Design Play: Circuit Project – Getting started

The value of experimentation

No-one gets it right first time and I’ve a vision in my head that has been difficult to translate into reality.

Having had a brain stuffed with home renovations, builders, paint choices and so on for well over a month now I’ve had little head space available for any creativity.  However, I still have my new project, Circuits, simmering under the surface.

A few weeks ago I started looking at ways to create coloured backgrounds for future prints to sit atop.  I’ve been gradually building this resource, with little success until today.

Here’s an overview of my experimentation:

These collagraphed bases were posted a few weeks ago and have been relegated to the recycling bin.

Yupo stencils, monoprinted in a variety of positions and colours.  I’ll just show one sample as they aren’t giving me what I want (and they’re terrible).  Also gone to recycling.

Alcohol inks with blending medium on very textured hand-made paper.  OK, not what I want for this project as I’m looking for something softer but usable pieces for something else I have on the go.

This accident had me thinking differently.  This is the back of the blue alcohol ink piece in the middle of the set of 5 shown above.

The blending solution, which is solvent based and applied with a dropper, has migrated through the paper to the back.  As I’m using these pieces for another project I gave the backs a wash with water-colour and, hey presto, the blending solution repelled the  water-colour.

I brushed a piece of Stonehenge printing paper with water and, using a dropper, I dropped water-colour onto it to see how far it would spread.

The answer is, too far.  But I’m getting closer.  Not quite enough definition in the colour but there is a variation in tone happening.

I dropped water-colour onto dry paper and left the blob to dry overnight.  I dropped plain water onto the same print paper in another area.  It sat in a large bubble, so I moved it around a little before dropping water-colour paint into it.  I left it to dry out for 15 hours.

I think I’ve got what I want.  The water-colour paint has separated a little giving a change of colour, especially where it sits at the edge of the original water layer.  I like, and want, the sharp outline while maintaining a soft centre.

Interestingly, considering blue is my least favourite colour by a mile, I like the effect I see here and this colour should work well with my linocut prints.  Now I’ve got to create larger pieces ready for work in the print studio.

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2019 04 22 Image of the week

Tony Garifalakis, Untitled, 2018-19, from Garage Romance, unique inkjet print on Ilford smooth cotton paper, corkboard, and hand-stained Tasmanian oak, 46 x 35 x 4 cm (framed)

The current exhibition of work by Tony Garifalakis, entitled Garage Romance, runs at the AGNSW until 21 July 2019.

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Design Play: Exercise – connections

I’ve been looking back over some of the work I’ve created in the last 5 years or so.  While I’ve covered a variety of subjects I see that I keep returning to the idea of connections, boxes, containers, lines and joining shapes.  And, despite branching into other areas more recently, I still find myself drawn to these concepts.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the pieces I’ve been reviewing

Since someone mentioned circuits and circuit boards to me late last year I’ve had that thought stuck in my mind and it seems a natural progression from the work above.  The concept still contains lines, connections, joins and shapes and I have scope to evolve into dimensional work.

Today I’m looking at connections.  I’m currently undertaking a short on-line bookmaking course and so I worked through one of the exercises specifically looking at shapes and connections and how they can work together.

I took an old monoprint, cut triangles and trimmed the ends.  Once joined, this should offset the design.

The strips were joined.

The strip book was then spread to see the effect on the cut print image.

Quite basic but an interesting ‘shatter’ effect from the original single sheet.  I’ve not done strip books like this before and can’t really see where you can go with it.

Anyway, I upended the pieces and allowed them to swing and fall as they liked.

Mmmmm . . . . . not getting anything from the random shape but I like the overlapping ‘tucked in’ look of the laid out book above left.  Not sure I’ll go any further with this type of strip book though.  Anyway, it’s done and in my resource file to consider down the track.

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2019 04 15 Image of the week

Paul Shaub (noted as Schaube on some sites), Return, woodcut print


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New Japanese stab bound book

With much of my home under tarpaulins whilst we renovate, I’ve scant access to my printing, paper-making and book-making materials but managed to rustle up a set of old collagraph plates to re-use last week.

With a book project in mind, and a sepia and orange theme, I printed the collagraph plates along with a plain inked roll-over for the back cover.

Once fully dried I set to adding stitching, a torn tissue paper highlight and a patterned Japanese stab stitched spine, encasing about 30 sheets of my own hand-made paper created in a variety of natural colours.

I think it sits rather well with another one I made quite a while ago.

The varnished covers have enhanced the print colours and added to their durability.

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Natural Dyeing with Annette

Annette and I experimented with two different plant dye pots, mainly focusing on paper dyeing but I added some small pieces of silk noil into one pot.

A large amount of rosemary leaves were stripped and added to around 10 litres of water.  After boiling point was reached and the water had turned a good green/brown we added 1 teaspoon of copper sulphate mordant.  My raw silk was sandwiched between wooden boards and tied tightly before boiling for around 2 hours.

Whilst these results may look underwhelming to most dyers this is exactly the effect I was after.  These pieces are to be worked into further and used as concertina book panels.  The very tightly tied wooden pieces have only allowed the dye to marginally reach the centre of each cloth piece to give a slight colour change, while producing a deeply dyed effect around the outer edges.

The paper we dyed in our other pot – cinerea/silver dollar plant with no mordant – had been pre-soaked in alum and allowed to dry before using.  The folded paper sheets were sandwiched between wooden boards during dyeing and plant material and resist cloths were inserted throughout the layers.

Cinerea typically gives a bright orange colour when used as individual leaves compressed between layers but here we were using a full dye pot.  We decided to forgo the mordant additive as the paper had been pre-mordanted and we weren’t using fabric that would be washed.  Therefore, the reasoning was that, once dyed, the paper needed only to be dried which would ensure no colour runoff.

And, boy, did they come out with bold colours and outlines!

In my recent (January) natural dyeing workshop we were encouraged to use cotton rag printmaking paper or watercolour paper.  I used some BFK Reeves which worked reasonably well, but this time Annette and I used ordinary cardstock and plain white and pale yellow sheets of indeterminate content.  Definitely not cotton rag or anything fancy.

As you can see, different plants were placed against the outer sides of the folded sheets (the first 3 pictures) but we folded the inner sides together with no resist to allow the design to migrate across both sides, like an ink blot.

Obviously they all have very similar colouring, as they were sandwiched in one bundle and dyed together.  The plant transference has come out extremely well with some precise detailing but I would like to see more colour variation coming from the plant fibres themselves.  My sense is that the alum pre-mordant helped the patterning to be sharper and more defined and I’ll do that in the future.

Considerations for future pots:
I’d like a less vibrant plant in the pot, probably a eucalyptus, bottlebrush or banksia.  Then 2 separate pre-mordanted paper bundles; one with alum and the other with copper sulphate.  I want to see what difference that brings to the compressed plant fibre colour outcomes.

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2019 04 02 Image of the week

Other World series.

Not the greatest picture but they are hanging in a partially shaded area on a narrow wall, so it’s the best I can do.  Better photos of the individual pieces can be seen in earlier posts.

That was an enjoyable collagraph project and I learned some new printing skills.

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