Current project 4: Printmaking

Or to be more accurate: hand burnished relief printmaking.  I had been attracted to prints from an early age, and was lucky enough to embark on classes when there was the most excellent teacher at my nearest print studio.  Strangely, I went through etching, collagraphs, solar printing, drypoint, and polyester plate lithography with her, but not what I have ended up working on at present: lino printing.  I have picked that up as I have gone along.

What I want to achieve in my own work is a kind of flatness*, enjoying the two-dimensionality of the image.  I think that the prints which spoke loudest in that sense to me over the years were woodblocks and lino prints.  Certainly, on the small scale that I wish to produce, and without a press, hand burnishing is the way I want to go – so that all comes together nicely.

* This may seem a strange ambition given the inherent 3D result of running a thread through fabric.  My finished work is by no means flat, and yes, that is one of the reasons why I use textiles.  But I want the image to start out as flat, so that the dimension added by the materials and the stitching is clearly manifest, even if making but a small addition to the overall appearance.

This can be seen in the example below.  A drypoint print entitled Objective obscured was digitally printed onto silk, and hand stitched with enough of an added middle layer to provide the three dimensionality I wanted.

O

OOAt present, as I continue to explore the possibilities in lino printing, I am doing so with a finished stitched design in mind.  The printmaking is a contributory ingredient to the digital collage, which then itself is printed onto cloth for stitching.  Etchings provided the background for my small silk Encounter.

encountercriticsA collagraph provided the background for another small silk: Critics.  In both cases the illustrations are of the digital print rather than the finished stitched work.

One other element in the printmaking which I regard as a fundamental in my process is the use of chine collé.  So far my time has been overwhelmingly occupied with stitching and designing, and I have increasingly been thinking that I must spend more time on the printmaking.  I want to explore more ways of making the chine collé elements, as well as practising the crafts of plate making.

Rather than small elements in the overall image I love the way that one can print the same plate onto different tissues which have been prepared individually, such as with my drypoint Piano player.  The drypoint plate was made on acrylic sheet, traced from a blind drawing, with the addition of piano keys.

drawingI then prepared several sheets of tissue paper:  I scrunched the tissue, and then smoothed it flat, and in the first two cases illustrated, folded it.  After that I rubbed soft pastel dust onto the tissue to add colours.  In the third example I added torn paper between the plate and the tissue.

piano player001piano player003piano player005I also discovered by doing this that I very much like the effect caused by the pastel – although it is fixed – mixing with the printing ink.

So far in this post I have not illustrated the work I am doing at present with lino prints.  That is because most of it is very much work in progress of which the elements are not yet finally decided or executed.  Below is an indication of how I take the scanned print(s), adjust the image (for instance I have added the grey on the flesh), and then stitch.

Birdie fullbirdieI very much like the lines of the removed lino to show in some cases, because although I like the image to look flat, I do also like a feeling of movement.  Even though in this case it adds to the atmosphere of stillness.

Another important element I want to explore is digital printing as  the chine collé layer.  I have just ordered some 45gsm Kozo inkjet paper to try.  I was pleased with the experiments I did – again with drypoint at the print studio – with printed blue flimsy (left over from when I made carbon copies on a typewriter – the distant past!) and other thin sheets of squared paper on a piece I call Tilt.

tilt001tilt003tilt005I did these a few years ago now, and am now ready to try some more with the lino printing.

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