Archive for December 27th, 2015

Collatype collage prints – 80 mile beach part 2

Background on development work for this series was given in the previous post (27-Dec-2015).

Print p4-141
I rubbed intaglio ink into the textured surface of the collagraph plate using a toothbrush – a tool seen used by Lynn Bailey, demonstrating preparing and using a collagraph plate in a Double Elephant Print Workshop video (https://vimeo.com/50941703). I wiped ink off around the silhouette areas.

The print was taken on copy paper using a brayer followed by a selection of wooden clay-shaping tools.

Print p4-141

Print p4-141

As I’m not printing intaglio (little make-do press with lots of plastic parts isn’t really up to it) the choice of inking method didn’t make sense. There are messy, blobby spots of ink. Most of the deep texture didn’t print. I thought it worth trying lighter paper to see how it behaved, but I think that made the blotching worse, due to limited absorption. Heavier, damp paper would be worth trying.

Print p4-142
A red-brown mix of intaglio ink was scrubbed in with a toothbrush, then wiped away with some polyester organza and phone-book paper. I then dabbed on a green mix of liquid pigment. The plate was printed onto dry cartridge paper using the ezicut press.

This was an attempt to approach intaglio printing of the deep texture in the darker brown, with relief printing of high levels with the green.

Print p4-142

Print p4-142

Print p4-142 detail

Print p4-142 detail

The method was a hybrid mix of wrong equipment and materials. The toothbrushed colour blotched badly and there’s not enough colour on the silhouette.

However there is promise. The lines of hillocks are partly visible, giving some form. These were made with yarn 6 (trimmed) from the earlier sampler. This yarn is also the source of the tendrils of growth seen along the top edge of the sand dune. I’m also pleased with the v shaping of some of the spikes – the trimmed yarn 10 and a good representation of some of the distinctive vegetation in the source photograph. Finally on both the prints so far there is a nice curve down the slope from the left that curls back on itself in the spikes of grasses on the right.

Print p4-143
The mountboard plate was dabbed with a mix of akua intaglio ink. It was then pressed into the gelatin plate. The print of the gelatin was onto cartridge paper, pressed by hand.

Print p4-143

Print p4-143

A lot of rich, messy texture can be seen on the image. I think it effectively suggests the growth on the sand dune. There are still blotches of ink, but they are part of the whole and integrate well. There is a halo of colour around the silhouette spikes, particularly the lower area to the left. This might be quite acceptable, depending on the interaction over a background print.

Print p4-144
I felt the printing was good enough to combine with a lower layer. Without re-inking I pressed the mountboard plate onto the cleaned gelatin plate. The print was taken on copy paper which I wanted to use to create a guide for the base monoprint.

Print p4-144

Print p4-144

This print is successful. There is less ink, but the lines defining the dune hillocks on the right work well to give form. To me the effect suggests a dune where vegetation is just beginning to anchor the sand. There is a nice variety of texture, while remaining cohesive.

I scanned the image, removed white areas to get just the printed shapes, and used it as an overlay of the original photo – itself adjusted to change the view orientation slightly. I was then able to define broad areas for the background layer.

80 mile beach print-photo combination

80 mile beach print-photo combination

80 mile layout

80 mile layout

A printed copy of the overlay lines was placed under the glass of my printing area. It could still be seen with the gelatin plate on top, even when inking up. A printout of the combined photo-print-lines was pegged on the drying line above the printing table, for reference while working.

Print p4-145
Using the guides described above I created a monotype background print on the gelatin plate.

Phthalo blue liquid pigment was rolled across the top for sky and sea. A piece of newsprint, torn edge towards the top, cut edge down, was used to lift colour to create a light band of colour in the sky and a distinct horizon. A length of crushed synthetic satin ribbon was rolled with more phthalo and gently pressed on the sea to create texture and movement. This was the same ribbon that was used in the polymorph experiments in the previous post and the texture created, particularly in p4-130 (27-Dec-2015),seemed appropriate. A piece of jute twine was stretched across and just above the plate, then pressed in short areas to create a break line of waves.

A soft, indistinct shoreline where the waves advance and recede was created by wiping with a paper towel. Beach and dune sand was rolled and dabbed with mixes of diarylide yellow, burnt umbre, and red oxide. The print was taken on cartridge paper using hand pressure.

Print p4-145 in progress

Print p4-145 in progress

There is obviously a technical problem with the many small white patches, most obviously in the sky. Ignoring that I was very pleased with the result from my mix of techniques.

One beginner mistake was not thinking about the reversing of the image. I wanted to print the mountboard plate via the gelatin plate, as in print p4-144. The higher dune should have been on the right. I could still print the foreground layer, but it would have to be direct from the mountboard plate.

I dabbed ink onto the mountboard. The print was burnished using the wooden tools and with as much pressure and intensity as I could.

Print p4-145

Print p4-145

The registration of dune shapes between layers isn’t quite right. The top layer is patchy, I’ve already pointed to flaws in the background.

Despite this I find this a very satisfying image. My eye flows around it and there is interest and detail everywhere. There is a balance my mind accepts between realism and abstraction. It is a decent way towards the idea in my head when I started.

Print p4-146
In this print I attempted to address errors in the last one.

The basic sequence for inking the monotype was the same. I tried to clean the gelatin thoroughly before starting. I reversed the image. I improved the line of the sand dune. The print was onto cartridge paper using hand pressure.

I dabbed colour onto the mountboard, pressed it into the re-cleaned gelatin plate and pressed by hand.

Print p4-146

Print p4-146

Flecks are reduced, but still apparent. I have been cleaning using paper towels and I think they may be shedding a little. Also some divots are appearing in the gelatin itself, possibly because of repeated pressing with rough plaster and glued plates. It’s a straight forward process to melt and re-set the gelatin, so I may do that soon.

Although I followed the same basic steps the monotype is weaker. The colours are less rich, the horizon line is flawed, the break line of the waves is too consistent across the image.

The sand dune is now overwhelmed by luxuriant, rather blurry, vegetation. Looking back at the difference between p4-143 and p4-144, it may be better to do a sacrificial print first and use the ghost as the main print when using this process.

The open area top left is not quite enough to balance the block of colour bottom right. The dune needs more variation, to be broken up. The structural lines have been absorbed.

I would have liked to try this more times, playing a little with colours and density. Some purple in the undergrowth would suggest the shadows of a long, hot afternoon. I’d like pink sand and green sky. However most of the problems in p4-146 were due to fatigue and rush. I will have to wait for another opportunity.

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e3 Collatype collage prints – 80 mile beach part 2
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Project 2: Collatype printing
Exercise 3: Collatype collage prints
Collatype collage prints – 80 mile beach part 2

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e3 Collatype collage prints – 80 mile beach part 1

80 mile beach

80 mile beach

For this print I returned to my trip in Western Australia and a series of photographs I took at 80 mile beach. This is one just one – there are some detail shots and others looking up and down the beach. I’d like my print to be looking more directly at the sea – a series of stripes, with the screen of foreground foliage across.

80 mile beach sketch

80 mile beach sketch

I planned two plates, the first to establish the horizontal lines of the background, the second to overprint the foreground. I looked at my library of textures already printed and nothing fit my ideas so I started sampling. I was particularly interested in using textiles for texture – sympathetic to natural forms, but bringing a level of abstraction.

Background plate

Print p4-96

Print p4-96

Print p4-96 (14-Dec-2015) used polymorph molding sample p3-6 (22-Aug-2015) which was textured with a warp-faced woven strap and a round braid. Using polymorph as a plate would avoid the need for sealing and drying time. It should be easy to clean, possibly longer lasting than mountboard based plates, and could be remelted and reused. Possibly areas of the design that didn’t work could be reheated and adjusted.

My first attempt to create a flat sheet of polymorph (using microwave to heat and pressing between tempered glass to flatten) misjudged the amount of material required and after trimming uneven edges was just 10.5 x 11.5 cm, not the A4 size I would eventually need. Still, it proved that I could create a sheet and provided the opportunity for initial attempts.

collatype plate 5 in progressI heated the surface of the polymorph using a hair-dryer, then pressed in a selection of materials using a brayer. From left to right they are: soft cotton knit tube, stretched and flattened; warp faced strap, apparently a natural fibre; a wire-edged ribbon with stripes of different textures; a synthetic satin ribbon, smooth side down.

For ease of identification I have rotated some of the photographs below so the materials are seen in the same order.

Print p4-129
The plate was rolled with akua intaglio ink and printed onto cartridge paper using a baren.

Print p4-129

Print p4-129

A lightly coloured result with little detail.

Print p4-130
The plate was both rolled and dabbed with intaglio ink. The print was onto cartridge paper, working heavily with wooden tools to press the paper into the plate.

Print p4-130

Print p4-130

The result is much darker and the textures of the fancy stripe ribbon and unironed satin ribbon on the right particularly apparent. Inking was uneven and blotches are apparent.

Print p4-131
Phthalo blue akua liquid pigment was rolled onto the gelatin plate. A hole the size of the plate was cut in newsprint which was placed on the gelatin to act as a mask giving a border to the print. The polymorph plate was gently pressed into the gelatin, lifted, and a print taken on cartridge paper pressing by hand.

Print p4-131

Print p4-131

A little detail can be seen around the edges but none in most of the print. The contact between polymorph and gelatin must have been incomplete.

Print p4-132
The inking and masking was as for the previous print. The polymorph was pressed firmly into the gelatin plate and the print taken on cartridge paper by hand.

Print p4-132

Print p4-132

More ink was removed by the polymorph and there is texture but no detail in the print. It is bland.

Print p4-133
Given the amount of ink transferred to the polymorph I attempted to print from it onto cartridge paper with a brayer.

Print p4-133

Print p4-133

The print is very pale but there is some good detail just visible.

Print p4-134
Some colour was still visible on the polymorph plate. I rolled additional phthalo blue liquid pigment onto the polymorph and printed on cartridge paper using a brayer.

