Archive for the '4.2 Collatype printing' Category

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e3 Collatype collage prints – Banded ironstone formation

banded ironstone formation

banded ironstone formation

In an earlier post (30-Dec-2015) I selected Banded Ironstone Formations seen in Karijini National Park as the inspiration for my last collatype block. The experiments recorded in that post gave me confidence in a new method of preparing the plate and provided a library of textures with which to work.

banded ironstone formation sketch

banded ironstone formation sketch

A quick sketch of the design followed. I wanted something graphic, not at all realistic. I was zooming in and exploring large scale stripes (I think the colour mixing stripes of p4-76 is one of my more successful prints – 7-Dec-2015). The focus was a fracture line in the formation, the closer bands thrust up at an angle, more distant stone lying horizontal. I would emphasize the two sections by using different scales of texture. I also wanted to break a line with small inclusions, a small detail of interest seen in one of my photographs.

Print p4-150

Print p4-150

Referring back to the texture prints, I chose coarse hessian and a mid-weight cotton for the foreground textures – the two fabrics at the left of the top row in p4-150. For the background I chose the lighter hessian and tissue silk, the fabrics at each end of the bottom row.

Just as in the earlier sample the plate used mountboard as a base, modelling paste as glue and support for the fabrics, and acrylic matt medium as sealant. The only modification was pressing the completed, dried plate under some heavy books to remove any bowing, suspecting that this was the cause of some issues in the previous prints.

I was already inking the plate in a mix of violet and red akua intaglio inks when I remembered to take a photograph.

collatype plate 9

collatype plate 9

Print p4-156
A single mixed colour of ink was rolled over the surface. The print was taken on cartridge paper using my small ezicut craft press.

Print p4-156

Print p4-156

The layers of wool batting I use as a printing blanket went through the press at a slight angle, leaving one edge light. Otherwise the image is full of texture and detail. The four textiles create four different textures. My small hessian inclusions can be seen in the first cotton stripe in the top left corner of the print.

Although full of incident the image is not interesting. The design is not a simple repetition, but the break and the intended foreground and background are not clear.
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Print p4-157
In one of my experiments, p4-152, there was sufficient ink left after printing direct from the mountboard to transfer colour to the gelatin plate.

I rolled the gelatin with burnt umber liquid pigment and pressed in the collatype plate without re-inking it. The print was taken on cartridge paper using hand pressure.

Print p4-157

Print p4-157

The print is bland, featureless, uninteresting. The earlier experiment used a plate previously printed using a brayer. It seemed the little press had been much more effective, leaving little for the next print. Too little burnt umber had been rolled on the gelatin, compounding problems.
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Print p4-158
I rolled the same mix of intaglio ink on the mountboard plate and took a print on copy paper using the baren. So little transferred that I have not included that print in my results.

Instead I moved straight on to the gelatin plate, rolling it with a larger than usual amount of lamp black liquid pigment. The mountboard was pressed in, then the print taken on cartridge paper using hand pressure.

Print p4-158

Print p4-158

There is good transfer of hessian texture in some areas. There is insufficient contrast of the two ink colours, leading to a dull image.

It can’t be seen in my photographs, but another innovation was introduced in this print. In this exercise we are asked to work between A4 and A3 size. My little press is just wide enough for A4. The gelatin plate fits A4 with a small margin around. Balancing requirements and resources, almost all my collatype prints have been an A4 page printed edge to edge, without the uninked area normally used. On the press the only alternative would be to go smaller. On the gelatin plate I didn’t want an unsightly, uneven border of untextured colour and I couldn’t think of a manageable way to mask the edges.

The answer turned out to be simple. In this print I inked the full gelatin plate as normal. While the mountboard plate was still in place I gentle pressed strips of paper into the gelatin following each edge. When the mountboard was removed the strips stayed in place, providing a mask and crisp uninked edges with an A4 image on A3 paper. This first attempt wasn’t centered well, but I have used the technique on all subsequent gelatin prints and my placement has improved. The new borders enhance the print, but seem a waste of pixels on screen so are cropped out of the photographs.
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Print p4-159
I needed more contrast between ink colours so texture could be seen. I also wanted to differentiate foreground and background stone.

Rather than using a mixed colour of intaglio ink, I dabbed the foreground area of the mountboard with red and the background with violet. Rather than taking an initial print the plate was blotted on scrap paper with hand pressure.

When rolling burnt umber liquid pigment on the gelatin plate I realised I had used too much. I used a page of newspaper very gently pressed on the plate to lift some colour. I quickly re-rolled to remove traces of the newspaper, pressed in the mountboard plate, then took the print on (A3) cartridge paper.

Print p4-159

Print p4-159

Print p4-159 detail

Print p4-159 detail

The different colours can be seen clearly. The hessian texture shows quite well and there is beginning to be some impact from the other fabrics.

However in most areas the hessian strips seem to float above a single, plain background. It’s rather dull.
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Print p4-160
In the previous print the use of newspaper had left traces of the original classified advertisements on the plate. I rolled these out before thinking. Could I get the effect deliberately?

I used the same inking and blotting method on the mountboard as in the previous print. I put more liquid pigment than needed on the gelatin, blotted lightly with newspaper, and without re-rolling completed the print onto cartridge paper.

