In the print workshop today, making screen prints onto large sheets (to cut up and make into artist books…)
Today I used a photocopier and slide (acetate) transparencies to make negatives for a photographic print process called cyanotype. You may have seen cyanotype used for botanical prints (a 19th century pioneer of the method was Anna Atkins, who made books of algae prints). [For botanical prints no negatives are needed – instead the plants are placed directly on the paper].
The first picture shows a negative that I made today, using one of my drawings and a piece of my writing; the second shows some blocks that I made a couple of years ago – by folding papers that had been printed using this process.
To make the prints, you mix up a UV sensitive ‘paint’, and paint it onto paper indoors in a room that is not too bright, and then expose the paper (through the negative) to UV light – which I hope to be able to do by the simple method taking it outdoors and putting it under the sky, perhaps weighted at the corners (hopefully we have enough UV in the middle part of the day, by April). Once exposed, the print is rinsed – the paint exposed to UV remains on the paper and darkens, the rest washes off. I have almost no expertise in this process – only a good instinct for it – so I’ll need to experiment and be flexible. Very fun.
The colour of the prints is a very strong blue (this is the ‘cyan’ in cyanotype) – but I was taught a method of bathing completed images in a tanin-rich liquid such as tea or wine, which alters the tones closer to browns, which I will follow.
I’ve been trying out different ways of layering some of my written pieces into the drawings. Some tests today – screen printing my writing onto small drawings and photo prints:
Today trying out words and drawings together.
I’m quite hopeful about this, these are three test pieces that I made with some small drawings that were lying on the workbench – I’ve written them with moveable-type letterpress letters that I’ve borrowed.
You can see the metal moveable-type in the picture. You probably have seen these – they are little metal blocks with a reversed letter on one end which used to be used for printing books and magazines, by setting them out into blocks (trays) and then inking and passing through a printing press.
I printed from the blocks directly and by hand, by coating them first with oil-based relief printing ink. Just the smell of print-making ink makes it a good day for me.
I’m just starting working on something exciting with a small piece of scratched perspex that was in the shed. So I’ve washed it and written on it with a sharpie, and now I’m scratching marks into the other side.
I’m going to make artists books that go with writing that I am doing, that communicate the themes and thoughts in the writing – in visual and book-making terms.
So I need something to start with, because I need to start before I am ready – not wait.
Something like intaglio printmaking plates made out of perspex.
Its fair to say that it is very unlikely that anything really good will happen with prints from this piece of perspex – I mean, that what I make won’t work. But I won’t know why it hasn’t worked until I’ve done it and it hasn’t worked. And then I can try something else that doesn’t work either, but gets a tiny bit closer to working. And through doing that I can refine my ideas about what it is that I am trying to get to work.
here is some food work, for havest-festival
a drawing and print, made at our online arts group this morning
painting on vegetables and using them to make block prints
which is so lovely and meditative and frankly also amazingly counter-intuitive
if you have a bit of paint, a few hours to spare and a leaf or the end of a bit of sweetcorn –
I can’t recommend it highly enough
I’m showing you some prints I’ve made today in a joy-filled online session that I participated in this morning – with the community arts group that I help to run (https://gwendraethartslab.com/).
We worked with things from our rubbish bins – things like bottle tops and cardboard tubes, taking me back to the joy of being a small child and playing with colour, pattern and mark-making. I based my prints on the curled paper strips with the small joys that I’ve been working with over the last few days and weeks.
The session was led by the marvellous Roz Moreton, a local artist who it is just a priviledge to work with (https://rozmoreton.com/).
Roz shared a video as part of our session – its a very short snippet from a talk by Ken Robinson, speaking about making mistakes and creativity. I will also share it with you here, because its so important for all of us: