If you’ve been reading this blog a long time, you may remember that I used to do a lot of printing with a little Japanese machine called the Print Gocco. I hadn’t used it for ages for one reason and another, but earlier this year, I couldn’t find a birthday card that I liked to send to my eldest son so I dusted it off and did a lot of printing.
It was nice to get it out again after so long.
I decided to print a photo of Newport since he had been away for nearly 2 years and I thought (probably wrongly!) that he might like to see it.
This is the one I chose. I did a 3 colour separation and printed 3 screens in halftone and this one of them. It’s not one of the best as I put the ones I printed on folded cards in a safe place (ha – too safe!).
Of course I couldn’t stop there! I had taken a photo of some phoneboxes and a postbox in Cheltenham one year which I thought would be a good complement to my London bus prints.
It was fun printing these in various colours.
I got rather carried away by the end … of course there’s no point printing if you’re going to stop after one or two!
I know I’m a bit late to the party, but I treated myself to one of those permanent gelatine plates at Christmas. I have done gelatine plate printing before, but my sessions were few and far between because of the need to plan it carefully: to buy the gelatine, wait for it to set and then make sure I did lots of printing before it went mouldy. Now I have finally bought one, I love it! I have it out all the time so I can take a few prints whenever I feel the need to get messy, make backgrounds on the train tickets etc and I love the fact that there are so many tutorials and blog posts about it online.
You’ve probably seen evidence of its use cropping up on various photos of train ticket art, but here are a few of the prints I’ve made from it. They’re not very polished yet but I’m still playing! Since buying the plate, it has been interesting to see how it has affected my work and especially the train ticket art because I have been making that regularly. I have noticed that I am most inspired by light and shade and the results of light such as reflections and shadows. Also that most of my best art is almost accidental: I make the background on the plate and then observe what emerges once the print has dried and draw it out by highlighting it or adding outlines or details. Monoprinting, especially printing small things as part of a larger print surface is quite unpredictable and this lends itself well to this style. I pick a colour scheme or colours which I feel most drawn to at the time I’m playing with it (it feels like playing when I don’t plan anything!) and then just go with the flow. And using acrylics means that I have to work quickly, there’s no time to stop and ponder or the paint is dry before I know it! It’s unpredictability that excites me about art, the excitement of not knowing what will emerge or what that paper will look like when I peel it off the plate.
I scanned this into Photoshop and changed the colour (quite drastically!) and uploaded the design to my Redbubble shop – you can see on products here.
The yellow and red print above came about in an unusual way. I hit on the idea of rolling gesso on to the plate and then printing it on to the train tickets instead of painting it on. It works well, allows more of the original ticket to show through and is a lot quicker. But what I also discovered is that some of the words printed on the ticket were being transferred to the plate – this print is actually on paper and it has picked up the shape of the train tickets and some of what is printed on them! I think it makes a very interesting print.
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Last week I spent several hours discharging some of the fabric that I printed in the autumn as well as some ugly fabric which was languishing on my shelves from previous screenprinting attempts. I also discharged some black fabric. I used formosol with print paste. The smell is still hanging around my studio, even though I did the actual discharging outside wearing a respirator.
Here are a couple of them, showing the progression of colour on and off them. (I just spent a good while searching for photos of the original fabric on Picasa too – at least this blog can now serve as documentation of their development!).
This fabric started off as an unprepossessing dyed/printed piece from 2006. This was part of it originally:
It sat on my shelves because I didn’t know what on earth to do with it. So I painted it red this autumn.
I wasn’t sure I liked it any more like this. So I screened it with discharge paste and a thermofax screen I made from a home made rubber stamp design and now I like it a lot better!
You can see a little peek of the second fabric on that photo above, which has also been overprinted with the same screen.
Here is how it started:
This fabric was made from a breakdown printing screen and was one of the pieces made when the screen was breaking down quite a lot and much of the original detail had been lost. This page shows the original screenprinting session results.
I wanted to unify it all and didn’t particularly like the original fabric so I overprinted it with the ‘squares’ screen in black. Here it is on my table just after being printed.
As well as printing with black, I decided to give it some depth by discharging areas using the same screen. So here it is now – I think it looks much better. Not sure where both of these pieces are going next but I hope it doesn’t take another 5 years to decide!!
Here are some of the results of my first lot of screenprinting. The sessions have been a bit here and there because I’ve been busy with other things and have had to pop in and out of my studio a lot, doing preparation and then leaving and popping back later to do the actual printing. So at present I’ve only actually rinsed out the following green and blue fabric, the rest is waiting its turn! But DS1 goes off to university in Warwick on Saturday and so hopefully next week I’ll have a bit more time.
I printed this piece using a screen which had thin masking tape stuck to it in parallel lines. I heavily overprinted it in yellows, blues and greens and I like the effect. It might just turn into a reeds piece eventually. I’m definitely going to do more to these pieces of fabric.
This is a detail of a bit of it.
The sun was shining when I took the next piece so there’s a shadow across it! I used two thermofax screens. The first, with the smaller prints, was originally a rubber (eraser) which I carved into a grid design. I then used the stamp repeatedly on a piece of paper, scanned it into the computer and made a screen from it. Then I enlarged a section of the single stamped design (actually enlarged several), made another screen from my favourite, and the larger overprint is that one. Now it’s hanging up on my design wall while I decide what to do with it next.
This piece of fabric hasn’t been rinsed out yet and has been batching for about 5 days now just because I haven’t got round to it! Slow fabric… I ‘wrote’ a random design on a blank screen with thickened black dye and let it dry (this is breakdown printing) and then printed the screen with blue dye paint and clear print paste in a variety of values. It broke down to the dotty design and then broke down completely and I filled up the remaining white areas with the empty screen using blue dye paint to which I gradually added black. It’ll be interesting to see what it is like when it is rinsed.
This is another piece that hasn’t been rinsed yet. I was trying to make a design which would reflect the diagonals of the reeds in the last couple of months’ reeds photos but our laser printer had broken so I had to do it using charcoal and gocco pens. But for some reason the screen only partly imaged so the lines were very fine. Maybe I need to run it through at a lower speed. Anyway, I overprinted and overprinted this in a variety of shades of yellow and green and almost to brown so I’ll see how it turns out when it is rinsed. It looks as though it’ll make a great background design anyway. We’ve now bought a new laser printer so I will try again and photograph my drawings and print them out. The fabric is very stiff at the moment with the print paste as you can see from the photo but this will wash out.
I painted this reeds design (which is vaguely what the above screen was meant to look like but without the dots) using screen filler and screen drawing fluid and haven’t tried it yet but I thought the shadow cast when it was standing upright looked very effective. I may use it to overprint the above fabric or discharge it.