Friday 17 April 2015

Print making Day 4 more drypoint and collagraph samples

Scallop    A/P1     dry point   8x7.5cm     ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Due to the addictive nature of scratching away at pieces of acrylic perspex I went home and prepared a further five plates that week. This scallop was one that I did to have as a comparison with the previous zinc plate etching. I readily hang my head in shame at the mucky edges where I didn't clean the plate properly and I hold my hands up to the fact that I really need a lot more practice at inking up. But I figure the more mistakes I make the better I will be for it. I always have learnt by doing...

Scallop    A/P2     dry point   8x7.5cm     ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

A second pass this time using a pre watercoloured handmade paper for chine colle. The paper I used was a kind of lace paper and with hindsight I should have probably used one without holes running through it as it made it incredibally difficult to apply the gum arabic which was used to bond it to the paper as it went through the press. I have learnt so many things during each and every print.

Scallop A/P3   dry point & mixed media 8x7.5cm  ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

This is a third pass from the plate but this time I have worked into it with watercolour and gouache making a mixed media version.

Spots! A/P2   dry point 3.5x7.5cm   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Spots! was the smallest dry point that I did at only 3.5x7.5cm and was on a tiny left over piece that I was going to throw away. I'm glad that I didn't though as I think it works quite well.

The time that I spent printing off the dry point plates hadn't left me much time to ink up and print the collagraph samples that I had done. In this session I only managed a couple. Collagraph printing was the reason that I had signed up to this course in particular so it was kind of ironic that I had spent so much time in another and very different area.

Rather than do one board of samples to see how the different surfaces would print I had done a set of nine with the collaged elements loosely relating to each other. When I had sat down to make the sample board I had been thinking of the traditional embroidery samplers and how people had practiced groups of stitching which had led to separate contained boards. 

Collagraph sample boards all backed onto pieces of mountboard;

 A key of materials used to make the samples:

1 paper tags with string and punched shapes. The blue paper was flocked.
2 plastic lace flowers and a strip of cotton lace to compare.
3 snowflake sequins and a real feather.
4 cellotape, masking tape, magic tape and plastic photo corners.
5 medium and rough acrylic texture paste and a glass beads texture paste.
6 paper fibre acrylic texture paste, kitchen towel and a fragment of fabric.
7 embossed wall paper and a handmade lace paper.
8 sand, mountboard and a section of the mountboard peeled away to expose a middle layer.
9 different texture ribbons and a piece of ricrac.

Sample board 4   collograph   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

This is the second pass as the first was far too heavy on the ink to actually see any of the texture and detail from the plate.

I thought the plastic photo corners made a good little row of beach hut roofs. The yellow on the pale hut isn't a clever bit of inking but a piece of the shellack that adhered to the paper. A lucky accident I think as I like the addition of the colour. I think I would have had a better print if I had wiped more ink of the plate. I am finding with every print making process the art of good printing is knowing how much and particularly how little ink to leave on the plate.

A/P1   Collagraph Plate 9   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec
A/P2   Collagraph Plate 9   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

On the left the first run through the press dampened paper and too much ink and on the right the second run through the press with no added ink and dry paper. This was much closer to my intended image.

So much to learn and so little time.....

Monday 13 April 2015

Print making day week 3 more dry point and a little lino

acrylic perspex plate        7.5x7.5cm         ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Before going to the next class I had done some research on dry point. I remembered reading about artists using acrylic perspex instead of metal plates. As I had some knocking around the studio I dug it out and decided to make a couple of experiment plates to see how it would work. The problem was I don't have an etching needle. Not to be deterred and I hope I don't make any printmakers wince too much, I thought to myself well it just needs to be sharp and pointy enough to scratch the surface...... out came a trusty school type compass. I warn you now, if you decide to have a go at this, the process quickly becomes very addictive.

  Whelk        dry point  7.7x7.5cm          ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Although this is very rough and ready I can see the potential in this process for me. This will be something that I can safely replicate at home providing I have a small press and a proper etching tool or two. The lines aren't as delicate but I think that is the fault of the compass and my clumsy inking of the plate. I'm sure a little more burnishing off of the ink would have helped enormously. I made three plates and whilst the drawing on this one isn't terribly good it did print up the best as it had the better cross hatching and hatching in.

