Thursday, 22 March 2018

More playing

I often worry that I’m a bit of a dabbler, starting something, moving on, a new technique here, a different project there, not much staying power. 

But after many years of trying to focus, be organised and follow one thing at a time I’ve decided that it’s time to stop trying to force it.  Dabbling is the way I work best, starting several things at once and dipping in and out, exploring and playing, until at last something is finished.  So from now on I’m going to go with the flow and enjoy the process.

At the moment I’m flitting from the medieval book to a book swop book, from a collagraph to an etching and, to add to the mix, props, scenery and other assorted stuff for Peter Pan which our group will put on in June. 

So in the spirit of dabbling this week I’ve played with etching and looked at more book structures.

I wanted the puppets to have different patterned dresses. I decided that I’d like to take these from real fabrics or lace. I want three different patterns on this plate but I find it difficult to get a consistent result with soft ground etching. Pondering different solutions I wondered if it was possible to print the texture onto the aluminium plate using a gelli plate. It is.

These are a bit grey but have real possibilities 

I think I’ve come up with a possible solution for “?”. It will be a book, in that it will have a binding and open like a book, but once open it won’t have a narrative and will be more of a structural object.  I spent a pleasant afternoon cutting and sticking paper (a good use for old play scripts) exploring different structures.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018


I seem to be flitting about at the moment, lots of ideas going on but not a lot of finishing.

Getting the stuff together to work on the covers for the medieval book I realised that I haven’t done the images for the two end sections. These will be based on sundials. I also found a set of pages for the map section that I’d painted but hadn’t put the text on. They are now printed but the covers and end sections haven’t been started yet.
I’m also working on ideas for new book for a CollaborativeArtist Books swop. The title of this edition is “(?)” meaning anything. I’m struggling with this. I find it easier to work with a brief.
I started with ideas for a book that become a structure/sculpture rather than a linear book but it ended up as a carousel rather than a concertina format (size and structure are the only specifications for this project). I also prefer the scale of the smaller initial mock-up. I will finish this idea (eventually) but it won’t be for “(?)”.

I also need to make some new 2D work for the Art Society Spring exhibition; the venue is only suitable for framed images. So Rosamund is being refined ready to start....
.. .and I’ve a new rough for etching on Friday.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

More Photolitho

I’ve been working through photolitho this week making sure that I can replicate the process from the workshop and end up with a print.

I started with a drawing...
 Scanned it and played with it to make two different images to be put onto acetate.
I exposed these onto photolitho plate and printed.
I wondered what would happen if I overprinted the lighter image in a pale ink over the denser one.
I like the effect even if the registration isn’t great (somehow I managed to alter the aspect ratio of one of the two images as I was playing with them).

I want to use this technique now to make prints using several plates and colours and to incorporate text into the image.

I’ve also started the design of a new collagraph. I came across the legend of Rosamund the Fair. She was the mistress of Henry II. It was said that she lived in the centre of a maze where Henry could visit her in safety. Eleanor of Aquitaine (Henry’s wife) managed to penetrate the maze and gave her the option of choosing between a dagger and a bowl of poison; Rosamund chose the latter and died. This version of her death only surfaced two hundred years later and is historically inaccurate but I like the visual possibilities.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

If there is paper

The pages have been cut down, the boards covered and the books assembled.

 The lettering isn’t perfect but I’m quite pleased with them as a first attempt.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Pages printed

I had forgotten how much preparation goes into teaching a workshop, especially when it takes place in a school hall rather than a studio space. Most of last week was spent tearing paper, collecting materials and muttering to myself as I rehearsed and tried to refine what I was going to say. The meeting took place on Tuesday night and I think people enjoyed it; the group are mainly painters so this was something a bit different. I was so busy I didn’t have the chance to take photos of the work but everyone got at least one print made.

All of which meant not much happened to take my own work further, but I did get to HDP on Friday and managed to print the words on top of the monoprints I’d done last session....
 and to make a set of coloured monoprints with words (the colours are rather garish but I wanted contrast to explore the technique).
These pages will be cut down to make a small edition, hopefully in the next few days.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Kitchen Table Intaglio

A few months ago I said I’d give a workshop to the Art Society on intaglio printmaking. It happens on February 8th so I thought I’d better start thinking about it.

I’ve managed to do the process from plate making through to printing using easily accessible materials. The only specialist thing it needs is printing ink (I’m using Caligo, I have some that’s been in the cupboard for ages, I don’t especially like using it but it will be easy to clean up at the end of the session). 

The plates are made from old photos. Different tones are added using masking tape, sellotape and sticky labels. These are all relatively non porous so the plates don’t need sealing. Lines can be carefully incised with a knife or scratched with a darning needle.

The plates are printed using a pasta maker (does this count as easily accessible?)

These are the examples I worked up, plates and prints. 

