Getting to Know: The Big Tuna

The Arvada Center celebrates all things PRINT! From now until March 24, all of our galleries are currently hosting exhibitions that explore printmaking and its many processes, and following these exhibitions, one of the biggest stars in the printmaking business will be right here at the Center - The Big Tuna! On April 6 and 7, join us for BIG INK, where Lyell Castonguay teaches you how to carve a woodblock, and culminates into you printing your carving on a custom-built giant printing press. The name of that printing press? The Big Tuna. Read on as Castonguay's shares with us the reasoning behind the funny name, and what it is like working with The Big Tuna. 
.
Q: Where did The Big Tuna get the name The Big Tuna?

A: The Big Tuna got its name because it's large and powerful like the fish!

Q: Do you remember the first item ever printed on The Big Tuna?

A: My piece "New City" was the first woodblock that I printed on The Big Tuna. "New City" has an underlying ecological theme. Despite the tragic sight of wrens carrying their home away, the image has a prevailing sense of wonder. The viewer can witness these birds enduring despite losing their habitat. You can see "New City" here. 

Q: Printing presses are big! What is it about The Big Tuna that makes it portable?

A: Typically, a printmaking press that produces large images weighs several tons due to the immense pressure required. So, I faced the challenge of designing and commissioning a lightweight press that could create high-quality woodblock prints. To solve this problem, I created a modular design made of several pieces. I also designed a rolling table that raises and lowers to store it in a cargo van during transport, and a lightweight press bed that folds in half.  Plus, the main roller of the press is hollow, which saves on weight. The press weighs around 500 pounds and is much more portable than the traditional presses.

Q: How long does it take to print something on The Big Tuna? What's the process?

A: The time it takes to pull a single print using The Big Tuna dramatically varies. A lot depends on the size of the image and the size of the inking roller used. I can print a 24" by 36" woodblock in minutes, but a 40" by 96" image can take much longer. It's like printing a giant handmade stamp. The process starts by carving a design into a large block of wood, which is then inked and pressed onto paper by the machine. Most BIG INK workshop participants spent several months carving their blocks, so the final minutes of inking and printing are genuinely the most exciting part of the process to experience!

Q: Any funny mishaps with The Big Tuna?

A: I like to dress up The Big Tuna Press with lots of fish-related decor. That includes a tiny fish-shaped trim, a shiny mermaid-scale skirt, and plastic tuna figurines attached to the top of the press.  Once in a blue moon, the decor can get a bit in the way of our work, and the tuna figurines get accidentally knocked off.  It's okay, though - since they are magnetic, we stick them back on!

Q: What do you hope to see in The Big Tuna's future?

