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.


Jennifer said...

Interesting.....I like your misty pond scene!

Nola said...

Yes, it has possibilities, although it was a complete accident!