeshift studio to host artists and to teach small classes. But they wanted something that could accommodate more people. 

When Johanna and Stan found teaching positions at Aims and UNC, it was natural to move to Greeley and establish a commercial studio there.

Wonderhand found its home at 721 7th St, in Downtown Greeley. The skylights sold Johanna on the location—natural light is essential for artists. She and Stan moved their four printing presses to the studio, in addition to a few they had in storage. Their soft opening came in January 2020, and they looked forward to a promising year of art. A year that ended in March when the lockdowns began.

Johanna says the pandemic gave her and Stan time to reevaluate their offerings and focus on what Greeley’s community needed. Then, it was a space for people to create art, one-on-one. With a tight-knit community like the printmaking one, information about Wonderhand Studios’ change spread quickly. Between 2020 and 2022, Johanna had people coming in to work on their individual projects—and she even garnered a few studio memberships.

Those studio memberships are still active now. After selecting their area of specialization, artists gain unlimited access to and use of the equipment at Wonderhand. The Studio boasts several presses, including ones for etching, lithography, and letterpress, as well as paper cutters, steel and butcher block worktables, pressure washers, and shared hand tools. Artists can choose between a printshop membership (with multiple tiers), studio rental, and drop-in usage. Johanna and Stan provide an incredible opportunity to established artists and those interested in getting started. The two biggest barriers to art are knowledge and materials, and Wonderhand Studios neatly and affordably solves both issues.

They have also modified their approach to teaching, in the wake of a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico in October 2022. A hub for printmaking, Oaxaca stunned them with its simple studios and dazzling workmanship. The pair took a woodcutting class with other tourists; the instructor handed them a tool, a block, a few instructions, and set them free. These two university professors discovered a new style of instruction, one that moved away from a collegiate structure and sought to help people just make art. They developed the “Renegade Relief” class for Wonderhand Studios. Designed to be approachable and high-quality, economical and accessible, the class was incredibly popular.

For those interested in printmaking—great news! The Studio’s list of classes is growing in 2024. Previously, the “Renegade Relief” class was offered on repeat as a way for people to improve their skills. Johanna decided to split the class into two levels: “Beginners Luck,” for anyone new to the studio or the process of printmaking, and “Repeat Offenders,” an independent-study style class that allows artists to work on a project, receive feedback from Johanna and Stan and learn advanced techniques.

Beyond printmaking, Johanna is also introducing letterpress classes, which will teach artists how to use Gutenberg-style moveable type. And, to make art display-ready, she will also hold framing classes throughout 2024, allowing anyone to drop in and frame their work. These drop-in hours also extend to the printing presses (further Wonderhand’s mission to provide affordable art to Greeley). Johanna said it best: “Our business model is artist-focused, so we don’t have normal retail hours.” Wonderhand Studios is open for classes, the occasional open studios, and its artist members.

For anyone interested in taking a class or reserving studio space, email Johanna at wonderhandstudios@gmail.com. You can often find her in the studio working on her own projects, and she’s happy to answer any questions you have about Wonderhand, potential memberships and studio spaces. Find them online at www.wonderhandstudios.com or on Instagram @wonderhandstudios. If you’re interested in more of Johanna's work, you can find it at JohannaMuellerPrints.com and @johannamuellerprints on Instagram.

“Our business model is artist-focused, so we don’t have normal retail hours.” –Johanna Mueller

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