Recycling prints into paper

About 18 months ago I shredded some of my print proofs and recycled them into new paper, ready to be printed on again.  At that time, a lot of what I pulped had been printed in black or dark inks so my new paper came out light grey.  See the post here.

This time, however, much of what I shredded, then pulped, had yellows and ochre, with a range of blue ink printed on the paper, such as the print below.  No, this one didn’t go in the mix, it got a late reprieve as I decided I like it,, but others in the series didn’t fare so well!

I started by cutting away all the excess white paper and shredding it separately to the printed areas.  That way I was able to also make a new set of pristine white paper, ready to print on.

Above: cut white paper edges, newly formed paper sheet and finished textured paper.

I then prepared the coloured pulp for new paper.

I thought it might be fun to make the white sheets A4 size and place the coloured pulp into the centre A5 size.  Sort of replicate the idea of a print on a larger piece of paper – just with the patterning ‘re-arranged’ (actually, obliterated!!).

I set them to dry on the window.

Here are some of the finished pieces:

I kept the pulp coarse so that I would get some of the tiny print fragments showing.  I abandoned the mold and deckle surround so that the smaller paper has a rough edge, which seems to blend into the white paper.  I overlaid some of the shredded print strips which I hadn’t pulped, and a dried flower that I pinched from someone else working in the studio at the same time.

Now I think it would be fun to take one of my recent prints done on very fine Japanese tissue paper, tear it up and do the same process as above but adding in fragments of the print.  That would make an interesting piece for my entry into the upcoming ‘Reuse’ exhibition I’m participating in.

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Lino: Positive & negative proofs

After further cutting on my first plate, it was time to take a new print proof of both the positive and negative images.

Loving the start point for this project.  More work to do yet though.

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Lino: Working in positive & negative.

Back in February I was messing around with paper-making and tea-staining (blog post here) and, using Photoshop, I ‘cut’ out a couple of random tree shapes (yes I’m still in my tree phase!).

Some of the actual tea-stained paper was used as chine collé in my large tree bark collagraph exhibited recently in the Shadow & Light exhibition in the Palm House, Sydney.

The finished piece can be seen here, framed and hanging, and I was thrilled that it sold during the opening ceremony.

However, back to my cut trees.  Of course, the 2 overlapping trees shown here don’t actually exist.  I simply scanned in sheets of my tea-stained handmade paper and using a Photoshop cutting tool I cut and pasted them on to new computer documents, moved them around, resized and altered the colour density, arranged them and was quite pleased with this simple computer generated outcome.  I’ve been trying to find time to bring them into the real world ever since.

I started by printing out the trees in a few different sizes so I could see how much detail I could keep as I reduced them, as I want this design to be around A5.

I marked out the size of the lino I intend using and inserted the trees.  They suggested landfall, and this was added (the patterning came later).  I still have Elian and the Vortex firmly in my mind and developed his vortex into a more moon-like idea.  It was drawn a couple of times, traced and stuck in place.  I spend my life trying not to over-plan so a couple of drawn samples is as far as I go before making a decision.

A bit blank still?  I need some cloud or sky definition.  Does it have to definitely be one or the other?  Of course not.  I moved to tracing paper, laid this down and added random sky markings.

Yep, happy with that, let’s get the design onto lino and start cutting.

The next decision was what to do with the ground.  I wanted to maintain the stylised look, and so I started filling in some of the sections in the drawing above.  Quite liked the idea of variation in size/density of line work and the added anomaly of a few ‘rocks’, so I carved them.

Of course, it’s in reverse on the lino.  I took my first proof print.

Good start, but a few things to work on.  The edges aren’t great as I’ve a burr around the lino from cutting it to size, so that needs lightly sanding because the ink won’t take.  I know the lino-cutting doesn’t have to be perfect but, in this case, I really don’t like the ‘interference’ across the upper section where the ink has caught in some of the areas I’ve not cut deep enough.  So a bit more cutting is needed there.

The first thing to jump out at me with this design is “What would it look like in reverse?  What would be the result if I cut the trees, the clouds, the moon and reversed the ground concept?”

So I got to cutting…….

No time to print today, but later in the week the inks will be out, the press ready to go and I’m sure I’ll add a bit of chine collé colour in somewhere.  Anyone want to suggest a colour scheme?  I’m open to all ideas.

