Only one day left!

Artwork Experiments, Exhibition
Finding ways to use up the leftover ink from the workshop

Finding ways to use up the leftover ink from the workshop

Absorbent Ho Sho paper left overnight in inky water after the workshop so that the colour wicks up the paper.

Absorbent Ho Sho paper left overnight in inky water after the workshop so that the colour wicks up the paper.

Trying various ways of using up leftover ink from the workshop on Wednesday

Trying various ways of using up leftover ink from the workshop on Wednesday

Trying different ways of using up the ink that was left at the end of the workshop yesterday.

Trying different ways of using up the ink that was left at the end of the workshop yesterday.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay here at the Basement Gallery and feel really quite sad that this is my penultimate day. This morning I gave an artist talk – which turned into more of a conversation between friends so my nervousness quickly faded away 🙂 I pulled out all my materials, pens, brushes, papers, inks, display folders, workbooks and samples from the workshop yesterday so my work desk in the gallery looked like a bomb had gone off! It didn’t take too long to clear up afterwards and it was totally worth it. It’s always rewarding to talk to people who understand when I get excited about leaving paper overnight in the jar of used water loaded with ink to see what I get the following day.

The exhibition is open from 10am to 4pm 24 November so if you haven’t visited yet and would like to then this is your last chance!

The results from leaving Japanese paper in inky water overnight and then laid flat to dry.

The results from leaving Japanese paper in inky water overnight and then laid flat to dry.

Rolled Japanese paper sitting in inky water left at the end of the workshop. This was given an occasional "swirl" and then left overnight before being laid flat to dry.

Rolled Japanese paper sitting in inky water left at the end of the workshop. This was given an occasional “swirl” and then left overnight before being laid flat to dry.

 

Collagraphs

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized
Nine small collagraphs to experiment with texture by Liz Arnold, September 2015

Nine small collagraphs to experiment with texture by Liz Arnold, September 2015

The Collagraphs

Amongst other things, I made 9 small collagraphs (printing plates) (4.5 x 3 inches) over a period of a few weeks (quite a bit of drying time for various layers). They were experiments to create texture and to see how much depth variation gives a good print when using the press. The answer is “not much”. The plate at top right has circles punched from an old dilapidated paperback and crocheted cotton thread. The circles printed well but the crocheted cotton thread was probably a smidgen too thick as it trapped a lot of ink. I used (hogged?) the press at PAWA during the last Saturday Skill Sharing Session and the other members were really helpful in showing me how to set the press up, and how I should leave it when I’ve finished printing.

The Prints from the Collagraphs

Nine small collagraph prints (4.5 x 3 inches) by Liz Arnold. The lower middle print with the splodge was the first print - too much pressure on the press. September 2015.

Nine small collagraph prints (4.5 x 3 inches) by Liz Arnold. The lower middle print with the splodge was the first print – too much pressure on the press. September 2015.

The second photo shows the prints from those 9 plates. The very first print I did was the one with a big splodge! 🙁 I had too much pressure on the press – and possibly too much ink on the plate as well. The pressure was reduced for the remainder of the prints and I like how those came out.

Top row: 1/ cotton yarn, thin card and sand, 2/ watercolour paper strips, 3/ book page circles, the top of a bread mix bag, thin card strips. Second row: 1/ thin card and carborundum, 2/ eggshell (I put all sharp edges pointing down ie outside surface of egg up, and after I glued this the first time I rolled over it with a rolling pin and then applied another 2 layers of glue so there were no sharp bits sticking up), 3/ scrunched tissue paper. Third row: 1/ the top of a bread mix bag and thin card strips, 2/ crochet cotton, paperback page punches, 210gsm card rings, and thinner card strips, 3/ watercolour paper strips.

When I did these prints the plates had all had 8 coats of spray varnish. When I cleaned them they went a bit soft so I put them in the sun to dry for a couple of days to make sure I wasn’t trapping moisture inside and have since given them another 8 coats. Spray varnish doesn’t obscure detail but I don’t like the smell/effects on me even though I’ve been using a mask and spraying outside (staying downwind). I’m going to try brush on varnish which I was avoiding as I thought brush marks might give an unwanted texture. It’s probably just a question of getting the “knack”.

Learning to use Edinburgh Etch with Shana James

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized

About the etching class

For 3 Sundays in a row Shana James gave a beginners etching class hosted by PAWA (Printmakers Association of WA). We etched the copper plates with Edinburgh Etch solution.

This was my first copper plate etching - made by using hard ground and the Edinburgh Etch solution.

This was my first etched copper plate – made by using hard ground and the Edinburgh Etch solution.

As I am very much a novice print maker I learned a great deal at this class. I had been keen to learn this print method for 2 reasons. The first is that my drawings are very detailed, with very fine lines, and I wanted to reproduce that fine detail. I knew that etching would achieve that. The second is that I had read that Edinburgh Etch was a less toxic method that could be done at home.

My previous foray into etching used more hazardous chemicals and required a fume cupboard – I only did it once and decided that was not for me.

