Started by inking up the plate with the Lino cut ink.
…then attempted a transfer print using the attempted self portrait. The result was interesting. The drawing is poor, but the ink transfer reasonable. I did the drawing in a single pass and then removed the paper from the plate.
I also tried a second press, but the ink transfer wasn’t good. My next attempt was a direct draw to the plate of basically the same image. I had fun with getting texture and form, though the drawing itself was far from perfect. I should have taken a photo of the plate because the ink transfer was very poor.
I tried a second pass with more pressure, which still wasn’t good. Lastly I made the paper very slightly damp and tried a third time. The ink transfer was improved, but by this time the image on the plate had degraded and so it isn’t surprising that the image on the paper wasn’t stunning. On consideration later I realised that the ink on the inking plate and/or the actual print plate had probably started to dry. This ink is fairly dry straight out of the tube, so that is a potential issue. On a previous run I did add a few drops of water to the ink before starting to use it – which is suggested on the tube. If I’d done this the results of this print might have been better.
Instead of this, however, I decided to change to the Essdee black ink. I am reasonably convinced this is basically acrylic paint with a suitable medium. It is much more sticky than the block printing ink, and I added a bigger dollop of ink into the inking tray.
This time I made couple of process changes as well as the change of ink. On the previous run I’d had trouble keeping alignment between the top and bottom sheets, and so I made sure everything was aligned to the edges of a working board, so that I could realign the image etc. more easily. There was less of an issue this time, as the paper stuck more effectively to the plate – better “tack” in the ink.
The second change was that I kept the paper and plate together on one side and then lifted the image to be able to see it – rather than trying to complete the whole picture without viewing. This is a hint I’d picked up during my print research, but didn’t remember it for the first run. The result is improved, and somewhat interesting. It still isn’t something I’d exactly put on my walls though. Then again, its a copy of an image I don’t really like, so…
One last observation on this image: The charcoal original is starting to degrade. The fixative spray just isn’t up to the job of keeping the original safe under the repreated reworking for the printing. Not overly surprising, but worth bearing in mind if I were to do this with an original I cared about.
Rather than try again with my own ugly mug for a direct to plate print I decided to try another night sailing scene. The result is much improved, with good image transfer and an image that I actually like. This ink seems to work more effectively for this approach.
So, what have I learnt?
- There is an art to picking an ink for the work you are doing and getting the best out of it. The acrylic ink is more suitable for a longer working time in the air, though a few drops of water into the lino ink may have made a difference.
- Ink transfer is important to the prints, and so developing a way to improve transfer for a particular ink and paper is worthwhile. I need to consider the effects of the ink drying, and the possibility of damp paper if this is a possibility. Damp paper seemed more effective than more pressure.
- I’m beginning to understand the importance of “tack” in the ink. The sheet moving around during the transfer process is a problem.
- The transfer method really needs you to either be very consistent in process, or to lift the sheet several times during the printmaking process. The latter is the more applicable method. Practice is needed, but the method would allow several close copies of an original to be made with each sufficiently different to be considered an original.
- Drawing on the plate was very interesting – and harder than I expected. It is possible to get an addition and subtraction process similar to working with charcoal. In time, and with practice, I’d expect that the process would be as useful as charcoal. I can see why an artist would choose this as a working process.
I would like to go through this cycle multiple times before submitting, but time may not allow that. It may have to be “off course”.