Search Results for 'monoprint'

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.


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 ( 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.


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.

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.

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

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.


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

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.

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).

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.


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.


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 ( – 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.

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).

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.

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.
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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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

More liquid clay experiments

My initial liquid polymer clay experiments (28-Dec-2021) were interesting, but in my first attempt in practice the stencilled clay has very little impact (14-Jan-2022). There is promise, the concept of a larger / clarifying / extending image stencilled on more complex cane patterning remains intriguing. But more work is required. Time to revisit more monoprinting techniques.

Some homemade stamps from past print-making, with liquid clay dabbed on with a cosmetic sponge:

A stamp made with some looped string glued to stiff cardboard and varnished.
This stamp was made from a piece of foam mat, heated, then impressed with a wooden block

Textures from a collotype sampler plate (30-Dec-2015), again with liquid clay sponged on:

collatype plate 8
The original plate, using modelling paste on mountboard as a base
This section uses a piece of mum’s wedding dress
Here a scrapper was dragged through the paste

A gelatine plate was used with a stencil, again with liquid clay applied by sponge:

right to left
* yupo stencil on top then pressed clay on (+ve)
* stencil pressed on clay – transferred on (-ve)
* clay on geli – a little/faint ghost
Using plastic with a corrugated surface as a stamp
Liquid clay was put on the geli plate, some wool pressed in, and then the wool pressed onto the clay
The shadow image left on the geli plate was captured.

I did try a couple of other monoprinting techniques, in particular a variant of backdrawing, but wasn’t satisfied with the result. My method was to sponge the clay on thin plastic, then place that side down on a clay sheet and press through – a little like using carbon paper. Instead of just getting lines where pressed, the whole area of liquid clay immediately transferred. I should try leaving the prepared plastic overnight before use.

Next attempt – silkscreen printing.

Printing through silk screen; plant material as “stencil”. Liquid clay pushed through with old membership card.

I tried to wash the screen quickly – alcohol then soap and water. Traces of liquid clay remained. Not something to repeat. Plus I should have washed and dried screen before using it – bits of dust and dirt were left on the clay.

The screen did what I hoped in terms of keeping plant material in place.

A day later came the next layer of fish imagery experiment. This time some polyester organza in an embroidery hoop worked well as the “silk screen”, and was easy to clean up.

  • Dabbing rather than scraping [with credit card] to spread colour made some differences
    • more flexible for colour placement
      – think this is a key outcome of technique
    • less of indent left in clay
      • if want, could pre-press with acrylic block
        – would probably help definition of colour
    • difficult to get colour into previous indentation
      • if want, could hand apply later.

I later realised the fish is upside down.

Another overnight wait, then colouring the fish.

Used “negative space” stencil to add (upside down) fish)
+ cocktail stick to ease colour into impressed lines of plants.
  • Very little ink picked up on back of stencil – happened to be shiny side of freezer paper, which may be a factor

I really wanted to be able to pick out lines for definition. Time for a side experiment.

  • oddment of clay
  • black ink [dabbed] onto (2 day old) weed.
    onto clay and held with improvised embroidery hoop while pressed – like it!

I also tried decanting some black liquid clay into a small bottle with a gutta nib (from batik work many years ago). I thought this would give a finer line. It looked promising at first, but soon became a big fail.

Inked plant material, ink on thread, other random improvised stamps, the gutta nib lines – all beaded on the surface.

So far I had used a few pieces of scrap clay, mixing in the liquid clay and re-rolling after each experiment. It all ended in the bin.

After a few days of grumbling around, a new plan:

Next fish scene:

  • colour on weeds. pressed in.
  • brighten colours with alcohol inks.
  • get “outlines” using +ve and -ve stencils, slightly out of alignment.
  • fish right way up.
  • smoother “slump donut” baking

Day 1

  • white top sheet on scrap base.
  • weeds and violet liquid clay dabbed on. Used acrylic block to push into clay
  • yellow liquid clay + sunbright yellow alcohol ink
  • looks fabulous

Day 2

  • Both colours faded a bit as they dried out – more pronounced in the violet, which didn’t have the alcohol ink boost.
  • organza not as tight – some nice texture
  • bigger “edge gap” on large fish (stencil a heavier card – relatively)
  • layering on yellow doesn’t make much sense, given effectively no white retained.
    • although “proper” blue around weed
  • blue liquid clay + sapphire blue alcohol ink

?? another idea – texture clay to manipulate colour later added.

