Monday, 13 December 2010

Printing with polystyrene

I've been trying out a whole new (to me) method of printing. My dear friend Morag who is a printmaker gave me some polystyrene ceiling tiles and explained how to use them as a plate for printing. I'd heard of this before but had never gotten around to having a go myself. Today I had a go. First of all I did a test using watercolour just to get a handle of how the texture would print. The bottom six panels of the sheet are from one inking and the textures brought to mind the white water patterns made by waves.

I drew into the polystyrene with a pencil, indenting the surface and made some linear wave shapes. Using acrylic indigo paint mixed with a little screen print medium to give a longer working time and thin out the pigment whilst keeping a sticky consistency I inked up for another trial print. This is on the top left.

Hmmmmmm.... I thought this is looking interesting so I cut another piece of tile and rather than drawing across the surface I just pushed the pencil into it. It was good fun in a bubblewrap kind of popping way until I got a little impatient and started getting heavier handed and kind of carved into the tile. If you try this at home BE WARNED have the hoover on hand to catch all the little bits of polystyrene that will fly everywhere, don't wear clothes that may have a tendency to have static and it would be good to have someone else in the house in case the door needs answering. (I speak from experience - I had followed none of the above and I got a very strange look from the postman answering the door with polystyrene flakes stuck all over my clothes and in my hair looking like Frosty the snowman with a very sheepish grin - I saw his shoulders shaking as he walked down the road laughing. I can't say I blame him I was a bit of a mess.)

And here is the result after the embarrassing encounter with the postman.....



It might not look much now but I am planning on working back into it once it's dried.

4 comments:

Gerri in Virginia said...

Thank goodness for your blog! I was reading The Instant Printmaker and it mentioned printing with polystyrene tiles. Hadn't a clue what that meant, googled it and found ceiling, ceiling, ceiling. Changed google to "polystyrene tile printing" and came up with your blog. Yep, you confirmed I was to use a ceiling tile. Sounds easy and fun as long as I don't use your pencil punching technique. Love your blog and your work and England. Been there many times!

Lisa Le Quelenec said...

Hi Gerri, I'm really glad the post helped, it's a really fun technique to use. I've recently been told by a printmaker buddy about another similar material that can be used. It's a denser kind of foam that makes less mess. When I find out more information I'll write a post on it.

Laura Moore said...

Hi Lisa I have just found your lovely blog and this old post of yours. Just want to thank you for the polystyrene idea. I am thinking of doing a pebble painting and this seems just the texture I am looking for with my watercolours. Good luck with the new arrival. Hope all goes well.

Lisa Le Quelenec said...

Hi Laura, polystyrene is a lovely texture to play with. I hope you managed to keep all the bits more contained than I did though it can be really messy ;o). I hope your experiments went well.