Archive for October, 2015

T1-MMT-P4-p1-e1 Monoprint mark-making – exploring further

I went out for my final session for exercise 1 with a prepared list of experiments and ideas. Naturally things changed as work progressed.

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Print p4-27 plan

Print plan

Print p4-26
First was an attempt at an advanced technique – viscosity monotypes. There was information on the technique on the akua website (www.akuainks.com/viscosity-monotype-working). The idea is to roll thin colour on the plate (not thin in the thickness of the layer, but in the fluidity of the ink), and make marks in it. Then roll thick, stiff ink over. The differing viscosities cause the inks to repel each other and you get distinct colours. I’d enjoyed printing clear complementary colours in the breakdown screen printing class (17-October-2015) and would love to do similar in a monotype.

The plan is shown above – a central panel of red orange using the thin Akua liquid pigment, with a big squiggle cleared through it. Roll on the thick blue intaglio ink, which would fill the sides and the squiggle. Then make smaller squiggles in the blue to pull it all together.

print p4-26 Cleaning the roller

Print p4-26 Cleaning the roller

Problem – when putting on the blue the roller picked up the red-orange ink. To avoid muddying colours I’d do a single roll, then clean the roller on a scrap piece of cartridge paper. After a few rolls the scrap paper looked interesting, but there was little of the orange left on the plate.

I decided the scrap paper looked good enough to be its own sample.

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Print p4-27

Print p4-27

Print p4-27
The plate was printed on damp Stonehenge paper – 245 gsm, 100% cotton, using the ezicut press (8 layers of wool batting).

All sorts of technical problems here. Most of the red-orange has gone. The blue is very uneven – I stopped inking very early, concerned about leaving any of the original pattern. There are probably all sorts of adjustments to the two inks that an experienced printer could attempt. Looking at it now I could have done extra rolling up the two sides and just a little less up the middle, but probably session 3 was just a little early to attempt this.

On the other hand, even if not according to the plan I think parts of the print are really rather lovely.

Print p4-27 detail

Print p4-27 detail


I can see myself layering up like this again to create complexity and depth in a work. Possible the “roll off” (see previous sample) could be done on the same picture in a different area.

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Print p4-28
The plan had been to do similar technique prints on damp and dry Stonehenge paper as a comparison. Given the damp print didn’t work out I decided to explore something else on the dry Stonehenge – breaking out of that confining rectangle.

Print p4-28

Print p4-28

Print p4-28 flipped

Print p4-28 flipped

The entire plate was rolled with blue. Then a green mix was rolled onto a piece of non-slip drawer liner (previously seen in sample p1-69 and elsewhere). Next I followed up an idea from print p4-21 (25-October-2015), and used a cut piece of craft foam to lift some colour from the plate – lighter jagged edged areas lower left and top right. A chopstick was used to create a variety of lines reflecting the shapes already on the plate. Finally I used the craft foam again top right, first rolling it with green ink then gently pressing on to the surface. The print was taken using the ezicut press (8 layers of batting) onto dry Stonehenge paper.

As a composition it doesn’t work. I’m having trouble getting my mind around the reversing in printing, so tried flipping the image on the computer. I prefer it that way, but it’s still visually uncomfortable. Perhaps something as simple as a little of the green in the drawn diamonds at the bottom would help pull it together.

There are some pluses. The foam worked well both to lift and to add colour, and given it is so easy to cut that gives a lot of flexibility. I like breaking the rectangle, and the texture provided by the liner which is thin enough not to leave a huge gap of plain paper around it.

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Print p4-29

Print p4-29

Print p4-29

I worked hard on the ghost print to improve balance, and I think it is better but still not right.

First I took the ghost print using a baren on cartridge paper, the liner being turned over and moved from its original spot. Both the foam and the liner were used as stamps a number of times. I really like some of the layering of texture and colour at the detail level.

Print p4-29 detail

Print p4-29 detail

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Print p4-30

Print p4-30

Print p4-30


In this sample I wanted to experiment further with paper. The print was taken on coloured lace fan paper backed by a piece of rice paper (which I’m presenting as print p4-31).

Ink was rolled on unevenly in a sequence of colour blending from blue at the bottom to a yellow-green at the top. Cloth and a variety of wooden tools were used to create a landscape – ruffled lake in the foreground, bending reeds at the water edge, lesser detail of trees as the view receded to mountains behind. The ezicut press was used to take the print.

None of the detailed mark-making is visible on the fan paper. Larger marks look more like accidental unprinted blotches. It’s now a few days later and the paper has absorbed the ink well, with clear printed colour on both sides. I thought a backlit view would be of interest, but the fan shape takes over and the colour is lost. The print could be layered over other materials, stitched into, perhaps even felted into. This could be very useful.

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Print p4-31

Print p4-31

Print p4-31
This is the rice paper used as a backing to the previous print. Unfortunately an extra smudge of ink was transferred onto it when I brought everything in from the garage. I need to allow more hanging time for all ink to be absorbed, and to recognise if there is excess that needs to be removed.

Quite a lot of ink came through the fan paper. The colour is softly broken and I think quite attractive. More of the original mark-making is visible, as can be seen in the detail photograph below, but it is not effective competing with the strong fan pattern. If using this technique again it would be better to focus on colour play and omit mark-making.

Print p4-31 detail

Print p4-31 detail

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Print p4-32

Print p4-32

Print p4-32

I find it very satisfying to bring forward techniques from earlier in the course, and in this print I reprised the crumpled paper of assignment 1. This is 50 gsm bank layout paper, originally A3 but crumpled and spread to be roughly A4.

I used a mixed green ink on the plate and made some broad and finer marks reminiscent of grass. It was printed using the ezicut press. The ink transferred quite well but there was some build up in a few creases and this was the source of contamination on p4-31.

You may be able to make out the vertical marks that were made, but extra interest comes when the creases are gently stretched out.

Print p4-32 opened

Print p4-32 opened

Print p4-32 opened detail

Print p4-32 opened detail
Click image for larger view

Print p4-32 shaped

Print p4-32 shaped

Clicking on the photo to the left will give an even closer view. I find the broken pattern and colour very effective. The reverse side also has interest, the green still visible although subdued. Being two sided certainly makes the paper more versatile for further use. However I think you can’t go past the shaping introduced in the original crumpling exercise. I’ve tried it with an LED inside as a kind of lamp, which has potential with the right lightsource – the one I had introduced some unattractive hard shadow lines. External directional lighting worked better.

