Print 1. Projext 13: Monoprinting experimentation

I’ve been experimenting with media other than my usual oil based inks for the monoprint base to go with my linocut carousel horses.

All samples are on cartridge paper.

Caran D’Ache water-soluble colour crayons.  I first rubbed them dry across cartridge paper as I haven’t used them before.  For further samples they were applied to a perspex sheet, water was sprayed on and the transfer made to paper – what awful results.

P13-MT1Left: Dry crayons.  Middle: adding a lot of water.  Right: adding less water.

What on earth happened to the colours once water was added?  Isn’t adding water the point of water-soluble products?  These sparklingly-clear colours just turned to mushy dirty streaks.  Definitely give those a miss.

Inktense water-soluble pencils.  These were very hard to scribble onto a perspex plate and only a light covering was possible.  Without a doubt they would indent foamex board.

P13-MT2Left: perspex with scribbled pencils. Right: print result.

Water was sprayed on the plate and the print taken.  The pencils retained excellent colour but they dissolved and swirled around a bit in the water, and the transfer isn’t great.  Nice if you want a very subtle background.  Not what I’m after.

P13-MT3Using a razor blade I shaved the ends of the pencils on to the perspex, sprayed water on and took the prints above.  The first time (left picture) I printed over the insipid previous print, the second time I just used the un-cleaned perspex.  I quite like this speckled look and they are vibrant and slightly starry.  Not sure how to incorporate this though.

Derivan water-based screen printing inks.  I thought these would transfer well to paper.  They don’t dry quite as quickly as regular acrylic paints so it gives a little bit of time to play with the colours.  The oil-based linocut print should sit well on top of this product.

P13-MT4Top left: inks were applied to the perspex in blotches, crumpled cling-film was placed over the surface and gently moved sideways to blend the colours together.  Top right: Mmmmm…… didn’t really work too well but there is some texture from the film showing up.  Bottom left: ghost print.  Bottom right: the same idea but a more even coverage of inks.  I decided to stop and have a think before continuing, there are some possibilities here perhaps.

I’ve decided not to uses perspex as my base, I’ve chosen 3mm PVC foamex board – discovered when I attended a printing workshop with Jet James.  The reason is that I can easily cut it to size, which I can’t do with perspex.  I can also incise it with some markings to enhance my monoprint.  OK, not strictly part of this exercise but why not?  It will still be a monoprint colour-wise and application-wise and the marks I make may change as more prints are taken.

I cut some 5″ foamex squares as sample bases and applied the screen printing inks.  Using a cheap roller I tried rolling across the foamex.  It worked OK although it was difficult to pick up the initial load of ink and coverage was not the best.

P13-MT5Left: print plate.  Marks and scratchings made as follows – clockwise from top left. 11/1 lino tool, large curve lino tool, 15/2 lino tool, narrow jewellery file scraped and stabbed into the foamex, flowers were carved with 11/1 tool, left of the top flower was scraped with the burnishing tool.  All scratches were made by turning the tools wrong side up and scraping with the edges.  Right: the print.  Quite lovely but I expected colour on the raised surface not from the cut areas.  These screen printing inks are very sloppy and they have sunk into the cut areas, filled these dips and have printed.  I suspect that if I use my regular oil-based relief inks I’ll get the reverse effect.

P13-MT6Left: print plate. Top; flat torn masking tape, part of it scored with a fine saw blade.  Middle; crumpled torn masking tape, part of it scored with a fine saw blade.  Bottom left; crumpled duct tape, part of it scored with a fine saw blade.  Bottom right; flat duct tape and below that crumpled sellotape.  Right: the print.  This was a test of resist methods, just to see how to reduce the colour coming through in areas.

P13-MT7Top row, left: print plate with markings as follows, down the plate; side of wooden clay carving tool, end of the same tool, scoring with a craft knife, roller embossing tool (gives great tread marks). Right: first print with paints rolled on.  These screen-printing inks really won’t stay on the surface and in this sample the incised lines are quite fine so there is not a lot for the inks to sink into.
Middle row, left: ink applied with side of palette knife. Better coverage.  Right: ink applied much more heavily with fingers.
Bottom row, left: added blue to the mix.  Applied with fingers but less ink than the previous sample.  Right: applied with fingers. metal circular cutters were used to make patterns in the inks

P13-MT8I placed some small cardboard cutouts on the foamex and ran it under the press so they would indent.  It’s an effect I’d like to add into my final print.  I then applied inks with a coarse 1″ dry paintbrush.  I’m fairly happy with the results.  I’ve got some excellent brush marks that can indicate movement and the patterns are a little indistinct, so they won’t overshadow the lino image.  They are, after all, supposed to be in the background.


I’ve totally discarded the idea of using the water-soluble crayons or pencils.  The Derivan screen-printing inks bring up the following considerations:

Positive points –

  • Clean up easily with water.
  • The prints dry quickly.

Negative points –

  • All methods of application distort the paper horribly.  Samples were only on cartridge but even that is thicker than some of my Japanese papers.  There’s a real danger of thin papers disintegrating when using these water-based products.
  • They are simply too liquid and are near impossible to roll out for use, both in the preparation area and across the foamex.  I guess I could thicken them with magnesium carbonate, but is that the best route to go?
  • Applying the inks with finger tips gives better coverage but this then allows for over-application creating ink seepage around the print plate.
  • Most importantly, I just don’t like them for this type of work.

So despite my intention to mix products for this project I’m reverting back to my Gamblin oil inks.


About Claire B

I am a passionate printmaker, paper maker and book artist. I'm a 'forever' student and frequently attend courses and workshops to extend and improve my creative skills.
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