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

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