Saturday, February 18, 2012

Monoprinting play!

At a recent artist's 'play day' (as we call them...) 6 of us got to explore the process of monoprinting using plexiglas plates, a variety of papers and water-based printing inks from Graphic Chemical and Speedball. The images below show a variety of approaches and a great learning curve for us all, but we had a lot of fun. Luce Zolna has an etching press in her studio, which was great for printing on the heavier papers, which need to be slightly damp first. The thinner Asian papers did not require a press, and nice prints were achieved by simply using a brayer or baren over the back of the paper to transfer the ink from the plate to our paper.

Some prints were made with found objects, like wheat grass, some tried rolling the ink on and using various pointed or wide, flat tools to scrape the ink away in a variety of lines and shapes. Then there were those of us who wanted to draw and/or paint a design onto the plate and print that, which took some tweaking to get to work. We ultimately found that brushing Golden's Retarding Medium onto the plate before brushing on the ink helped release the print more successfully onto the paper. (If anyone out there has a different or better method, please pass it along!) These initial prints can be incorporated into collage, layered with further drawing, painting, lettering or even another layer of printing. Luce is incorporating a series of her small prints into an accordion book (below). Yes, it was a lot of fun. Play is good! I hope to be able to post some of the finished products from these prints. (Note: some of these prints may not be in their proper orientation. Since they are still unfinished and unsigned, I was not certain.)

Above, 3 variations of printing with wheat grass. first, Janice Kiska, second and third, Rita Foltz
Above, free-form print by Janice Kiska
Above, by Rita Foltz
A combination of brayer, brush and writing with a rubber tool, Julie Wildman
Above, ink brayered on, and written into with rubber tools, Julie Wildman
Above, my first somewhat successful attempts (and 'landscape' above) with a brush and ink. These two narrow strips were actually printed over with a second layer of color.
These 5 strips were taken from some of Luce Zolna's prints for the day and are laid out here for an accordion book design, which she is very good at! (I apologize for the blurry photo!)


Saturday, December 31, 2011

Courageous Secret Belgian Binding

Recently my friend Luce Zolna showed me a book binding project that she called 'Secret Belgian Binding' and gave me a link to directions. It intrigued me since it was similar to a Coptic binding, (stitched on the spine and lays open flat - great for sketchbook journals see You Tube instructions here) but had a decorative, covered spine. Earlier this year I was experimenting with some different techniques for the word 'Courage' for a small works exhibit. I had a few versions that I liked parts of but not enough to complete and submit for an exhibit. I needed a new journal for a book called 'Dream Culture' that a friend and I are working through (the author suggested having a journal  just for this book) and realized that the word and the size of the paper were perfect for this journal. I like making handmade journals to use everyday and don't necessarily want them to be too thick, so I can use them up and make a new one every so often! This is was a great way to salvage those experiments that had meaning for me and put them to a practical use. 

At the same time my (22 yr old) son was taking on an incredibly ambitious Christmas gift project for the love of his life (an illustrated children's story type book, hand bound with leather, no less!) He had never done any kind of bookbinding before, whatsoever, but had a journal I made for him a few years ago that he liked. He liked the look of this Secret Belgian Binding too so we figured we'd try it together. - That was a very interesting Mom-son project, I have to say. - So below are pics of the covers and spines. It took me a bit to figure out the instructions, as I am more a visual person; (a YouTube video would have been quicker for me) but in the end, the process was not too difficult. I also had a book with some instructions in it, so combined I was able to figure it out. I may need to refine my technique (there are always lots of tricks that make things work smoother,) so will ask my friend Luce about her books. Basically, the front and back cover are sort of 'woven' together with the spine and then the sections of folded pages are sewn to it.

My son was using some leather (old samples from a leather furniture store) that was a bit thick, which made the corners a little difficult. He also decided to de-boss a raised image on the cover (R & M), which was an added step, but I think it came out beautifully (especially for the first time!). His girl was super impressed and I am proud of the labor of love that he threw himself into (I don't think I have his permission to show any of the illustrated pages, but they were great.) 

I am really happy with mine as well and will try it again. I used a combination of gesso for texture, with walnut ink and acrylic paints on Arches Text Wove; great paper to work with.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Paper Marbling (with people who know what they're doing!)

This was so much more fun than our previous 'figure it out as we went' attempts to marble paper. HUGE thanks to John & Rita Foltz for sharing what they've learned and walking a few of us through the not-so-painful process last week! It can be quite addicting when you have good results! These images were our first attempts with a few basic pattern techniques, armed with this new information. With some practice you can achieve more consistent and striking results, that can be used for bookbinding, greeting cards and a variety of paper-crafts. I cut some of mine into strips and used them for a ribbon and gift tag for small holiday food gifts. We even experimented with a sheet of Alum-coated Tyvek which worked well and could be a great book cover.

Paper marbling is basically a mono-printmaking process. We found that a few key things severely hindered our previous attempts: not coating our papers with Alum prior to marbling; not using the right paints, diluted to the right consistency (this time we used Marble Art paints and Golden FLUID acrylics, further diluted and we did not mix these two paints together); and not using carrageenan in the water tray, which creates a surface on which the paint can float. (We previously used methyl cellulose or wallpaper paste, which some paper marblers do use). 

John recommended a few great resources for information and supplies: The books, "Ultimate Marbling Handbook" and Galen Berry's "The Art of Marbling" which can be found on his website: Marbleartus, (which is full of help and supplies you can order to get started.) Check out Payhembury Marbled Papers and  Falkiners for gorgeous examples of hand-marbled papers and other resources as well.

Below is Galen Berry's brief description of the process, taken from his website. I have added some photos from our day and a few italicized notes.

1. Some alum is dissolved in water. This is sponged onto each paper to be marbled, and the paper is allowed to dry. The alum is what will bond the color to the paper.

2. A thick liquid, referred to as the size, is made by blending a type of gelatin (carrageenan) with water.

3. The size is poured into a shallow tray. (We used these disposable trays but something with more square corners would be even more effective.) 

4. Several colors of ink or paint are sprinkled onto the surface of the size. They float on the surface because they are lighter than the thickened water. (
We used the spatter method of applying the paint to the water but you can use a brush tip or dropper to form more distinct and even patterns of color.)

5. A stick is used to stir the floating colors if desired. Various combs and rakes may also be run through the colors to make more intricate patterns.

6. A sheet of the alum-treated paper is gently laid onto the surface of the size, and it absorbs the floating colors. Only one print can be made.

7. The paper is lifted off, rinsed, and hung up to dry. (The image, above right is a wet sheet  just pulled from the tray, before rinsing. You will notice some white spots, some of which are reflection from the camera flash on wet paper. Some white spots are caused by air bubbles trapped between the paper and the surface of the water.) Fabric marbling is done the same way, except for step #1: Instead of sponging the alum onto the cloth, it is soaked in the alum water, then hung up to dry, then ironed flat. After that, it can be marbled just like a sheet of paper.