Paper pulp dipping

My friend Judy & I decided to have a go at this.  I’ve never done it before, never seen it done and haven’t watched any on-line tutorials, but I have seen some superb results.  The piece below, made by Jill Elias, for the recent Primrose Paper Arts exhibition in Sydney is a great example of the technique.

Fantastic texture, hasn’t it?
I don’t know what she has used as the armature for the grey pulp to adhere to but the front white piece might be string or thread under tension.  I’ll have to ask, when I next see her.

So, the plan was to go into this blind, muck about to see what we could do with no preconceived ideas and, perhaps, explore a more structured approach for experimentation in the future.  What could be better than having no idea what you are doing and just seeing what turns out?

Using recycled cardstock I made the pulp and we started cutting and shaping various gauges of galvanized wire and some small pieces of copper mesh.

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Then we started dipping into the pulp.

The (slightly wobbly) numbers above indicate the following:

  1. The original galvanized bird wire
  2. After one dipping
  3. After two dippings
  4. After three dippings

Between dippings we allowed the pulp-covered-wire to semi-dry.  Well, essentially once it had stopped dripping we re-immersed the wire into the vat.  The build up of ‘paper’ is evident in the photo above.  Things were looking up, so after dipping each shape we hung them around the room and continued to work our way round and round the strung washing-line re-dipping each shape until we achieved some decent coverage.

Here are some of the dried pieces:

So, I came home with a holey bowl, a torn ‘rag’, half a broken crown and a very “Play School” style flower.

Don’t you love a day of experimentation when you have no expectations in creating a masterpiece?  Now we just have to think how we take this further.  Maybe time for some research before our next immersion.

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Continuing recycling prints ……

Following on from my last post, this week I pulped some more of my old print proofs (yes, you’ve guessed it, I have quite a pile of paper to recycle!) and also prepared some of the white offcuts for new paper.  My goal was to embed some of my more recent prints into the surface of the new paper.

The first thing I noticed was that my recycled-print pulp was quite yellow again – this type of pulp relies heavily on what colours were printed on the surface originally and I’m using up some multiple-stage reduction lino print samples of native plants in yellows and ochre mainly.

I wanted my pulp tinged blue/grey, pretty much a paynes grey.  I wondered whether using Drimarine K dyes would work as my original paper was cotton rag based.  I semi drained the pulp, so the dye wouldn’t just float around in the water, and added some dye powder.  Then I ran for the camera, what a cool effect!

After two lots of dye it was looking a great colour.  However, I know from experience that it can dry quite light, but I was a bit nervous adding the colouring.  So I printed a plain two-layered sheet.

Looking good and definitely has a blue/grey tinge.  So I added a torn piece of print from my latest Elian adventure.

I bit of paper edge crumple as I didn’t let it thoroughly dry before removing it from my window, but I’m moving forward.  I torn up another print and added it to the pulped paper sheets before pressing.

Quite like this.  One more trial:

Really like this version with the print floating within the centre section.  Wonder what it would look like with some drawing on it?

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Recycling prints into paper

About 18 months ago I shredded some of my print proofs and recycled them into new paper, ready to be printed on again.  At that time, a lot of what I pulped had been printed in black or dark inks so my new paper came out light grey.  See the post here.

This time, however, much of what I shredded, then pulped, had yellows and ochre, with a range of blue ink printed on the paper, such as the print below.  No, this one didn’t go in the mix, it got a late reprieve as I decided I like it,, but others in the series didn’t fare so well!

I started by cutting away all the excess white paper and shredding it separately to the printed areas.  That way I was able to also make a new set of pristine white paper, ready to print on.

Above: cut white paper edges, newly formed paper sheet and finished textured paper.

I then prepared the coloured pulp for new paper.

I thought it might be fun to make the white sheets A4 size and place the coloured pulp into the centre A5 size.  Sort of replicate the idea of a print on a larger piece of paper – just with the patterning ‘re-arranged’ (actually, obliterated!!).

I set them to dry on the window.

Here are some of the finished pieces:

I kept the pulp coarse so that I would get some of the tiny print fragments showing.  I abandoned the mold and deckle surround so that the smaller paper has a rough edge, which seems to blend into the white paper.  I overlaid some of the shredded print strips which I hadn’t pulped, and a dried flower that I pinched from someone else working in the studio at the same time.

Now I think it would be fun to take one of my recent prints done on very fine Japanese tissue paper, tear it up and do the same process as above but adding in fragments of the print.  That would make an interesting piece for my entry into the upcoming ‘Reuse’ exhibition I’m participating in.

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Lino: Positive & negative proofs

After further cutting on my first plate, it was time to take a new print proof of both the positive and negative images.

Loving the start point for this project.  More work to do yet though.

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Lino: Working in positive & negative.

Back in February I was messing around with paper-making and tea-staining (blog post here) and, using Photoshop, I ‘cut’ out a couple of random tree shapes (yes I’m still in my tree phase!).

Some of the actual tea-stained paper was used as chine collé in my large tree bark collagraph exhibited recently in the Shadow & Light exhibition in the Palm House, Sydney.

The finished piece can be seen here, framed and hanging, and I was thrilled that it sold during the opening ceremony.

However, back to my cut trees.  Of course, the 2 overlapping trees shown here don’t actually exist.  I simply scanned in sheets of my tea-stained handmade paper and using a Photoshop cutting tool I cut and pasted them on to new computer documents, moved them around, resized and altered the colour density, arranged them and was quite pleased with this simple computer generated outcome.  I’ve been trying to find time to bring them into the real world ever since.