Breaking the boundary of the rectangle and now moving out into three dimensions is very satisfying. I struggled to engage with the printing initially, but layering, colour mixing and now this is beginning to create a connection.

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Print p4-33

Print p4-33

Print p4-33

This is the ghost of the previous print, taken on rice paper using the ezicut press.

There are some flaws – a crease in the paper and that dratted smudge. Of interest is the visibility of the original mark-making, augmented by the patterning created by the crumpling of the original print paper. This proves to be an excellent technique for creating an overall pattern. I also find the rice paper pleasant to print on, despite needing some care in handling. This could be a good candidate for the accidental marking seen on print p4-20 (25-October-2015).

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Print p4-34

Print p4-34

Print p4-34

This print is on A3 cartridge paper, and was produced in three separate pulls. The initial idea was again sourced from assignment 1, this time folding paper. Could I fold and print paper to create bands of pattern and colour, with a result that could be displayed to present different views from different directions?

Print p4-34 folded

Print p4-34 folded
Click image for larger view

A little thought and experimentation showed that three colours, or at least three pulls, would be needed to cover the paper with no overlap. Think of each folded unit as having a Z profile. The top bar presents for printing – in this photo blue (click on it for a larger view). After refolding, what started as the diagonal bar will be printed with yellow and the base bar with green.

For this test I tried to be very simple and bold with mark-making, creating a series of broad lines with a different slope on each colour. The prints were taken using a baren and possibly I could have got more complete transfer with some extra manipulation. I should have waited longer between prints as there is some contamination of colours.

Print p4-34 part unfolded

Print p4-34 part unfolded

Despite flaws the basic plan was sound. I have bands of colour which can be loosely folded to present different views. An extension of this could be any of the more complex folds which at least temporarily will sit flat. With refolding in different configurations some intriguing possibilities could be developed.

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Print p4-35

Print p4-35

Print p4-35
This is the ghost of the previous print – all three layers over-printed onto cartridge paper using the baren.

I took a ghost print of virtually all prints made in this session, but haven’t presented those which were too faint or too streaky to be of interest. I like the one shown here quite a lot, at least in part because it seems like a folding of time encapsulating the process and larger space of the original print. Layering and complexity is important in my response to these prints.

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Print p4-36

Print p4-36

Print p4-36
This print was an investigation of the mark-making I saw in Degas’ monotypes (22-October-2015).

Degas_ Woman Reading detailThe composition is based on the cropped detail I took, but the overall proportions are changed and the width of the shoulders has gone terribly wrong.

Tools used were cloth to wipe areas and brushes (both ends) to make marks. The print is on rice paper and was made using the baren.

I found this an absorbing exercise. I particularly like the clean wiped area of the light at the top, with the contrast to the denser colour even more effective with the broken lines around and extending from it. I also like the uneven surface of the brushed triangular area bottom left. The “solid” areas of colour are actually grainy, and I think this soft look is very effective on the light rice paper. There are some fragments of thicker ink that the brush left on the plate which I think detract from the result and the whole middle mess doesn’t work, but the combination of colours and method is pleasing.

breakT1-MMT-P4-p1-e1 Monoprint mark-making – exploring further
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Project 1: Monoprinting
Exercise 1: Mark-making
Exploring further

T1-MMT-P4-p1-e1 Monoprint mark-making – basics on cartridge paper

Print p4-17

Print p4-17

Print p4-17
Copying the Masters is a traditional approach to learning, and I decided to attempt to copy just a few of the marks of Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione in this print. In my research (18-October-2015) I noted that Castiglione used repeated lines and perhaps limited tools to build up his expressive forms. I selected and printed a couple of detailed areas of The Creation of Adam and tried to mimic some of the lines.

Looking back I’m surprised at how surprised I was to find it impossible. Those shards of light behind God’s head – sharp and clear, triangular, apparently all ink removed? Nowhere close. The curve of fabric over the shoulder was equally impossible. Adam’s biceps? Foolishness.

On review, there are some interesting areas in my attempts. The near horizontal lines middle right are varied but combine together to create a shape. Top right is a combination of different widths of line that could become tall grasses blowing. Bottom left is the failed shoulder drapery, successful as another example of the power of repetition in line. On the other hand, soon after my attempt I was looking at images of monotypes by Matisse, such as the line of the neck of Emma’s Face Turned to the Left I at MOMA (www.moma.org/collection/works/149434) – a lot can be done with one line!

In my sample, colour was a mix of violet and red with around 40% transparent base. I printed onto cartridge paper using a baren. There was a stickiness and graininess to the ink I was unable to resolve.
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print p4-18

print p4-18

Print p4-18
In the previous print I used some of a set of boxwood modelling tools when looking for that perfect line. On this sample page I worked more methodically, exploring marks with each tool. Twelve tools, each with different ends, each end able to be used in different ways – I got a bit lost in the possibilities and in the similarity of line some produced.

The ink was the same as p4-17, using cartridge paper, but printed through the ezicut press (5 layers of wool quilt batting).
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Print p4-19 detail

Print p4-19 detail

Print p4-19

Print p4-19

Print p4-19
The next idea was to create texture in the ink by flicking on fluids it might react to. I gently placed a piece of newsprint over the lower part of the inked plate to reserve it for other fluids, then flicked akua blender medium over the exposed ink using a toothbrush and mesh. Nothing seemed to be happening, so three drops of blender were put directly on the plate. Then I lifted the newsprint from the lower area and discovered much of the ink had transferred.

Printing was onto cartridge paper using the bamboo baren.

Given time to develop the spatter of blending medium worked. There is a milky way effect of mottling, larger and more varied than earlier unintended sticky ink mottling. The drops of medium moved the ink around in rough circles. This could be more interesting if brushed or rolled across the ink surface.

The lower area looks more like a ghost print, which effectively it was given the transfer onto newsprint. I like the variation in tone over the print as a whole, and that the spotting appears light in the top section and dark in the bottom section. The variation in size or graininess of blotches creates a lot of interest. Responding to the inconsistent contact with the newsprint, a larger scale pattern can be traced.

