Sunday, January 24, 2016

Collagraph part II - using low relief dense foam


In my previous post I showed a couple of prints of mine that combined various low relief materials to produce a print on paper. One of the materials that was used was low relief pieces of scratch foam printing plate. 

This material has the ability to embed other shapes into it's surface. It can be used to great effect for adding interesting details to a collagraph print.

I pressed medium grit sandpaper into the foam surface to give this a grainy texture. I followed this by stabbing the foam with a pen tip to give me slightly larger depressions. For some crack lines I drew across with the point of a bamboo skewer.
The objective here was to create a pocky hard rock surface which is very common to the region where I live. 
The mission with this collagraph was to convey a sense of the landscape and elements of Northern Ontario...lots of water with an abundance of Cambrian Shield rock interspersed with boreal forests.

I cut and glued down the foam pieces onto a thick paperboard substrate. Then using an xacto blade I cut away and shaped the material. Using a ballpoint pen tip I was able to press into the foam and create pockets for darker areas to be made when the ink would be applied.

I was able to coat the foam and rest of the materials on the plate using shellac. Once it was dry then thinned etching ink was applied to the plate and it was wiped back and printed.

This is a magnified detail from a section of a test print from another study (5 colour relief print) showing how the texture came about from the styrofoam.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Collagraphs Part 1

collagraphs produced by Grade six classroom drying on cardboard drying board
St. Bernard Catholic Elementary School, Thunder Bay ON

I recently have been exploring collagraphs again in the classroom via my art teachings. I thought the idea of creating a low relief plate using additive and subtractive methods would stimulate and challenge students. They get to use recycled materials and also print their plates using my press.
It is also a lot of fun.
Due to time restrictions we couldn't use shellac or varnish to seal the plates. Instead we opted to spray the service with an aerosol adhesive (done outdoors with masks worn). Plastic food wrap was stretched over top and the plate was passed under the press roller set onto a light squeeze. This forced the plastic to mold over everything and also added some textural effect to the prints. Students wore barrier gloves to keep their hands clean and using Akua carbon black intaglio ink they loaded ink into recessed areas  using old toothbrushes and wiping ink on the surface with their finger tip. We used bunched up pieces of interfacing fabric for wiping back of the ink followed by a surface polishing using yellow pages and gift wrap tissue. Dampened cotton rag paper was placed over top and it was passed again through the press.

My introduction to collagraphs originates around 2008. I viewed a lot of work online of people who worked primarily in this printmaking technique and was extremely motivated. Not having ever tried this I researched the process from reading art instructionn books and by watching online demos in You Tube. Hestor Cox is a UK based artist who is quite proficient in the medium.
Another person whose blog I follow is Southern California based artist Belinda Del Pesco. Her work is stellar.

The first couple of small plates I made using scrap packaging board and glue showed promise but were a little too simplistic. I became a bit more adventurous. I tried adding other materials such as mat board, thin sheet styrofoam, modelling gel medium and liquid PVC glue, sandpaper, bamboo, scrap packaging card, dried organic materials like cedar needles, dried flowers added to surfaces. I also removed some areas of the base mat paper board using kraft blades. These areas would hold ink and allow for darker tones in a print. From all of this two plates emerged and the resulting prints were quite satisfactory.

One of these become a monochromatic piece that I included in an exhibition series titled Wilderness. It is a study of a stream meeting a low rise rock face and percolating down through a narrow cut in cambrian shield rock.

collagraph (monochrome)

It is one thing to see the relief built on the base card but you won't know how this is going to turn out until you actually ink the plate and print it.
I still have the original plate for this study and I am tempted to print a few more by either inking the plate A la poupée (spot inking in various colours of inks) or applying hand colouring with wet media to the black & white print.

Shoreline (pictured below) was a study of a section of pond I observed during one of my nature hikes. The foreground rocks were created by cutting and gluing thin foam sheets to the base plate. I pock marked it and then pressed in fine grit sandpaper to create textural elements into the rock. The cat tails were created using shavings off bamboo skewers and liquid bead of PVC glue. The background was dried fern ends, cedar needles and gel medium applied with a small brush tip. The dark water was created by cutting and peeling off a thin layer of the mat board. I then added some fine lines of gel medium into the recessed area. These were in reverse of the built up cat tail stalks and would create a reflection effect when the plate was inked, wiped and printed. The plate had several layers of Shellac sponged rolled over top to seal and waterproof it.

collagraph (monochrome)