Preparing the etching plates

For the first lesson we prepared the plates – bevelled the edges, polished the surface, poured on the hard ground, waited for that to dry, and protected the back and edges. Then we drew into the hard ground, and placed the plate in the Edinburgh Etch solution for 45 minutes. Then the tape and hard ground were removed to reveal the bitten image.

This was my first print from my first etching plate prepared using Edinburgh Etch.

This was my first print from my first etching plate prepared using Edinburgh Etch.

Printing from the etched plates

The printing took place during the second lesson and I was very pleased with the result. Some of the other people in the class had a go at adding aquatint but I decided to keep it simple this time around. During this lesson we also prepared another plate so that we could draw into it at home ready for printing during lesson 3.

These lessons were aimed at beginners so we only used one colour. Shana talked about using more than one colour and registration, but what we did was quite enough for me to take in at this early stage. I also asked a lot of questions about the type of paper that is suitable for printing etchings. I need to do some homework on this to find out which papers I like best.

I know now that this method suits my style of work and will be practical for my home studio situation. I will be able to do the actual printing at the PAWA premises where they have a press for the use of members.

This is the first print from my second etching plate.

This is the first print from my second etching plate.

This is my second etched plate from the etching class with Shana James where we used Edinburgh Etch solution. July 2015.

This is my second etched plate from the etching class with Shana James where we used Edinburgh Etch solution. July 2015.

I left feeling inspired and with an extra plate to have another go at home. I’ve bought most of the things required – just a couple of bits and pieces left to find. I’ve read 5 library books about printing since the class and am part way through another!

 

Another disaster – felting this time

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized

Needle Felting the Bowl

I spent several hours creating two bowl shapes by randomly weaving over a plastic bowl with Courtelle machine knitting yarn. I planned to embroider different designs on the inside and the outside of both of them and then dry-felt with hand-held felting needles to integrate the wool stitching. This was easy to do but took quite a bit of time and I was quite pleased with the overall look.

Bowl randomly woven over a plastic bowl with Courtelle yarn. After embroidering over the weaving I used needle felting to finish - this weakened the structure.

Bowl randomly woven over a plastic bowl with Courtelle yarn. Embroidered with tapestry wool on the inside and outside and dry-felted. In places where there was no wool the needles weakened the courtelle to the point where it could be torn easily by hand.

Then I noticed there were some weak areas between some of the circles on the outside. When I pushed (hard) with my finger I was able to push through and pull the fabric apart at those points. I wasn’t able to pull it apart where there was wool on both the inside and the outside (ie the courtelle sandwiched between the 2 layers). I cannot tear the other unembroidered bowl so clearly it was the needle-felting that has broken down, or cut perhaps, the fibres of the Courtelle. I was unimpressed – it had taken me several hours to dry felt (leave alone the time taken to make the bowl shape in the first place) and in so doing I had destroyed something I quite liked the look of.

Lessons Learned

I have learned a lesson – I will only dry-felt with felting needles on wool. This was my first foray into dry-felting with needles and now I am wondering how strong some of the embroideries I have seen made with the embellishing machines are when they have used synthetic fabrics/yarns. I am going to put these in the bin – I don’t want to incorporate something I am not happy with into any other artworks. I am going to embroider the other bowl base as I am quite happy with the strength of that structure – but I will not be using felting needles on it because of the Courtelle base layer.

Creating Pod-like Forms

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized
The bamboo sticks were soaked for a couple of days and then I put them in this shoebox to dry. The sides of the shoebox prevented them from moving while they dried out. I hoped the bamboo would retain the curve once dry. June 2015

The bamboo sticks were soaked for a couple of days and then I put them in this shoebox to dry. The sides of the shoebox prevented them from moving while they dried out. I hoped the bamboo would retain the curve once dry. June 2015

I have been busy with paper mache again recently. I had ideas for our MELD exhibition last year and actually started some works but because I always apply a minimum of 10 layers, alternating used office copy paper and brown paper so that it is really strong, my paper mache forms need a long time to dry and harden.

The bamboo sticks removed from the box once they had dried – they retained the curved shape. June 2015

The bamboo sticks removed from the box once they had dried – they retained the curved shape. June 2015

So I abandoned them in favour of other work for the 2015 MELD exhibition. Now of course (a whole year later!) they are thoroughly hard and can be painted/finished off. I’m thinking I could make more for our next MELD exhibition (or some other exhibition of course) if I start now.

I enjoy making 3D forms because of their tactile qualities. I like trying to produce sensuous curves and making pieces that generate that urge to caress, stroke or touch the work. I like trying to make the work reproduce that feeling I get when I pick up a really smooth river stone or piece of sea glass – it’s impossible to resist playing with the stone – turning it over and over in my hands.

The bent bamboo being held in place by a “sticks and string” framework while I work out how to secure the ends. Turns out hot glue is the best solution for that! June 2015

The bent bamboo being held in place by a “sticks and string” framework while I work out how to secure the ends. Turns out hot glue is the best solution for that! June 2015

Maybe I’m a bit perverse – creating works that give out that vibe to touch or caress and then putting them in an exhibition situation which more often than not has signs everywhere saying “please don’t touch the artwork”.