Gingko and moon    linoprint   10x17cm   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec
The last print that I did for the day was this lino. This is a process I have used before a few times and I have to say I just don't have the patience (or the strength in my hands) for it. I usually end up with more flesh cut out of my fingers than lino carved. When I have done it before I have always pressed the prints by hand but this time there was a beautiful old Albion press to use.

Now the design was supposed to be very simple and graphic just the moon, gingko leaves and the larger reflection shapes. (*note the small amount of lino that would need to be carved ;o) ) However being such a menace with the cutting tools I had a few mishaps and the smaller dashes had appeared in a couple of places. What to do? I decided to go with it and add a few more... The best thing I can say about this is that the handmade paper that it was printed on was lovely - such a shame I ruined it. Ooops!

Like I said lino just isn't and I'm sure never will be a technique for me. If you would like to see a master lino cut print maker please visit Sherrie York at Brush and Baren.

As if all of this printing wasn't enough we also had our homework to finish preparing for the next session. The collograph samples had to be shellacked in advance due to the drying time needed. Our tutor Jan Bullas is an expert collograph printer and I was very much looking forward to this section of the course.

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Print making day 2 dry point and etching

A Sudden Shower 1   dry point 10.5x5.5cm   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Toward the end of the previous session we had tried a little dry point as a test piece to get a feel for the technique. Using a small off cut of aluminum we scratched in a design using an etching needle. I know that I have used this process before back in my college days but being twenty years ago now I can barely remember it. I hadn't scratched in hard enough to get a deep enough burr to hold the ink so my first pass through the press was too feint.

A Sudden Shower 2   dry point 10.5x5.5cm   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

After going over some of the lines and inking up again I was much more encouraged by the results. Now I just needed to concentrate on the inking up which is I think, the real 'art' of print making; knowing just how much to take off the plate I have found difficult to get the hang of. I think this is something that will come after many, many failed prints.

So a new day and a new set of adventures began. Trying to remember all that I had learnt about the above technique I started a new plate. This is the best print of the course for me. Luck was on my side and some magic happened...

On the Dunes   dry point 10x18.5cm ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

I used the etching needle to scratch in and cross hatch the fence posts, then carefully drew in the lines of the wire fence and grasses. When I inked up the plate I used a sepia ink only inking on the burr and I didn't apply any to the sky area or the sand on the right. I spent time buffing off the excess and burnishing the foreground grasses. At the last minute I had an 'I wonder what would happen if?...' moment and I used a piece of used black inky scrim and very gently wiped over the areas that had no ink at all on them. (My initial intention had been to leave these areas completely pristine and white.)

Using pre-soaked paper I ran it through the press and was excited to see the result. I like the tonal range of the image. The black inky scrim has given it a very subtle smokiness which I think gives it a nice atmosphere. There wasn't time for me to do a second pass in comparison without the grey so I will have to return to it another time. I think if I had left it completely white the image would have looked to hard and graphic. There are, of course, a lot of things that can be improved on with the drawing and inking of the plate and my edges aren't terribly neat but I felt satisfied that I had made a good start.

The plate 7.5x8cm ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec
On to etching with acid... using a small piece of zinc that had been coated in hard ground I gently scratched in with an etching needle. My shell design was so gently drawn in as to only have taken off the ground rather than denting the plate. I wondered if this would be enough for the acid to bite into. It went into an nitrate acid bath (ratio 1/10) for 25 minutes and was washed and prepared for inking. Again I used sepia ink but the burr in the plate was so subtle that I really didn't have high hopes for getting a decent impression. This is the plate before I had cleaned the ink off so you can see the ink in the lines. If you run your nail over the plate you can barely feel the indentation. I really like the plate as an object in itself - nice shiny zinc with the delicate inked lines  - I am tempted to frame it ;o)

Scallop A/P 1   etching ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

The first proof taken from the plate. I was pleasantly surprised at how much detail had come out. I had obviously underestimated just how much pressure the plate is put under in the press.

Scallop A/P 2   etching ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

As an experiment without inking the plate again I ran it through the plate a second time. Not so strong an image but I quite like the faded subtlety of it.

So after busy day two I had much to think about. I really enjoyed the etching process but baths of acid etc aren't going to be very practical for me to replicate at home. Dry point is maybe similar enough for me and very much appeals to my love of drawing. This was something for me to research before the next session.