Day 3

  • straight red liquid clay – want it paler (distanced)
  • tried threads-as-stencil to add definition
  • looked odd, so used alcohol on cotton bud to add to body shape, eye, mouth

–> uneasy un-balance in level of texture / detail and graphic nature.

Day 4

  • red of big fish faded overnight
  • small fish – red liquid clay + chili alcohol ink
    -ve (stencil doesn’t quite fit +ve
  • tried to make thread shaping clearer
  • want to hold nerve and do black edge tomorrow as planned experiment.

Day 5

  • Small fish with dual stencils
  • large fish done without stencils, using cotton bud
I much prefer the line achieved on the small fish

I wanted to introduce some distortion and slumping in baking – suggesting movement in the water. A rough donut of foil was wrapped in old T-shirt fabric, and the clay pushed in gently.

Final sample:

Lots of lessons, both positive and negative. Lots of avenues to explore. Perhaps the biggest problem for me is the wait between steps, not wanting to smudge layers. If I worked in a more production-like mode, for example building inventory for a market stall, I could work on multiple items at each stage, or have multiple items at different stages of the process. But for me at the moment, making is more an adjunct to thinking. Plus some of this seems to be working against the nature and possibilities of the clay rather than taking advantage of the medium. The more exciting possibility is to use just one or two of these ideas at a time. There’s a lot of flexibility to add my own imagery that I’ve developed over years, rather than relying on commercial stamps and stencils.

Reimagined Memory

This post has been sitting in draft form for longer than I’d like. It’s changing, but I wouldn’t say improving. There are so many chains of thought, so many intentions. So much I’d like to say, but when I type it seems … overblown? underwhelming? And yet this piece is deeply satisfying to me. Words fail.

In general, too facts do not explain values. And in works of the poetic imagination, values bear the mark of such novelty that everything related to the past is lifeless beside them. All memory has to be reimagined. For we have in our memories micro-films that can only be read if they are lighted by the bright light of the imagination.

Gaston Bachelard The Poetics of Space

Bachelard has a poetic and beautiful response to memory. I have returned to this a few times while reflecting on memories of mum, new and renewed. In contrast, Bessel Van Der Kolk wrote of an experiment in The body keeps the score: “We deliberately tried to collect just isolated fragments of their experience – particular images, sounds, and feelings – rather than the entire story, because this is how trauma is experienced.” This darker perspective resonated with my recent jury experience – the conflicting and imperfect recollection of the various testimonies.

Could I show / explore that in clay?

Memory malleable, distorted, overlaid, mistaken, subverted, integrated, enriched.


A few weeks after making this I was moved while reading Laura Marris’s “Atmospheric changes: on meteorology & Camus” ( How do I filter enough to see without being overwhelmed? or too narrow? without skimming the surface? immerse without being lost?

It helped to hold this bowl. Here is a concrete thing that “memorialises” past thought. I love that it settles into the palm of my hand. Is held, stable. I sat, holding the bowl, mind wandering. More and more seeing distortions that somehow carry meaning. I sit with it, resisting ideas of where to go next.


Memory hexagon

I wanted to return to and reimagine memories. A previous post shared some reading on the malleability of memory, the way we edit and reshape history in our recollection.


Left overs of that cane were combined with the distorted end sections, then forced into the conformity of a hexagon. Imperfect mirroring over mismatched seams.

JCJ’s jug

Memories are overlaid, combined, misremembered. I used monoprinting with liquid clay to suggest this.

A faint flower, followed by a butterfly with some opaque black added to transparent red to darken and reduce transparency.