Print p4-160

Print p4-160

Print p4-160 detail

Print p4-160 detail

In the detailed photograph you may just be able to see that real estate including a balcony with view was being advertised. Because the newspaper was pressed into the gelatin then the print taken from that, the lettering shows normally, not reversed. This could be very useful at some future time. Unfortunately in this image the burnt umber areas remain boring.

A lot of colour is now coming from the hessian. Ink appeared to have built up on the plate.
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Print p4-161
Given the amount of ink still visible on the mountboard plate I did not re-ink it.

Although the newspaper texture in the previous print wasn’t sufficient, perhaps I could use something else to create texture. I rolled a lot of lamp black liquid pigment onto the gelatin plate, then pressed in a piece of heat treated thin plastic (previously seen wrapping a jug in sample p2-66 (22-Jul-2015)). The rest of the process was as in previous prints.

Print p4-161

Print p4-161

Print p4-161 detail

Print p4-161 detail

There wasn’t enough ink on the mountboard plate, or at least it was all in deeper spots and not transferred to the gelatin. The lamp black was too dark, even after blotting/texturing with the plastic.

However I do have the texture I wanted! The image is lost, but I think this could be a very useful effect.
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Print p4-162
I redabbed the mountboard with red and violet, then blotted it on scrap paper.

The gelatin plate was rolled with burnt umber. I used the same piece of plastic, unwiped so still with traces of lamp black on it, to create texture.

I cut a piece of newsprint (blank) in the shape of the background rock area and used it to lift some of the colour from the gelatin plate. The mountboard plate was pressed in and the print taken from the gelatin as before.

Print p4-162

Print p4-162

Foreground and background are differentiated. The stone is textured and the mix of lamp black with the burnt umber is very effective.

It’s not a great design but it’s finally making sense. The change of slope of the lines is clarified. In the foreground stone in particular the bands of colour sit together as a single stone. The background hessian still floats a little, particularly in the central bands. The coarser hessian has too much ink and detail is lost. However overall I am pleased with this result.
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Print p4-163
I tried to scrub excess ink out of the hessian using paper towels. This was not effective. Then I thought to make a print using the ezicut press, which forces the paper deeper into the texture of the plate. Copy paper was used for the print.

Print p4-163

Print p4-163

This happenstance cleaning print is the closest to my original ideas. All fabric textures contribute. Foreground and background are clearly differentiated, although the depth effect is not strong. The bands of each stone area sit together in a single mass.

There’s a thinner band of cotton in the middle of the foreground red area. I think more variation in stripe width would improve the design.
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Print p4-164
I decided to make one more print, using everything learnt so far. The cleaned mountboard was redabbed with red and violet. This time red oxide liquid pigment was used on the gelatin plate. The heat distorted plastic, still with traces of lamp black and burnt umber, was pressed on lightly with a baren to create texture on the gelatin. The newsprint shape was used to lift colour in the background. The mountboard was pressed in, then the print taken on A3 cartridge paper.

Print p4-164

Print p4-164

Print p4-164 detail

Print p4-164 detail

The background texture is complex.

The image doesn’t quite work, although I find it hard to define why. The slope of the break between foreground and background is wrong. I think the shape created lifting colour with newsprint has not been registered with the shapes on the mountboard plate, so that very important break edge is muddled.
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Print p4-165
Given the previous success of p4-163, I decided to finish the session and clean the plate by printing on the ezicut press with no additional ink. Cartridge paper was used.

Print p4-165

Print p4-165

The result in the red area is very dark and much of the detail of the cotton fabric has been lost. The result is striking, but I find it clumsy and messy.
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Print p4-166
Given the amount of colour on the previous print I took another using the ezicut press, this time on copy paper.

Print p4-166

Print p4-166

Print p4-166 detail

Print p4-166 detail

The result is lighter and a lot of detail can be seen – including the little insertions of hessian into one of the cotton bands. I think this is one of the better prints of the series.

This was the final print session for this Part of the course and I found it very satisfying. I brought forward ideas from previous experiments in both collatypes and monotypes. I was able to improvise and adjust methods and materials in response to my results. There are definitely ideas and techniques I want to take forward.

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e3 Collatype collage prints – Banded ironstone formation
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Project 2: Collatype printing
Exercise 3: Collatype collage prints
Banded ironstone formation

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e3 Collatype collage prints – low texture experiments

The patchiness of printing with collaged elements bothered me. Even quite low elements like the yarns built up when overlaid to create areas that either didn’t print or captured blotches of ink, ready to release at awkward moments.

Thinner or dampened papers that shape better around the collage elements could be worth pursuing. A few of my earlier prints used those, with limited success.

Lower relief or larger shapes with few if any little crevices to block or slurp up ink could be the answer. I thought of Sarah Ross-Thompson’s minimalist block, peeling and tearing into mountboard, using glue and masking tape, with none of her normal textures – see her step-by-step explanation of her process at https://www.facebook.com/rossthompsonprints/posts/1069627893068427. Lynn Bailey demonstrates collagraph building using simple cut paper, card and wallpaper – see https://vimeo.com/50941703.

vlaming head lighthouse photo

vlaming head lighthouse photo

vlaming head lighthouse sketch

vlaming head lighthouse sketch

I played with a photograph of Vlaming Head lighthouse in Western Australia. Already a simple scene, it could be further abstracted into some basic shapes.

