Friday, 24 September 2010

Collograph Printing course

What a busy fortnight!  Last week and this has seen the St Ives September Festival which is the highlight of our cultural year in this area.  There are concerts every night, talks on topics related to St Ives history in the library, lunchtime talks at the Arts Club on art related topics and on the two Wednesdays and the middle Saturday, Open Studios.  I will return to the festival next time.

Before I had mentally registered the dates for this year's festival, I enrolled on a two-day collograph printing course at handprint Studio  This studio is situated only a five minute drive from me and one of the big attractions was that having learnt the basic principles, I would be able to avail myself of their Open Access facilities.  This means that in future I can make my blocks at home and then go up there to print them.  I do not need a press, which I cannot afford and do not have room for, and I will not have to invest in lots of ink.  I was the only local person on this week's course.  The four other people had all come down for the week and were much more experienced printers that I am and all them were spending five days on printing.

It was a really good two days.  It was almost like being on holiday without the additional costs as it meant I left the house and did not think about domestic things, cats. etc all day.  The first day we made blocks on different surfaces.  The aim was to make four.  Here are mine.

This bears a vague resemblance to the estuary of Hayle river.  It is done on mountboard and uses tile cement and carborundum.  The medium grey part was pushed through sequin waste.  Although I was quite pleased with this block, the first print I made from it on the second day was not that great, demonstrating that applying the ink is a vital part of this process.

This one is a piece of metal.  Strips of sellotape, parcel tape, masking tape and the film you use to cover books with have been applied to it and it was then burnt with a heat gun.  At the tutor's suggestion I then took a craft knife and drew some lines about a third of the way down.  The result was a lovely print of the coastline with cliffs (the brown part here) and hills (the 'drypoint') behind them.  There will be a photo on the blog at some point but it was too far down the pile to photograph and I have left everything to dry at the studio.

This one was also burnt, hence the dark colour.  It was made on plywood.  The shape is just random playing but it incorporates neat PVA glue, dilute PVA and carborundum.  It was quite nobbly so I had to sand it and I think I overdid that as I was not very pleased with the resulting print, despite having sealed it very thoroughly.  Another one you can see in a future posting.

Finally, a second one on wood.  This time I began with a photo I had taken of a collapsing wooden barn window.  I drew this on in tile cement with a few grain lines added and then put a carborundum border around it.  Then I was attracted by the sequin waste option so I added some of that and decided that it no longer looked like a bit of barn but might pass for a piece of a Venetian building.

On day two we learnt to handle the inks.  In addition to applying them as intaglio, we tried graduated colours applied with a roller and viscous printing where you first paint intaglio, then roll over quite runny ink with a lightish pressure in another colour and finally roll over a second much thicker colour taken straight from the ink jar and applied with heavy pressure.  The thinner layer of ink repels the thick ink.  In my case I thought very little of the first ink had ended up on the print but I was pleasantly surprised by the final effect.

This is the Hayle estuary block with a very dark blue/black applied first, then a light layer of light grey with other colours added to it to give a sort of Wedgwood colour, and finally a layer of dark yellow.  I have to say I think the effect is slightly Durer like!

I made two pressings of the Venetian block and then one on fabric but that one had the inevitable thread that got caught across the face of the block!  When will I learn to put masking tape around the edges of the fabric to stop this happening?  I always forget.

The better of the two presses was this one where, after doing the intaglio a graduated tint was applied with a roller.

I am looking forward to collecting the dry prints next week especially the one of the coastline which I did early in the day so that it ended up near the bottom of the pile of drying prints and I could not photograph it.  I will definitely make some more prints from that one.  I have decided the burnt one on wood is a bit of a disaster but that's the way these things go.

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