Experimental print trials.
Working on other bases than lino was very revealing and threw up some interesting future possibilities.
- I particularly liked the floor vinyl which was easy to cut and because it was textured it created some wonderful random marks across the print surface. It also scratches with a variety of tools effectively. Whilst I didn’t use it in my final print design it is on my list for later in the course.
- The cardboard came out better than I thought it would with the internal corrugations forming a defined linear pattern. I also like the cut-out sections which still have the corrugations through them. Looks a bit like stitching.
- The funky foam was another success especially with the side swiping of the soldering iron. This foam is surprisingly robust and could be used for quite a few prints before squashing out of shape. I need to buy some more of this as it is very simple to create marks and textures in it and use it as a base to further print over.
- Polystyrene could have its place in printing and using the soldering iron to create a very definite design is quick and easy. I’m not sure I always want the spotted surround effect though.
- The Ezy-Carve was superb to use, easy to carve, gave a smooth surface print and was a pleasure to use. Much more expensive than the lino though.
- I can live without using both types of yoga mat again as the other products I tried gave me better results.
I am a little concerned about using the soldering iron on some of these surfaces because of the fumes the burning gives off, although I’m thrilled with the mark-making. I’ll have to wear a mask if I continue down that route. All in all, this section was a journey into the unknown and an enjoyable exercise.
Experimental relief print design.
Working on PVC foamex board had some good and some bad points.
- Good: It is lightweight and robust.
- Good: It doesn’t bend as with lino. This makes registering by hand, without a fitted registration base, much easier than with lino. A definite plus.
- Good: Ink accidentally rolled onto an incorrect area can easily be wiped off with a cotton bud. No trace is left on the plastic surface. Very quick and clean.
- Good: Clean-up of oil based inks is faster than cleaning lino. Less cleaning products are used.
- Good: Working with unconventional tools into the surface, including scratching and sanding, is more effective and easily obtained on PVC than lino.
- Good: It is significantly cheaper than lino.
- Bad: Cutting with medium to large lino tools is extremely difficult.
- Bad: After taking several prints the surface of the PVC starts to compress. It doesn’t ‘bounce back’ as with lino and therefore the cuts and indented marks gradually become shallower and need to be re-worked. This is a definite disadvantage in areas where the plastic wasn’t actually cut but compressed instead, such as when pushing into the surface with the side of a brayer or spoon. The topmost surface (uncut sections) gradually sink from the continual pressure of the print press and become more dense as the 3mm product compresses to 2.5mm or less. So large editions may be difficult to print.
I’m very happy with the design I developed. I spent a lot of time on it and blew my work schedule but it was my decision to do this and come out with not only good print results but an engaging design as well. At the beginning of the course I spent substantial time getting to grips with the print process and my design work was lacking so now I have more idea of what I’m doing I am endeavouring to spend more time on the designs themselves.
I am extremely encouraged by the registration I achieved in this project. The design was complex with many small linear sections where accurate placement was imperative. I used two methods: my custom-made registration board as previously described, and the method suggested by the course manual whereby you flip the print plate over and carefully place it on top of the previously printed paper. There is no question in my mind that the second method was greatly helped by using inflexible PVC board instead of lino (which is impossible to hold flat). The PVC can easily be held a millimetre or so above the print without it bending and you can register easily by eye.
My main issue at this point is the speckling effect I’m getting sometimes with my inks, and in my last post I wrote:
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.
I hope to get this addressed in my tutor feedback.
The dab printing was great – both the dabbing on and the dabbing off. I like the idea of softening sections and/or blending colours using a dabber. This would, of course, mean that every print is unique as they would be hand rubbed and could never be identical.