Saturday, 12 December 2015

Editioning and Monoprinting

It’s one thing to use up scrap and leftover papers to work out an idea in rough but I’ve no idea what I was thinking when I decided it would be a good idea to use gelli plate monoprints to produce an edition of 12 books.
However, many prints later, I have now made 24 large envelopes for the covers and 72 small envelopes and 36 prints to make the inside pages.
 All I have to do now is assemble them all.
Oh yes, and then make more prints to cut up to put inside the  small envelopes

Friday, 4 December 2015

Bits and pieces

The end of November is when the drama society put on our pantomime (this year it was Cinderella). This means not much else gets done.Though I have had another go at CMYK separation gum arabic prints using my own and photoshoped family photographs for the image. The technique seems to be working but cumulatively the colours are too dark. I think I’ll try the same images again after Christmas but next time I’ll put quite a bit more extender in the ink to make it more transparent.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Mixed success

I finished the plate, a combination of silk aquatint, tile cement and various adhesive tapes....
printed it in blue....
 then tried inking a la poupee with viscosity printing. 
The technique needs working on but I think I am starting to get some indication of light and shade across the image.  

Friday, 30 October 2015

Ticking over

We’ve just come back from holiday so not much work has happened recently. Though I have signed and delivered my contribution to 20:20
 and have started a plate which I hope will develop using silk aquatint as part of a collagraph.
 And now its time to go and build a sleigh for Cinderella! Yes, its panto time again.

Friday, 16 October 2015

20:20 completed

6 artist proofs whilst getting the inking and registration right and 25 finished prints for the Hot Bed Press print exchange
 I managed 31 prints from the plate before it started to disintegrate.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Version Two and Seeing Double

I’ve been playing with the ‘Letters and Alphabets’ book again. I decided to explore the envelope motif more. Still using scrap prints so the colours need further consideration. Trying to make something that will be editionable (is that a word?).  
I’ve also been plate making. I signed up for the 20:20 print exchange run by The Hot Bed Press.  I wanted to do this with collagraphs but am not sure the plate will stand up to that amount of wear and tear - I have to produce 25 good prints. So to be on the safe side I have made two.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Never throw anything away

I’ve signed up for another book exchange with Artist Books 3.0. The title of this swop is ‘Letters and Alphabets’. I am playing with the idea that letters make up alphabets, which we use in written communication, which we send as letters.

I have also agreed to do a demonstration as part of Preston Art Society's exhibition and had been planning on making a collagraph plate. But I decided yesterday that gelli printing was probably more interesting to watch, certainly more colourful, and that I could use the sheets of prints produced for this book edition.
After thinking about structure (the book has to be a 63cm accordion) and subject matter I decided to make envelopes for the covers of this book. This also means that I can put card inside to make easy stiff covers.
I thought that it would be appropriate to use stationary papers rather than printing paper so I dug out old sheets of gelli prints done on printer paper to see if it would be strong enough and started playing.
But I also found discarded prints from an ALAW project (exploring how little of the letter is needed in order for it to read as a letter). I added them.
And then I found letters that I’d cut out as part of another ALAW book exploring looking through.
It’s a bit garish (though it’s growing on me) and it might be a bit labour intensive for an edition of 10 but it’s definitely a starting point.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Adding Silk Aquatint

I wanted a way to add softer edges into the print so I decided to try silk aquatint in the view through the window rather than cutting the objects
and still exploring viscosity inking 

Saturday, 5 September 2015

More textures

The last figurative collagraph plates I did were made by cutting into and sticking masking tape and selotape onto mountboard. For the next plate I wanted to expand my range of mark making and make it less hard edged but still representational so out came the tile cement, carborundum and white acrylic,

The first print in blue was OK but felt a bit thin.
I decided to try viscosity inking to add colour
 I think this is worth more exploration.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Simon Brown and Richard Taylor

I've just finished my contribution to a project between the Lancashire County Archives and various local arts societies on the theme of Victorian Lancashire.  Preston Art Society decided to focus on the theme of cotton. I struggled to find a way into the project but eventually I became interested in letters written by two step brothers, Richard Taylor and Simon Brown to their father, George Taylor who lived in Burnley.

Originally the family came from Kettlewell in Yorkshire and were in the main tanners although Simon was a loom fitter and Richard a cotton spinner (my tenuous link to the cotton theme).
Both brothers were tried and convicted of theft. Simon for stealing a hat in Burnley and Richard for stealing 300 yards of cloth in Skipton  (Simon Brown was tried at Lancaster and was detained at Lancaster Castle, whilst Richard Taylor was tried at Pontefract and was imprisoned for a while at York Castle)

They were both sentenced to ten years imprisonment in Australia. They were transferred to the hulks to await transportation, Simon to HMS Warrior at Woolwich and Richard to HMS Fortitude at Chatham. Eventually Simon sailed for New South Wales on the Eden in July 1840 and Simon for Van Diemen’s Land on the Davis Clarke in June 1841, neither returned to England.

Richard was assigned to Sydney General Hospital and Simon to an estate called Lovely Banks in Springhill, Oatlands, Tasmania (the property of a Mr Bisdee)

Whilst working at the hospital Richard learned the trade of boot and shoe maker from a fellow convict and eventually set himself up in his own small property as a cobbler in Narellan. Simon rose from a ploughman and waggoner to overseer or foreman. His letters show that he much preferred working among sheep and cattle to working in the mills.

Both brothers married fellow convicts. Richard Taylor married Julia Hand who was a weaver before being transported (they had three children) and Simon married Margaret Martin who had been sentenced to seven years after stealing a watch in Liverpool.