Print p4-91

Print p4-91

The idea didn’t excite me. My second collatype plate used scratching and tearing into mountboard with a variety of sealants, and the resulting prints such as p4-91 were under-whelming (13-Dec-2015). The artists I’ve mentioned above have developed tool-sets – shellac for sealant, a specific cheap house paint for encasing texture bits, particular tapes that catch more or less ink, substantial presses for intaglio printing… It was similar in the workshop I did with Jet James (16-Jul-2015) – he used a wide range of tapes, nail polishes, things from the hardware store, bits and pieces and overall knowledge built up over time.

The lighthouse design felt too similar to my recent attempts. I didn’t have immediate ideas for improving my disappointing results with torn and scratched mountboard. I looked for a different, simpler idea.

In the course notes there are photographs of student work, including one of not-quite horizontal bands, a few textures, it seems a single, dark colour. In fact it could even be the plate rather than a print – some coarse fabric shows colour that is not the background paper nor the ink colour. Either way, it is striking and effective.

I chose a new image source – photographs of the banded ironstone formations around Fortescue Falls, in the Dales Gorge of Karijini National Park. A detail could provide the varied, textured bands I wanted.

banded ironstone formation

banded ironstone formation

I still needed a better way of creating the collage block.

In the past I’ve experimented with layering tissue in modpodge, producing various levels of surface texture (original information – aztec turquoise mask research page 6-Dec-2014; bracken sketchbook 2-Jan-2015). I used off-cuts for some quick print tests.

Print p4-147
Working with each sample individually, I rolled using akua intaglio ink and printed onto cartridge paper.

Print p4-147

Print p4-147

The empty space in the right of the print was the first attempt – the highly textured, printed using a baren. No use at all.

Second right was the same highly textured tissue piece, dabbed with ink and printed using a brayer rolled heavily. Some areas printed quite well, with a crystalline appearance. Second from the left was the lightly textured bracken piece, printed by rolling with a brayer. The section on the left was the least textured tissue piece, from the aztec mask work. It was printed using the brayer.

The highly textured tissue didn’t print well, but both the others are encouraging as a printing source although not as suggesting stone texture.

Print p4-148
I rolled the gelatin plate with quinacridrone red and pressed in the roughly wiped tissue texture samples. The plate was printed onto copy paper using hand pressure.

Print p4-148 detail

Print p4-148 detail

Print p4-148

Print p4-148

Overall the print was very light. I clearly did not roll the colour well. However there is some interesting texture, particularly where colour from the earlier printing has transferred.
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Print p4-149
I inked the gelatin with a bit more care, this time using lamp black. I placed the tissue samples on the plate and covered them with newsprint before pressing gently. Newsprint and samples were then removed.

The print was taken on copy paper using the baren

Print p4-149

Print p4-149

All three samples produced interesting textures. With the colour chosen they look more stone-like.

These experiments show I can get interesting areas of collage printed texture with my current equipment and materials. I took from this that low relief without great variation in surface level between elements is key. Larger areas at the same general height also seems to improve results.

I wanted to step back from a very literal representation of the rock layers. I wanted to use textiles in my printing. Instead of simply gluing pieces onto mountboard, could I slightly embed them in something like structure gel to get more consistent height and lower relief?

An A4 piece of mountboard was used as the base. I spread it evenly with modelling paste, described on the container as “a fine texture paste with soft yet thick sculptural consistency”. I hoped that it would act as both glue and support for my textures.

collatype plate 8

collatype plate 8

Top row, left to right: Silk organza (10mm?); tussah silk; brocade; mid-weight plain weave cotton; coarse hessian, from a coffee sack.
Bottom row: Tissue silk; habotai silk (8 mm?); synthetic organza stitched lace; light plain-weave cotton; hessian.
On the right is plain modelling paste textured with a range of tools.

When the paste was dry I coated the plate with one layer of acrylic matt medium. In the collatype plate 2 experiment this gave the deepest tones in printing.

The prints below all show the top row consistently. However left and right vary depending on the print process.

Print p4-150
The plate was rolled with a mix of akua intaglio inks. I wiped a couple of spots between the brocade and the tussah silk, to see if the paste plus medium surface could be altered effectively by such techniques.

The print was taken on cartridge paper using the ezicut press.

Print p4-150

Print p4-150

Print p4-150 detail

Print p4-150 detail

In the close detail above I can see the weave structure and the ravelled edges of both the hessians and the cottons below.

I find this print very exciting. Every sample has given a different texture. I can see the pattern of the brocade, the zigzag stitching on the synthetic organza. It was easy and straightforward to print. The very coarse and thick hessian was included as a low probability, push the boundaries piece. To my surprise it printed beautifully.
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Print p4-151
The plate was rolled with a mix of akua intaglio inks. I printed onto cartridge paper using a brayer with considerable energy and force.

Print p4-151

Print p4-151

Generally only the top surface level has printed. In most areas this has led to less definition and less information.

The organza flowers in the bottom row are clearer in this print, with the stitch lines showing the shaping of the blossoms. Which version I prefer would depend on my purpose at the time.
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Print p4-152
Diarylide yellow liquid pigment was rolled on the gelatin plate. The uncleaned mountboard plate was pressed in firmly. The gelatin was printed onto cartridge paper by hand.

Print p4-152

Print p4-152

Print p4-152detail

Print p4-152detail

I haven’t liked this colour combination in the past, but chose it for easier judgment on the contribution of the different plates. The colour proportions and distribution are quite different compared to p4-139 (27-Dec-2015), in which I found the mix unpleasant. In the current sample I find the patterning intriguing, and I think the colours assist this. There is lots of interest, lots of potential, in this result.
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Print p4-153
There appeared to be a lot of ink on the mountboard plate, so I took a print on rice paper, pressing with baren and hand.

