Monday, 9 April 2018

Bluebeard's Wives

I printed the etching this week. Before I did I thought that I’d probably work further into the image to put some tonal modelling on the puppets, but when they came off the press I decided that I didn’t want to loose the contrast with the background.
I also printed a series of double sided papers for the Collaborative Artists Book swop
and started a set of drawing for a book that I want to print using photo litho. (No images yet they are still at the very rough stage.)

Yesterday we signed up for a plot on the local allotments. When I say we, what I mean is my husband signed up and he’ll do the digging. I’m going to go along and draw. There are lots of interesting structures, sheds and green houses down there just waiting to be turned into prints.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Etching and “?”

I’m enjoying this hopping around.

On the etching front I spent yesterday biting the plate but didn’t have time to print it. The gelli plate printed textures seem to have bitten but until it’s inked next week I won’t know if I left them in the copper sulphate long enough to get a good print from them.
 Moving on to the books. 

Both sides of the ‘pages’ in the book structure will be visible so I’ve been experimenting with colouring both sides of the paper.  I can get two books out of an A2 sheet. 

I’ve made plain using a palette knife
 And patterned using the gelli plate
 I thought the plain was too plain and decided to try out the structure with the patterned sheet. When I cut the page shapes out I came to the conclusion that I didn’t like the stripes with the circles. One of them had to go. 

The circle print was nice but it took several layers of cutting up stencils and peeling the stencils off the block because they kept sticking. OK for a one off but not for the 5 sheets I’ll need for an edition. So I overprinted the circles with a plainer texture to give a contrast of plain and patterned on the two sides of the paper.

And cut and folded. Trying to decide whether to have plain or patterned in the inside of the forms.
At this stage I was thinking that I’d stitch the two pieces together but then I wondered what would happen if I cut and slotted it together like I did with the mock ups. So I tried with some of the plain paper.
 I like the way the colour moves from the inside to the outside of the form (though I’m not sure about the holes). I need paper with some contrast between the two sides to accentuate this. I’ve cut strips from textured wallpaper to get some coherence between the pages of the edition and and I’ve started printing using different palettes.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

More playing

I often worry that I’m a bit of a dabbler, starting something, moving on, a new technique here, a different project there, not much staying power. 

But after many years of trying to focus, be organised and follow one thing at a time I’ve decided that it’s time to stop trying to force it.  Dabbling is the way I work best, starting several things at once and dipping in and out, exploring and playing, until at last something is finished.  So from now on I’m going to go with the flow and enjoy the process.

At the moment I’m flitting from the medieval book to a book swop book, from a collagraph to an etching and, to add to the mix, props, scenery and other assorted stuff for Peter Pan which our group will put on in June. 

So in the spirit of dabbling this week I’ve played with etching and looked at more book structures.

I wanted the puppets to have different patterned dresses. I decided that I’d like to take these from real fabrics or lace. I want three different patterns on this plate but I find it difficult to get a consistent result with soft ground etching. Pondering different solutions I wondered if it was possible to print the texture onto the aluminium plate using a gelli plate. It is.

These are a bit grey but have real possibilities 

I think I’ve come up with a possible solution for “?”. It will be a book, in that it will have a binding and open like a book, but once open it won’t have a narrative and will be more of a structural object.  I spent a pleasant afternoon cutting and sticking paper (a good use for old play scripts) exploring different structures.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018


I seem to be flitting about at the moment, lots of ideas going on but not a lot of finishing.

Getting the stuff together to work on the covers for the medieval book I realised that I haven’t done the images for the two end sections. These will be based on sundials. I also found a set of pages for the map section that I’d painted but hadn’t put the text on. They are now printed but the covers and end sections haven’t been started yet.
I’m also working on ideas for new book for a CollaborativeArtist Books swop. The title of this edition is “(?)” meaning anything. I’m struggling with this. I find it easier to work with a brief.
I started with ideas for a book that become a structure/sculpture rather than a linear book but it ended up as a carousel rather than a concertina format (size and structure are the only specifications for this project). I also prefer the scale of the smaller initial mock-up. I will finish this idea (eventually) but it won’t be for “(?)”.

I also need to make some new 2D work for the Art Society Spring exhibition; the venue is only suitable for framed images. So Rosamund is being refined ready to start....
.. .and I’ve a new rough for etching on Friday.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

More Photolitho

I’ve been working through photolitho this week making sure that I can replicate the process from the workshop and end up with a print.

I started with a drawing...
 Scanned it and played with it to make two different images to be put onto acetate.
I exposed these onto photolitho plate and printed.
I wondered what would happen if I overprinted the lighter image in a pale ink over the denser one.
I like the effect even if the registration isn’t great (somehow I managed to alter the aspect ratio of one of the two images as I was playing with them).

