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Monday, 21 February 2011

Prints from 8/2/11 as Promised and First Attempts at Letter Press.

First things first, my print I talked about from 8th Feb in an earlier blog and promised pictures were coming soon; well here they are! 

Detail No. 1

Detail No. 2

Full Print

I am really happy with how this print turned out and I'm sure I will use this technique again with prints to come! :)

Looking to the future, MA Printmaking have an exhibition coming up. We have split in to teams for each task to do with organizing the event and I have found myself on the marketing team. Mus and I decided to come up with an idea each for the poster then put the final decision towards a class vote.

I decided I wanted to try out the letterpress method for my idea as I wanted the piece to reflect the tiny imperfections of printmaking and look tangible to the viewer with the embossed effect left. I didn't want to letterpress all of the posters as this would take too much time and would be too expensive. Instead I wanted to get one print from the type that I set, scan it in to my computer, then work on the poster/flyer from there adding essential information and editing, still managing to get the letterpress effect, but being able to fine tune and achieve an ink jet output.

I collected the lettering in a composing stick (shown top right of first letter press photo) so I could measure how long the line length would be, then pushed the lettering carefully on to a galley tray. I used a mixture of wooden type and metal type.

The type is the carefully (or not so carefully in my case; I had to stand half my letters up again as I knocked them down!) slid off the galley tray and on to the stone, which is a level metal (I'm not sure which type) surface in the middle of the room. I then had to find a chase to contain my letters. This is a frame that contains the type within it. When it is empty it is called a chase and when it is full of type it is called a form. The remaining space is then packed out with pieces of metal and wood called furniture which are all slightly lower in height than the type, therefore will not print, but hold the type in place. Around the edges of the furniture are quoins which can be adjusted using a quoin key for the final tightening of the type in place.

Finished form
Above is my finished form with all the letters fully locked in. It is now ready to be inked...

Then pressed using pressure from above on the Albion Press, adjusting the packing to achieve the desired result.

The Albion Press
Despite the fact I enjoy the working environment of the print studio I also adore the opportunity it provides me with to use these beautiful machines which are a work of art within themselves. Here are some of my first results.

I then scratched in to my inked type...

... to achieve these results.

I put these results towards the class. They were constructive but chose to use Mus's poster idea for the poster and mine for the private invite and flyer for the show. To achieve consistency between the 2 designs I had to change the colours I was using to match the poster so the marketing will look professional and therefore reflect the show! ;)

These are the images using the same colours as the poster. I then scanned this in and used it for the image on the invite for the private view and the flyer for the show. These things still need finalizing but I can disclose that they are looking pretty good and think the team is working well together! Hopefully this keeps up from everyone and the show will be a roaring success! He he!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Colours, Band Saws and Thinking Outside the Box.

Here are images of the prints taken from the gold and silver etching inks I bought back in December. The other print that I pulled was trapped under quite a lot of other people's work in the drying boards so I still haven't managed to get a picture of that yet but will post it as soon as I have one.

 Recently I have been experimenting with applying colour to the plate before printing. This technique is known as a la poupeé. The prints I pulled were by no means perfect, but its a starting point and something for me to build on.

The basic line in this print is done with silver ink. I used cotton wool buds to apply black to the rock like formations on the outside. I quite like it how you can see the motions in the print that the ink was applied. It adds a sense of motion and life to the piece
For this print I used black for the line and added violet to the flowing forms and little bits of silver around the cracked areas to create the impression of shadow. 

I think this was my most successful attempt. I think the colours work much better with a more subtle approach taken here. The line is done in silver, with black on the rock formations and just a touch of violet red on the flowing forms.

For this print I used the chine-collé technique along with a la poupeé to achieve subtle purple tones on the flowing forms.
The print bellow was just a proof but I registered it anyway. I have been drawing out the registration area on to newsprint and then lining up the plate and the paper when I'm ready to print. I don't like drawing up the registration sheets as its time consuming but I find it makes such a difference to the final print and think it's total worth taking the time over doing although I may just start to draw the registration marks directly on to the printing bed so I don't have to draw the sheet up for each print. I used green and yellow tissue paper to add colour to this print and to see if it made a difference when the chine-collé pieces were layered on top of each other.

During my recent tutorial Nick (my tutor) suggested that I move away from working within the square/rectangle of the etching plate and try cutting the plate to a different shape. I bought a large piece of zinc from college, sketched out the shape I wanted and took it to the workshop. I had to use a band saw to cut the zinc and found it quite scary as I could just see myself cutting my fingers off or something! The machine is lethal!

The Band Saw!
Zinc shapes with protective covering layer still attached.
The tools I used to bevel the edges of the plate

After I cut out the shapes I had to bevel the edges as they were very sharp and would damage the blankets on the press if I were to use the plates as they were at this stage. I used the 2 files first then the small cylindrical piece to smooth the marks made by the files. This is the stage I am currently at. Now I need to degrease the plates, put ground on them and etch the image. I am looking forward to seeing what effect the different shape of the plate has on the finished image. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Cotton Buds + Patience = One Nice Print!

