Time to paddle around in the shallow end by myself. Dawn was on hand for when I got stuck but most of the time left me to get on with it. I appreciated this as it allowed me to make mistakes and learn from them.
A few weeks ago I was informed by a posh lady ‘My people come from…’ I was captivated by both what she said and the manner in which she said it… ‘May peepull cume frrum’ all very refined! So before I left home I’d taken an idea from my previous workshop and stitched the phrase onto cloth. I thought I’d use just a piece of it but instead used it intact.
Firstly I made a plaster cast by pressing the fabric, face down, into the wet plaster and peeling it off when dry.
Then I PVA’d the fabric onto another plate. Initially I forgot to stitch the text in reverse so I had to unpick it – the memory of this could still be seen at the bottom.
I decided to print in a sepia tone – mixing the ink.
A colour test – the lighter one mixed with extender.
Fabric print – too dark
A little better with more extender mixed with the ink.
Plaster print with colour added.
The two methods gave diverse results. The plaster plate turned out more organic – the plaster wasn’t 100% dry when I removed the cloth and some came away at the bottom. It looks like embroidered initials but could have been a disaster. The fabric glued onto the plate showed more of the warp & weft, the frayed edges and creases. Then there was the resultant text – raised using the cast method and sunk using the fabric.
By this time I was just getting a grasp of how inking up affects the print but the clock demanded me to pack up. I have much to digest but feel confident to move forward with this process by myself.
Mono tone printing
Select colour of choice – use extender to produce opacity. Using short bristled brush (stencil brush) work the ink into the plate making sure all parts are covered. Wipe off using old scrim, change the area of cloth regularly so the ink is removed and not just wiped around the plate. Change to clean scrim and repeat. Finally wipe off with tissue paper, keeping it flat whilst held between the fingers.
Place plate on pre-damped and blotted paper (min 280 grms) and pull through the press. Adjust pressure of press as required.
From left to right:Carborundum, grass and hydrangea in plaster, scratchings.
From left to right: Cling film on plaster then removed when dry, fabrics, cling film on PVA then removed when dry.
From left to right: Tapes, papers and sandpaper, plaster
Addition of colour.
Ink up plate as before. using chosen colour pull out a thin layer onto the inking plate, dab with clean scrim flattened into a ball, dab off excess ink onto newspaper then dab onto plate with a figure of eight movement – just catching the top surface.
I found this process difficult – too much ink at times – not enough at other times
Then I attempted chine-Collé …. adding another layer of texture.
Although I didn’t produce any image of note I was delighted at what I was learning – all about the process.
What a wonder way to spend three days in summery June – a one-to-one workshop with artist Dawn Cole. After attending a couple of disappointing courses I looked carefully before booking another. I chose this artist as I felt we had some connection – both working with textiles and both interested in family history.
I knew very little about collagraph and over the long weekend investigated plate making and printing in monotone and colour. I wasn’t expecting to produce any finished work but rather playing with materials in order to take the process further at a later date.
The view from the studio door.
Inside the studio.
Dawn started by showing me some of her work – just to my taste as not figurative but with a strong concept behind the images. She then demonstrated how to make the plates.
Cut card to required size then seal front, back and sides with strong PVA diluted 50% with water, leave to dry.
Select materials to create plate, make sure all parts are stuck down well using neat PVA – fill any undercuts with PVA. Seal with quick drying clear water based varnish, back, front and sides. Don’t use too much as the texture of the materials must come through.
Using decorators’ filler mix with 50/50 solution of PVA and water – this gives a flexible plaster finish. Add texture by scratching into the plaster, pressing objects into it, which can be left in or taken out – make sure the finish don’t have too many high or sharp points. When dry use fine sandpaper to remove extra rough surfaces then seal as before.
Different types of tape and tissue paper.
Plaster with grass and dried hydrangea flowers.
PVA covered with cling-film – removed when PVA has dried.
At the end of the first day Dawn showed my how to ink up the plates and run them through the press….ready for me to start the next day.