Print p4-153

Print p4-153

The result is soft, ethereal, but still with a lot of detail in most areas. I find the flowers particularly interesting. The fabric came from my mother’s wedding dress. Perhaps I will tell a story using this effect one day.
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Print p4-154
A mix of red oxide and burnt umber liquid pigment, together with the yellow still on the roller, were rolled onto the gelatin plage. The previous print had a number of areas of poor contact, particularly at the ends, so this time I pressed the mountboard into the gelatin very firmly.

The print was taken on cartridge paper using a baren.

Print p4-154

Print p4-154

This time too much colour was removed, and there was less blue on the mountboard to transfer. The print is very soft and indistinct.

It reminds me of old frescoes in photographs of Pompeii. I think the soft, unobtrusive but varied effect could be very useful as a background, or for subdued interest in a non-focal part of a work.
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Print p4-155
For this print I rolled the gelatin with lamp black liquid pigment, and tried to press the mountboard in with a moderate level of firmness.

The print was taken on cartridge paper using hand pressure.

print p4-155

print p4-155

Print p4-155 detail

Print p4-155 detail

My pressure was still not right, not even across the plate. It might be easier using another stiff board between.

The coarse hessian and the flowered organza are two stand-out results.

At this stage I felt I had enough information available to guide my choices for the banded ironstone formation collage plate. I wanted to use the same general method to create the plate. However I don’t have the results to show yet. I wanted to stop and record results so far, really examine the prints already produced, before committing.

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e3 Collatype collage prints – low texture experiments
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Project 2: Collatype printing
Exercise 3: Collatype collage prints
Collatype collage prints – low texture experiments

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

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e3 Collatype collage prints – block 2

The previous two printing blocks I used were made from plaster textured with different materials. In assignment 3 I made casts in plaster, textured by the material of the molds. Could I print from a plaster cast?

Sample p3-48 detail

Sample p3-48 detail
Click image for larger view

I selected sample p3-48 for the experiment. It was cast in a woven cloth suspended in a plastic grid toy (see 26-Sept-2015). At that time I noted the delicate surface texture and the soft undulations of the form – qualities that I would now like to capture in print.

The plan had the pleasing notion of including elements from all Parts of the course:

  • Crumple rice paper to help form it to the shape of the plaster. I chose to print on rice paper as it is soft and malleable, which seemed important for this experiment. Increasing those properties with crumpling came from assignment 1.
  • Join layers of rice paper in a papier mâché to give strength and hold form of the print. This harks back to a “sketch” in part 1 (16-May-2015), from which I learnt to re-think the glue used. It was mentioned in passing in part 2 as a technique used by Eva Hesse in a joining sample (7-Jun-2015). A stronger link to part 2 is the use of a join – in this case for structural rather than conceptual or decorative purpose. There was also mention of papier mâché in part 3, when I chose to focus on other materials and not pursue the technique (12-Oct-2015).
  • The very direct link to part 3 is the choice of a sample as printing block.
  • Of course there is printing, fitting into the current part 4. There’s also the move to three dimensions – a nod back to 3D printing software (11-May-2015) and the 3D pen (for example 16-Apr-2015), plus addressing my struggles earlier in the assignment moving back to two dimensions.
  • Print p4-127
    After brushing the plaster cast to remove any dust or loose fragments I used a dabber to cover the top surface with akua intaglio violet. A little liquid pigment quinacridone red was mixed in to highlight valleys that would become hills in the finished work.

    I repeatedly crumpled a large piece of rice paper and started working it into the plaster shape from the centre. The paper wouldn’t stay in place.

    Print p4-127 - layers

    Print p4-127 – layers
    Click image for larger view

    After a few trials I found a method that seemed to work. A torn piece of rice paper, around 4 or 5 cm diameter, was brushed with glue on one side and placed lightly glue side up on the plaster. When a couple of pieces of layer 1 were in place I started layer 2, unglued rice paper, overlapping edges and using it to push layer 1 into the form of the plaster. When the whole surface was covered I added a third layer, rice paper with the underside glued. I used only moderate pressure – I was concerned about the paper sticking to the plaster mold, and about shifting and blurring the print.

    I used Yamato rice paste – beautiful smooth consistency, brushed easily onto the thin rice paper without soaking through, easy squeezable tube. A new favourite.

    The print was left to dry overnight.

    Print p4-127

    Print p4-127

    Print p4-127 detail

    Print p4-127 detail

    The print released easily from the plaster. It sits as a bowl 23 cm across at its widest and 6.5 cm high at its highest. It is light but holds firmly.

    The actual printing is disappointing, very pale with dark blotches. I experimented with backlighting but all the dimensionality is lost.

    Print p4-128
    I tried again with a few modifications.

    This time only intaglio ink was used – violet and crimson red, quite heavily dabbed on. This product is thicker and stickier than the akua liquid pigment.

    I worked with narrow strips of paper. These settled more easily into the form and I could push layer 1 into the sticky ink. When adding layer 2 (strips set at right angles to layer 1) I used a small metal spoon to burnish the paper into the plaster form.

    Layer 3 was set at a different angle again. The work was set to dry overnight, then burnished thoroughly with a variety of wooden shaper tools.

