Reduction printing using a variety of tools + dab printing
After my last post I made a few small adjustments to the placement and choice of components for this design and ended up with –
It has a more balanced feel to the layout than my previous samples. I then reversed the colours in Photoshop to check how it would look as a basic single layer print. This gives a good indication of where I’m going to get too much of a solid or dominating area and where I can work further into the design. I now do this test as a routine.
I was happy with the general concept and started tracing, making further adjustments as I went. To add better perspective I altered the sizes of the lotus leaves in the main section, I improved the drawing of the partial lotus head in the top middle section and generally moved components slightly to obtain a more pleasing overall outcome.
In a radical move, I abandoned lino and all the other surfaces I experimented on in favour of 3mm PVC board. I tried this for the first time in a workshop a week ago (which I will write up soon) and found it an interesting product. However, it really doesn’t like lino tools and it’s virtually impossible to carve with them unless using a very fine cutter. It is plastic board after all. It needs scratching, compressing, digging, sanding and the like. Cutting lovely even wide strokes isn’t going to happen. Terrific stuff for this project though.
Stanley knife, awl, double ended stylus, clay modelling tool with spike at one end and flat spatula at the other, angled cutter, saw blade, 0.5mm lino tool, 3 x hole punches (different sizes).
It took 2 days to cut the entire design and it wasn’t easy but the results have been worth it.
With that in mind I made a new registration board specifically for this project, and it’s working well.
My next task was to prepare the dabbers for the dab printing. I cut up an old t-shirt, stuffed the centre with cotton wool balls and tied each one up to form a tight rounded end. I made various sizes to give me some options as I wasn’t sure how they would perform. Sounds easy in the course manual, but doesn’t everything?
Print layer 1: 60% white + a touch of black + 40% extender. Sample above on Stonehenge paper, other samples include Arches watercolour, Arches 88, newsprint, cartridge and a disaster on Bamboo paper (not a flat enough surface to give an even print).
Using the medium-sized dabber and strategically placing strips of paper as masks I dabbed my translucent blue (75% extender + 25% Ultramarine blue) carefully in the areas as shown.
Before printing layer 3 I used sandpaper to remove some areas, scratched more lines and marks with a spike and razor blade, added extra punched circles and cut some of the previous ones away, and removed more areas of the design itself (reduction print method).
Having dab printed my previous layer I wanted to ensure I had some of this coming through strongly so I rolled the ink across the prepared lino and ‘dab reduced’ (my own terminology) some areas. This involved using a clean prepared dabber, cotton buds and/or kitchen paper towel twisted into a narrow end to removed selected areas of ink before printing. Does this count as dab printing as per the course manual? I’m not sure but surely if you can dab ink on then it follows that you can also dab it off to good effect.
Layer 3 colour – 65% Ultramarine blue + 5% black + 30% extender. Looking great at this stage and I decided to leave the additional small marks which have inadvertently picked up ink within some of the cut-away shapes. Never one to make things easy, I knew this was going to be murderous to register properly even with my excellent registration board.
Above top: Cartridge paper. First trial print – not bad but need better coverage of top colour. Middle: Arches 88. Much better coverage and the blue is coming through well. Bottom: Stonehenge. Not bad but a bit speckly which takes away from the design.
My second colour scheme comprises:
Layer 1: 60% sepia + 40% extender
Layer 2: 80% chrome yellow hue (oil paint) + a touch of black + 20% extender = olive-green.
Layer 3: 65% Ultramarine blue + 5% black + 30% extender
Above top: Cartridge paper. Excellent coverage and really good colour placement. Middle: Stonehenge. Very, very light top layer and totally different visual outcome. It looks faded. Bottom: Stonehenge. Much better coverage and I like the outcome.
I’m a little perplexed why I get a lot of speckling in my prints. I tried damping the cotton rag paper and printing on that. Yes, it does give a much better print and the ink pick-up is substantially more even but the snag is that when the paper is damp it stretches and so the layers can’t be evenly registered because the print plate isn’t the same size as the previously printed layers. I’m not sure how to overcome this. It works fine with single layer prints but how do you resolve it on multi-layers? A question for my tutor.
In total I’ve produced about 16 prints, half of which I feel are acceptable for course submission.