A: Woodblock printmaking is an incredible art form that brings together people of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences; I am fortunate to meet and work with many wonderful people!  In the future, I want to continue to grow our community, encourage more people to try woodblock carving and help continue the legacy of this historical art form. Also, I'd like to find ways for BIG INK participants to network better, such as a private forum and member database, so this nationwide community has a dedicated online space to connect and grow. I'm currently working on these features as we speak. I can't wait to visit Arvada this spring and share the joy of printmaking with the people in your community.
.
Come see The Big Tuna printing it out at BIG INK on April 6 and 7!
Home,Reignite the Arts,Donate Now,Donate Now,Corporate Giving,Art Circle,2024-2025 Theatre Season,Renew,Visit Us,View All Events,Roland Bernier: In Other Words,Word Play,Lola Montejo: After Another After,Floyd D. Tunson: Ascent,Anthony Garcia Sr: Pigment,Pamela Webb: Hand + Hammer,Lauri Lynnxe Murphy: Seeing the Trees For the Forest,Pink Progression: Collaborations,Imprint: Print Educators of Colorado,528.0: Regional Juried Printmaking Exhibition,Wood.Works,Carley Warren: Three Pieces,Viral Influence: Art in the Time of Coronavirus,Brady Smith: (Don’t be embarrassed by) Your Trouble with Living,Melody Epperson: 100 Years + 1,Blurring The Line,Narkita Gold: Black In Denver,Art of the State 2022,One Sheet,Colorado Abstract +10: A Survey,Gary Staab: Second Nature,Flora: Scientific Botanical Illustrations of Colorado Plants,Art + Science,Jeffco Schools Foundation High School Art Exhibition,Wendy Kowynia: Following the Thread,Bueno: Mark Bueno,Ramón Bonilla: The boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places for me.,Drawn: From The Source,Day of African Culture,Big Draw Colorado,Rockley Instrument Sale,Allyship & Advocacy in Action: Supporting the LGBTQAI+ Community,Beautiful - The Carole King Musical,Fine Art Market,Holiday Pottery Sale,A Year With Frog and Toad,Kaleidoscope,Spring Pottery Sale,53rd Annual Jeffco Schools Foundation High School Art Exhibition,Matt Christie: Between Then and Now,Robin Cole: Genesis,3rd Law Dance/Theater,Emilio Lobato: A Mi Manera A 40-Year Survey,Latitude 37° Art of Southern Colorado,The Laramie Project,The Laramie Project Talkbacks with Judy and Dennis Shepard,Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella,Hazel Miller and the Collective: Christmas with Soul,Noises Off,Sue Oehme Inclusions,Artist Proof: Print Process at Oehme Graphics,Salon des Refusés: Rejects Pop-Up and Performance Event,So…You Want to be a Public Artist: Navigating Rejection in Art,Voices of Honor,Standing for Humanity in Gaza and Israel ,Colcha Embroidery of the San Luis Valley,Denver Gay Men's Chorus: Shout!,inFORMed Space: Perspectives in Sculpture,Spin Doctors with Cracker,Orquesta Akokán with Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen,Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble: Prisms,I Regret to Inform You…Rejected Public Art,Denver Brass presents: Brass, Camera, Action,Kingfish,Corinne Bailey Rae,CJRO Presents: Lady Sings the Groove with Tatiana LadyMay Mayfield,Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder,Mozart Under Moonlight,Melissa Etheridge: I’m Not Broken Tour,Yola,Preservation Hall Jazz Band,The High Kings and Gaelic Storm,Big Richard,Lyle the Crocodile,Clybourne Park,Once Upon A Mattress,A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder,Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really,New Album Release: Golden Lady with Tatiana LadyMay Mayfield,Summertime in Winter: The Music of Gershwin and more, Community Cultural Celebration and Concert with Baaba Maal,Guitar Gods: Metheny, Montgomery, and More,Tower of Power,A Tribute to Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops,Waitress - Audio Described Performance,Waitress - ASL Performances,Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really - ASL Performances,Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really - Audio Described Performance,Once Upon A Mattress - Sensory Friendly Performances,Once Upon A Mattress - ASL Performances,Once Upon A Mattress - Audio Described Performance,Lyle the Crocodile - Sensory Friendly Performance,Lyle the Crocodile - ASL Shadow Interpreted Performances,Clybourne Park - ASL Performances,Clybourne Park - Audio Described Performance,A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder - ASL Performances,A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder - Audio Described Performance,Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812,Waitress,Honeymoon In Vegas,Funkin’ it Up,MUGSHOT: Artistic Drinking Vessels,Wright Place, Wrong Time: Triumphs & Flops for Mid-Century Modern Table,Bebe Alexander: Impact & Influence,Accessibility Events,Amplify,Theatre,Upcoming Shows,2024-2025 Theatre Season,Renew,Performances for Students,Auditions,Galleries,Current Exhibitions,Gallery Events,Upcoming Exhibitions,Art Sales,Art Submissions,Art Market Application,Sculpture Field,History Museum,Archive,Education,View