Further deepening and enriching the experiment, the paper stencils used were originally cut and used in a design on fabric for an OCA course.


The imagery came from a family heirloom jug, and has already inspired other clay experiments.



I wanted to add more imagery, more layering of ideas. This time I turned to the glyphs I developed as part of my notebook practice. An infinity symbol was used for “memory”.


Once again I was able to use existing and personal stencils.


Recurring theme

I can’t recall (ho ho) if I’ve previously shared this page of related notes.


Much of the liquid clay colour was lost in handling while I stretched and prepared the clay for baking.

Based on a suggestion from Ruth Hadlow I wanted to take advantage of the properties of clay to further suggest the changes of memory over time. I put the disc on clay on an improvised donut of foil, hoping for slumping and distortion in baking.


Straight from my notebook, some further thoughts on the result:

  • violet liquid clay not visible
  • red visible, but pattern hard to see
  • blue – or actually, protected areas – visible but a lot of colour lost.
  • bottom surface rough from foil
  • doesn’t seem to have drooped in oven
  • no gloss on any of the liquid clay areas.
  • the form is satisfying. It sits well. It spins and wobbles when touched.
  • good to have cut thick and rolled out. Expanded motif size and get good variation.
  • Lost colour on back – didn’t allow long rest + impact of sitting on glass tile when rolling.
    -> ? focus on one side??
  • tried running water into / over it – as a bowl and as an umbrella. pretty. Different effects depending on rate of flow of water.
    –> ?? attempt an indoor water feature?

Liquid polymer clay

Lynn Yuhr, self-described “artist-teacher-creative-maker-adventurer” at The Flying Squirrel Studio does beautiful work in polymer clay. I love the mark-making, the density and space, the boldness and energy of line, colour and form.

Work by Lynn Yuhr, from
Work by Lynn Yuhr, from

I’m also a great admirer of Lynn as a generous and helpful person. I was interested in her upcoming online workshops with Metalwerx, but hesitant given Lynn uses Sculpey clay and I have already invested in Kato products. I sent an enquiry and Lynn responded immediately, supportive of my preferences and with detailed questions and suggested experiments to test whether her techniques can be transferred. A week or so later Lynn emailed again – she had acquired some Kato liquid clay, done her experiments, and gave me a full rundown on what should work and ideas still to be explored. Amazing! Naturally I’m now enrolled in both classes – and even that was a problem-turned-pleasure. There were some issues with my non-US credit card plus challenges with online payment providers, and Violet at Metalwerx was friendly and helpful in finding an approach that worked for us both.

The classes aren’t until February and March, so you still have time to sign up. In the meantime, I’ve been doing my own basic experiments. My previous use of liquid clay has been the clear version, as glue between baked and fresh clay, and as a surface glaze.

Early experiments

1. First look, on white and black clay

Row: 1 liquid clay colours mixed with white liquid clay
Row 2: liquid clay dabbed on
Row 3: Using palette knife

The Kato colours are transparent, and barely show on the black. Adding white liquid clay made them visible, but pastel colours. Application methods attempted made glossy lumps on the surface of the clay ground.

2. Colour mixing

The central colour wheel uses mixing to create purple and orange.
In the corners are purchased colours of purple and orange.

I purchased all the colours of Kato liquid clay that I could find from Australian vendors. They seem to mix reasonably well.

3. Variety of marks

Rows 1 – 3: Marks using cocktail stick; piece of credit card; ball of tissue
Row 1: white liquid clay
Row 2: black liquid clay
Row 3: grey (mix of black and white)
Row 4: white pool with black feathered through; white pool with black dragged around; black pool with white dragged around

Dabbing created the flattest marks, but still with a slight gloss after baking. It all depends on purpose, but I find the stamp of the credit card edge gives a more energetic, purposeful line than any of my dragging attempts.