The image looks to me like a landscape from an airplane. Clumps of trees define higher hills, water spreads over the plain, reflecting light from the starry sky above. I don’t think this effect could be controlled, but it would be interesting to explore the technique of random touch of lightly draped paper.
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Print p4-20

Print p4-20

Print p4-20
This is the newsprint which lifted ink from the plate in the previous sample. Bold in its patterning, this suggests another way of creating varied texture – rest a light paper on the inked plate, not flat and without pressure. This could provide a background for later work, or be worked on directly itself. I’d like to try this with a light rice paper.
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Print p4-21

Print p4-21

Print p4-21
Continuing the earlier idea of moving ink with a fluid, I splattered the inked plate with water. A cork was used to circles of texture in the lower part of the image. A foam letter S was used as a stamp to lift ink from the surface. Finally a fine-cut stylised flower wooden stamp was used several times.

The plate was printed onto white cartridge paper using the ezicut press (7 layers of wool batting).

The water created a strong mottling effect which could be useful, especially if I could develop methods of at least partial control over the area affected. The letter stamps are strong and clear. This could be an effective way of adding text to an image assuming I can get the mirroring right. The precut letters are only at one scale. Perhaps I could cut from the craft foam I have, although this is thin and could be hard to handle. The wooden stamp was not effective. I wonder if temporarily putting some padding under the plate (etching plastic in this case) would assist.
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Print p4-22

Print p4-22

Print p4-22
Red-violet was rolled across the entire plate. Ink was partially lifted from the lower area by pressing in crumpled foil by hand. Yellow ink was roughly rolled over this area. A length of plastic kitchen twine was covered in yellow ink by running ink-covered fingers down its length. The string was then laid on the plate. The loosely bundled string moved around slightly during the process, leaving random smudges of colour.

The plate was printed onto white cartridge paper using the ezicut press (8 layers of wool batting).

The colour scheme is simple but dramatic. The string goes slightly out of bounds on each side, including the lower edge where it extends into the textured, colour-layered region. This together with the white edging of the line pushes it forward and creates a dynamic image. The texture of the background red-violet varies with the movement of the yellow line, providing a subtle additional layer of interest. The layered colour at the bottom acts as a base, adding to the dimensional effect of the line.

The technique of partially lifting colour and then over-inking worked well, providing interest in texture and colour. The unprinted space around the line of the twine is an important idea. The feather in p4-10 (18-October-2015) blocked an entire area. Here a line has been created rather than a shape. The inking of the twine was also significant. It would be interesting to use feathers again, very lightly inked, possibly in different colours. This could allow something like the detail of p4-13 to be inserted and integrated into a plate.
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Print p4-23

Print p4-23

Print p4-23
This is basically the ghost of the previous print. It was taken on cartridge paper using the bamboo baren. After the initial rubbing one side of the paper was lifted and the twine carefully removed. The page was then pressed again.

Capturing the previously untouched areas of ink protected by the twine produced a strong line which contrasts with the much lighter background areas of the ghost print. I think the contrast is too strong, unbalancing the image. Cropping the bottom so that the string marks fill the printed area gives a better result. There is a lot of detailed interest in this print, but it is hard to see given the dominance of the line.
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Print p4-24

Print p4-24

Print p4-24 detail

Print p4-24 detail

Print p4-24
Without cleaning the plate I reinked in red-violet and yellow. A stamp of corrugated cardboard was used, being inked at different times with red-violet and with yellow. At times the stamp was used in the area of contrasting colour. At other times it was used in the matching colour area with the idea of creating a textured, embossed effect.

My notes do not include the method used to print onto white cartridge paper.

The overall image is static and fairly uninteresting. Colours are too evenly mixed, the scale of mark is too constant, there are so many lines from the cardboard going in different directions that any potential for the dynamic is lost.

At the detail level it is interesting to see the layers of colour interacting. However the result is blurred, and it’s not just camera work. A sharper effect might be obtained by printing the background plate and then overprinting with the stamp.

The effect of the uncleaned plate is visible but not strong. In this case the curved lines are too dim to create any tension with the overlaid straight grid, and instead they muddy the composition. Layering has the potential to create complexity and interest, but in this print it hasn’t worked.

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Print p4-25

Print p4-25

Print p4-25
It was late in the day and I wanted to finish the last of the ink. Mixed all together it created a rich brown which is not well captured in the photograph.

Then I froze. I made some marks, disliked them, rolled over them. Multiple times. On the positive side it’s interesting to see how forgiving the monotype technique is. Major changes can be made without waste of materials. After many false starts I created pattern by lifting colour with a stamp cut years ago from polystyrene. This layout is influenced by sketchbook work I did on Louise Nevelson (Sketch 20150815, 21-August-2015).

The polystyrene has created interesting texture and I like the clear but not sharp edges. The stamp had never been used, and it shed little pieces which caused the blotches seen in the print.

The plate was printed onto newsprint using the ezicut press. In the unmarked areas I got some of the flattest colour of any of my prints. This could be the different paper, but I suspect is more related to the repeated rolling of the ink, and to a lesser extent continuing fine-tuning of padding through the improvised press.

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I felt discouraged immediately after this printing session. I hadn’t got the effects I was looking for, the prints seemed very flat, and while the goal isn’t perfect prints the continued major imperfections were frustrating.

Stepping back, reflecting, looking hard for potential in the details – all have helped. I can feel energy and curiosity returning. P4-22 is the only print that excites me in itself, but all the “failures” have elements of interest and provide ideas for future exploration.

T1-MMT-P4-p1-e1 Monoprint mark-making – basics on cartridge paper
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Project 1: Monoprinting
Exercise 1: Mark-making
Basics on cartridge paper

T1-MMT-P4 Research: Degas’ monotypes

In this research post I am looking at monotype prints by Edgar Degas. That’s a severely limited scope. There’s no historical background, context in his practice, ongoing influence, critical responses… just me looking at marks, textures and tones. Given I’m not able to see an actual print by Degas, I’ve also chosen to limit myself to images on the Google Art Project – there is a reasonable selection of good quality images which I can view as a whole or zoom into with ease. Link 1 – the specific link I have, but probably not persistent. Link 2 – the main link, from which I searched for monotype and then selected Created By Edgar Degas.

