Wingate Studio, Hinsdale, NH
Among Bourgeois’s major printmaking collaborators was Wingate Studio, a New Hampshire workshop where some 1,600 sheets were printed for the artist. The relationship, however, was not one of daily contact in the artist’s home/studio. Instead, the long-distance production was instigated and accomplished through the efforts of publisher Ben Shiff, of the Osiris imprint.
Shiff came to know Peter Pettengill, master printer of Wingate, in the latter half of the 1980s, when they worked together on several projects. Once Shiff began his collaboration with Bourgeois in 1988–89, he turned to Pettengill for his expertise in the intaglio techniques of engraving and soft ground etching, which Bourgeois favored.
Pettengill gained his skills at the esteemed Crown Point Press, in California’s Bay Area, before establishing his own workshop on the family farm in Hinsdale, New Hampshire. He continues to print and publish with a range of artists, but remembers his work with Bourgeois as among the high points of his studio practice. It often entailed unusual instructions, such as extensive selective wiping of the plates, or the printing of only partial elements of compositions. It was those fragments on large-scale sheets that were especially stimulating for Bourgeois as she finalized her vision with gouache, watercolor, and pencil additions. Her late burst of printmaking—when she was in her mid-to-late 90s—resulted from the unusual rapport Shiff established with the artist, and the confidence he felt in Wingate Studio to carry out the artist’s creative adaptations of the printmaking medium.