Woodblock & chine collé – design for a beach bag.
I’m very excited about this design. My aim is to produce a single colour print ‘Margaret Preston’ style with a border and include chine collé instead of her hand-painted technique.
I’ve read that print borders are now considered old-fashioned. However, I posed this question on Linocut Friends (worldwide facebook site), of which I am a member, and received a wide variety of replies most of which related to the choice of subject matter.
Taking this on-board, along with my own preferences (see shoe print design), I’m going for a strong linear design with a heavy border to contain the image. As the aim is to produce something that can be used as a bag panel I believe the border is entirely appropriate and could even become the background bag colour.
Being a huge dog lover (and owner) I, of course, photographed the mini Schnauzers guarding the belongings whilst the owners had a swim. Then I carried on taking pictures of the umbrella from every angle.
I chose multiple copies of the umbrellas overlapping and covering the entire print plate. Using Photoshop I ‘cut’ the umbrellas out, layered them and starting adjusting the proportions and positions until I formed the view to the left.
This was enlarged and the image transferred to my Japanese ply board to be cut. This is my first woodblock attempt since my printing class with Gary Shinfield where he introduced me to both the concept and this particular type of wood. I did ask myself if I should be trying something completely new for my final assignment and decided that the answer is yes. What’s the point if I don’t keep trying new things?
The block was sealed twice and I was ready to print.
Note: I have the same photography lighting issue as my last post. The ink is even across the surface but the daylight (what there is of it in this shockingly bad weather) is ruining the pictures. Lamplight makes it even worse so I have to live with it for now.
Above left: Kozo heavy proof. I did 7 proofs before getting this one. It appears that woodblocks need quite a few prints to be run before the surface really holds the ink well and you get good coverage – despite pre-sealing. Right: Two areas are lighter than the rest. That’s where the chine collé was supposed to be. I prepared everything properly as per my last project but, to my utter shock, the Unryu tissue stuck to the woodblock instead of the paper. Time to try a heavier collage material.
I used a commercial washi paper. Firstly it didn’t stick properly and actually ‘ballooned’ up away from the paper, perhaps trying to stick to the woodblock again. I pushed it into place with a skewer. Secondly, you can see from the close-up that there is a white line around the collage. The washi paper is clearly too thick and the inked block can’t obtain full contact with the paper.
OK, the thin papers stick to the block and thicker papers don’t work either. Now what?
I painted a piece of perspex with both acrylic and Lumiere metallic paints. This was then transferred (a monoprint in fact) to Vliesofix and allowed to fully dry. The Vleisofix was cut to size and ironed on to the paper (grey Chin paper). The woodblock was applied over this base. Why did I want to do this? Well, I know that Vliesofix crinkles when it is painted and I thought it would be interesting to see how this effect looked as a base.
Isn’t it fabulous? Not quite. Despite each component being worked correctly, specks of the Vliesofix removed from the paper and stuck to the woodblock. I’m almost 100% certain this wouldn’t happen with lino. I’m sure it’s because of the rough surface and the slightly porous nature of wood. OK, not quite there but it’s coming on. I persevered.
I went through the same process again but used all metallic paints in very bright colours. The Vliesofix layer was then adhered to sparkling white Hosho paper. The next step was to cover the print area surface with my semi-translucent Unryu paper as a further chine collé layer and print over the whole thing. At last, a perfect print and a very attractive one at that. Things were looking up.
I took a couple of sheets from a rice paper booklet and tore them up. They were collaged onto the surface of grey Chin paper, overlapping and in differing thicknesses (yes, I realised I was pushing my luck!) and the woodblock was printed over this somewhat uneven surface.
I could easily have done a ‘normal’ monoprint with oil based inks using glass, perspex or foamex as a base for this woodblock print but I want to be experimental. My forays into the unknown cause me no end of angst but one of my primary reasons for being a student is to listen to what I’m told, learn everything I can, then eventually have a go at doing something my own way. What’s the point otherwise?
I’m still searching for my own style, my ‘voice’, and my preferences and every single thing I have a go at will teach me something and move me further towards what I want to do – whether or not my attempts at the unusual work or not.
Roger Butler, The prints of Margaret Preston, 2005, NGA, distributed by Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0 642 54191 4. Page 196, colour plate 203.