Edgar Degas Intimacy, ca. 1877-80 National Gallery of Denmark Public domain

Edgar Degas
Intimacy, ca. 1877-80
National Gallery of Denmark


In a series of interior scenes the source of light is of prime importance. In Intimacy a light above a mirror highlights the face and décolletage of a woman at her dressing table. The surface of the table and all the little pots and tools reflect light and the business of making herself beautiful. All this is on the left side of the image. On the right is space, darkness, quiet, with the slightest highlights on the nose, collar and chair of the waiting, observing man.

In Woman by a Fireplace the main lightsource is the fire, reflecting fiercely on the rounded behind of the woman. A little more light and highlighted detail comes from the candelabra and there is another reflecting glow from the dressing table mirror. Reflected glow is everything in Brothel Scene (Dans le Salon d’une Maison Close). The lightsource is curtained on the right. We see it reflected in the curve of the woman’s hip and under her breast, then clearer reflection in the wall mirror behind. Again the source is only hinted in Woman Reading (Liseuse). There is perhaps a glimpse top right, light reflected from the straight lines of the lounge, the woman’s curved back, and most strongly from the paper in her hands.

Degas Woman by a Fireplace (detail)  National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Edgar Degas
Woman by a Fireplace (1880/1890) (detail)
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Degas_Woman by a Fireplace detail 2A closer look at Woman by a Fireplace shows the contrast creating the bright glow of the fire. Almost all ink has been brushed or wiped away in the fireplace, intensified by almost complete coverage of ink immediately next to it. What look like less vigorous brush marks outline the curve of the buttock, combined with some very delicate gradation of shading. The plate was 27.5 x 37.7 cm, so I estimate the detail above would be around 8 cm wide. Would that shading be done by gentle dabbing or individual little strokes? The left foot has been described with a series of clear, narrow, sharp marks. I love the little flick creating the curve of the big toe nail. There is a lot more very direct drawing by scratch (the end of a paint brush?) on this print – more than on the other examples I’ve been looking at.

This print also includes the candelabra detail at the left. The energy is amazing, and such a variety of line used to describe the form. I feel I can see the actual movement of light sparkling off the metal.

Edgar Degas  Woman Reading (detail) National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Edgar Degas
Woman Reading (c. 1885) (detail)
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Above is a detail of Woman Reading, showing the variation in tone that Degas could achieve in a monotype. There is a full range from fully inked to what appears to be bare paper. Direction of line is vital in indicating the form of the woman’s back. As well as groupings of brush lines, dragged through the ink with different weights, and incised lines perhaps created by the end of the paintbrush, there is a range of more gentle shading particularly on the forearm at the left. Sometimes I think I can see the fingerprints of the artist. I really like this cropped view, so full of dynamic interest. I think it makes a wonder abstract composition – something to consider, as it would be much more achievable (or less unachievable) for me in my own samples.

Edgar Degas Brother Scene (c.1879) (detail) Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University

Edgar Degas
Brothel Scene (c.1879) (detail)
Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University

Brothel Scene is much lighter in tone than the other examples I have viewed. I think those fine, even, dark outlines must have been applied in an additive way, rather than ink being removed around them. On the other hand the molding of the mirror frame seems most likely to have been pushing around ink already on the plate. Of course why would an artist restrict himself to a purely additive or purely subtractive approach? The course projects break up the techniques, but presumably this is to ease the learning task.

Edgar Degas Ballet Dancers (c. 1877) (detail) National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Edgar Degas
Ballet Dancers (c. 1877) (detail)
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Degas_Ballet DancersDegas is known for making ghost prints of his monotypes, and for painting and drawing over the prints. Above is a detail of Ballet Dancers, described on the National Gallery of Art website as “pastel and gouache over monotype”. A small version of the full image is shown on the left.

The detail above is where the underlying monotype seemed most visible, adding interest to what must be stage scenery on the left of the image. This layering of media is definitely something to try – if not as part of the projects, then in later sketchbook work.

Edgar Degas Russet Landscape (1890)  (detail)Detroit Institute of Arts

Edgar Degas
Russet Landscape (1890) (detail)Detroit Institute of Arts

Degas also made landscape monotype prints using multiple colours and a huge variety of texture. There are areas that look more like a thin wash – I wonder if Degas played with the viscosity of the ink. There is much less detail, I couldn’t identify any of those incised lines, but a wonderful sense of atmosphere and the many materials and textures in nature.

T1-MMT-P4 Research: Degas’ monotypes
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Research: Degas’ monotypes

T1-MMT-P4-p1 Initial experimentation in printing

In parallel with researching artists using monoprinting I’ve been researching techniques and materials. There’s a lot on the internet, but I’ve found some videos by Scott Kolbo of Seattle Pacific university (eg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvwtAeWIwVM) particularly helpful, as well as visiting the blogs of OCA printmaking 1 students.

During the week I went into the art supply store confident I knew the oil based inks I wanted, and after a long session with their print guru came out with something quite different – Akua Intaglio Ink. With a range of modifiers to adjust the consistency they seem very flexible. They are soy and water based but not water soluble – clean up is soap and water, no solvents. They don’t contain dryers, so you get a long working time. They don’t form a skin in the jar so much reduced waste. The inks were developed with a major focus on safety. There’s lots more on their website, including yet more video demos – http://www.akuainks.com/akua-intaglio.

This weekend was an extended “getting to know you” session. I used white 110 gsm cartridge paper (A4) and really just wanted to get colour onto the paper. The printing plate is a piece of etching plastic, about 15 x 24 cm.

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Print p4-1

Print p4-1

Print p4-1
Violet with a couple of drops of blending medium.
A quick sketch of my desk lamp using the end of a paintbrush. Some wiping with paper towel to create highlights on the lamp, and blotting with crumpled towel around the top for general texture. Rubbed by hand to print.

