I did further work on my lino to improve the design, took a rubbing to test it, and reworked the surface of my foamex monoprint base.
The impasto medium doesn’t dry 100% on the foamex, it remains slightly tacky even after several days. I don’t know if this is a reaction to the base it is on or if it’s a feature of the impasto gel – or even a reflection of the intense heat wave we are experiencing at the moment. Next time I’ll try mountboard as a base, apply the impasto medium and then seal the entire thing with shellac or varnish. My reasoning is that if you wish to apply a scant (or none) coverage of ink in parts over impasto medium the block tends to stick to the print paper. After pressing the image to transfer it, it becomes extremely difficult to then remove light-weight paper without tearing or damaging the surface of it.
Why would you apply impasto medium and then not cover it with ink? Well, using the monoprint method you have choices about where ink is applied, how it is applied and there is scope to change things around with each successive print. So it’s not always the case that the entire base-board will be covered fully by inks, or even covered in the same places each time.
Above: Initial proof prints. Left on newsprint. Right on visual diary cartridge paper (which I’m sure is still 110gsm like regular cartridge from a pad but the surface seems more interesting).
Above. Left: I tried a print on some previously natural dyed paper. 250gsm BFK Reeves from eucalyptus leaf + iron and copper sulphate bath. The image has disappeared into the strongly coloured background. Right: print on greaseproof paper used as a resist during the previously mentioned natural dying day. Only a small amount of the patterning comes through on the greaseproof which gives a much more subtle effect.
I chose my colour palette. Very earthy colours, which I have a tendency towards – probably because I’m quite focused on earth, ground, trees, leaves, stones, rocks and the like.
The next print (Kozo paper), left, was a trial of the two plate layers together to check image and monoprint placement before adding the chine collé. I also used a rag to soften the inks around the outer edges to see how a fading out effect would look. It’s lovely here but probably not something I’ll use further with the chine collé.
I had initially thought about a more raw edge style of print instead of a sharply defined border but the brickwork seems to call for a definite cut off point, as does the foliage. So I’ll put that idea aside.
Each print had a selection of the above colour palette included but moved to different areas and applied in places on the two plates.
Right: Kozo paper with chine collé under the foliage, which has worked extremely well. The paper had random shaped dark inclusions which has added to the design. The gecko has been roller inked in grey whilst the remaining lino has been rolled in deep green.
By using a stencil stipple-brush with a flat circular end I’ve been able to apply ink to the adhered scrim and remove areas quite precisely. I also brushed onto the majority of the remaining plate using a circular motion followed by removal of some ink with a soft paper hand towel.
Above: step-by-step process, left to right, top to bottom. I decided to experiment with the greaseproof paper and selected a crinkled piece without too much pattern. This was then cut to print size and adhered to Kozo paper. The monoprint was overlaid,, followed by the lino-cut and chine collé, using the same fine commercial paper as the previous sample.
Not a bad result. The gum leaf pattern has been swallowed up by the subsequent layers but the entire image has a more organic appearance and the oil based inks have transferred surprisingly well to the almost corrugated (very wrinkled) greaseproof paper. My only concern is whether the greaseproof will remain on the base Kozo paper. After all, greaseproof paper is designed to repel all attempts to stick to things (or they to it).
I had a second go at the same process but the greaseproof paper was a little darker and more grey as it had been used in an iron sulphate dye bath with no copper sulphate. It was adhered to Gyokuryu paper, which is more white than Kozo. This time the chine collé was a very soft, slightly ‘furry’ surface hand-coloured, pale green and white, rice paper.
Even though the original greaseproof paper designs distort and become unrecognisable they give a fantastic wall and brick effect. They add a textural element that just isn’t there where ink is used directly on a flat paper surface.
So with that in mind I tried something else.
I took a photo of the surface of our pool as the sun and breeze blew across it. This was transferred to the computer where the colour was manipulated. I crumpled white tissue paper, spread it out over A4 copy paper and sellotaped it in place. The image was then printed on to this (see above left image). I increased the image size, dramatically reduced the opacity and fill of the colour and reprinted it (see above right). The tissue was cut away from the base paper and used for chine collé in the following prints.
Right: off-white/creamy beige elephant dung paper (how do you describe this colour?). The monoprint layer was very lightly coloured where the foliage is. In face, almost all the ink was removed, just leaving the suggestion of the leaves. The chine collé was applied to the three the brick areas.
Because the tissue was crumpled it has adhered very textually. The lino-printed cement, between the bricks, has pushed the tissue flat against the base paper, indenting these areas. so the bricks themselves actually sit forward from the flat paper base. Looks brilliant.
Up until this point all the prints were produced on light to medium weight papers, all printed dry. Now I moved to heavier weights and soaked the paper for 8 minutes, towelled dry and printed. This allowed me to add my blind embossing feature.
Above. Left: 250gsm Stonehenge paper. Right: 250gsm Somerset paper.
Wanting to give a different feel to the earthy colours I added the dull burnt red and also stippled this lightly under the leaves. The same tissue paper has been used over the brick sections and the remainder is a mix of brush application, cloth wiping and roller work.
Of course, I made a mistake when carving the blind embossed lino piece – it’s in reverse. I’d intended the bricks to sit forward, not recess and forgot that the part of the paper touching the lino is what will print (or emboss). An amateur error and one I won’t make again. However, it still looks OK but I’m not convinced it adds a lot to the overall finished print outcome. I need to look at this for a while until I’m comfortable with it and make a decision whether I like it or not. A blind embossed section within the main print area might be more effective and unified rather than the addition below – but I’m not quite sure yet.
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