Print this year was, I suppose, as frustrating as last year! But I think got more out of it and managed, eventually, to better use the techniques to suit what I wanted to do and feel that I’ve learnt things that I could benefit my studio practice.
First of all I looked again at some of the more traditional techniques we had looked at the year before. I find using the metal plates a little inhibiting – the process seems long, the materials are harder to get, and the end result, in my case anyway, seems almost completely unpredictable and such an anti climax. Still, in spite of feeling like this I’m actually a reasonably optimistic person so I had a go…
This was in no way linked to any studio practice. It was really just mark making and seeing what happened. The plate is more interesting than the print.
I tried to get a proper idea of what was going on by using one plate, taping it in sections and exposing these sections to the acid for different times. There are a couple of vague lines but considering the shortest exposure time was 2 minutes and the longest was 8 or 10 minutes I thought the difference might be a bit more apparent. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. While this obviously wouldn’t have resulted in an actual image of anything I actually quite like the print anyway…
An easier less committing option was to use cardboard as a printing plate. I found this was a quicker (and more successful) way of getting what I wanted. The final printing process is the same – either working the ink into the etched/scored lines and wiping away the excess to print the line or roll the ink onto just the raised surface so the final print showed the scored lines in white. The first was just an experiment. I used the torn edges of paper stuck to the surface as well as scoring the card to get varying textures.
Feeling that this was more successful than the metal plates, I made another cardboard plate using an image from my studio practice at the time which revolved around news media images. I wanted the appearance of a fairly fine line drawing and definitely don’t think I would have manged this with a metal plate.
It’s such a simple technique and I like that these sorts of plates can be easily ready to go without any chemicals or specially preparation then brought in to the print room to print. Another really method of printing we explored was one I was already keen for – photocopying! Again, a really accessible method…
Next we were shown how to screen print. Again this involved quite a lot frustration and disappointing results but I actually really enjoyed it, especially when I moved on from trying to print photographed images and instead used text and line drawings. The photographic images (from studio work) I chose never seemed to be workable not having the right ratio of black, white and mid tones. Having to adjust them to fit what was needed I felt like I wasn’t in charge of how the image would eventually look. Also this was another quite long process for me, frustrating in a way that was similar to some of the earlier printing methods we went through.
I used someone elses old screen which was sitting around the print room and already had some text on it just to see how screen printing a line drawing and a stencil would look and also to look at layering and colour. I liked the results, especially the coloured line over black text.
The line drawings were from newer studio work the at time which explored words and meanings using photos, etymology and drawing alongside each other. Since this work relied on images and text accompanying and responding to each other it seems fitting that using this method – screen printing – the image and the text have to go through the same process.
I also looked at blending colours a little. This ended up a bit smudgy and messy but I’d to explore colour and further layering with screen printing.