Light and blotchy. I need to be careful of dust and fluff in my work area.
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print p4-2

print p4-2

Print p4-2
Violet with a small amount of blending medium. Rolled a few more times than the previous print, looking for more colour.
A print of my hand (wearing a glove). Used a small brayer to print.
Still splotchy in the background and I think there are roller marks. Still some fluff as well. Given I’m looking for textural interest rather than a “good print” per se these flaws aren’t critical, but I would like to develop some control.
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print p4-3

print p4-3

Print p4-3
Violet, around 50% transparent base and more blending medium than previously.
Marked using a paintbrush end, fingers, paper wipes dabbed and rubbed.
I used the Ezicut craft roller to print. This doesn’t have a height adjustment – the rollers are a fixed distance apart, so I’ve been playing with different base boards and number of layers of wool quilt interfacing (my “print blanket”). There is a definite plate mark on this.
The colour is a bit more even. There’s a kind of pooling effect in the top right corner where I wiped with my finger and pushed ink into thicker splodges. There are a few fluff blotches and the paper around the print is very messy and smudged. I need to work more neatly.
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print p4-4

print p4-4

print p4-4 detail

print p4-4 detail
Click image for larger view

Print p4-4
This is linen, the printed area around 37 x 29 cm.
According to their website, “Akua Intaglio Ink dries by absorbing into the fibers of the printmaking paper”. So I used the area where I’d been rolling out the inks to try printing on linen. It was pre-washed, so no sizing or spinning oils. The spun fibres might be less absorbent than cotton fibres in rag paper, but worth trying.
Three days after printing the ink felt dry, but easily rubbed away on to my fingers. I ironed it between sheets of baking paper, and there was minor rub-off of the ink onto the paper. Rinsing in cold water produced a small amount of colour run off, and hand washing in hot soapy water turned the water purple. However the hot and cold rinse water was clear and there was no sign of rub off when I ironed the fabric dry. There is no perceptible colour transfer onto my hands even when I rub quite hard.
My working theory is that not all the ink was absorbed. Unabsorbed ink rubbed off easily, and came away from the fabric in soap and water (the recommended clean-up for akua inks). Now the unabsorbed ink has been removed the colour is more stable.
I cut the fabric in two before ironing and washing. In the main photograph above the untreated fabric is on the left. The colour is definitely darker than the washed fabric. In the detail photo you can easily see the marks I made in the ink before printing.
At this stage I don’t intend to use printed fabric like this in washable items such as clothing. However any rub off would restrict other use of printed fabric, staining tools, transferring where it wasn’t wanted and so on. This test suggests I will be able to use the inks on natural fabrics for general (non-washable) creative works.
Allowing longer absorption times could well reduce the problem and the need for washing. I will try to remember to retest the untreated side of the linen in a few weeks.
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print p4-5

print p4-5

Print p4-5
Crimson red, with some of my best rolling.
There’s scratching (chopstick?) and lower down a small strip of hessian was pressed into the ink and removed before printing. Top right a piece of lacey ribbon was left on the plate as it was pressed.
I’ve continued experimenting with the precise sandwich of materials to go through the press. Here it was too heavy, and the lace was embossed almost to the point of cutting through the paper. Areas I didn’t texture are almost flat in colour, so my technique is improving. On the other hand there is smudging around the edges, including a hint of blue on the lower right edge where I hadn’t cleaned the plate thoroughly.
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print p4-6

print p4-6

Print p4-6
This is a full A4 page, picking up the area where I rolled my ink. The background suggests I need to keep working on my ink rolling technique – were those improvements wishful thinking?
I like a lot of the marks on this page. There’s a lot of energy there. I used a hard bristle paint brush, chopstick, cocktail stick, cotton bud, stencil brush twisted to create a circle, possibly a little paper towel.
I like the variety, for example in scale of lines, thin to quite thick.
This is the sort of thing I am looking for.
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print p4-7

print p4-7

Print p4-7
Hansa yellow
A new combination of similar tools, still trying to fine-tune a base method.
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print p4-8

print p4-8

Print p4-8
A first attempt at colour mixing – hansa yellow and violet, which sounds like tempting mud but I find generally a really attractive mix.
First I rolled over the entire plate in yellow. Then a tiny amount of violet was mixed into the yellow ink and rolled around 80% of the way up the plate. It looked a little chunky so I changed track. Instead of mixing before rolling I decided to mix colours on the plate.
The bottom part of the plate was wiped clean, then more uneven wiping moving up the bottom third of the plate. Violet was rolled on, covering the lower part of the plate and then encroaching unevenly on the yellow.
I cleared spots with swirls of the stencil brush and noticed the colour being picked up on the brush, so I tried moving colours between zones. I also used a chopstick to create lines up the plate.
I really like the colour work and the overall feel of this plate. The chopstick carried violet up and deposited it unevenly, on the curves like a river silting up. I would prefer a cleaner look. There’s an interesting effect towards the bottom where spots of yellow have a little border of heavier violet around them. Perhaps there’s a viscosity type thing working, where the yellow actually pushes the violet around a little. I’ll need to watch for similar in the future and see if I can exploit it.
Altogether this is one of my favourite plates. Three simple ideas – colour mix, swirls and lines – create interest, variety and movement without the frenzied mish-mash of some of the other experiments.
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print p4-9

print p4-9

Print p4-9
This is the ghost of the previous print. That is, the same plate was printed again without adding more ink. It’s faint – most of the ink was picked up in the original print – but the diffused, misty look could be just what is needed in the right context.
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print p4-10

print p4-10

Print p4-10
Ultramarine blue.
The mark-making was influenced by my research on Rebecca Jewell (18-October-2015), using feathers.
Top left the “feather” marks were made using a small bristle brush. The middle feather was using a chop stick. The third shape was an actual feather, left on the plate during printing. It acted as a resist and the large white area unbalances the page. I left it like this because I really like the wispy tendrils towards the bottom and wanted to remember them.
Lower left I had some pieces of plastic fruit bag. Even though the holes in the mesh bag were quite large the ink didn’t print through when pressed through the ezi cut machine. Seeing this when I peeped in at the corner before removing the paper from the place, I took out the mesh and pressed again on that corner this time with a round bamboo brayer, getting the patterning you see here.
The plate shows poor rolling of ink, however I like the different marks made. I’m also pleased to be manipulating the print during the process, gaining more confidence and control.
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print p4-11