They are a bit red but I have a lot of this colour and I want to keep as large a range as possible available for the workshop. 

Now I have to see if this is possible to do with a group in the time I’ve got.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Photo litho workshop

I went on a course at Hot Bed Press this weekend, exploring photo litho with Kate Desforges.

We needed some art work printed onto acetate for the first day’s work and some ideas for direct drawing for the second. I resized and revamped a couple of things from the artwork I had made for ‘Was she the one who?’ so that I had a photographic image to work with. I also made a drawing in charcoal and ink which I scanned so I could see how drawn marks would translate. 

This is what I produced on the first day when we used the images on acetate to learn how to expose, develop and print the plates.

The second day we explored mark making on translucent drafting film. You can use this instead of printed transparencies to expose the plate. I tried to make a 3 colour separation image, using different materials for the drawings for the three plates so that I could see how the various types of marks  would work. Given the image I was trying to make, this was too ambitious in the time frame(and I’m not going to share) but I learned a lot about materials, registration and inking. This is a process that suits my way of working so I’m going to take the time to work out the design and mark making and try again.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Learning from the past

Last year I set myself the challenge to produce a book and a print each month. And I managed it – just.

At the beginning of this January I started to think about a new challenge and decided on ‘From the book shelf’ responding to a piece of literature each month. I even went as far as setting up a website to document it. Then I had second thoughts. The idea of the last challenge was to make me create on a regular basis and it worked, but I was so focused on producing different pieces that it didn’t give me much time for exploring and developing ideas. This year I’ve decided that I’m going to try making fewer but more developed pieces. 

At the same time I started exploring Frankenstein in response to the call for entry from Liverpool Book Fair (this is what prompted the idea of ‘From the bookshelf'). The deadline was 9th January for the proposal, with delivery sometime in March if it was accepted. I even finished the proposal. But then I decided that, for a little while at least, I don’t want to give myself strict deadlines that have to be met. I am going to make the book, but I want to be able to let things develop in their own time.

So this year, to keep things moving along, I’ll aim to record small steps of new progress on this blog each week, but I’m going to see where the work takes me.

On the subject of which I’ve been exploring texture and backgrounds for the text of ‘Dangerous books’.

I tried making monoprints on the relief press and on the etching press but neither one gave me the feel I wanted. After a period of trial and error I found using stencils, taking an impression on the Albion press to take off some ink, then printing the ghost on the etching press gave me the weight that I wanted. They aren’t stunning images in their own right but they are heading in the right direction to accompany the text. The next step is to try making it less monochrome and with a more subtle colour palette than bright yellow.

I’m starting to enjoy exploring without having to race to a conclusion.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Baker’s Dozen Completed

Just before Christmas I spotted a call for entry for the Liverpool Book Fair. They are running an exhibition at the Liverpool library alongside the book fair. The theme of the exhibition is Frankenstein (the book is 200 years old in 2018). I started playing with ideas, one of which meant constructing interlocking spirals. Though I’d never used it before I thought about using a wire edged binding to make up sections of the spirals.

I was short of a book for my ‘baker’s dozen’ challenge and thought exploring this construction might kill two birds with one stone. I made gelli prints using circles, rectangles and triangles as a starting point for the motifs and using the three process colours (cyan, magenta and yellow) plus white to keep the colour scheme simple.

This week I cut 24 ‘pages’, attached the wire edging and started to assemble them
 I started using embroidery thread which looked ok but half way through, when I was seeing how many different ways I could fold the books, I realised the knots were coming undone.
So I had a go with thin copper wire. This was more secure and I like the look of it better.
 I made four sets of 6 pages...

 then combined these into two sets of 12 (though I may separate one of these back into two again).
These books don’t have a front and back cover so I decided that they needed a box to protect them.
Then later in the week I went to HBP and printed up the type I’d set before the holidays.
Each one looks unbalanced as single prints but they are designed to be cut down and made into a small book. It seems an appropriate way of presenting the text (which is a quote from Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge).
So now last year’s challenges are completed (more or less),  the Christmas decorations are packed away and it’s time to move on into the New Year and see what that brings.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Where did December go.

Between Christmas (fourteen for Christmas Day including a two year old, a four year old and two babies under four months old) and decorating (which also entailed moving studies, bedroom and workrooms around) there wasn’t much time for creative artwork this December.

But today I managed to get into my beautifully spring cleaned and organised workroom and got my hands dirty - gelli prints to make a book which will meet my ‘Bakers Dozen’ target  of a book a month in 2017 (the book might not get finished before midnight tomorrow but I figure it counts if it’s started this year).
As for the final print for the challenge, I’ve got some words already set up in type at HBP ready for ink on my first visit in January.

Hope you all enjoyed the holidays and I wish you all a peaceful, happy and creative New Year.