    Print p4-128

    Print p4-128

    Print p4-128 detail 1

    Print p4-128 detail 1

    Print p4-128 view 2

    Print p4-128 view 2
    Click image for larger view

    Print p4-128 detail 2

    Print p4-128 detail 2
    Click image for larger view

    The print lifted off the plaster with little difficulty. The bowl is similar in dimension to the previous print. The structure feels slightly firmer.

    The colour is still blotchy – clearly I unconsciously spent a lot of time working in the central valley/hill. However there is clear printing across the surface. I particularly like the well defined boundary between print and surround at the upper edge.

    The texture of the fabric used in making the original plaster sample is clearly apparent. Looking in detail there is a wide variety in the colour mixing and in the way colours and texture combine.

    The idea is more exciting than the actual piece in isolation. However I can imagine a collection of cast plaster and the recast, printed vessels. The idea reminds me of Victoria Brown’s work where the original bottle, the cocoon of wool that was felted around it and the pewter that was cast in the wool are all combined in works (see research post 14-Aug-2015).

    I would like to make marks in the surface of the plaster, making smooth areas or vigorous scratching, then print again. I have a deadline looming, so that will have to wait for another opportunity.

    It was quite a slow, laborious process, effectively creating the surface to be printed as I was creating the print. I wondered if it made sense – painting or stamping the papier mâché after it is made would be faster and easier. However look at the second detail photograph, where the way the original fabric creased around the plaster shows in the curving line of the weave in the crease towards upper right. I don’t think you could get that detail and that history of the object using a different method.

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

    T1-MMT-P4-p2-e3 Collatype collage prints – block 1

    The final exercise of the assignment asks for a number of collage blocks, bringing together previous learning to create visually textural prints.

    I decided to start with a polyfilla block. Looking at my own samples I find the results less obvious than the plates with glued material. There’s more of a transformation, more space for serendipity. I wanted to continue making prints with the gelatin plate and again I preferred the textures from the polyfilla block. I also thought continuity of the plaster across the block allowed for more integration of different areas of texture.

    For subject material I turned to my sketchbook and photographs from a trip to Western Australia, travelling from Broome to Perth (see blog post 6-August-2014). We saw a lot of big, open country that I thought would translate well in a collatype.

    pinnacles sketch 1

    pinnacles sketch 1
    Click image for larger view

    First I thought of a small watercolour, about 17 x 12.5 cm, that I did based on photographs prior to the trip as a test of my travelling sketch kit. This shows the Pinnacles, weathered columns of limestone rising from yellow sand dunes.

    pinnacles sketch 2

    pinnacles sketch 2
    Click image for larger view

    I didn’t have much time for sketching when we got there, but tried to quickly capture colour and shapes with a glue stick and the coarse sand we stood on.

    pinnacles sketch 3

    pinnacles sketch 3

    However I took many photographs.

    Sketch 20151218 - 1

    Sketch 20151218 – 1
    Click image for larger view

    An initial rough sketch in pencil suggested the landscape could be simplified into a few zones – sky, background sand, stone, shadow, foreground sand. At this point I was considering overlaying a faint striped monoprint in earth colours, making the image more abstract and suggesting the layers of material deposited in the stone (it was fascinating standing amongst the stones, tracing the same layer across the separated spires).

    pinnacles rejected plan

    pinnacles rejected plan
    Click image for larger view

    I considered using woven textiles as texture for stones and shadow. I was thinking of some of Sarah Ross-Thompson’s works, such as Loch Light (link), but the sketch showed peculiar blobs tobogganing off the page, not sensitively integrated texture.

    The earlier sketch was refined to emphasize the geometry and converted to a form to suit an A4 page.

    pinnacles_plan

    pinnacles_plan

    I referred to my library of textures in previous prints.
    Sample p1-70 After

    Sample p1-70 After
    Click image for larger view

    The roughness given by heat treated plastic seemed a good match for the stone. For the ripples of foreground sand I chose plastic netting. The heat treated acrylic felt of sample p1-70 (21-Apr-2015) can be seen in print p4-111 (17-Dec-2015) and although that used embossed pvc foam I thought it could translate into the sandy shadows.

    Sample p1-71 After

    Sample p1-71 After
    Click image for larger view

    While getting out that sample I noticed p1-71, which seemed a good match for a cloudy sky.

    collatype plate 4 texture materials in place

    collatype plate 4 texture materials in place
    Click image for larger view

    A4 mountboard was used for the base. A photocopy of the final sketch was cut up to create templates. I worked very hard to get the initial layer of polyfilla as flat and even as possible.

    The chosen materials were then placed in the setting plaster. I had intended to use two sizes of plastic net in the foreground to create variation in the diagonal lines, then thought the lines would run in the wrong direction so filled the space using the side of a pop stick.

    collatype plate 4 in progress

    collatype plate 4 in progress
    Click image for larger view

    It was a nasty surprise when I removed the net and discovered a grid instead of the expected diagonals (as seen in the top right of print p4-105, 17-Dec-2015). The plaster was still quite soft, and remedial work with the pop stick followed.

    The completed plate was left to dry.

    collatype plate 4

    collatype plate 4

    break

    Print p4-116

    Print p4-116

    Print p4-116
    Click image for larger view

    While waiting for the plate to be ready I did some small experiments with some new earthy colours of akua liquid pigment. Red oxide, burnt umber and lamp black were rolled on the gelatine plate. Torn strips of different grades of sandpaper were pressed in and removed before a print was taken on cartridge paper, pressing by hand.