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Lotus pods: Revisited

A couple of years ago, in a Jet James workshop, I made this print plate from 3mm foamex board (anyone following my blog will know by now that I love this stuff).

Several techniques were used to create this intaglio/collagraph print plate.  Initially some plant material was embossed into the surface, masking tape was crumpled and adhered, a craft knife slashed into the foam, lino-cutting tools both carved and compressed the foamex to form the pods and a metallic pen created a resist here and there.  All worked well.

However, there is one drawback with this product; techniques used to compress the surface, such as embossing, gradually decompress and the images become less distinct.  In fact, the plates can have quite a short print-run life.

Here’s my print from 2 years ago:

Very detailed and the definition of the skelitonised leaf coming in from the base of the pod stems is quite detailed, as is the other embossed foliage to the right.  However, looking at the plate 2 years on I could immediately see that the skelitonised leaf was almost gone, so I redrew the outline with a fine stylus.

My skelitonised leaf looks very ‘drawn’ as opposed to the original embossing but there’s no alternative to that, and this print trial showed me that other sections weren’t retaining the ink at all well.  So I was forced to redraw as much as possible, as accurately as possible.

Here are two good outcomes from the plate.  Both use the same colour scheme but with a slightly different spread and they demonstrate great definition.  I’ve been wanting to print this image in colour for quite a while now and I’m really pleased with the results.

All the above are intaglio prints but I also managed a lightly rolled relief print – whereby the ink sits on the surface and the image comes out in reverse.

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Elian’s secret garden

Doodling & Designing:

I read in one of those zentangle books that a good way to start doodling is to draw a nine square grid (as when you play noughts and crosses), start adding lines and patterns, continue them across the grid and, well, basically mess about.

I started with a ‘malformed’ grid – wiggly lines, not quite parallel – and a Sharpie pen.  No rubbing out for me this time!

I analysed it once finished.  Thank heavens I’m not under the care of a psychologist, they’d have a field day!  Anyway, I see some bells, fish scales, a very strange river, a wacky flower gobbling up champagne bubbles, a striped school tie …….. I could go on.  It was the beginning of Elian’s dream garden.

I developed the flower further, kept the flow of the ‘river’ but changed the pattern and adapted another section into a bridge shape.  The rest was discarded (for this project).  I needed something large and looming for the top left hand section, perhaps some fronds.

I’d recently been playing with my Swiss Cheese Plant pulp, to make paper, and thought those large leaves might do the trick.  I did a couple of drawings and then took a chance with the pen and went straight to the main template, adding a couple of other components at the same time.  The great thing is that the design could be photocopied, cut up, rearranged and redrawn as many times as I liked.

It was starting to get very busy.  I traced some simple sections, transferred them to lino and cut only the parts I was 100% sure about.  Oh, and I somehow managed to add a champagne river straight onto the lino (pre-planning went awry there).

I was reasonably happy with the blue proof print above but was stuck where to go next.  It stayed pinned to my board for a while as I mulled it over.

Finally I photocopied the lino itself and drew a few more sections in.

A couple more leaves filled the top area, and I finally decided against a stalk for the flower.  The paving stones on the path (which had originally been planned as a river) gave way to water ripples as it disappeared behind the plants.

I later added a higher rocky outcrop where the bird is and a couple of other minor things.

The lino was cut to size, printed, and Elian’s garden came to life.

Above: Left – Light paynes grey (black, white, pthalo blue) oil ink on 40gsm Japanese calligraphy paper. Right – Mid paynes grey ink on lightweight Kozo.

Above: Left – Grey oil ink on 40gsm Japanese calligraphy paper. Right – Grey ink over yellow/green rainbow roll on 60gsm Chinese cotton paper.

And that is how you get from doodling to design:

Above right – Black ink on 250gsm BFK Reeves.

Have fun concocting your own story to go with the image.  Although Elian isn’t featured I’m sure he is still imagining an adventure in his secret garden.

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Teabag paper

Cut up and soaked teabags

I finally found time to use my teabag pulp (made in February) into A4 sheets of paper.

I defrosted the  pulp and was surprised at just how much there was – I drink a lot of tea!