I started by printing out the trees in a few different sizes so I could see how much detail I could keep as I reduced them, as I want this design to be around A5.

I marked out the size of the lino I intend using and inserted the trees.  They suggested landfall, and this was added (the patterning came later).  I still have Elian and the Vortex firmly in my mind and developed his vortex into a more moon-like idea.  It was drawn a couple of times, traced and stuck in place.  I spend my life trying not to over-plan so a couple of drawn samples is as far as I go before making a decision.

A bit blank still?  I need some cloud or sky definition.  Does it have to definitely be one or the other?  Of course not.  I moved to tracing paper, laid this down and added random sky markings.

Yep, happy with that, let’s get the design onto lino and start cutting.

The next decision was what to do with the ground.  I wanted to maintain the stylised look, and so I started filling in some of the sections in the drawing above.  Quite liked the idea of variation in size/density of line work and the added anomaly of a few ‘rocks’, so I carved them.

Of course, it’s in reverse on the lino.  I took my first proof print.

Good start, but a few things to work on.  The edges aren’t great as I’ve a burr around the lino from cutting it to size, so that needs lightly sanding because the ink won’t take.  I know the lino-cutting doesn’t have to be perfect but, in this case, I really don’t like the ‘interference’ across the upper section where the ink has caught in some of the areas I’ve not cut deep enough.  So a bit more cutting is needed there.

The first thing to jump out at me with this design is “What would it look like in reverse?  What would be the result if I cut the trees, the clouds, the moon and reversed the ground concept?”

So I got to cutting…….

No time to print today, but later in the week the inks will be out, the press ready to go and I’m sure I’ll add a bit of chine collé colour in somewhere.  Anyone want to suggest a colour scheme?  I’m open to all ideas.

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Lotus pods: Revisited

A couple of years ago, in a Jet James workshop, I made this print plate from 3mm foamex board (anyone following my blog will know by now that I love this stuff).

Several techniques were used to create this intaglio/collagraph print plate.  Initially some plant material was embossed into the surface, masking tape was crumpled and adhered, a craft knife slashed into the foam, lino-cutting tools both carved and compressed the foamex to form the pods and a metallic pen created a resist here and there.  All worked well.

However, there is one drawback with this product; techniques used to compress the surface, such as embossing, gradually decompress and the images become less distinct.  In fact, the plates can have quite a short print-run life.

Here’s my print from 2 years ago:

Very detailed and the definition of the skelitonised leaf coming in from the base of the pod stems is quite detailed, as is the other embossed foliage to the right.  However, looking at the plate 2 years on I could immediately see that the skelitonised leaf was almost gone, so I redrew the outline with a fine stylus.

My skelitonised leaf looks very ‘drawn’ as opposed to the original embossing but there’s no alternative to that, and this print trial showed me that other sections weren’t retaining the ink at all well.  So I was forced to redraw as much as possible, as accurately as possible.

Here are two good outcomes from the plate.  Both use the same colour scheme but with a slightly different spread and they demonstrate great definition.  I’ve been wanting to print this image in colour for quite a while now and I’m really pleased with the results.

All the above are intaglio prints but I also managed a lightly rolled relief print – whereby the ink sits on the surface and the image comes out in reverse.

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Elian’s secret garden

Doodling & Designing:

I read in one of those zentangle books that a good way to start doodling is to draw a nine square grid (as when you play noughts and crosses), start adding lines and patterns, continue them across the grid and, well, basically mess about.

I started with a ‘malformed’ grid – wiggly lines, not quite parallel – and a Sharpie pen.  No rubbing out for me this time!

I analysed it once finished.  Thank heavens I’m not under the care of a psychologist, they’d have a field day!  Anyway, I see some bells, fish scales, a very strange river, a wacky flower gobbling up champagne bubbles, a striped school tie …….. I could go on.  It was the beginning of Elian’s dream garden.

I developed the flower further, kept the flow of the ‘river’ but changed the pattern and adapted another section into a bridge shape.  The rest was discarded (for this project).  I needed something large and looming for the top left hand section, perhaps some fronds.

I’d recently been playing with my Swiss Cheese Plant pulp, to make paper, and thought those large leaves might do the trick.  I did a couple of drawings and then took a chance with the pen and went straight to the main template, adding a couple of other components at the same time.  The great thing is that the design could be photocopied, cut up, rearranged and redrawn as many times as I liked.

It was starting to get very busy.  I traced some simple sections, transferred them to lino and cut only the parts I was 100% sure about.  Oh, and I somehow managed to add a champagne river straight onto the lino (pre-planning went awry there).

I was reasonably happy with the blue proof print above but was stuck where to go next.  It stayed pinned to my board for a while as I mulled it over.

Finally I photocopied the lino itself and drew a few more sections in.

A couple more leaves filled the top area, and I finally decided against a stalk for the flower.  The paving stones on the path (which had originally been planned as a river) gave way to water ripples as it disappeared behind the plants.

I later added a higher rocky outcrop where the bird is and a couple of other minor things.

The lino was cut to size, printed, and Elian’s garden came to life.

Above: Left – Light paynes grey (black, white, pthalo blue) oil ink on 40gsm Japanese calligraphy paper. Right – Mid paynes grey ink on lightweight Kozo.

Above: Left – Grey oil ink on 40gsm Japanese calligraphy paper. Right – Grey ink over yellow/green rainbow roll on 60gsm Chinese cotton paper.

And that is how you get from doodling to design:

Above right – Black ink on 250gsm BFK Reeves.

Have fun concocting your own story to go with the image.  Although Elian isn’t featured I’m sure he is still imagining an adventure in his secret garden.

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