Today at college I attempted to re create a piece seen further down the blog. The medium print that I printed the green lino over the top of. This time I wanted the same effect as last time, just without the green on top, so effectively taking the print one step back. I printed my first proof on Fabriano, using ripped pieces of tissue for chine-colle, layering them on top of one and other to see what effect was created. My prints from today are in the drying boards at college and I don't have pictures of them yet but will post them up as soon as I get them. 

After proofing the etching I traced the shapes I wanted to chine-colle from the plate, cut them out, numbered them and took a picture of them again, which really speeded things up when the plate was inked and I was ready to place on the pieces. When the plate was inked I used a very black piece of scrim to begin the wiping and push the ink in to the grooves of the plate, then a cleaner piece to polish it, then a page from the yellow pages and finally, tissue paper. I also finished off by wiping the edges clean with an old piece of T shirt material. When the plate was at the stage I wanted it I cleaned each space of the image with cotton wool buds.

The photo above shows one of the spaces on the plate (centre left) when it has been cleaned with a plain cotton wool bud. I then cleaned the spaces again to make sure they were really clean compared to the rest of the plate with cotton wool buds and white spirit. The picture bellow shows a space on the plate after the white spirit. Can you see the difference?

It took a lot of patience and a lot of cotton wool buds but I got there in the end! 
As well as using the numbered pieces of chine-colle and the photograph, I also picked up a cheap tweezers set from The Works for 99p! This turned out to be 99p well spent as they made placing the small pieces of chine-colle a lot easier, rather than getting my hands all sticky and messing around. They also meant I could place the pieces a lot more accurately without effecting the ink already on the plate.

This picture shows some of the different tools I used today including the tweezers set, latex gloves, scrim, white spirit and cotton wool buds.

I used PVA glue (although should be using archival glue but have yet to get some) on one side of the chine-colle pieces and then spritzed them with water on the other side to dampen them. There are lots of things lying around the house that can be so helpful in Print Making. The spritz bottle I use is just one of an old hair product I had. 

Photos of today's prints coming soon............

For any of you looking for a new book out there, this is my new Print Making Bible! Its called Hybrid Prints by Megan Fishpool. 

Its from a series of books called Printmaking Handbook. It has great tips for mixing print techniques to achieve unusual results and is great for helping you come up with new ideas. The book has lots of coloured photographs and illustrations and is highly informative. I would recommend this book to any Printmaker. You can find it on Amazon by following the link bellow.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Getting Back in to the Studio!

The festive season was busy busy. I traveled back to Scotland on the train for about a week over Christmas. Stayed with my mum, caught up with friends and partied... a lot! I had to be back in Cambridge for work and spent New Year at a house party in London which was great fun! After that it was back to work again to raise funds for my snowboarding trip to France with the University ski and snowboard club which was utterly epic!

Since returning from France I have been back at my job and just had my first couple of weeks back in the Print Studio! Last week was a bit daunting, getting back in to the swing of things after such a long break! It was great to see everyone, catch up and start using my new inks and paper I purchased back in December!

I've only been printing my small test plate at the moment to try the different colours. I got violet red which is bright and vibrant, gold and silver, which are not as metallic as I would have liked but still give an interesting effect and something I have not tried before - wiping compound. You add a tiny amount to the ink and mix it through which then makes wiping the ink from the plate a lot easier! Today I was testing the gold ink. I printed 2 straight etchings to get the ink in to the plate, then I printed the same thing 3 times on to the one, long piece on 275gsm Fabriano, registering the plates each time so they all lined up. For each image I chine-colled bright pink tissue paper, highlighting a different area of the print each time.

The 3 Prints together, different colour ways.

Close-up No. 1

Close-up No. 2

Close-up No. 3

Here are some pieces I was working on before Christmas too. I decided to move on and print the medium sized etching plate with lino print on top. For the etching layer I wanted to use a strong contrasting colour for the chine-colle so used some of my Japanese origami paper with a pink, orange and gold pattern on it.

I traced the pieces of chine-colle from the plate before it was inked, numbered each piece then took a photograph so I knew where each one went when the plate was inked and I was ready to place them on for printing. I cannot explain how useful I found this picture and would recommend this technique to anyone chin-colle-ing a lot of small pieces.

So useful!!!

Personally, I think I preferred the print as seen above before I printed the lino on top as I think I cleaned out the bright white areas really precisely and with the green on top I dont think my efforts show through but hey, that's Print Making I suppose! With the green on top, however, this does add another dimension to the print and creates strong contrasts, which I was looking for to start out with. The picture bellow shows the inked up etching plate along with the lino plate, lino proof and final print.

Final Print - Etching, monoprint, lino with chine-colle
I also finished another addition of my 3 large plates. I printed these for proofs before pulling my biggest print and couldn't see a reason for them to go to waste so, to add some colour, and another level to the print, I decided to sew them together. I made each hole through the paper with a pin then hand stitched them together using a combination of white, red, peach and violet threads (please view original image to see the stitching in more detail). I like the effect the stitching gives as the colours seem to flow in to each other which works well with the organic feel of the piece. It also aids the viewer to feel more involved with the piece as the reaction I have had from most people who have actually seen it is, "Can I touch it?" Which I like as some of the most effective art I have seen I have felt the urge to touch it!

Each piece remains separate while being bound to each other by a strand of colour.