    The colours are soft and the textures subtle. They could be useful in Australian landscapes.
    break

    Print p4-117

    Print p4-117

    Print p4-117
    Click image for larger view

    Print p4-117 detail

    Print p4-117 detail
    Click image for larger view

    In a second experiment I rolled ink directly on the sandpaper, then pressed the strips ink-side down onto the gelatin plate. The print was taken on cartridge paper using a baren.

    The texture and colour is slightly different using this method.
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    Print p4-118
    Ultramarine blue akua intaglio ink was rolled across the sky area. Hansa yellow intaglio ink was modified with a few drops of burnt umber liquid pigment and rolled over the landscape area of the plaster plate.

    The print was taken on cartridge paper using a brayer.

    Print p4-118

    Print p4-118

    A disappointing result – very little colour transferred.
    break

    Print p4-119
    Colours were rolled onto the plate as before. Additional liquid pigment colours were brushed onto the plate in selected areas.

    The print was taken on cartridge paper using a baren, then I made heavy use of a variety of wooden clay modelling tools in an attempt to pick up colour from the textured areas.

    Print p4-119

    Print p4-119

    Print p4-119 detail

    Print p4-119 detail
    Click image for larger view

    Colour is better balanced in the print than in the photograph, the yellow more an ochre and more integrated.

    The different textures are now apparent – the sky is particularly busy. I find individual elements promising but am not convinced by the print as a whole. There is a lot of white and the different parts don’t integrate as well as I’d hoped. The strong pattern and contrast of values in the sky is too dominant. There is no clear focus or path for the eye through the image.
    break

    Print p4-120
    Colour was again rolled and painted onto the plate.

    I printed onto dry cartridge paper using the ezicut press.

    Print p4-120

    Print p4-120

    The paper is embossed but I think the pressure of the press was insufficient. Colour transfer is very patchy.

    break

    Print p4-121
    There is no pressure control on the press itself. Any adjustment has to be in the sandwich of materials passed through.

    Given so little colour had transferred on the previous print I decided not to re-ink. I printed again onto dry cartridge paper with additional layers of wool batting to increase the pressure of the press.

    Print p4-121

    Print p4-121

    The results of this print are very poor. The paper is more heavily embossed but colour is patchy.

    I was concerned about damage to press and/or plate if pushed further and I decided not to pursue this method.
    break

    Print p4-122
    Pthalo blue and burnt umber liquid pigment was rolled onto the gelatin plate using newsprint masks to create an area for the high point of the stone.

    The plaster plate, not cleaned but no ink added, was pressed into the gelatin and removed. The print was on cartridge paper, pressed by hand.

    Print p4-122

    Print p4-122

    Print p4-122 detail

    Print p4-122 detail
    Click image for larger view

    The burnt umber is very light and the combination of colours plain, but I am pleased with the texture that is visible.

    This seemed a method worth pushing.
    break

    Print p4-123
    I began by rolling burnt umber liquid pigment on the gelatin plate, using a newsprint mask over the sky area. The un-inked plaster plate was pressed into the gelatin and removed. This left marks in the inked gelatin which I used as guides for further rolling and dabbing of liquid pigments on the gelatin – lamp black, burnt umber and phthalo blue.

    The plaster plate was rolled with hansa yellow intaglio ink mixed with burnt umber liquid pigment and ultramarine blue in the sky. The plaster was once more pressed into the gelatin plate. The idea was that the gelatin would be completely covered in inks – from the plaster plate in the high areas of texture and already on the gelatin where the plaster did not touch the surface.

    The print was taken on cartridge paper using hand pressure.

    Print p4-123

    Print p4-123

    Print p4-123 detail

    Print p4-123 detail
    Click image for larger view

    Although patchy, much more colour was transferred to the print. The sky is textured without the distracting high contrast of earlier prints. There is some nice variation and strong dirction in the foreground sand. The background sand is patchy, but in a way I find of interest and potentially an attractive feature in the right context. Poor registration of the sky texture can be seen in the upper sand area, but it is not intrusive.

    The stone columns and shadows are clumsy, shapeless lumps. The setting is there, but what should be the focal point is drab and uninteresting. There is also a poor transition from foreground to background sand in the lower right of the print.

    I see elements of promise in an unsatisfactory print.
    break

    Print p4-124
    Considerable ink seemed to remain on the gelatin plate. I rolled with akua release agent, waited a few minutes, then printed onto cartridge paper using a baren.

    Print p4-124

    Print p4-124

    The result is pale and there are prominent roller marks. I can’t claim it is a satisfactory print. However I find the extra level of abstraction improves the composition. There are a variety of shapes, not lumpy rocks and shadows gone wrong. There is variety in value without loss of integration over the image. Elements aren’t fighting for attention.
    break

    Print p4-125
    The cleaned gelatin plate was rolled with diarylide yellow and phthalo blue, using simple newsprint masks to define areas of land and sky. Newsprint was used to lift some of the blue. The plaster plate was rolled with intaglio hansa yellow mixed with burnt umber liquid pigment and was pressed into the gelatin.

    The felt shapes used in texturing the plaster plate were inked with lamp black liquid pigment and stamped in the appropriate positions. The heat treated plastic pieces were roughly painted burnt umber and stamped on the gelatin. Finally a little more lamp black was painted at the base of the columns in an attempt to get better separation from the foreground sand.

    The print was taken on cartridge paper using the baren.

