Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Making print plates 4

The fourth plate I made was a fairly basic kind of collagraphs, the kind we probably all made as students! I used cardboard, cork sheet and self-adhesive foam letters to make a marine ply plate covered in letters. I wanted to see whether the different surfaces printed in interesting ways. Like many other textile artists, I like including text and lettering in my work, so this plate was made with a specific context in mind.

I did three test prints with Permaset inks on cartridge paper. Although the plate was sealed, the sealing clearly wasn't adequate, so the plate, especially the cardboard, gradually disintegrated. The foam letters were also ink-greedy, as you'd expect.

I actually don't mind the final plate, which I'll seal again for future printing. I like the way there are gaps and partial letters. I may make more partial letters with cork sheet, as I like the speckly texture it gives.
This is one you'll definitely see again!

Monday, 31 August 2015

Making print plates 3

At our playday last month, we were trying out a new medium from Derivan Matisse called Medium 37. This is a high gloss self levelling pouring medium about the consistency of pouring cream. After watching a few videos, I thought we might try using it to create a low-relief print plate by trickling it over the surface of marine ply and allowing it to dry in interesting shapes.

Wet medium
Dry plate
As you can see, it was really a bit too runny for that purpose, though it didn't spread out to cover the whole board.

My only print so far was with acrylic paint. I thought the tackiness of it might work with this fairly slippery surface.

I did get some interesting marks, which make me feel the plate has promise for general patterning on paper. But it was a dry day and, even with retarder added, the acrylics were a bit quick to dry. I was being lazy, not getting out the printing inks, and it shows.

I have some ideas for using this plate, so I expect you'll see it again!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Making print plates 2

My second and third plates were made without the press, using the same principle. I used foam meat tray instead of foam core, as it's softer, and impressed a leaf into it with the marble rolling pin. It's not a deep impression, as the leaves were fragile and softer than most of the materials I used on the foam core plate.

I printed it with my baren and black Permaset printing inks. Of the four prints, two were pretty ordinary - you may see them later as I do different things with them. But there were two that I liked. The left one was inked and then wiped back heavily; the right one was just a straight print.

I really like these and they're going into my Fibrecircle Trees book.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Making print plates 1

A few weeks ago, I had a playday with my friend Claire, making printing plates of various kinds. She brought along her little press, which was fun to worth with, although we didn't actually get time to print with it. But it didn't go unused!

The first print plates were made using the press. We had some various weights of foam core board to experiment with. The idea was to lay firm items on the foam core and run it through the press to create impressions in the board.

Here's one that Claire did, about to go through the press.

This was my print plate which was made with string, mesh and other disparate objects. I added some drawn elements into the foam core, to emphasise the shapes emerging, which were vaguely reminiscent of a pond scene.
I printed the plate with black Permaset printing inks on cartridge paper, using by turns my baren, a spoon and fingers. This is the best of the half-dozen prints:
Nothing special, huh? I found that the water-based printing inks really didn't much like the shiny surface of the foam core - I think oil-based inks print better but I choose not to use them. It's also pretty clear to me that this kind of print plate really needs a press to work successfully. Better paper would help but I wasn't going to waste my little stash of good paper, if I couldn't get a better test print than this on cartridge paper.
A few days later, I did a second set of prints using my marble rolling pin. I like this method on small prints, as it allows for fairly even pressure over the surface of the plate, akin to small press printing. Sometimes I get really great results.

I deliberately chose some printing ink that was ever so slightly stiff, as I thought that might help with the tack problems on the foam core. It really didn't improve matters so I wasn't getting good coverage on the plate.  But it did give me some interesting results. I quite like this one, as it looks a bit misty. I have a few of these misty ones, so I might experiment with other techniques to work on them further.
I kept experimenting with the tackiness of the medium as I continued printing. I did get some prints with better coverage, although they are paler due to the addition of base medium and water.
After I'd been printing for a while, I went too far with the medium, made it a bit too runny and really over-inked the plate. I did several pulls to clean it. However, that actually worked in my favour. How often have I decided printing really isn't working out today, only to do a couple of final pulls that make it all worthwhile?
This is the second print from the over-inked plate...
... and this is a monotype from the first print from the plate, which looked like a completely blue page, with no details at all. (That's why it's reversed compared to all the others.)
 I really like these as prints. The runny inks have given them a texture and depth that was mostly lacking in the other prints. Not especially like the plate but interesting.
I've done some stuff with some of the other prints from this plate, which I'll post about after I finish talking about the other plates I made.
You can see Claire's much better results on one of her foam core plates, using oil-based inks, on her blog.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Something different with pastels

I've been trying to find a minute to blog about something new I tried recently.

Like many of us, I have a stash of all different kinds of art media. That includes soft pastels and oil pastels. I've never liked using pastels, because they are so incredibly messy, and I get pastel dust everywhere. I never seem to have fixative to hand (I don't use hair spray either) and the results have never been all that satisfactory.

Then recently, I read about a different way to use pastels. First, you lay down soft pastel colour, blending several similar shades. Then you paint over the loose powder with either gesso or gel medium. I used gesso, which softens the colour considerably; apparently gel medium retains the bright colours.

This sounded like fun, so I decided to make my May trees for my journal using this method. I created a background with the soft pastels and gesso, and then used my tree stencils to add more pastel colour and gesso. On some, I raked the loose colour on the stencil from the previous time back onto the next background. I added shadows with dark and highlights with white oil pastels, once the gesso had dried.

It was fun to do and I like the results much better than my previous attempts with pastels of any kind.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Untethered - out of hand

I meant to write more here about my work for out of hand  but I got distracted between other blogs and the Untethered Facebook group.

I'm finally about to print my silhouetted lady - this week, I hope! I know exactly what I want to do with her now, so it's just a matter of doing it. Once I have her printed, I'll post a progress photo.

What you'll see first is the lady with the bright red label Wanton. Once you get closer, you'll be able to see that the background is built up of positive words, in a font like ransom or poison pen letters. They fade into the background because of that strong label. Stay tuned for images...

Monday, 8 June 2015

Sailing to Byzantium

I finished my page for this project week or so ago. See how quick and easy it is, once you get the idea? I've added the Greek text - the beginning of John's gospel, "In the beginning was the Word..." as a second sheet behind the first, so it's partly obscured. I'm hoping they look like a couple of old sheets of parchment.

I also have a structure for my book now. I had used the last two verses of the Yeats poem of the same name as inspiration for the participants. So I decided I'd use the same verse as the structure. The actual poem is probably now just out of copyright, as Yeats died in 1939, but I don't want to use the poem itself. I may use a few words, as focus.

I'm not sure how much further I'll progress with this now, because I have other more important things to get on with!