4. Reds on white

Column 1: cotton ball dabber – red liquid clay; senorita magenta alcohol ink + clear liquid clay; senorita magenta alcohol ink + white liquid clay
Column 2: small brush – red liquid clay; senorita magenta alcohol ink + clear liquid clay; senorita magenta alcohol ink + white liquid clay
Column 3: chili pepper alcohol ink + white liquid clay
Column 4: on black clay. from top: white liquid dabbed on, left 5 min then magenta + clear dabbed; magenta alcohol ink + clear; Chili + white; magenta + white

When I first emailed Lynn I was planning to use alcohol inks in clear liquid clay for my colours. She encouraged me to try the purpose-made coloured liquid clay as well, to see if it had similar properties. With this limited experiment I found:
* alcohol ink + liquid clay dried more on the ceramic tile palette, but a quick spray of isopropyl alcohol restored it to usable.
* I have quite a few alcohol inks, bought for use with resin. Useful to increase my colour range. I have yet to try them mixed into pre-coloured (ie not white or clear) liquid clay.
* The Kato liquid clay colours are labelled “transparent”, so they aren’t useful straight from the bottle onto a dark clay. Dabbing an area with white, leaving it to dry out a little, then over-dabbing with coloured transparent clay seems to offer the best results for a good non-pastel colour over dark clay.

The liquid clays themselves reminded me of my Akua print-making inks in viscosity and transparency – a comparison noted for followup.

Alcohol ink sidetrack

Looking at various videos showing alcohol inks with polymer clay, I was inspired by MyVian’s Galaxy earrings to make a quick Christmas Tree ornament as a gift to some lunch hosts.

Attempt 1 didn’t go as planned.

It looks pretty enough, but the mica powder formed clumps and didn’t show well, and I broke the star while sanding. The gold you can see was later experimentation with gold ink. I used a gloss varnish over the inks and mica.

Attempt 2 looks better in real life.

This time I mixed both mica powder and inks in clear liquid clay, to avoid the need for any varnish. Not great, but it looked nice as one small item on Marianne’s tree.


I mentioned above the material similarities between printing inks and the liquid polymer clay. In a brief flurry yesterday I tried a couple of basic techniques. All use premixed red liquid polymer clay from Kato, on a base of white clay.

In progress
  • colour dabbed using cosmetic sponge (this is on the publicly available material’s list for Lynn’s class, and is much better than the oddments of tissues etc I used in my earlier experiments).
  • cosmetic sponge cut into a shape and used as a stamp.
  • sponge used to apply to the end of a rolling pin, which was used as a stamp.
  • colour sponged onto bubble wrap, then stamped
  • a stencil cut from yupo paper, colour dabbed over with sponge
  • a stamp improvised with string around an old office stamp. Colour sponged on to stamp. This also left some indentation on the clay base, which looks good (for the right purpose…)
  • a flexible net onion bag used as a stencil, coloured sponged on.
  • a shape cut from a thin sponge material (don’t remember quite what – sitting in monoprinting box). used first as a stencil, colour dabbed around it; used second with colour dabbed onto it and used as a stamp.

All of this is interesting and exciting, opening up possibilities. I love it when different areas of creativity start crossing over. I wouldn’t call the colour “rich”, but that in itself suggests more questions. I’m thinking partly of glazes used in watercolours, layering up. Or a stencilled larger design over a hexagon of more intricate cane clay. Perhaps short interim bakes to stabilise in between layers. Any difference made adding alcohol inks to pre-coloured liquid clay. Obviously also there will be lots to learn from Lynn.

Other experiments

For the sake of completeness…

I’ve shown before some of my colour mixing experiments, mostly focused on pairs of colours (for example 31-Aug-2021). I wanted to start looking a bit further.

Above is a basic skinner blend of magenta and blue, mixed with increasing amounts of yellow.

To be honest, I can’t remember where I was going with this. I think it may simply have been seeking some joy, after weeks of sitting as part of a dysfunctional jury hearing in a trial about the unpleasant doings (or not) of a dysfunctional family – and not even the “resolution” of achieving a verdict.

The scraps of my colour set were chopped up and whirled, following a tutorial purchased from Deb Hart.

My choice of base colour really drabs it down. Next time adjust thickness, and maybe darker (even black), for the base.

