Project 14: Investigating Combination Printmaking and Incorporating Chine Colle Collages – Part Two

26/09 – 11/10/17

Project 14: Investigating Combination Printmaking and Incorporating Chine Colle Collages – Part Two

In this project you will continue with your investigation into combination printmaking by selecting your own mixture of techniques to create a print series.

First of all – hands up to a three-week break through illness and am now finding myself with a pretty tight deadline for two projects. It sounds feasible, yet when developing ideas, deciding which techniques to use and drying times it all starts to crowd in. This may have influenced my decision to be looser in my designs, however, I am also very aware of how long I take to develop an idea and then how restrictive this can be. This time, I plan to be more abstract and more experimental during the process.

Themes

I finally came up with an idea by observing the effect of a round shaving mirror in early morning light, it’s reflective qualities both in image and light, together with the shadow also cast. This made me think of circles in relation to extremes ie extreme heat and cold can both burn, so instead of a straight line with extremes at each end, they form a circle and come together – therefore opposites attract. There is also the eternity of never-ending circles.  As for colours, I was drawn to earthy colours of ochres, siennas pushing towards red ochre/oranges and their complementary of blue to give contrast. To balance circles, we need lines, I thought of parallel lines – things starting and finishing, following a similar path but never meet. Back to balance and that I believe we need balance in all things. These are not heavy political themes but things I sometimes contemplate but have never thought of trying to illustrate before. Of course these are loose symbols and not necessarily obvious to those that think differently to me, this is where I could use text to help explain. I tried not to be too obvious and I wanted to only use two words per image, words that stand alone and together to hint at what I was visualising. I researched some idioms per image of extremes, balance, parallels and eternity – I decided on:

Opposites Attract

Balancing Act

Parallel Lives

Never Ending

Development of ideas in sketchbook 1

Development of ideas in sketchbook 1

Development of ideas in sketchbook 2

Development of ideas in sketchbook 2

 

 

 

 

 

Process and Techniques

First print called Opposites Attract work in progress, several experiments on the theme:

The Never Ending theme was approached in much the same way. Below are the collagraph blocks for the Parallel Lives and Balancing Act themes.

Once I came this far, it was the process that became the challenge. I couldn’t really see lino cuts being the best way forward, particularly for the circles. I decided on using monoprinting masks to build layers of circles in and without squares ie both positive and negative masks.

My main issues became apparent when trying to incorporate the chine colle collage. I decided to use a combination of PVA and glue stick (Pritt Stick as suggested by my tutor). The glue stick was very usable for thicker paper as long as it wasn’t left too long before being stuck down. The PVA was used for thinner papers such as tissue and this was more tricky. I had to keep the application thin and away from the edges to avoid squelching (not sure if that’s a technical term or not?), plus when using masks, it  became obvious that the glue would stick both ways because of the porous nature of the paper. I’m afraid I had to divide the process by sticking the thinner papers down first.

Another problem occurred with subsequent print layers where the paper had dried out. This stopped the ink being taken up so well and was a particular problem with the text masks. Often the entire word would not be successfully printed. I tried re-pressing the print which resulted in smudged lettering, I tried adding more collage and reprinting but had to think of a way to make the ink fill the cut-out text. I then discovered a small water spray bottle, this was a revelation and saved me many times as long as I only partially lifted the print paper to check the result and replaced it exactly. I had one mishap with this where I over-sprayed the paper and it pulled the top layer of the print paper off. Using masks and chine colle took an enormous amount of patience and care, however, I am fairly pleased with the results of the best  prints.

Regarding the “line” based prints, I decided to use collagraph blocks. For straight lines I used a combination of dried spaghetti and thread secured at each end with brass paper fasteners which allowed me to pull the thread tight and straight. For the balance print, the few small circles in the design were cut from thicker paper and stuck down.  As I have mentioned before, proper PVA glue is not available on the island so I use a respectable alternative called Alkyd Sellador. This is very similar, however, it does retain some tackiness, which again, caused a few issues with the collage. I had to ensure that the glue on the print paper side was stickier than the Sellador on the print block side. Often I had to carefully lift the print from the block and use a scalpel to prise the edges of the collage paper from the block, all without smudge the print! All in all, not withstanding the tacky print block, it was more successful to use the collagraph block than the mono print masks. I did return to masks for the text  though. I note that in my sketch book, I had considered using the back drawing/writing technique for the text, however, the text masks worked pretty well.

Below are the prints discarded for various reasons stated in the captions:

Opposites Attract - dislodged print block on registration

Opposites Attract – dislodged print block on registration

 

This was a ghost print of a previous attempt, which looked promising until the block dislodged on registration. I carried on and printed a ghost print of the text after I’d realised, just to experiment. It’s a shame but it still wouldn’t have been the one I chose.

