Sunday, March 21, 2010


UPDATE TO THIS POST: I didn't make the following week at printmaking but Wow! Take a look at some of the results of the printmaking class. This is the result of having a tutor who is willing and able to go with the flow and be creative and experimental. Looks fantastic:

I've done monoprints, and collographs...have always avoiding the more chemical processes. My friend, John Mulvay, a fulltime artist who lives locally, has recently been running a printmaking course so I joined in.

This is a zinc plate. First we had to file the edges to make a 45degree angle for a clean print result. Then we polished the plate to remove any scratches and pitting. Next step was to choose the best process for our design and put a "ground" on the plate. The plate was heated on an element, then the ground (a waxy substance that resists acid) is poured over it, and the plate put back on the heating element to "puddle"... the ground evens out.

The next step was to scratch through the ground the chosen design. I had no idea what to do, and quickly drew a bird. My signature had to be in reverse of course.

Next step - touching up accidental scratches with shellac. The plate was placed in a bath of nitric acid, eight minutes for mine, and them removed and washed.

The ground then was removed with turps, and the shellac with meths.

The oil based ink was applied, that's quite a process as it has to be worked over the plate well to get it into the tiniest etched scratches. Then the excess ink is removed until the plate is shiny clean, only ink in the etching.

John had brought one of his printing presses to the venue, and some paper to trial the plate. The paper of course is soaked in water and patted dry in a towel then laid between white paper. All the while trying to make sure no ink gets anywhere it shouldn't be.

The plate is laid on the press, the rag paper on top, felt layers folded down the the press turned.

And...... failure! Did not make a decent impression at all.

Could be the plate was not cleaned properly after the use of turps which can leave a greasy surface. The pressure might not have been enough. Perhaps the plate needs further etching...not sure. We'll be talking about it before we print again.

I dont think I'm patient enough for this process but its been interesting.

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