print p4-11

Print p4-11
This is the ghost image of the previous print, however this time I rolled on the special release agent sold by Akua. The resulting ghost has more ink and a watery effect. I was hoping to get more of the paintbrush marks, but they are very faint. The overall effect is rather flat and uninteresting.
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print p4-12

print p4-12

Print p4-12
This is a ghost of the ghost and is actually more interesting. There is more variation, giving interest. The lower feather has some great detail and the heavy outline pops. The ink has broken up and looks made up of small dots, reminiscent of a pointillist painting. Perhaps it’s the feather, but I think of Seurat’s Young woman powdering herself.
This is a great effect, and potentially very useful if I can replicate it.
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print p4-13

print p4-13

Print p4-13
All these prints are from the same one feather, with no ink added since it was used as a resist in p4-10. It did have some release agent rolled onto it. There are also a few prints from the fruit mesh.
I like the sense of depth created by the different strengths of print. I also like the lines of the feather, the way space is broken up.
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print p4-14

print p4-14

Print p4-14
This was me trying to be edgy. My work area for messy things is a lean-to garage which happens to have a very roughly troweled concrete floor. I used my smaller, older roller to lay on the ink and a bamboo baren to take the print.
I was disappointed at first, as it’s much more speckledy than I’d hoped, but it’s grown on me. I get a sense of not-quite-chaos, of lines that you can only see from the corner of your eye.
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print p4-15

print p4-15

Print p4-15
Having accidentally dropped a dirty glove in the ink rolling area, I was intrigued by the sharp patterning where the folded plastic picked up ink. Naturally I dropped the glove a few more times and took a print using the bamboo baren.
The texture produced is interesting. It reminds me of a thin sheet of ice breaking up. This could be useful, although I might want to cut up the glove first as it’s quite a distinctive shape.
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print p4-16

print p4-16

Print p4-16
The very last of the ink was rolled out and patterned using a plastic palette knife.
This is quite a good pattern as it stands. I’d also like to try using the marks in a line like a path, almost a series of arrows showing the way.
I’m quite pleased by all the incidental prints. They arose from a frugal mindset, but it’s good to break out of the rectangular bounds of the plate. Other ways would be to ink and lay on another element that goes over and off the plate, or just to cut a new plastic plate in a different shape. Multiple concurrent plates – would there be any point in that?
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Reviewing this introduction I would like much more control over the amount of ink I use and how I roll it on. I’d like a base, reliable rolling system that I can vary as I want. There’s also a lot of experimentation to be done with the transparent and blending mediums, gaining control of the colours I print. Plus of course colour mixing. I only have the inks shown above, but there are more in the range if there’s something I just can’t mix.
I’m getting cleaner in my work methods, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.
All that, without even considering the mark-making or any kind of composition.
I’ve focused on the akua inks, and the current intention is that they will play the major role in this assignment, however I do want to venture into other media at least a little.
Overall I’d rate it adequate – good enough to move on to the actual project exercises, but wonderful scope for improvement.
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T1-MMT-P4-p1 Initial experimentation in printing
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Project 1: Monoprinting
Initial experimentation in printing

T1-MMT-P4 Mono and collatype printing – initial research

Printmaking in the context of this Mixed Media for Textiles course is approached with a different mindset to a standard printmaking course – or at least that’s my interpretation of it. The long term goal is not is not to develop skills in a range of printmaking techniques and media in order to make print artworks. Instead we use printmaking as one stage of creation. The techniques may be used in a sketchbook, generating ideas. Or it could be combined with other techniques we’ve been exploring – paper folding perhaps, and molding links to collatype, but what about a crumpled print partially embedded in resin? The course notes suggest starting with light cartridge paper or similar, then move on “different surfaces including paper and fabric”. That’s enticingly open. Sample making and risk taking remain key.

https://www.pinterest.com/fibresofbeing/printing/ is a pin board of my research images for this part of the course.

Naum Gabo  Opus Ten © Trustees of the British Museum

Naum Gabo
Opus Ten
1965-1968
© Trustees of the British Museum

Naum Gabo’s print was taken from an end-grain block of wood. This was one of a number of variants. Paper, pressure, inks were varied. “Faults” may be accepted or rejected, forms and lines in the image added, changed, removed using wax. Looking at images of Gabo’s three dimensional constructions (such as Linear Construction in Space No. 1 in the Guggenheim – link), there are very clear affinities to the monoprint – it’s interesting to note a quote on the British Museum website referring to the “depths” of the print (link).

I think Gabo’s exploratory approach and choice of materials (perspex and nylon filaments in Linear Construction in Space No. 1) make his work particularly relevant to my course.

Morning mists by A Henry Fullwood, held in the Art Gallery of New South Wales (http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/4579/) is a colour monotype showing an atmospheric river scene. The hazy appearance of the print works well with his subject. Of particular interest to me is the artist’s preference to increase feeling in the image by hand rubbing with an ivory paper-knife rather than using the even pressure of a printing press. Fullwood was also very conscious of the different surfaces and texture provided by various papers.

My course suggests the heel of the hand or a roller to transfer the image. I have a little craft press – intended for embossing or cutting with dies, but I’ve done some initial experiments using it as a print press. I need to observe carefully to see the variation in results each method gives me.

Rebecca Jewel Perspectives on a Museum 1 2007 © The Trustees of the British Museum

Rebecca Jewel
Perspectives on a Museum 1
2007
© The Trustees of the British Museum

I find Rebecca Jewel’s work fascinating and beautiful. There is deep thought and study behind it – Jewell lived for a year in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, studied social anthropology at university, did a PhD in natural history illustration, is artist in residence at the British Museum. The Statement on her website presents Jewell’s work as “exploring the shared histories between the people that made these artefacts, the explorers, anthropologists and travelers that obtained them and the museum that now houses them”. For me that’s perilous ground – there’s a lot of bad and unresolved history – but this isn’t a shallow exploitation of the exotic.

The print shown above is complex, layered, textured. It is very, very precise. Rebecca Jewell’s more recent work actually prints on feathers, often using historical images of birds. The feather is more than a presentation method. Its structure has a direct influence on the print. I think that’s a key idea in introducing printmaking in a mixed media course.