 

 

 

 

 

Opposites Attract - Reprint of text misaligned

Opposites Attract – Reprint of text misaligned

 

This was a contender even with the misaligned text down the edge. In the tradition of going with happy accidents, I pasted some collage paper over the initial text print and then reprinted the word “attract”. This came out a little misaligned, however, it gave the impression of 3D letters, which I liked. I continued and added the blue tissue and copper leaf circles, however, I felt the colours and tones were too similar.

 

 

 

Opposites Attract - Unsure how to proceed

Opposites Attract – Unsure how to proceed

 

This one I still like. The yellow hand-made paper over the entire printed layers of circles, gave it subtly. When I came to print the text, it did not print very clearly so I ran it through the press again, which gave it a blurred effect. I found some lighter hand-made paper and pasted this over the text but this sent the lettering back a little too much. To counteract this, I added the printed dark blue circles. I was pleased with it except it needed something else in contrast and I wasn’t sure what to do next. This one is in limbo.

 

 

Never Ending - smudged ink

Never Ending – smudged ink

 

I was very disappointed when this went wrong. I had carefully added the collage aspects and printed on top successfully. I then saw that it needed a contrast and used the yellow ink to mask in some circular pattern, however, when pulling away the print, I realised that because the previous print ink was still too wet, it had smudged. I did consider continuing with it and using a window mount up to the print but I felt this would be unsatisfactory.

 

 

 

Parallel Lives - collage paper ripped

Parallel Lives – collage paper ripped

 

I was pleased with the outcome of this apart from a novice error with the press.  Forgetting that the collagraph block was thicker than the  perspex mono print block previously used, I omitted to adjust the pressure on the press. I tried to do this mid print but it wasn’t having any of it and on pulling away the print paper, I found that the tissue collage paper had ripped. I tried to tell myself that it added more texture but it wouldn’t wash. I also considered that there was too much dark for the text to print over, so recreated the block with slight adjustments and it worked better.

 

 

Four Prints in a Series

Series of Four Prints

Series of Four Prints

Once the prints are thoroughly dry, I will separate them with newsprint and weight them down to flatten them.  I think on the whole they have been successful and sit well together. I tried to keep the colours consistent although a couple of contrasting elements have helped each be individual but still work together.

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Project 14: Investigating Combination Printmaking and Incorporating Chine Colle Collages – Part One

26/09 – 11/10/17

Project 14: Investigating Combination Printmaking and Incorporating Chine Colle Collages – Part One

In this project you will continue with your investigation into combination printmaking by selecting your own mixture of techniques to create a print series.

I had never come across Chine Colle printing before that I was aware of, so it took a bit of sinking in to my brain to get it! I had to read up quite a lot to understand the technique and order of process, because of this, I decided to practice with a simple birthday card design for a friend. I have to admit it never quite made it to delivery as I forgot how long oil based inks take to dry but the thought was there.

I had some small cards and envelopes and lino blocks, so the print was about 10 x 12.5cm on a 12.5cm square card. I also received, for my birthday, a small dye cut machine, called the XCut that can be used as a small printing press for up to A4 size.  This was the first time I had used it and it was great fun and so much easier.

I had already decided to colour the tongue with red ink by hand and I was really pleased with the results for a first attempt.

 

Final print with tongue hand coloured redFinal print with tongue hand coloured red

Final print with tongue hand coloured red

 

After this minor success, I looked out a previously made lino block from the course and made a simple reprint on coloured paper and used gold tissue for the sun. It was simple yet effective. I now felt ready to try to create a new series of print using chine colle – See Part Two.

Montana Roja on red paper with gold tissue sun

Montana Roja on red paper with gold tissue sun

 

Research Point: Monoprints by Degas

14/03/16

Research Point: Monoprints by Degas

Take a look at monoprints by Degas. How have these  been achieved? How successful are they? What can you learn from his prints?

I have been collecting a few examples of Degas’ monoprints on Pinterest and have a pin board dedicated to them: https://uk.pinterest.com/ginaemmett/mono-prints-by-degas/

Quite a few of Degas’ monoprints appear to have been made by inking the entire plate and removing ink to indicate the subject matter, whether that is a figure, an object or light. He seems to have used a variety of tools to do this, although many marks are soft as if he has used a cloth or rag. Occasionally, scratch marks can be seen to help denote tone and texture. He quite clearly also uses his fingers to press into the ink and smudge away to soften the image. A lot of the time he worked very tonally and, in the examples I’ve seen, there is minimal line drawing. Some of the images appear to be second or third ghost pressings that he has worked into with pastel, chalks and washes.

I think these have worked beautifully and have great mood and atmosphere. There seems to be an added intimacy compared with his paintings.

