Saturday, 22 November 2014

HBP - Complete Printmakers: Collagraph

The third print process that we learnt on the course was collagraph; a process where the plate is made out of mountboard. You can either cut into the board or add raised textures to it (or you can do both) and once the design is complete you apply a few thin layers of varnish to make it more durable. 

At this point in the course I didn't have a subject or theme to focus on so I was still relying on my collection of travel photos for source material. The image that I chose was of a block flats in Berlin; in front of them (the white space at the side of the print) was quite a grand building/structure with Roman style columns and statues. 

The process of making the plate was tough on my fingers - I was cutting into the board with a craft knife and it took about 3-4 hours in total. To achieve the thicker lines and blocky shapes I had to carefully slice around the shape and gently scrape away layers of the card fibres within. I was a little bit impatient with the varnishing and applied a bit too much on my final coat so had to blot it through the press - the results of this are pictured below the prints. I wasn't really impressed with my final prints; the inking process was the same one used for drypoint and I struggled with the texture of this plate. The varnish didn't have the same smooth finish as the metal plates so wiping the ink back was a lot harder. I think the subject matter didn't really lend itself to this process either so if I were to do it again I'd definitely choose a different image.

Collagraph plate (I prefer the actual plate to the prints)

Thursday, 20 November 2014

HBP - Complete Printmakers: Drypoint

In the second and third week of the course we focused on drypoint - an intaglio print process which involves scratching a design into a thin metal sheet, inking up the sheet and putting the plate and the paper through a press. As I use mark making a lot in my drawings I really enjoyed this process - there were a variety of tools that we could use to scratch into the metal including an electric Dremel engraver and working into the plate was an interesting process. I enjoyed drawing in a way that was more free; the surface of the metal jarred against the tools making the process less controlled and the marks and lines unpredictable.

As drypoint is an intaglio process you have to cover the plate in ink and then wipe away - the ink is held in the burrs that stick up on either side of the lines and marks that have been scratched into the metal. I found the inking and wiping process difficult - it's very messy and quite labour intensive plus there are certain techniques to wiping which I still really struggle with. I think my first print was helped by a bit of beginners luck as the lighter areas of ink on the rock have given the image a bit more texture and definition but they definitely weren't intentional! 

As shown below I used my plates to make 2-3 prints each - the plates can't really be used much more than this as the burrs begin to flatten from going through the press and don't hold as much ink so the prints are softer and a bit blurry. As with mono print this is a process that I'd like to explore further as I think it works well with my style of drawing.

First drypoint print - drawing from a photo of the Pembrokeshire coast

Second drypoint print from same plate adding some thinned down coloured ink

Third print from original plate - the lines are becoming less defined as the burrs are flattened during the printing process

The drypoint plate and detail below of the marks that have been scratched into the surface of the metal

Second drypoint - I can't find the plate for this drypoint but it was another drawing from photos of the Pembrokeshire coast - I tried to add more colour to this one however it doesn't have the same impact as the first print and it came out a bit messy

Third drypoint plate - this time I used photos from a trip to Cumbria as my source material for the drawings. Again this plate doesn't have the same impact that the first plate did - the colours and the inking definitely need more consideration


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

HBP - Complete Printmakers: Mono Print

The first session of the course started with mono printing, a process where a very thin layer of ink is rolled out, the paper is laid face down on to the ink and another sheet of paper is laid on top. The drawing/mark making is done on the second piece of paper, the pressure of the pencil or pen through the layers of paper picks up the ink creating a reverse image with soft lines. The process of laying the paper on top of a large area of ink means that other marks are picked up and you have to be careful not to lean on the paper when you're drawing!

For my mono prints I used photos from various walks and trips over the past few years. I wanted to capture some of the textures of the scenery using dashes, dots and cross hatching with the basic shapes built up in line. My favourite is the coastal image (photos 8 and 9) with the green lines for the sea. The images are just on newsprint so they're quite fragile and have already begun to discolour but this simple print method is something that I want to explore further with other papers and subjects.

Hot Bed Press - Complete Printmakers

In February 2014 I started the Complete Printmakers course at Hot Bed Press, an open access print studio based in Salford. The course is just under a year long (I've got another 3-4 weeks left on it) and offers the opportunity to try a variety of traditional print processes. Over the next few days and weeks I'm going to be posting some photos of the work that I've produced and my thoughts about each of the processes.

I decided to enrol on the course as I wanted to explore some new ways of working after being confined to working with pen, pencil, watercolours and my Mac for 3 years or so. I wanted to learn some processes that were a bit more hands-on and that would make me think about how I want to develop my work. The course has been challenging at times as the processes can be tricky and we've been learning a new method every couple of weeks so it's been fast paced! The experience has been a positive one though, I've learnt a lot and there are so many areas of print that I want to try further and now I have the basic skills to start exploring.