And finishing on a happier note, some random cane in the stash became a hair clip.

Reading Candor

Reading||Making has continued. Again I visited Candor, Anne Carson’s text, looking for guidance in transformation of the monoprints (25-Feb-2020). “If you are not the free person you want to be, you must find a place to tell the truth about that… You could whisper down a well. You could write a letter and keep it in a drawer.” Jane, wife of HG Wells, made faint pencil marks on the letter of sympathy she received from her husband’s mistress. Jane – born Amy Catherine – fulfilling her husband’s domestic expectations.

A square of one print became a folded envelope. It is named – “Jane”. Bound by net, by woolen skein, by the trappings of domesticity, by the stones of the well. Inside, hidden, her name – scratched, mis-written (my oops), torn.

I like this little object very much… except that in the end it is so literal. As I worked at reading the text I found it more and more full of imagery, of the material, the specific.

Playing with printed card, finding shapes, became more abstract.

As reading the process has worked. There is familiarity, and I still find more. Slow. Attentive. Absorbing and making connections. Can I claim that in these photographs the work of reading is made visible???

Printmaking: x steps forward + y steps back

= ?
I’m not sure where that leaves me, especially given “progress” is not a helpful concept and art-making is not a two dimensional space.

page overview

While trawling the net I found a method for transferring black and white photographs onto paper – multiple steps involving glue, patience, … Then I realised I’m already printing onto my prints. Why not photographs? After sampling the printout of different manipulations (the original colour, posterized, threshold, various methods to get grey scale), I selected a photo of burnt bushland from near Mount Borrodaile (29-Aug-2013), and computer printed onto a monoprint and text related to our recent bushfires (detail shown in post 10-Feb-2020). It didn’t print properly across the whole page, but an interesting result. Detail below.

A couple of the “waste” prints from 10-Feb-2020 went through a paper shredder and were woven based on learning from a class with Alice Spittle (3-Dec-2018), although substantially modified given the different materials.
They are around 10 and 18 cm high, quite quick and fun to make, and I think very pretty. There are lots of places with potential to vary the form – something to explore further.

I’ve also finished a little vessel that has been languishing since December. I had planned to print or stamp onto woven paper yarn, but while making decided the proportions demanded a smaller woven area. The base is a box from a mobile phone, 13.5 cm wide, and it’s more delicate in person – the scrunched wires look very heavy in the photograph.

Next to new print-making – and this is where things start going backwards. Over a week or two I drew up a list of experiments, based around using my new acrylic paints with my gelatin plate (rather than my “standard” akua inks):
* Wax crayon resist (gelli arts video). I prepared some cardboard with 7 different waxy crayons and pencils. Neocolour soluble crayons were the only ones to work. More experimentation needed.

* Stamping onto a small woven paper basket, made when I first experimented with the technique. Shown here is the basket before I made a horrible painty mess of it.

* Printing onto a square of paper yarn and wire, made on a weave-it frame as a substitute for little black and white number shown further up this post.

Didn’t even attempt it. I was realising that the change to acrylics was a bigger step than anticipated. A number of ideas just got dumped – effects of vaseline on stencils (link); printing onto interfacing (link); printing on tissue paper (Carolyn Dube video).

I tried using one of the paper stencils cut in the class with Tianli Zu (16-Feb-2020). Using medium weight paper was always going to be a stretch and I didn’t help by letting the painty stencil dry while trying to ghost stamp (is that a thing?) with it. On the other hand, the bits of green paper left on the print are quite interesting – a sort of poor woman’s chine-collé perhaps.

By this time I was wheeling fast and loose. Both sides of paper, planned/improvised/random… I now understand why many people on the internet videos work through a stack of already printed paper. My Akua inks are beautiful and transparent, and I think would need careful planning to use many layers. With acrylics you can keep working on a page, layer after layer, trying for a better result. A selection of my outcomes:

All the above were on A4 110gsm cartridge paper. Can you believe they were the better ones of the bunch???

I did one print on 200 gsm watercolour paper, and got much richer colour. I wasn’t conscious of using more paint, though I can’t rule it out.