    Print p4-125

    Print p4-125

    I was pleased with the sky – a good colour, interesting patterning, contrast not too high. A registration problem around the tall stone was distracting.

    The shadows have crisp edges which is one of the features in the inspiration photograph and sketches. The shadow is not too heavy, not too intrusive.

    The foreground sand has variation, texture and interest. There is more white than anticipated, but the overall effect is the best achieved in all the prints.

    The background sand is patchy. The areas towards the horizon could work as highlights of sunshine in the distance, but the large central blank is distracting.

    With better contrast to a background the stone columns might have worked. As is they do not have the presence to hold the image together. The black shadows at the base of the stones are clumsy and awkward.

    Overall the print doesn’t work, but I thought with a few adjustments it might.
    break

    Print p4-126
    In my final attempt the inking and printing method was basically the same, followed by more extensive touching up to address issues identified.

    Print p4-126

    Print p4-126

    Print p4-126 detail

    Print p4-126 detail
    Click image for larger view


    The attempt to improve the shadows at the base of the stones by increasing them was a poor choice. The touch-up of the smaller stone resulted in a loss of texture and cohesion.

    There is an overprint of sky and land, but this has given a sense of vegetation in the distance which is true to the inspiration source and also adds an effective layer of interest to that area of the print. There is a better sense of distance and depth which is effective.

    The larger stone is overall lighter than the background which in this case brings it forward. There is still not quite enough definition but I think it is much improved. I like the colour and the variation of coverage in the background sand. It is not bland but it give a resting place in a busy image.
    break

    None of the prints is entirely satisfactory but many have points of interest. I would be curious to try the plaster plate in a proper printing press. Although I tried not to create great variation in depth in the plaster the textured areas proved very difficult to apply adequate ink and to print onto the paper. I will explore other techniques in my next block.

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

    T1-MMT-P4-p2-e2 Polyfilla block

    The task for this exercise was to cover card with Polyfilla and while it was still moist use mark-making tools to create textures. The dried block can be used multiple times.

    I used a different brand product, but the same idea of a pre-mixed plaster, with an A4 piece of mountboard as the base. A lot of time was spent with a wallpaper smoother and the smaller tool provided by the manufacturer, trying to get a smooth and even layer of filler on the card. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the result, but felt the need to move on before the plaster set too much. Next I used a variety of tools and materials to make marks, naturally basing much of my choice on materials used in previous assignments.

    collatype plate 3 in progress

    collatype plate 3 in progress

    Top row from the left: marks drawn with chopstick; corrugated cardboard; non-skid plastic mat; hessian; marks drawn with a couple of the plastic grouting or adhesive spreading tools.
    Bottom row: marks made with the side and ends of pop sticks; pressing and lifting a small triangular headed palette knife (similar to that used in print p4-16); plastic bath mat; heat gun treated plastic; plastic netting.
    Areas were divided using a range of different strings, twine and braid.

    collatype plate 3 finally dry

    collatype plate 3 finally dry
    Click image for larger view

    Working when the plaster is at just the right stage of setting is critical, and I would need more experience to get it right. Most I did too soon. Instead of leaving a clear mark the palette knife just squelched around – I suspect a matter of surface tension. I was able to lift corners of the hessian etc and check they came away clear before removing entirely. I left the heat treated plastic longest of all, but eventually was going away for a few hours and chose to risk taking it up too soon rather than risk the plastic setting in the plaster.

    Drying was slow. Temperature was mid-20s celcius, humidity mid 50s when I was working on it, the next day was almost 30 degrees, and it still took over 24 hours to dry. The board had curved and there were more high and low points than I wanted. I brushed the plate to remove stray loose bits then set to work.

    break
    Print p4-105
    The plate was rolled with akua crimson red intaglio ink. Given the uneveness of the surface it was difficult to get ink on the plate. I rotated the plate and rolled from all directions.

    The print was taken on cartridge paper. I started using my hand and a baren, but peeking showed that very little colour transferred. Wooden clay shaping tools were then used to press into small, detailed areas.

    Print p4-105

    Print p4-105

    The print is much better than I anticipated, with a good range of marks in all the sample areas. I think everything there has potential to be useful in a composition or exploration.

    None of the dividing lines gave any detail.

    break
    Print p4-106
    There were a number of areas with light coverage in the previous print. I wanted to get more colour, so applied the same ink with a dabber, trying to work into the crevices of the plate.

    The printing method was the same as that used in p4-105.

    Print p4-106

    Print p4-106

    There is slightly better coverage to the edge of the plate but overall the print is a little lighter. The dabber didn’t deposit as much ink as the roller.

    I wondered if the plaster was absorbing ink.
    break
    Print p4-107
    I was even more determined to get a more complete print.

    Akua diarylide yellow liquid pigment was applied using a smallish bristle paint brush across the plate including all the crevices. I wiped the yellow off the high surfaces with telephone book paper, then rolled akua crimson red intaglio ink over the plate.

    The print was taken on very slightly damp Arches 88 paper. Using the wooden shaping tools I worked for a long time, trying to press the paper deep into every part of the plate.

    Print p4-107

    Print p4-107

    Print p4-107 detail

    Print p4-107 detail
    Click image for larger view

    There is a lot more, richer colour. In some areas I was able to reach the yellow, particularly where the heat treated plastic had been used.

