Proofing the plates.
I’m printing 3 different plates: the base foamex board as a combined monotype and collagraph, the feature linocut design and a further blind embossed linocut.
The aim is to create a further section of brick wall under the main design. Blind embossing means to print without ink, so the carved areas are embossed into the paper with no colour change.
I’ve cut a small piece of lino the same width as my main block and continued on the brick design. However, the bricks have also been reversed. On the larger linocut the bricks are carved away so only the mortar will print. On the blind embossing lino I have cut away the mortar, so those sections will indent, whilst the bricks remain raised on the surface.
This plate has been carefully planned so the bricks are aligned with the bottom row of the top plate. I shall measure (by eye) the distance the blocks need to sit apart to retain the impression of an invisible layer of bricks between them. Does that make sense? I know what’s in my head and can analyse the strength of it when I get some results.
Above left: the linocut and a trial on thin coloured paper similar to cartridge. The edges have creased around the embossing – but at least it works. Right: the positive and negative sides of embossed Arches 250gsm. This was allowed to soak for 5 minutes and then towel-dried before using. No edge creasing is evident and the embossing is beautifully clear. Looking good.
I used sepia for my proofs today as I’m not the greatest fan of black even though I know proofs are usually black. I like sepia and it will be used within the final prints.
OK, couple of issues to resolve here. The first thing to change is the linework around the gecko. Not good. I’ll carve most of that away and leave a small (approximate) line around him instead. Secondly, I need to remove more of the horizontal carved lines in the open spaces on the left of the gecko and lower right. The roller is just catching them and I only want slight linoprinted marks in these areas. I have the textured scrim on the base and want it to show through.
The foliage and bricks are very successful though and my fine razor-cut lines on the gecko body save him from appearing too solid within the composition.
Foamex base layer:
I was confident in this – just shows that you can never tell what’s going to happen! For the trials I stuck with the same colour as I was testing the mark-making (not colour placement) and ensuring I was getting what I wanted from them.
Very happy with the results except the scrim section. The roughly applied impasto medium where the bricks are has come out exactly as I hoped. The stippled Mod Podge has also worked and given a very textural wall effect. I’m so pleased.
The scrim is way too defined and isn’t working for me. However, I remember the dabbing effects I got back in project 12 when producing my retro room design. By using a dabber (or stencil brush) instead of a roller I will be able to force some of the ink into the spaces between the fabric weave. I should still get a definite pattern but less white.
OK, good plan. Let’s try it. And then everything fell apart.
As my beautiful, very expensive, roller passed over the surface of the plate for the next print the Mod Podge areas started to lift from the foamex. I quickly lifted the roller up. The product had dried into a very thin textural skin and the roller, with the stickiness of the oil based inks, pulled it off. It then wrapped itself very tightly around my roller.
Was I devastated? Just a bit. Never mind the monoprint base, it was the equipment that was concerning me.
What on earth do you do when an almost invisible plastic skin, coated in dark printing ink, adheres itself to the black rubber of your favourite, and extremely valued, rubber roller? Well what you DON’T do is scrape it off. Not a chance in a million years was I going to destroy the surface of the rubber. So, unfortunately, printing was over for the day and I spent close to an hour lovingly trying to clean the roller surface.
It was an interesting experience. Impasto gel medium adheres, cures and stays put on the foamex surface but Mod Podge does not. It must have something to do with the ‘plastic’ type properties within the various mediums. Mod Podge, PVA glue and Paverpol all dry with a shiny smooth plastic type surface and obviously the impasto medium is different to these – even though it is shiny. So now I’m in plate repair mode and will use the gel medium to get it back up to scratch. However, it’s a 36 hour wait time until it cures enough to be used for continuous printing.
And I didn’t even get to trial the chine collé!