Quite a few of the prints included at least some element of “waste not” brayer and stencil cleaning. One of my more favoured results of the day was the single A3 page of cartridge paper that was entirely waste not leavings.

Some of the above may join others not shown on the overprint pile. I suspect paper weaving is in the future of others.

Separate to all this I am getting clearer ideas on how I want to use print-making as an ongoing element of my practice. My theory is that it will make me a better reader, but I have to get better at the basic technique first.

More print and text

The recent interest in print-making, text, and paint continues.

Session 1
First up was a day with Claire, who showed me a neat textural technique using layers of acrylic paint, sprayed water, and a plastic card to move all around. Some interesting effects, with lots of possibilities around number of layers, ordering (when to use light or dark), waiting time between actions etc. All was on watercolour paper – cartridge paper just disintegrated in the pooled water.

Claire had a specific future purpose, and while fun this technique didn’t fill the need. We branched out with different experiments. I focused on creating texture in acrylics using various rollers and scraping tools.

Later I came up with a new variation in my quest for text on prints.
* stylus on bamboo tablet to get a very crisp, clean piece of handwritten text into gimp – white text on a black background.
* in gimp opened an image of the orange and blue texture print shown at the top of this post.
* used the text as a layer mask of the texture image. From the snip of the gimp screen you can see that this gave an image that was transparent except for textured colour in the shape of the handwritten letters.
* Used techniques developed previously (22-Jan-2020, session 1, first text attempt) to size and position the coloured text on a fairly gently coloured sheet of watercolour paper that Claire created in our print session. A detail of the result:

Very happy to have this in my toolbox of text techniques.

Session 2
In the previous session I used some old and close to empty tubes of cheap acrylic that were loitering in a drawer. Claire had some luscious Matisse flow paints, and looking at the gorgeous colours of creamy, pigment laden paint, there was definitely some materials-envy going on. Imagine that old movie technique of a calendar flipping over, and we come to session 2, with me the happy owner of … new paints. Derivan/Matisse have a big range of colours. I decided to treat myself to two of their “sets” – Australian Colours and Primaries. This session was all about experimenting with the Australian Colours.
First the spray and layer technique to create a background, with other colour laid on with the side of a plastic card.

A couple of texture experiments provided the base for more computer text printing. I don’t have a clear vision of where I’m going with these text experiments. Somehow I want to play with legibility – by overlapping, using handwriting, breaking the text up in some way…

All the oddments of paint went onto a few pages of A3 cartridge paper. Waste not, of course, plus I suspect collage will pop up sometime.

Session 3
Short and focused, a first look at the split primary mixing set, which also includes black and white. I made a simple colour wheel of primary and secondary colours (not shown), got some tones with black, and made a spray and layer colour sampler.

Session 4
This was inspired by a video from Dan Tirels ( So far I’ve only watched Monoprinting Abstract with acrylic paint on stretched canvas, but checking now see there’s lots more. Dan spreads paint on a piece of thin plastic (like the single-use plastic shopping bags recently phased out). He puts this paint side down on his canvas or paper, using hands and various tools to transfer the paint and create various textures and marks. It reminded me of carbon paper (for those of you who remember typewriters). So naturally, I had to try it for text. Some purple Akua intaglio ink, some red and blue acrylic. Some on a hard surface, some on a padding of newspaper. The ghost can be nice, and on one I shifted the plastic part way through to break up the lines of text. This was all on plain white cartridge paper. There are a lot of incidental marks, but if this was fragments of text over (or under) other elements I think it could work very well.

I was hoping to get more inspiration, in inspiring company, in a monoprinting class. Sadly they didn’t get the numbers and it was cancelled. So the next step is TBD.

Mono printing and text

Attentive reading, complete with careful note-taking, isn’t enough. Heresy? A simple recognition of my truth – which has taken me a while.

This isn’t cramming for an exam without a care for the info drop-out in the following week. It’s not skimming around, pulling together some facts and figures, some quotes and ideas, for an assignment. I’m reading to produce knowledge in me. It takes time – new ideas need to be tried out, connections made, existing knowledge reconsidered.