    It still wasn’t the coverage I wanted. Possibly a printing press and slightly damper paper might have got a better result.

    break
    Print p4-108
    Next I rolled phthalo blue liquid pigment on the gelatin plate. I pressed the plaster plate onto the gelatin, working my way across the surface and then rocking back and forward slightly – most but not all of the bend in the plaster board had worked out in previous prints.

    The print was taken on cartridge paper.

    Print p4-108

    Print p4-108

    The heavy pressing and rocking of the plaster plate both blurred the impression and transferred a lot of the ink to the plaster. The print is almost without ink in the high areas of plaster.

    The blurring is most pronounced in the upper right area where the notched adhesive spreader was used. A visual depth and vibration has resulted which is quite striking. I like the contrast of the evenly spaced zig-zags blending into shimmering tentacles. There is less dramatic interest in the other textured areas, although once again I see promise for the right application.

    The plaster hadn’t been cleaned before this use, and traces of previous red have printed. I wondered if there would be substantial amounts of the old colour and some colour mixing, but there is not enough for major impact.
    break

    Print p4-109
    I repeated the previous method, with less forceful pressing of the plaster collage plate. The print was again taken on cartridge paper.

    Print p4-109

    Print p4-109

    Print p4-109 detail

    Print p4-109 detail
    Click image for larger view

    Colour is stronger overall, and there has been more transfer of the old red and yellow, particularly in the upper right section where a little green can be seen.

    The detail of the print is sharp and clear and very interesting. In the gelatin prints of collage plate 1, such as print p4-97 (14-Dec-2015) the precision and detail of the print was almost too much for my taste. The boundaries were crisp, not hesitant or provisional. There was a flatness and uniformity.

    In the current print there is great variation in value, there is a lot of movement and the marks seem more assertive, more individual. I look at the results and see more than just suitability if the right need comes up. The marks excite me, make me want to use them, to explore further. The roughness of the plaster and the smooth reflection of the gelatin has combined to open new possibilities.
    break

    Print p4-110
    The plaster collage plate by this time was dense with colour. I printed it onto cartridge paper without the heavy working with the wooden shapers used in the earlier prints.

    Print p4-110

    Print p4-110

    The result at first appears very light, but there are small areas of dark tones. There are hints of the red, especially around the borders. To me there is an austere elegance, with the flecks of red giving a little energy.

    I am very interested by all the variations in printing that one plate can provide.

    collatype plate 3 after printing

    collatype plate 3 after printing

    The plate itself has become a source of interest. I wondered earlier if the plaster was absorbing ink. That’s possible, but a few days later the plate still inks my fingers when I touch it. If it dries enough I would like to seal it with a gloss varnish to enrich the colours even more, and hang it as it is. That thought certainly suggests action to take in later plates with more considered compositions.

    break

    experimental collagraph at home

    experimental collagraph at home

    There was still another material for collagraph plates that I wanted to print – pvc foam board, using the techniques learnt in the workshop with Jet James earlier this year (16-July-2015). In the class we used a large printing press and I don’t have regular access to such equipment. However after the class I made a test plate with my little ezicut press. To print I used cheap acrylic paints with some gel retarder and the results were poor. Could I get better results with my akua inks?

    Print p4-111
    I rolled akua crimson red intaglio ink on the pvc plate. The print was taken on cartridge paper user a brayer.

    Print p4-111

    Print p4-111

    The result is light and patchy, but the texture of the embossed area is clear. An encouraging start.
    break

    Print p4-112
    The same ink and inking method was used. I again printed on cartridge paper, but this time through the ezicut press.

    Print p4-112

    Print p4-112

    The actual colour is more crimson and less scarlet as it appears in the photograph. There are areas of flat, strong colour. I think the pressure of the press was too heavy and detail on the plate was lost. I do like the pinpricks of white created by the insect mesh impression in the centre.

    break
    Print p4-113
    I next tried an intaglio print. The red ink was pressed across the surface and into all depressions. The surface was then wiped with phone book paper.

    The print was taken on damp Arches 88 paper using the ezicut press.

    Print p4-113

    Print p4-113

    Much more detail is visible in this plate, including shadows where texture items shifted when the plate was first created.

    The print itself is not exciting, but I am pleased to have the option of creating embossed pvc plates and printing in this style. I think the material and technique is worth developing in the future.
    break

    Print p4-114
    The gelatin plate was once more rolled with phthalo blue liquid pigment. The pvc plate was pressed into the ink and removed. The print was taken on cartridge paper.

    Print p4-114 detail

    Print p4-114 detail

    Print p4-114

    Print p4-114
    Click image for larger view

    I don’t feel I learnt anything new from this print. The pvc was originally created as a quick experiment, a proof of concept that my little craft press was up to the task. It’s not an engaging design.

    The gelatin plate picked up what detail there is, but the flaws (clumps in the original mixing of the gelatin) are becoming more pronounced.
    break
    Print p4-115
    The final print is a ghost on cartridge paper.

    Print p4-115

    Print p4-115

    Bland and uninformative. As I’ve stated above, it’s not an interesting design. In addition I don’t feel the gelatin printing method has revealed any new or different character in the pvc plate. This is quite different to the result with the plaster plate above where the rough and smooth combined to bring something new to print p4-109.

    I’ve built up a good range of materials and techniques. In the next exercise, the last for this assignment, I need to bring things together and put my new skills to use.

    T1-MMT-P4-p2-e2 Polyfilla block
    Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
    Project 2: Collatype printing
    Exercise 2: Polyfilla block


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