Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Frustrating days in the print studio

This is what happens when you accidentally print one proof over another:

I think it actually looks kind of interesting, but that doesn't change the fact that I basically rendered two proofs totally useless. I had to reprint the 2nd state and the 1st is now lost under the stuff I printed over it. Bah!

I did take a photo of my first proof before messing it up, however.

And here is what the plate looked like this past weekend when I was adding more texture to the background--I didn't bite it for very long so I ended up going through the same process today, biting it for 30 minutes this time to create what I hope will be a dark gray, textured background.

I really want to re-do the doll's face, but Jake convinced me not to (for now). I would like to give her a more exaggerated, artificial looking face like a porcelain doll. Her hair also isn't big enough...it looks like she is missing part of her skull or something. Since I'm not very fond of the face, I'm hesitant to add more work to it if I'm going to scrape it all out anyway. I might end up editioning the plate with the current face in tact, then scrape it out and play around with it. Printing the edition won't happen for a few weeks yet...I'm nowhere near happy with how it looks in its current state. Unfortunately I bit the initial line-work for about 50 minutes, so the lines are etched in the plate pretty deep. I've already been doing some scraping and it's a pain trying to get those lines out. Live and learn!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Color Monotypes

This week in Monotype we had a chance to play around with color. I don't think I work very well in color, but I tried not to worry about it too much. Since using more colors would have involved more clean-up, I pretty much used the same ones throughout the class.

The white parts were just left blank on the plate. Ink applied with a paintbrush. The white flecks were created by flicking mineral spirits onto the plate with a brush.

Ghost of the previous print. I like how soft it is but I think I prefer the first one.

Using a roller to make a gradient effect; mineral spirits splashed on to create little bubble-things; paintbrush and q-tips to add and remove ink.

Next week we're learning how to make monotypes with stencils! Woo!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Intaglio - sugar lift and white ground test plates

Sugar lift was the first new intaglio technique we learned this semester. Unfortunately my attempt was a failure. I'm sure I will try sugar lift again at some point, but it definitely wasn't worth the effort for this particular attempt. The sugar lift was only supposed to take 20-30 mins to dissolve, and I couldn't get it all off even after spending hours on it.

My white ground test came out much better, and I'm planning on using it for my large plate to create a background texture.

The actual process for both of these techniques is described below along with the recipes.

Sugar lift print

Soaking the plate to dissolve the sugar lift

White ground print

Jake was kind enough to provide recipes for the processes we're using this semester, for future reference. Below you'll find instructions for making sugar lift and white ground.

Sugar Lift (Lift Ground) Recipe

2 cups karo syrup
1 cup india ink mixed with black poster paint, and pink hand soap or a little detergent

Clean the glass and plastic containers well (i.e. remove sticky stuff from around the rim of the glass jar and the plastic squeeze bottles that you will be storing the mixture in). Mix all ingredients well. Test out the mixture on a piece of copper. If it beads up, add more detergent and/or a little bit of water.

Thinning the hard ground that goes over the lift ground:
1 part hard ground
1 part naptha

How to do it:
1. Degrease the plate.
2. Aquatint the plate.
3. Paint the sugar lift on with a brush or apply with a squeeze bottle. Let it dry.
4. Apply hard ground (thinned with naptha) with a clean, wide brush. Let it dry.
5. Soak the plate in warm water in a tray for 20 minutes. Be patient. Allow the sugar lift to break through the ground. Do not scrub. If it doesn't lift, allow a stream of hot water from the spigot to go through the water bath onto the plate.
6. When drawing has lifted, bite to black (10-15 mins), or you may do stepped biting.
7. Clean sticky brushes, squeeze bottle and jar with water. Clean ground off plate after biting and before printing.

White Ground (Soap Ground) Recipe

This is a partial resist technique for ghostly, washy tones.

1 cup titanium white pigment
2 cups Ivory Snow (a type of detergent)
1/2 cup raw linseed oil
1 cup water

Put the titanium pigment on to a glass table top, then add the detergent. Mix them together with an ink knife. Form it into a mound with a little crater in the middle. Slowly drizzle linseed oil slowly into the mixture and mix it thoroughly so you can't see any more oil. Add the rest of the oil a little at a time. Do the same with the water--add a small amount at a time and mix very thoroughly. Put it in a glass jar with a tight lid. Stir before using. Add water if it's too thick.