Making – moving from thought to materiality with knitting, weaving, paper, … – gives space and time for a different sort thinking. Critically, I have found that making which in some way responds to my reading becomes a form of knowledge production in its own right. It’s not just a distraction or filling in the time or simply another part of life – each project has allowed me deeper understanding of what I am reading, and to discover more about how I work and what is attracting my interest. However those earlier projects were all quite time and labour intensive. I wanted to mix it up with something a bit quicker, a bit more responsive to the moment.

Project outline
Monoprinting. It’s quick, versatile, responsive. Plus it’s something I’ve done a fair amount of before (blog search results), so building on skills.

Imagery – build on reading, so glyphs, experiment with what a humanist data viz could look with, plus continue to mine my history with stamps, stencils etc from previous work.

Text – the new element. A curiosity about “poetic” has been growing (see for example the reading scarf project (7-Jan-2020) and recent threads (18-Jan-2020)). I’ve been attempting to write poetic snippets, based on a reference in Jane Hirshfield. All very cringe-worthy, but I feel attempting it myself might make it easier to see and understand what people who know what they are doing are actually doing. I’ve never been successful with getting text into a monoprint.

Session 1: cobweb removal, first text idea
* Akua liquid pigments
* gelatin plate
* glyph stencils cut in paper
* general approach based on Linda Germain video (this link goes to a page on her website, with a mini-course for the price of your contact details).
* computer printed text on monoprint

Results: Space made, tools and materials found, cobwebs disturbed.
A selection:

First text attempt: chose one of the lighter monoprints, scanned it, and opened in gimp. Used image to decide size, font, colour and placement of text. Using the text layer only, printed the result onto the original monoprint.

I’m quite happy with this result – quick and accurate. However I’m not convinced by the regularity of the font on a very informal print.

Second text attempt: Scanned in a monoprint. Hand wrote one of my snippets and scanned that in. In an attempt to integrate text and print I added a faint extra layer, an enlarged and distorted version of the text. I printed the full image – the scan of the monoprint and both layers of text. This means the original monoprint is unchanged.

The result is … alright. I don’t have strong feelings about it. Perhaps the approach could be useful in some future application.

Session 2: Introduction to monoprinting workshop with Kirtika Kain
This workshop was in the studio of Gallery Lane Cove – Kirtika’s work was on exhibit upstairs at the time (20-Jan-2020). Kirtika was very ambitious for a three hour course. To help us build concepts and ideas, we started with 20 minutes of stream of consciousness writing, then some time mind-mapping, exploring words and themes that resonated. We all made monoprints using an A5 piece of acetate as a plate, backdrawing, and printing using barren and press. Next came making and use of stencils, plus other objects as a mask. Running short of time, Kirtika demonstrated drypoint etching on the acetate, and both intaglio and relief printing, then a final burst attempting chine-collé. It was full-on, and I don’t know how the other four students, all I think quite new to print-making, coped. For me it was great as a refresher and energizer.

My “designs” were based on thoughts of humanist data viz and the distorted grid. Messy and unclear, but there’s an energy I like.
A selection:

My first backdrawing included some overall scratching with fingers, and produced a cloudy jumble. The second attempt I tried hard to keep clean, pressing only with the pencil while backdrawing. I love that line! Of course the y-axis is wrong, I need to mirror that… and so,

I needed to try mirror writing!

Session 3: mirror writing on acetate
* Akua intaglio ink
* acetate and gelatin plates
* mirror writing (mostly)

Backwriting with biro (that had run out of ink), acetate plate

Ghost print

Akua intaglio on acetate; writing into inked surface with wooden skewer (direct, not mirror writing); stamped onto gelatin plate; printed off onto paper using brayer

I made the gelatin plate over four years ago. It has been used repeatedly, and between times sat in the garage with minimal protection. The clearer white dots above are pocks on the plate, not a product of the method. I think there’s some potential here (assuming I melt and reset the plate) – especially given the freedom of being able to write directly.

