Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Experimental Printmaking - Phase III

The last phase involved carving details into the images on the plates, which up until this point had been silhouettes (which I love the look of and will do more in the future). After the final carving, I reassembled the blocks in order and printed it.

Cutting the plates to 6" by 8" with the use of a table saw took off an eighth of an inch from all sides. Butted together, the design was slightly distorted. So for the next print, I spaced them to compensate for this.

For this next print, I randomly placed the plates down on the press bed.

And for the final print, I chose to print it in alternating colors.

I loved this project! My professor was unsure of my project all semester because there were many challenges along the way. In the end he said that he was quite impressed with what I had done!
Lessons I have learned:
1. If I want to print a large carved piece, I should use linoleum instead.
2. Carving tools must be kept sharp. I had so much trouble carving in Phase III because I was using dull tools. We tried to sharpen them, but I think it was too late!
3. Masonite isn't absorbent so at times it was difficult to roll the ink on the plate. I had some problems with the various inks, but I don't believe I figured out exactly what the causes were.

I have ordered some linoleum blocks and several types of linoleum and woodcarving tools, as well as a sharpening stone from Dick Blick. The order should be arriving this week. I look forward to using the blocks from this project incorporated with future designs.

Experimental Printmaking - Phase II

I would have loved to continue printing with this large block, but I had a deadline and two additional phases, so moved on to the next phase. Since the board was 18" by 24", I had it cut into 9 equal 6" by 8" plates.

My intention was to overlap the designs with transparent layers of ink. It took several brands and types of inks to find one that worked well. It was difficult to get transparency with the water-based block printing inks and even the water-based etching inks I was using wasn't creating the transparency I was looking for. I bought a sampler kit of Faust Aqua-Line inks. These are lovely, creamy inks that I was introduced to in a Silk Aquatint class I took at Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven, CT. Mixing the colors with the transparent medium finally gave me what I was looking for. I experimented with hand printing, using the press at school and with the small hand press I have at home (which I bought from Jerry's Artarama) and with different types of papers, including some of my handmade paper.
Here are a few samples:

Monday, January 4, 2010

Experimental Printmaking - Phase I

This past semester, continuing with my printmaking studies, I took a class entitled Experimental Printmaking. It was up to me to decide what I wanted to do. The following photos are a summary of the project.

I wanted to make a large woodblock print that I could print from and later cut into smaller sized blocks and print from again. So the design had to be such that each of the blocks could be stand alone, though become somewhat abstract because of this. My design idea was the Tree of Life often depicted in old textiles. I created a design that had elements modeled after Jacobean embroidery and other textile samples that I have.

I wanted the block to be 18" x 24", so the first decision was finding a wood that would be suitable and available in this size. My options were few. I experimented with carving birch plywood and 1/4" Masonite boards. I decided to use the Masonite.

Carving was not difficult in the beginning. I realize now that it is because my tools were sharp.

After spending almost two months carving the design, I was only a little more than half way done. I decided to use a dremil to help speed things up. This turned out to be a learning experience because each type of tool made very different types of marks.

The left side is hand carved and the right side is Dremil carved.

I went back over the Dremiled areas with the hand tools to make a more uniform design.

Now that I was satisfied with the carving, I printed
several two-color prints.

This completed Phase I on this printmaking project.
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