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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.