Print p4-134

Print p4-134

This is the best of a disappointing sequence. Possibly the creased satin ribbon could be used to suggest a band of texture in sand, but it doesn’t convince me.

I still believe the idea of using the polymorph in this way holds possibilities, but further development work and experimentation would be needed to identify better texturing materials and effective ways to ink and print. I decided to use monoprint techniques to create the first layer of the 80 mile beach print.

Foreground plate
For the foreground plate of sand dune vegetation I decided to attempt texture with yarns glued on mountboard. My first step was to create a sampler board.

collatype plate 6

collatype plate 6

A mix of “fancy” yarns of mixed fibres, mostly synthetic, plus a piece of rafia (#15).

Print p4-135
Ultramarine blue akua intaglio ink was rolled onto the plate. I wiped the plate carefully around the yarns. I wanted to focus on the marks of the yarns, without distraction or interference from the background.

Print p4-135 After inking (left), and wiping (right)

Print p4-135 After inking (left), and wiping (right)


Printing was onto cartridge paper with a 2 inch brayer rolled carefully along each yarn and close up against each side to maximize the printed area.
Print p4-135

Print p4-135


This gave a good variety of marks, some suggestive of vegetation. On others the manufactured nature of the yarn was too apparent, especially yarn 8 with the regular placement of the puffs and the grid effect from a yarn that was braided rather than spun.

Print p4-136
Inking, wiping and paper were as for the previous print. The print was made using the ezicut press.

Print p4-136

Print p4-136


The pressure of the press transferred more ink, losing some detail in the process. The print is crisper, without blurring from paper movement. There is more colour in the background areas.

Print p4-137
Red oxide akua liquid pigment was rolled onto the gelatin plate. The mountboard sampler plate, not cleaned after the previous print, was pressed into the surface and removed. The print was taken from the gelatin on cartridge paper using a baren.

Print p4-137 detail

Print p4-137 detail

Print p4-137

Print p4-137

The result is lovely. The photographs don’t do justice to the delicate drab pink that swirls and fragments in the background, a striking foil to the traces of rich blue, full of detail, that floats above. It’s not suitable for my current purpose, but I would love to explore this effect and try to create it deliberately.

Print p4-138
There seemed to be a lot of ink left on the mountboard plate, so without re-inking I printed onto cartridge paper using the ezicut press.

Print p4-138

Print p4-138

This is effectively the second ghost of print p4-136. With relatively little ink a lot of texture and detail is apparent. There are traces of the red oxide, but they have mixed with the blue to become a dirty grey lavender. I like the level of detail and the complexity of colour in the yarn textures. There is more nuance than in p4-135 and p4-136. However I see this as a high process effort and high risk method, not an attractive option as an overprint as planned for the 80 mile beach image.

Print p4-139
I rolled the gelatin print with yellow diarylide liquid pigment, pressed in the mountboard plate and took the print on cartridge paper.

Print p4-139

Print p4-139

This is now the fourth print of the mountboard plate with no ink added. Some of the finer yarns have lifted the yellow without depositing any blue, but the thicker yarns still hold colour. The yellow is strong, visually shrieking, fighting the blue unpleasantly.

Print p4-140
Was there any colour left on the mountboard? I printed onto cartridge paper using the ezicut press.

Print p4-140

Print p4-140

Print p4-140 detail

Print p4-140 detail

This is the fifth print using the blue ink applied for p4-136. The extra pressure of the press transferred more blue than p4-139. The blue sits next to the yellow in the yarn textures. There are a few faint traces of the red oxide in the background.

The question must be around the amount of ink I originally applied. The early prints suffered from too much, losing detail, high in contrast and low in texture. My colours choices in this example aren’t striking – what could be done with more interesting choices?

Putting these questions to one side, I closely studied (sorted!) the yarn textures, looking for candidates for my foreground print. Yarns 6 and 10 look excellent for foliage, but were too large scale for my planned A4 print. Yarns 7 and 9 could fit. Either 13 or 14 could be used for the strong spikes and curves of dune grasses.

I chose to go forward with yarns 6 and 10, trimming the tendrils with scissors to adjust the scale. Yarn 14 was chosen for spikes. I felt that was sufficient variety and complexity for the proposed print. While gluing up the materials I used some of the trimmed offcuts to fill areas between yarns.

collatype plate 7While working I became concerned about the complexity and deep texture of the plate. From my first collatype plate (13-Dec-2015) I have chosen thick/deep or heavily textured items that interested me, disregarding normal printing guidelines. It has seemed a reasonable risk, given my purpose is not traditional print-making. This has led to challenges in inking and printing, and some indifferent, patchy results. This time the choice was unintentional – it has only been while recording the results and reviewing the multiple prints and relative levels of detail from a single inking that I have become fully aware of the price.

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e3 Collatype collage prints – 80 mile beach
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Project 2: Collatype printing
Exercise 3: Collatype collage prints
Collatype collage prints – 80 mile beach part 1


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