Thursday, November 19, 2009

demo relief print made from Styrofoam - jigsaw block technique

Take out
styrofoam jigsaw relief print on black paper

I will be starting a project on Monday working with about 20 elementary school students (range of grade levels from four through eight). They will be creating individual relief based prints from the surface of a product called scratchfoam. The students will be learning a technique called jigsaw block. They first draw an image into the surface of the foam using ballpoint pen. Then waterbased ink is rolled onto the print surface using a rubber brayer and printed using a hand burnishing application onto a piece of paper that is set over top.

The foam is first bonded to a thin piece of bristol board using a high tack spray adhesive. The bristol board has a thin layer of water based varathane rolled on the bottom side to help waterproof it and to counter act the tension of the two materials brought together. This prevents it from curling when it is cut apart or when ink is applied to the surface. This sandwich thickness is still pretty easy to cut using scissors.

The next step is to dissect the block which will allow it to be printing using a jigsaw technique.
I carefully cut the block apart using scissors and xacto blades. The trick was to follow lines already drawn into the foam and use these as a cutting guide .

I devised a registration board system so that a 9 x 12 inch piece of scratchfoam was reduced to a 7 x 10 inch block. This left 1 inch strips of scratchfoam which were set along the edge of a 9 x 12 foamcore registration board and held in place with masking tape. The inked pieces were reassembled back into this frame. Each of the 7 individual segments had a colour of ink rolled on and were then reassembled A 9 x 12 piece of black paper was placed over the block and held in place with push pins at top. The placement of the block contained within the one inch strips along the perimeter helped to center the block on the paper and left a one inch border around the image on the paper.

I found that Speedball ink has a tendency to dry quickly (even with retarder medium added) so had apply a spray of very fine water mist to reactivate it just before the paper was set over top and hand burnished.I usually spray about 15 - 20 inches above the block and let the mist settle gently and evenly on the surface. Unfortunately a little bit more water collected and caused a little uneveness in the light blue section under the crow and to the left side of the trash can. Anyhow those that work with Speedball might understand some of the challenges it presents.

I chose black paper as it provides the dark contrast to define the line in a positive image. If this was printed onto white paper then you would get a neg. image.The students should have some fun with this testing their skills in composition, colour application and exploration of shape, line, texture to name but a few key learning factors.

Another thing I have learned is that some of the Speedball inks such as yellow, red and blue do not print as opaque on a black background so by adding just a hint of white ink will help to increase the opacity. But in some cases the transparency factor can be used for effect (for example a pure yellow was printed on to the black paper in the grass section at the bottom of this image and produced a tint of green).

If I were to do an edition of prints from the foam block for my own collection (which I may still) would most likely would use an oil based ink and print these on a better quality of printmaking paper that is available in black such as Stonehenge, Somerset or Canson paper.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A combination of relief and intaglio

This new print was born from the combination of two techniques and used one linoleum block. It is a study of the patterns found on the surface of water (in a bit of an abstract presentation). Basically what I did was wipe and force a water soluble oil ink (prussian blue) into the cut recesses of the block. The flat surface relief had a layer of light cerulean blue linseed oil ink rolled onto the surface with a brayer.

I soaked a piece of heavier white cotton rag paper and then blotted it between an old cotton towel. Setting my top roller for moderate pressure on the etching press I put felt blankets and newsprint overtop of the print paper (which was set on top of the block) and ran it under the roller. This pushed the damp paper down into the recessed areas and also picked up the ink from the surface. Some of the deepest areas of cutting did not get ink into them so they printed as slivers of white which add to the play of light on the surface of the water.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

adventurous photopolymer prints

Superior - A reflection
photopolymer gravure/hand colouring
image size 12.7 x 17.8 cm, paper 25.5 x 30.5 cm
variable edition of 50

The Stream of Consciousness
photopolymer gravure / hand colouring
Image size 12.7 x 17.8 cm, paper 25.5 x 30.5 cm
Variable edition of 50

Some recent explorations with interesting results created by crossing media.
Both prints are both derived from photos I have taken. They have been interpreted as prints by exposing the positives made from the photos onto photopolymer plates and printed as gravure impressions in paper using an etching press .

The application of watercolour into both helps to expand each image from the state of a single colour impression and makes each come to life in it's own unique way.
Superior - A reflection remains fairly close to the original photo in it's colour values. I was very fortunate a couple of years back to have come across a pool of water on the shore of Lake Superior which I thought actually resembled this great lake in terms of it's shape (when one looks on a globe or in an atlas). The reflection of the fir tree and branches plus the sky and the few loose leaves floating on the surface add to the overall impact.
This same image started off as a photopolymer gravure study but in a much smaller square format last year. It was created then as a contribution I made to a miniature print exhibiton sponsered by Graphik Vaerstad Print studio in Naestved Denmark. I found the imagery rather fitting for the fresh water connection and so have scaled up and approached it with a slightly different colour palette this time around.
The Stream of Consciousness approaches the presentation of image from a slightly more abstract perspective. I have applied an interferance copper wash over the print (blocked out the white areas using liquid frisket) and then more washes of cerulean and indigo, serpentine green and a hint of cadmium orange on top of each other. The frisket was carefully removed with a rubber cement eraser to reveal the white of the paper. The metallic effect of the interferance wash is evident when the print is viewed in certain light and from particular angles. It reminds me of some of those beautiful glazing effects sometimes one finds on dark colour pottery.

Both of the studies are part of a series of work that explore fresh water and it's relationship to me. It is my intention that they will be on display along with 22 other studies I have produced for a trio exhibtion that focuses on this theme in a display of printed images on paper taking place at Gallery Stratford in January 2010. The show is titled Watermark.

I apologize for the copyright text emblazened across the bottom of each image. Unfortunately I have not yet been able to find a right click disable option in the blog applications so in order to protect unauthorized duplication of my images I must resort to this for the time being.