Not shown: Mirror backwriting, gelatin plate. Did not work.

Acetate plate, mirror writing into ink using a wooden skewer.

Session 4: extending
* Attempt longer text
* Think about page placement
* Combine text and other effects – some in this print session, some by using pages from previous sessions
* An additional method for monoprinted text
* Using yupo paper stencils as both stencil and as pre-inked stamp
* Acetate and gelatin plates

Some results:
Mirror backwriting on acetate plate.

In the print above, the ink of the biro used in backwriting shows through the paper and the transparent yellow plate ink. It assists legibility. However the ghost below is basically unreadable. The only point of interest is that I printed on what was intended to be the back of the page. Excluding the workshop prints, all of the work in this post is on paper originally used in the life drawing workshop with David Briggs last year (16-Feb-2019). Odd here, but could be something to play with… And now I look at the ghost again, it might work to write or paint (watercolour) the text into the blanks of the yellow…

A more complete attempt. More legible. Plus improving on placement (I’m edging towards an A5 booklet idea). The text is based on childhood memories of storms at the end of hot summer days. The infinity shape is my glyph for memory, the stamping is intended to suggest storms.

Experimenting with another text method – writing in printing ink onto acetate. Stamping that onto the gelatin plate, then printing off. Squelchy. I’d need to find a better way of managing the amount of ink in the writing.

Finally some general play.

I’m pretty happy with my results overall – not the individual pages, but in the options I now have to work responsively and relatively intuitively as a support to and extension of my other creative activity.

Jane Hirshfield Ten Windows, page 41

Kirtika Kain – uppercase

On the final day of this exhibition at Gallery Lane Cove I went to a discussion between Kirtika and Judith Blackall. Earlier in the week I did an evening workshop with Kirtika, an introduction to monoprinting – more on that soon.

Kirtiki Kain
silkscreened iron filings, tar and wax on kozo paper

This exhibition was part of Kirtika’s prize as recipient of the 2017 Lloyd Rees Youth Memorial Award, and was displayed in a separated corner space within the 2019 Award show. Kirtika was born in New Delhi into the Dalits or Untouchables caste. Her father was a beneficiary of affirmative action and trained as a chef, a profession which enabled him and his young family to migrate to Australia. Kirtika is careful to point out that she herself hasn’t experienced discrimination due to her caste. Instead she seems to be an outsider – growing up as a migrant on Sydney’s northern beaches, travelling to New Delhi as a foreign visitor, impacted by caste stigma which is not lived but still inherited.

After initial training in psychology Kirtika received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2016, winning a scholarship to complete her Masters in 2018. In 2019 she completed residencies in New Delhi and Rome, had a solo exhibition with Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Sydney, was included in a few other exhibitions, then spent November working intensively in the print studio at Lane Cove to create the works for uppercase. The whirlwind continues, with Kirtika already advanced in work for her next scheduled exhibition.

Kirtika is interested in transience. She enjoys the process of making works, rather than feeling a need for them to continue existence – tricky when you get to the commercial gallery situation (she “felt a bit taxidermied”). Kirtika uses the transformation of materials to examine themes of caste stigma, ancestral memory and the language of power and reclamation. The language is a way of accessing her history. In the mid-twentieth century Dr. B.R. Ambedkar transcribed into English the social rules that over generations have been internalised by the Dalits, rules condemning them to subhuman status, denied the smallest vestige of prestige or honour. Kirtika explained she feels the impact of the words on her body as she works with them, and she selects materials responding to this – waste, or with religious and cultural references, or capturing the feeling such as with the density of tar. Materials that hold a history.

Fitting with Kirtika’s interest in the process over the result, she included in the exhibition some of the screens and plates used in creating the works.

Some of the screens were old ones found in the gallery studio space – beautiful, but bound for a cleaning and return for future use. The double meaning of “uncleaned” only occurred to me while writing the caption below.

A number of works used layering very effectively. Edges, fragility, materiality gave impact and depth.


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