Printmaking with Seraphina Martin

3 1/2 days of printmaking in the Blue Mountains with Seraphina Martin has resulted in some good outcomes, a new view on ‘collaging’ print layers and some excellent tips to improve my techniques in the future.  It’s left me with more confidence, a better understanding of why I haven’t been as experimental as I could have been in the past and a new direction to explore.

It has also brought to my attention some very useful details regarding the practicalities of printing which, I feel, should have been presented to students during my OCA printmaking course.  Life could have been made a little easier when coming to terms with a completely new media; products, equipment and additional beneficial tips.

Drypoint Etching:

SM-DE1This was new to me.  Using roughly A6 size 1 1/2 – 2mm PVC sheets and a tool similar to an awl we scratched into the plate surface to form our designs.  This sharp-pointed tool was actually made from a piece of dowel and a large needle.  The needle had the eye snapped off (not as easy as it sounds I suspect), a hole was pushed into the dowel and the needle with glue was inserted.  It worked well as the needle was shorter than a real awl and so was more robust and less bendable when applying pressure to the PVC surface.SM-DE2

I used an old drawing of mine, a tulip, and placed the PVC over it to scratch-trace.

This form of printing uses an intaglio method and the class believed that the ink would slip into the gouged out grooves, filling them, whilst we wiped away the excess from the plate surface.  Not so.  Seraphina explained that a rough burr is formed alongside the edge of our scratches.  SM-DE3This is slightly raised above the flat untouched areas, obviously, and captures the ink and then prints.  After several passes this flattens out and the plate becomes lighter and finally no longer able to be used.

We made a trial plate to practice scratching in different directions, straight lines, curves and hatching.  Then we printed our main design.

SM-DE4The PVC was inked up, a colour wash was applied to the entire surface followed by added plant material which was either inked or left to create a white silhouette.

Solar Plate Etching:

Using black and white tonal photocopies on acetate we etched our solar plates and printed.  Again we applied the ink to the linear image, colour-rolled or added surface colour selectively and then added other material or chine collé if we liked.


Using acetate as our base, we colour-rolled and selectively added masks, other inked components and talcum powder.  Using rubber tools we made patterns and shapes.

SM-MP1Taking some of the foliage masks, these were then turned over onto their inked side (where they had sat as a resist above) and printed alone.

SM-MP2As I continue to print over the coming months I’ll add some of the tips we learned such as using tarlatan dollies, making tarlatan rubbing pads, using acetate tabs for paper handling, dry glued chine collé, storing excess oil based inks to use later, paper preparation and storage for damp prints, creating a magnetised base for solar printing, solar printing without a UV light, and other insights I learned during this workshop.

Addition to post:
Seraphina kindly sent us a class photo –

Class photoStill smiling after all our hard work.


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.
This entry was posted in My Creative Pieces, My prints, Workshops & Classes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Printmaking with Seraphina Martin

  1. Nola says:

    The etching prints are like the ones I’ve been doing with my PVC plate and quite wet media, though I’m limited in how much of that I can do without a press. Lots of fun. I really like the prints you made!
    Have you see this process, which the artists called pochoir but isn’t really? David Manje His usual work isn’t like this but it looks like a fascinating approach.

  2. I love your results, and your tips about techniques make me want to try it myself! Printmaking is one of those things on my “to try” list.

    • Claire B says:

      I enjoy printing because it ranges from being very exacting when registering multiple layers accurately (can be frustrating at times) to being more serendipitous and taking the results as they come. It’s a bit like stitching – you learn the rules first and then push the boundaries and see what suits you and where it goes.

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