Richard died on 6th January, 1855 and Simon on 18th September, 1884

As I was researching the brothers on the internet it struck me that what I was finding fascinating, whilst following from link to link, was actually an awful experience to have lived through. At a distance researching and learning about these events can be like a form of entertainment. 

I decided that I could develop the iconography of my prints to explore this idea using imagery reminiscent of puppets and puppet shows (entertainment) to tell the stories of the two brothers. The stylisation of the larger figure reminded me of folk art/fairground figures which I thought was appropriate to the Victorian brief.

This is my interpretation of their stories

                                                                  Simon Brown

 Richard Taylor

The information contained here was found on the following websites
and at the Lancashire County Archives

Saturday, 15 August 2015

More collagraph experiments

We’ve been away for a few weeks staying with friends so Simon Brown’s plate hasn’t progressed much further.

I want to expand the range of mark making I’m achieving with collagraphs beyond tape and cutting and sticking, and when we arrived back home I wanted a quick project to get me into the studio again, so out came the tile cement.

Impressing, stencilling (I might turn these half cleaned plates into book covers)......
and experimenting with viscosity inking.

Monday, 27 July 2015

One finished

I’ve found several accounts on line giving information about Richard Taylor and Simon Brown. When I’ve finished both prints I’ll combine their stories in a post and credit the relevant sources.

This is the print relating to Richard.
He was a weaver who was sentenced to deportation for stealing. He was assigned as a cook to Sidney Hospital where he learned how to mend shoes from a fellow prisoner.  He eventually set up as a cobbler. He married and had three children.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Working with the archives

Lancashire County Council Archive Services are currently working with local art groups to make a response to Victorian Lancashire based on items from their collections. Preston Arts Society has chosen to focus on aspects linked to the cotton industry.

Whilst browsing the catalogue I came across all sorts of interesting things that I want to work with at some point but I have struggled with finding something that grabbed me that linked specifically to cotton. Eventually I found a set of letters from two step brothers to their father that started when they were awaiting transportation (for separate offences in different places) and continued sporadically thereafter. The brothers are Henry Taylor and Simon Taylor (also known as Brown). One was a cotton spinner from Lancashire (I’m counting this as my link). 

As I was further researching on the internet (there are some really interesting, detailed and useful Australian sites out there) it struck me that what I was finding fascinating, whilst following from link to link, was actually an awful experience to have lived through. At a distance researching and learning about these events can be like a form of entertainment. 

I decided that I could develop the iconography of my last collagraph print to explore this idea, using the imagery of puppets and puppet shows (entertainment) to tell the stories of the two brothers. The stylisation of the larger figure reminded me of folk art/fairground figures which I thought was appropriate to the Victorian brief.

I am working towards two prints, one for each brother. So far I have the drawing for Richard’s story ready for transferring to the block.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

More exploring

Now I think I can fairly reliably make a straightforward gum arabic print I want to push the boundaries a little. I’ve started to experiment using the technique to combine images (with a view to adding text for book projects) and  to print my own drawings.

Combining  photographic images
I like the torn effect and the layering but I’ll need to work out how to incorporate the coloured ‘plate tone’ in the negative space into the design if I’m going to use this technique for text  (unless anyone out there knows how to get rid of all the ink on the white of the plate).

I made 3 plates exploring hand drawn and computer generated marks using a combination of drawing, scanning and Photoshop for a three colour print.

This one was nearly A4, a bit difficult to register with soggy paper plates.
This second one  I printed the image plates smaller on the laser printer to make it easier to handle These experiments are more about the mark making and layering than the colour palette. They are a bit garish.
I do like the ghost print made from the last plate. It doesn't photograph well. The print is delicate in colour but the drawing lines are also visible. The paper plate lifted colour as it was printed the first time and then offset it when I ran it through the press a second time.
It will take more time but I think there are definite possibilities with this way of working

Sunday, 21 June 2015


Since making ‘Fragments’ I’ve been working on a more complex collagraph print

Here is the block...
 And one of the prints.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Gum Arabic Again

In between enjoying a new grandson at home and going to Skye for a very waterlogged week with the old one I somehow haven’t got round to posting recently.

I’ve been exploring gum arabic printing further with some larger prints.
(The scanner seems to have leeched all the colour out of the following ones)
(it took a while to get the pressure right) 
 And more colour separations
 (this is a larger better version of earlier experiments)

I‘ve also been building on the collagraph work I did for ‘Fragments’ and have been designing a larger, more complicated  block which I hope to print later on this week.

Monday, 18 May 2015


As part of Collaboration 15 on Artist Books 3.0 it was suggested that we should produce our own narrative. Although I read a lot and much of my work is produced in response to other peoples words actually writing them myself is way out of my comfort zone. I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it.

On Formby Beach was the book I made for the swop edition but I have just finished the prototype of another book written in response to a bleak February afternoon spent at a local museum

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Footprints in the sand

On Formby beach the erosion of the sand has revealed footprints that date back to the late Neolithic era.
Whilst on a walk in 2012 with friends we were lucky enough to meet a group of archaeologists standing round a black patch on the sand which had clear small footprints sunk into it. We were looking at the marks left by a child running across the mud 7000 years ago.

Three years later an edition of twelve books remembering the day

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Final stages

The prints are out of the pressing boards and are hanging to make sure they are completely dry.

I’ve been experimenting with making book cloth to for the covers.
I chose plain linen. The colour works well with both the first print and the ghost print from each inking. I’m making small pieces of cloth because the only thin strong paper I had to hand on Sunday night was from an A4 layout pad. It does mean that the wet layers are quite easy to manipulate which is an advantage.