I can learn many things from Degas’ prints, not least to be free and expressive. Although, many colours can be used within the monoprinting process itself, the use of tone is still key to producing atmospheric images. Almost anything may be used to make a mark, and those marks can be incredibly subtle or strongly dominant. Even as each print is unique, the inked plate itself can be re-used and modified many times producing different effects yet underpinned by the original. The ghost prints used as under-paintings for pastel work is something I would like to try out, as well as washes and maybe, when I use oil based inks, there maybe an element of resist that can also be explored.

Links to articles in relation to my research:

http://uk.blouinartinfo.com/news/story/1285649/a-brief-history-of-monoprints-and-monotypes-from-edgar-degas

http://www.artcafe.net/artcafe/ah/degas/

http://www.monoprints.com/history.php

http://www.akuainks.com/newsletters/newsletterhist.html

Degas Monoprint - girl brushing her hair

Degas Monoprint – girl brushing her hair

 

I really liked this print – it’s low on detail but high on impact. My observations are noted along side with this and the other print I’ve chosen. Both will be added to my sketchbook as a constant reminder of what may be achieved.

 

 

 

Degas Monoprint - The Fireside

Degas Monoprint – The Fireside

 

 

This is beautifully depicted and is packed full of atmosphere and mood. Annotated with observations and inserted into my sketchbook.

 

 

 

 

Exercise: Experiments in Mark Making and Painted Plates

11/03/16

Exercise: Experiments in Mark Making and Painted Plates

With your printing plate in front of you begin to make patterns of colour using your ink and brushes.

Although I had attended a day’s workshop on monoprinting from a life model a couple of years ago, I found myself very apprehensive about starting putting the ink on the plate.  I am currently waiting on some equipment being delivered but did have some black, orange, brown and gold water based inks and a small budget roller to use, along with a sheet of glass from an old camper van, a small piece of perspex and a shallow plastic tray. This was a good start whilst waiting for the other supplies to arrive. Using some paper from an old, inexpensive sketchbook to start and then some thin card I found lurking at the back of some shelves, I was in a position to have a go.

My attempts are below:

 

Completely unsure of what I was doing. I was too tentative with the first print and completely forgot to leave a border! I preferred the ghost print of Print 2, it gives an impression of shapes with tails and is more pleasing being more faint.

Using black ink in a random pattern and filling in with the orange.

Print 3
Using black ink in a random pattern and filling in with the orange.

 

Remembered to leave a border this time but was struggling to see where to place it. Thought I was being clever by masking an area with tape. I merrily continued and didn’t worry about inking over the tape and then completely forgot to remove it from the plate before placing the paper down and making the print. Not overly successful, so many things to remember!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here the  lessons learnt related to the amount of ink added to the plate. Thickness of ink is a major factor of success or failure. If too thin, the print won’t be strong enough, too thick and any subtleties that had been added would be obliterated, plus the ink may bleed over the edges. The ghost print shows more variations of printed ink.

Further Experiments

 

As previous attempts had too thick ink, I tried diluting it with water but overdid it. It blended wet in wet in the print, which, although wasn’t the intention, may be an interesting effect if it was. Plus, the ink again bled over the edges. The ghost print was more interesting and I liked the way the different colours printed over each other with less ink on the plate.

 

I was going for the Mr Kipling Fondant Fancies icing effect here, totally did not work as I thought.  The ghost print was nondescript. I need to be more inventive.

 

In Print 10, the random scratched marks disappeared apart from the strongest of them. In the ghost print, more marks were scratched out with the twig before taking the second impression. This made me think about using an already used plate as just the basis for another design.

 

Following on from Print 10, I surmised that the inconsistent inking with a brush must have been responsible for obliterating the scratched out marks, so this time I used a roller to apply the base layer of ink. Again, I scratched into the ink with random marks, however, it made no difference as these marks were lost in the printing too.  It must therefore, be purely down to using too much ink on the plate. As the ghost prints always seemed to be more successful, I thought I’d keep reusing the same plate, building up the design using whatever I was left with after each print. This made me less precious about the results, more experimental and adventurous. The ink application is key and I liked the use of the roller – sometimes just re-using the ink that was left on it from before.

Example of one plate re print 6

Example of one plate re print 6

 

This is an example of the inked plate for Print 6 – it is surprising how much the print was unlike the plate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After all the experimentation, the final print was the one I liked best. It had brown, orange and gold ink, which was rollered, brushed on and scratched out. The only reason I stopped here was because I ran out of paper!

Print 18 Rollered with existing ink on previous plate, making overlapping squares in opposite corners, random scratch marks

Print 18
Rollered with existing ink on previous plate, making overlapping squares in opposite corners, random scratch marks

Lessons Learnt

  • Amount of ink is crucial to maintaining any mark making in the print
  • Keep a border around the design
  • Concentrate at every step to avoid unintentional transference of ink
  • Keep area clean
  • Keep hands clean
  • Expect the unexpected and work with it