I want to use this technique now to make prints using several plates and colours and to incorporate text into the image.

I’ve also started the design of a new collagraph. I came across the legend of Rosamund the Fair. She was the mistress of Henry II. It was said that she lived in the centre of a maze where Henry could visit her in safety. Eleanor of Aquitaine (Henry’s wife) managed to penetrate the maze and gave her the option of choosing between a dagger and a bowl of poison; Rosamund chose the latter and died. This version of her death only surfaced two hundred years later and is historically inaccurate but I like the visual possibilities.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

If there is paper

The pages have been cut down, the boards covered and the books assembled.

 The lettering isn’t perfect but I’m quite pleased with them as a first attempt.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Pages printed

I had forgotten how much preparation goes into teaching a workshop, especially when it takes place in a school hall rather than a studio space. Most of last week was spent tearing paper, collecting materials and muttering to myself as I rehearsed and tried to refine what I was going to say. The meeting took place on Tuesday night and I think people enjoyed it; the group are mainly painters so this was something a bit different. I was so busy I didn’t have the chance to take photos of the work but everyone got at least one print made.

All of which meant not much happened to take my own work further, but I did get to HDP on Friday and managed to print the words on top of the monoprints I’d done last session....
 and to make a set of coloured monoprints with words (the colours are rather garish but I wanted contrast to explore the technique).
These pages will be cut down to make a small edition, hopefully in the next few days.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Kitchen Table Intaglio

A few months ago I said I’d give a workshop to the Art Society on intaglio printmaking. It happens on February 8th so I thought I’d better start thinking about it.

I’ve managed to do the process from plate making through to printing using easily accessible materials. The only specialist thing it needs is printing ink (I’m using Caligo, I have some that’s been in the cupboard for ages, I don’t especially like using it but it will be easy to clean up at the end of the session). 

The plates are made from old photos. Different tones are added using masking tape, sellotape and sticky labels. These are all relatively non porous so the plates don’t need sealing. Lines can be carefully incised with a knife or scratched with a darning needle.

The plates are printed using a pasta maker (does this count as easily accessible?)

These are the examples I worked up, plates and prints. 

They are a bit red but I have a lot of this colour and I want to keep as large a range as possible available for the workshop. 

Now I have to see if this is possible to do with a group in the time I’ve got.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Photo litho workshop

I went on a course at Hot Bed Press this weekend, exploring photo litho with Kate Desforges.

We needed some art work printed onto acetate for the first day’s work and some ideas for direct drawing for the second. I resized and revamped a couple of things from the artwork I had made for ‘Was she the one who?’ so that I had a photographic image to work with. I also made a drawing in charcoal and ink which I scanned so I could see how drawn marks would translate. 

This is what I produced on the first day when we used the images on acetate to learn how to expose, develop and print the plates.

The second day we explored mark making on translucent drafting film. You can use this instead of printed transparencies to expose the plate. I tried to make a 3 colour separation image, using different materials for the drawings for the three plates so that I could see how the various types of marks  would work. Given the image I was trying to make, this was too ambitious in the time frame(and I’m not going to share) but I learned a lot about materials, registration and inking. This is a process that suits my way of working so I’m going to take the time to work out the design and mark making and try again.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Learning from the past

Last year I set myself the challenge to produce a book and a print each month. And I managed it – just.

At the beginning of this January I started to think about a new challenge and decided on ‘From the book shelf’ responding to a piece of literature each month. I even went as far as setting up a website to document it. Then I had second thoughts. The idea of the last challenge was to make me create on a regular basis and it worked, but I was so focused on producing different pieces that it didn’t give me much time for exploring and developing ideas. This year I’ve decided that I’m going to try making fewer but more developed pieces. 

At the same time I started exploring Frankenstein in response to the call for entry from Liverpool Book Fair (this is what prompted the idea of ‘From the bookshelf'). The deadline was 9th January for the proposal, with delivery sometime in March if it was accepted. I even finished the proposal. But then I decided that, for a little while at least, I don’t want to give myself strict deadlines that have to be met. I am going to make the book, but I want to be able to let things develop in their own time.

So this year, to keep things moving along, I’ll aim to record small steps of new progress on this blog each week, but I’m going to see where the work takes me.

On the subject of which I’ve been exploring texture and backgrounds for the text of ‘Dangerous books’.

I tried making monoprints on the relief press and on the etching press but neither one gave me the feel I wanted. After a period of trial and error I found using stencils, taking an impression on the Albion press to take off some ink, then printing the ghost on the etching press gave me the weight that I wanted. They aren’t stunning images in their own right but they are heading in the right direction to accompany the text. The next step is to try making it less monochrome and with a more subtle colour palette than bright yellow.

I’m starting to enjoy exploring without having to race to a conclusion.