More resources on Rebecca Jewell: http://www.rebeccajewell.com/; videos at https://vimeo.com/user18649491

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione The Creation of Adam c. 1642

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione
The Creation of Adam
c. 1642

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione is credited with inventing the technique of monoprint. An image of his work The Creation of Adam, c. 1642, can be seen in great detail on the google art project (link). After all the flurry of making texture with every “tool” that fell into my line of sight at the workshop, Castiglione seems to use one, perhaps a stick or paintbrush handle, superbly well. Repeated lines, sharp angular lines, flowing lines, changes in direction on rock, water, the fiery light behind God’s head, the variations of depth going into the ink…

The immediate lesson I’m taking from this is the impact of repetition and variation with restricted means.

I’ve been reading different definitions of monoprint and monotype. An interesting sentence from the Dictionary of Art & Artists‘ entry on monotype: “The only reason for doing this instead of painting directly on the paper is the quality of texture given by the pressure of printing” (Murry, P. & Murry, L. (1997) Dictionary of Art & Artists. London: Penguin Books Ltd.) The first edition of the dictionary was published in 1959. I wonder if that’s still true in the way the monotype technique continues to develop. It certainly reinforces the need to be conscious of impact on results of both of the material onto which I print and the transfer method. My early experiments (subject of the next post) have all used 110 gsm white cartridge paper. I’ll need to switch up when starting the actual projects.

More research to come, but I interleaving it with practical work.

T1-MMT-P4 Mono and collatype printing – initial research
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Initial research

T1-MMT-P4 Lin Wilson – Breakdown screen printing workshop

In an amazing timing coincidence, just as I was about to start the Mono and collatype printing assignment I did this ATASDA workshop last weekend (booked last year). Breakdown screen printing, also known as deconstructed screen printing, is a form of monoprint – no two prints are the same. Lin has been exploring and extending the technique since she learnt it some years back from Kerr Grabowski, the originator of the method. You can read more about the method on Kerr’s website, including a short demonstration at http://www.kerrgrabowski.com/store/store.html.

Lin uses drimarene K dyes thickened with sodium alginate. Briefly, a selection of texturing items – paper, plant material, lace… – is placed under a silkscreen and thickened dye is squeegeed through (the pre-print). The texture items are removed and the pattern of thickened dye is dried on the screen. Then the screen is used to print, using more sodium alginate. Where the dried dye is on the screen it acts as a resist, blocking the new sodium alginate. However gradually the alginate re-wets the dried dye, which then starts printing on your fabric or paper.

Each time you print with the screen more of the original dye is wet enough to print through – which means there is less left on the screen. So when you print again on a new section of fabric the patterning you get is a bit different.

Too many words. The screen shown below was textured with some cardboard shirt packaging and foil. The pre-print was red and orange. I was fitting two screen pulls on an A3 page, using a variety of papers. By the end it was getting plain, so I tried refreshing it using long leaves as a resist.

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Another sequence started with pine branchlets. They looked good on the table, but I didn’t realise that the mass was too thick and would create large empty spaces. I used the original leaves to overprint on some images. Here I started layering patterns, using indigo dyed paper and also a sketch from assignment 2 (2-August-2015)

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Another attempt looked wonderful on the screen – textured with fern and some hessian I had pulled out of shape. Almost all the colour came off on the first pull (maybe it wasn’t thoroughly dry). Still it looks great on some old sketches, especially an ink drawing of p2-74.

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I focused on paper, finding it faster and easier to manage in the limited time and space of a workshop. However a couple of pieces of fabric crept in. The first was linen. On the photo of the texturing materials you may see some old favourites – corrugated cardboard (worked well) and insect screen mesh (too fine to have much impact).

Texturing items

Texturing items

Detail of result

Detail of result


Multiple prints on linen

Multiple prints on linen

One of my first attempts was on silk and I had a brain freeze. After using clear sodium alginate on the first pull, I changed to using the same oranges in the printing as in the pre-print. Orange on orange looks like a whole lot of orange and not much texture. Worse, apart from some bubble wrap most of the texturing was thread and string – too fine to be effective. However I’m showing the first pull (clear) because it shows overprinting with extruded black lines.

Silk

Silk

During show and tell at the end of the two days it was amazing to see the individual styles show through the technique. Below are some results from other participants.

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Lin showed us quite a few other variations and manipulations, including use of water-soluble crayons and more, but given I was a bit vague (printing orange on orange???), I decided to stay with the basics.

This is a wonderful technique with so much to explore. Everyone had results they were pleased with. Amazing textures, and that nice mix of having a little control in setting up the screen and choosing colours, then just letting go and enjoying what appears. I particularly like getting complementary colours next to each other without turning to mud. Adding soda ash to fabric (before, as part of, or after the printing process) will allow you to wash the results. I can definitely see myself using this to create interesting fabrics or as part of sketchbook work in the future.

T1-MMT-P4 Lin Wilson – Breakdown screen printing workshop
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Lin Wilson – Breakdown screen printing workshop

T1-MMT-P3 Molding and casting – Review

The rhythm of work has changed during this assignment. Rather than the rush and buzz of one sample leading to new questions and new samples in quick succession, both molding and casting took time to set up a sample, and casting in particular required time before the results could be seen. There were more technical constraints in the materials – change proportions too far or misjudge temperatures and the sample might crumble or refuse to set.

I responded in two main ways. Having identified huge potential in early trials of my initial materials I chose to concentrate on exploring them in more depth. Other materials such as silicone and papier mâché remained in the cupboard, to be explored another day. My second response was to slow down even further, to spend time thinking about results with sketchbook work, deciding which ideas to take forward, trying to make each sample respond to different questions.

My results include some strong samples and of course some failures. Of great interest to me is the potential for combinations of materials, either in the actual making or in display groupings.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills
My four chosen materials provided a wide range of properties and potential, as well as combining in exciting ways.

Sample p3-12

Sample p3-12

I had already experimented with polymorph, a thermoplastic, in a sidetrack during assignment 1 (21-April-2015) and it has appeared in a number of samples since. In this assignment I was able to push it further, finding new ways to melt and form it as a molding material, and to embellish it with heat tools and stitch.

ComposiMold, a pliable, reusable material fairly new to the market, is rich with potential. I poured and brushed it, stitched into it and embellished with heat tools and a 3D plastic pen. I identified a number of possible constraints – heat, humidity, longer term stability. Lacing through holes was the most successful join with polymorph, but the “failures” were interesting in their own right. The two materials, one more glossy and clear, the other opaque, both responding to heat, work well at a similar scale and are an effective combination as seen in sample p3-12 (1-September-2015).

Sample p3-51

Sample p3-51

Plaster and an eco resin (intended for laminating rather than casting) proved another exciting combination. Once again there are contrasts in transparency and reflective properties. Sample p3-51 (26-September-2015) is in my view the single most successful response to the brief of exploring the interior space of a vessel.

Sample p3-46 side view

Sample p3-46 side view

A failure of casting using plastic ziplock bags (samples p3-33 and p3-35) led to the observation of dribbles of resin, and in turn to one of the most dramatic samples, organza embedded in resin (p3-46, 23-September-2015). The textile itself had previously appeared in a number of samples – distorted with a heat gun in sample p1-75 (21-April-2015) and joined in sample p2-28 (17-June-2015). I think the current sample is one of the most powerful produced in this assignment, presenting textile in an exciting and novel way.
 
Quality of outcome
I continue to use this blog to communicate all aspects of my work on this course, including research, making, recording, sketching, sorting and reflecting. All samples and sketchbook work are photographed and presented.

Taking my use of technology further I set up a new pinterest board https://www.pinterest.com/fibresofbeing/mixed-media-for-textiles-assignment-3/. This does not include any commentary but gives a quick visual overview of all samples and easy access to the original blog posts with more information. I found this very useful, particularly while Sorting but also as a quick way to refer back to previous work, so created boards for assignments 1 (here) and 2 (here).

In feedback my tutor has recommended that I continue to develop the language I use to discuss my work. In assignment 2 I experimented with a number of different “voices”, which felt stilted and also overly formal, not modern. In this assignment I have tried to develop in a more natural way, just slightly more objective and more open. I have attempted to be more consciously aware of the language used by artists during my research and general viewing and to adopt scraps of phrasing that seemed appropriate to my own work. If I have been successful specific instances should be virtually undetectable other than as part of a general slight improvement.

As for the actual samples I believe I been able to address the course requirements with some interesting and exciting results.

Demonstration of creativity

Sample p3-11 Inside out

Sample p3-11 Inside out

I enjoy the exploratory sampling approach encouraged by this course. The attractive little bowl of sample p3-11 (26-August-2015) grew from an observation of ComposiMold in sample p3-8. In turn it led to p3-25 (6-September-2015) – itself a rather disappointing result, intended to capture the space of a mug as a variant to the successful p2-70.

I certainly have the sense of developing an approach, a process, that will support ongoing creative exploration and expression. It is incredibly satisfying to bring forward ideas from previous experience. There have been failures – sample p3-52 (26-September-2015) was a truly awful attempt to use the crumpled paper of assignment 1 as a source of embedding in plaster (lesson – respect the short pot-life of plaster). In the same work session sample p3-51 was an exciting success, bringing forward the wrapping and tying of assignment 2. This was the last major cast of the assignment and I threw ideas at it. From my notes at the time: “I had no idea if this combination could work, which seemed a good reason to try.” I am very pleased by the outcome of the risk taken, but I am also confident that I would have been pleased with a failure which answered some of my questions and suggested new ones.

Sample p3-53 stage 5 view 2

Sample p3-53 stage 5 view 2

In sample p3-53 (1-October-2015) I look risk one step further by exploring breakage of a cast. This has echoes of past samples (the broken mug of p2-72, 22-July-2015), and also with my research. I was surprised by the strength of the cast – it was repeatedly thrown, not dropped, on a concrete floor.

Although I make my samples with care and thought, this sense of pushing to or beyond a boundary, not just the acceptance but almost the seeking of failure or at least a precarious edge is a recurring theme. One of my most interesting molding samples, p3-12 (photograph above) is a “failed” join. The exciting sculpture of p3-51 is a little rough – I love that uneven edge sloping down, the vitality and honesty of the broken shards of resin with occasional drips of plaster (it’s taken me this long to recognise the phallic reference). It provides drama and movement – the moment just before, or just after…

Context
As in the last assignment I created a pinterest board of artwork using molding and casting (link). I was also given permission by a number of artists to use their images in my posts.

Samples p3-41 and p3-47

Samples p3-41 and p3-47

Sample p3-47 (26-September-2015) was very heavily influenced by the work of Rebecca Fairley, my tutor, to the extent that although I love my result I feel it is too derivative to pursue. On reflection now, perhaps breaking and reassembling a series of such samples would make them more my own. Using the resin to embed the fragments or as a kind of mortar could be interesting. Another clear influence was Giulio Paolini in the breaking of sample p3-53.

Other than this my focus was on exploring properties of my particular materials. Any other influences were more my own previous samples, for example the reappearance of corrugated cardboard in samples p3-77 and p3-78, and large bubblewrap in p3-23 (all 6-September-2015).

Sketchbook
I would like to make special mention in this review of my sketching. I used sketching as a way of stepping back from sampling to review and plan (for example 29-August-2015) and in research responding to tutor feedback (4-September-2015). Inspired by other OCA students I extended my range of media and drawing surfaces (14-September-2015). I also spent a day with a fellow student with the specific aim of working more freely and on a much larger scale than I have ever used before (28-September-2015). I am pleased with my ongoing progress in this area.

I was thrilled to get a very positive response from my tutor for my last assignment (my reflection on that 29-August-2015). I have tried to continue and build on that result, but as mentioned at the beginning of this review I have been conscious of a different rhythm in my work in this assignment. I have found molding and casting absorbing, fascinating. I have found materials and methods that I think will be important in my work in the future. There has been a shift in my thinking. I am proud of my work. It pleases me. I spent a huge amount of time Sorting because I enjoyed handling the samples, rearranging them, thinking about the possibilities they contain. I am looking forward to my tutor’s experienced, objective feedback and to her guidance, but for the first time – and this is very new and fragile – I have a sense of accomplishment independent of this.

T1-MMT-P3 Molding and casting – Review
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 3: Molding and casting
Review


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