How to do it:
1. Degrease the plate.
2. Put a spoonful of white ground on a sheet of wax paper. Have some water and a chinese brush handy. Mix white ground so it is a creamy consistency and paint it freely on your plate. Thinner white ground will produce darker greys, thicker amounts with produce lighter grays. You may brush, drip, or splatter the ground.
3. You can build layers of white ground, but you must dry each layer before proceeding by putting it on a warm hotplate. You may remove the ground with a rag or thin it with a spray water bottle at any point.
4. If you want a black line, take the edge of a piece of cardboard or the end of a paintbrush a draw through the ground.
5. Aquatint the plate.
6. Let the plate sit overnight. Otherwise, some of the ground with float off when you bite it.
7. Bite the plate to black (10-15 mins).
8. Clean brushes. Clean ground off plate after biting and before printing.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Trace Monotypes

Yesterday in Monotype we did our first trace monotypes.

Here's how it works:
1. Using a soft rubber brayer, roll etching ink onto the plate (copper, zinc, plexi-glass, or what ever surface you're using).
2. Gently place a piece of drawing paper over the inked plate.
3. Draw on the paper using any tools you choose, or even just apply pressure with your fingers.
4. The marks you make on the back of the paper will show up on the other side that was in contact with the inked plate.
5. You can now run the plate through the press to create a negative image of the one you drew (since ink was removed from the plate where you drew/applied pressure).

Here are some examples of the print-drawings I made. The negative images that were printed using the press aren't included here, only the positive images. Unfortunately many of my prints turned out very dark, so most of them aren't really worth posting.

This one is silly.

(These were all made on the same plate and are pretty small--about 5 inches square)

Lots of loose, quick drawings. I'm trying not to be a perfectionist in this class.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Intaglio Concept Sketches -- Pregnancy Doll!

Our first assignment in Intaglio II is to create an 18"x24" plate, printed using one color in an edition of 4 (I'm hoping to do a larger edition if I have time). We'll also be using this same plate to experiment with printing multiple colors on a single plate.

I'm not really used to working large, so the size was initially very intimidating. What do I do with all that space!? However, as I began brainstorming and sketching ideas, the size seemed like less of an issue. Now I'm more worried about practical problems...like how much my arm is probably going to hurt from wiping the plate when it comes time to print. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Anyway, my concept for this print was sparked by the following item in an online exhibition:

Obstetric Doll, 18th Century

Intrigued, I went on a google-quest to find more information which led me to this Pink Tentacle blog entry about Japanese pregnancy dolls.

These things got me thinking about our relationships to objects, how we create and "give birth" to ideas, and how those objects/ideas often outlive their creators. We often imbue our creations and possessions with a sense of life, either by making them an important part of our own lives or by making them recreate certain aspects of life (as is the case with the pregnancy dolls). The object, however, is frozen in time...which I find a particularly interesting aspect of the pregnancy dolls, which depict a biological process that seems so wrapped up in the concept of time. But for the object, it is a permanent state of being.

So, with that in mind, I began drawing. Originally I considered having the pregnancy doll as a central, prominent image on the plate, with a sort of grid in the background of the little baby-busts that you can see in the photo above. I ran into a problem with that idea: I apparently can't draw babies. Specifically, their faces. Try as I might, they continued to look like tiny demon spawn.

Fortunately, I was able to draw some inspiration from the Encyclopaedia Anatomica and came up with an alternative, which I think is more interesting than my grid idea anyway. I'm very attracted to grid-like compositions and need to get away from the habit of putting things in grids.

I put the main components of my composition on different pieces of tracing paper and am currently in the process of trying to figure out how to arrange them on the plate. Still unsure of the final composition, but here are two that I think work quite well:

Or maybe with the doll figure on the right instead of the left.

They're probably a bit difficult to see...but that's the best I could do--it will be more interesting once I actually start working on the plate. I'm pretty excited about it--I think it will be a fun challenge. As one girl in my class said to me as I was drawing, "That's going to be an awesome plate...creepy...but awesome." I hope so!