I wasn’t confident that the teabags alone would form good sheets so started with some coarsely pulped white and cream  paper offcuts.

When I make trial prints or have any bad prints I cut off the surrounding paper and use it to make new sheets of paper.  Quality printing paper is expensive and I refuse to waste it.

I started by making a few plain white sheets to see just how coarse I’d left the pulp.

Very  happy with those, very textural.  Although I formed the sheets at Primrose Park Centre I brought them home to dry and rolled them onto my dining room window so they would catch the heat from the sun and dry completely smooth on one side.

Above right you can see the side that was rolled (using a clean print roller) against the window, totally smooth, and on the left is the other side where all the texture comes through.  Once dry and carefully peeled from the window the sheets are completely flat.  A much better method of drying my paper than when I used to lie it on the bathroom floor still on the couching cloths – when it would tend to buckle a little.

My teabags were also coarsely pulped as I hoped to get small inclusions and some texture in the finished sheets, and I did.

On the left is a close up of a section of a sheet clearly showing the uneven surface, and with some small pieces of teabag still evident.

I achieved some lovely paper and by mixing the teabag and white pulp the sheets have come out fairly light, very usable for printing.  Again, they were dried on the window so one side is very smooth and the other textural.

Now to print on them!

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Collagraph printing: Tree bark – a larger plate

Using my original collagraph plate (see previous posts) as a reference I started to plan a larger version with a little more complexity.

The sand I adhered to the mountboard backing in my last, smaller piece didn’t quite give me the effect I’m after.  It was very easy to get an uneven distribution of ink which resulted in some flooded areas and others without enough coverage.

Note: in the printing world of carborundum usage (similar to but finer than sand) you are actually looking to create a solid printed area and it works extremely well, but it’s not what I want in this case.  I’m looking for a speckling effect.

I started with my photos of tree bark (something I photograph often!).

After some trial drawings and tracing I had a pretty good idea of my composition.

Mountboard was lightly covered with modelling paste and allowed to dry.  Textured paper and string ‘knots’ were glued in place and the plate was photocopied.  I then marked where I intended applying sand or other granules.

I have 3 types of granules.

Pumice is the finest, so will hold a lot of ink and create a solid coverage.  Sand is next, and we know the results of that.  Crushed garnet is the coarsest and I was hoping to be able to carefully apply ink only to the surface and not push it into the recesses, so giving me a speckling effect.  Finally I decided on garnet in most areas with sand in others.

Looking good.  Colours chosen were ochre, deep red and black with some chine collé included.  This is the main reason for tea-staining my hand-made paper recently.  Click here to read that post.

Now to print.  I was able to use an etching press at another location (as mine is too small) so I inked up, prepared the chine collé and ran it through the press.

Not bad.  250gsm BFK Reeves paper with oil based inks.  Probably too much ink on the string as I’ve lost a bit of definition and the whole thing has a slightly dirty look.

Unfortunately I couldn’t use the studio again so had to resort to trying to produce a collagraph using a book press – far from ideal.  Seriously not a good idea, but having a time limit gave me no option.

Errrr…. right!  That didn’t work.  This was a new paper to me, 250gsm Dutch Etching paper, which should have been fine.  I don’t think it was soaked long enough to pick up the ink and, well, what can I say?  Proof positive that a book press isn’t the tool for this technique – I knew that already.  But let’s have another go anyway.

This time I went with one of my favourites, and a paper I know well: 250gsm Stonehenge, smooth as silk surface, embosses beautifully and able to be soaked for quite a while without disintegrating.

After pressing – book press again unfortunately – whilst the paper was still in place over the collagraph plate I placed tissue paper on top and, using my finger tips, rubbed over the entire back, pushing the damp paper into the crevasses, embossing the edges, outlining the string sections and so on.  I was determined!  After 20 minutes, and several looks to check my progress, I lifted the print.

Just can’t seem to get the photo right today.  It is on white paper and looks much better in real life.  This is the best I can expect from the routine I’ve employed to get the print.  Just wish I could have put it through an etching press to get a more vibrant result.

Still, I’m not unhappy with it and I’ve enjoyed playing with the plate making.  I’d quite like to continue if I could do it through a proper press.  Am I making a good enough case for buying one myself?  I think so, but space is the problem.

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