All Classes,Summer Camps,Full Day,Summer Camp Performances,FAQ,Spring Break Camps,Classes for Kids,Classes for Adults,Ceramics,Front Range Youth Symphony,Dance Classes,Links and Forms,Arts Day,Arts Day Outreach,Ageless Adults,Scholarships,Field Trips and Outreach,ECE Field Trips,K-5 Field Trips,Middle and High School Field Trips,Outreach Programs,Preschool Partnership Program,Music and Dance,Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra,Summer Concerts,Humanities,Private Event Rentals,Caterers,Vendors,Arvada Center News,Getting to Know The Big Tuna,Getting to Know: Keith Ewer and his Hammered Dulcimer,Understanding Farce in Theatre,2024 Summer Concert Series Playlist Volume 1,2024 Summer Concert Series artists and who they sound like,Getting To Know - Yola,Introducing the opening acts of the Arvada Center 2024 Summer Concert Series,Adapted for the stage - the previous lives of the 2024-2025 theatre season,Inside the Arvada Center,Humans of the Arvada Center: Meet Collin Parson ,Christina Noel-Adcock,Humans of the Arvada Center: Meet Christine Moore,Humans of the Arvada Center: Ashi K. Smythe,City of Arvada to install new sculpture in Hoskinson Park,Humans of the Arvada Center Jessie Page,Humans of the Arvada Center Cal Meakins,Supreme Court workplace ruling hits home for Lisa Leafgreen,'Time for talk is over': Arvada Center launch 'Amplify' series to raise black male voices,Humans of the Arvada Center Jon Olson ,Revealing The Dialogue,Amplify Epiode 3 launches, series expanding to include black women,Humans of the Arvada Center: Gabriel Morales,Cleo Parker Robinson dances back in the box with Arvada Center,Amplify turns the mic over to local Black women ,Humans of the Arvada Center: Meet Emily King,Amplify Women Episode 2,amplify-series-comes-to-powerful-conclusion,Humans of the Arvada Center: John Hamilton,On being Black in Denver and all the colors that it brings,2020 True West Awards: Buntpivot ,2020 True West Awards: Lily Bradford,2020 True West Awards: The Scenesters,2020 True West Awards: Podcastic,2020 True West Awards: Phamaly takes 'Honk' to Japan,2020 True West Awards: Christine Moore,2020 True West Awards: Alive Inside,2020 True West Awards: Michael Ensminger,True West Awards: They Wrote the Book,True West Awards: Rent-A-Pals,True West Awards: Of Spacious Skies,True West Awards: Christopher Page-Sanders,2020 True West Awards: Suffer the little children,2020 True West Awards: Spirit of Giving,2020 True West Awards: Secret Gardeners,2020 True West Awards: Denis Berkfeldt,2020 True West Awards: Amplify,2020 True West Awards: Reclaiming One Star,2020 True West Awards: William Hahn and Jessica Robblee,2020 True West Awards: Lisa Wagner Erickson,Meet the Frasers,Reunite the Arts Collin Parson,Jodie Steeves and Nancy Terry,Reunite the Arts Lisa Leafgreen,Remembering John Gratkins,Reunite the Arts: From our CEO,Danielle Johnson Q&A,Reunite the Arts Lynne Collins,The Show Must Go On,Diana and Mike Kinsey,Meet Suzanna Champion,The Gear of Million Dollar Quartet,Stories From the Studio,Hispanic Heritage Month: Meet Lares Feliciano,An interview with Geoffrey Kent: The Liar,An interview with Jada Suzanne Dixon: Stick Fly,An interview with Jessica Robblee: Animal Farm,Fast Facts About Kinky Boots,Costume Department Boots Up,Rod A Lansberry Announces Retirement from Arvada Center,Lynne Collins Named Artistic Director of Arvada Center Theatre,Setting the mood: Into the Woods Set Designer Brian Mallgrave,What is Magical Realism?,Hispanic Heritage Month: Meet Ana María Hernando,Meet Ceramics Artist Luanne Burke,From student to teacher: Hadley’s story,Tackling the Beast,Things to Know About Our Town,Creating the Look of Our Town: A Q and A with Set Designer Brian Mallgrave,Whatever Lola Wants - A Deep Dive into the Damn Yankees Signature Song,Selling Your Soul - A Pop Culture Favorite,The Book Club Play Reads,Metatheatre Elements in Our Town - When a Play Knows It's a Play,90s Throwback Vibe with Arvada Center 2023 Summer Concert Series,Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra at the Arvada Center,Opening Acts of the Arvada Center 2023 Summer Concert Series,Getting to know Baaba Maal,Big Draw Highlights,The Music of Keb' Mo,Getting to Know Lucero,Listen to the hits of Carole King with this playlist,Carole King: The Writer Behind The Music,Songs inspired by Matthew Shepard,Summer Internship at The Arvada Center,Arvada Center journeys to Southern Colorado : A Photo Diary,Arvada Center and Colorado Chapter of Free Mom Hugs share the love,Costume Inspiration for Cinderella with Costume Designer Madison Booth,The Many Faces of Cinderella,Arvada Center awarded Social Impact Theatre Grant from Biller Family Foundation,The music that influenced the music of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,Volunteer,Accessibility,Web Accessibility,About Us,Ticketing Policies,Authorized Ticketing,Group Tickets,Ticket Discounts,Contact Us,Health and Safety,Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access,Careers,Tours,Temp,Land Acknowledgement,What To Expect at the Theatre,One Sheet Music,Gift Certificates,Privacy Policy,Gala,Gala Sponsors,Errors,404,Concessions