And pods in nature often rattle because of the seeds inside don’t they? So I’ve added the “rattle factor” to some of them too. But how would the viewer know that unless they pick it up and shake it? Definitely perverse. Grin.

Sometimes hot glue is the best solution! June 2015

Sometimes hot glue is the best solution! June 2015

This bamboo armature is the start of the 3rd pod this week. The 3 triangular frames that are tied in place will be removed once the hot glue has set. They were only there to keep the 3 bent “ribs” evenly (roughly!) spaced and the ends together while I figured out how to fix the ends permanently. I tried weaving around the ends but of course as I tightened the weaving it worked it’s way down the tapered shape and off the ends. So hot glue was the solution this time around. I started 2 others as well which have a very different underlying structure.

One of the things that appeals to me about paper mache is that it uses discarded material. It does take a long time because each layer is so thin – but then most things worth doing do don’t they?

Art Supplies from the Hardware Store

Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized

I bought these cords from Bunnings today to experiment with. The brightly coloured Polypropylene string (1mm x 60m) was $4 for the 5 reels, the white Venetian Blind cord (2mm x 30m) was $4 and the Grunt cotton sash cord (5mm x 5m) was $4.  The Dunn braided cotton rope (15m) was $3.50 in Big W.

Art supplies from the hardware store - rope, cord and string from Bunnings and BigW to experiment with.

Art supplies from the hardware store – rope, cord and string from Bunnings and BigW to experiment with.

I’m planning to experiment with netting, knotting and weaving (maybe even *gasp* macramé) and possibly using them to create more collograph plates. Although with my present luck making/using collograph plates I should probably steer clear of those for a week or so 🙂

The blind cord says it is “abrasion resistant” and although it doesn’t say what is made from the end feels like it has been heated to prevent it from unravelling. I will have fun with all of these I am sure.

Collagraph Plate experiment – loom bands

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized

How I made the collagraph plate

To make the collagraph plate I sealed a piece of thick card with Atelier Regular Gloss Gel and used the gel to adhere some loom bands. A big tub of loom bands were bought for $1 in a reject shop (obviously not the “in thing” to do anymore). The bands were adhered to the card with the idea of using it to remove paint from the Gelli® plate and also as a collagraph plate in it’s own right.

Collagraph plate problems

Collagraph plate made from loom bands glued to thick card using Gel Medium. When I used Matisse Block Printing Ink the stickiness of the ink was strong enough to pull the bands off of the board. But there is an interesting texture left in the medium ?

Collagraph plate made from loom bands glued to thick card using Gel Medium. When I used Matisse Block Printing Ink the stickiness of the ink was strong enough to pull the bands off of the board. But there is an interesting texture left in the medium ?

The top half of the photo shows the state of the plate after only a few prints. The lower half shows (l to r) a previously printed sheet overprinted from the cardboard plate, a ghost print from the Gelli® plate, a print from the cardboard plate, a print from the Gelli® plate.

I had applied 3 coats of gel to adhere the bands. This time I decided to experiment with the Matisse Block Printing inks after the disaster with the Shellac/acrylic paint/open medium disaster. The block printing inks are much stickier than the paint mixture. So sticky in fact that they started to pull the loom bands off the gel medium! So this too has turned into a mini-disaster. It’s just not my week 🙁 I will try other glues to stick the loom bands down as I really like the effect of these slightly “off” circles. The block printing inks didn’t really cover very well on the Gelli® plate either so I got lines/patchiness and sometimes the roller picked the ink up again as I rolled. So I probably need to use some other base for mono-printing with the printing inks. The bands that have come off have left an imprint in the gel medium so maybe all is not lost – maybe I can take all the bands off and use the texture of the gel medium as a printing plate. I managed a few prints before the loom bands all started looking a bit loose.

Painted Papers and Dried Paint

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized

Some more painted paper results. Various papers scrunched and painted with dilute acrylics (Yellow Oxide and Cadmium Scarlet).

Painted paper experiments for collage. Various papers: brown Kraft, white 80gsm and 70gsm bond, light engineering drawing, bank layout, tissue, light cartridge and handmade Chinese. All chosen because they were acid free. January 2015

Painted paper experiments for collage. Various papers: brown Kraft, white 80gsm and 70gsm bond, light engineering drawing, bank layout, tissue, light cartridge and handmade Chinese. All chosen because they were acid free. January 2015

The detail shot is Chinese handmade paper which was laid over some plastic which had some interesting-looking dried paint on it.

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I deliberately chose a colour from the opposite side of the colour wheel so that the paint marks would show up clearly if they transferred. So now I’m creating a stash of plastic with interesting dried paint on it as well! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Collagraph Plate experiments – shellac disaster

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized

I used the woven card collagraph plate sealed with shellac to print using Jo Sonja and Atelier artists acrylics mixed with Derivan Matisse Open Medium to extend the drying time of the paints.

Problems with cleaning the collagraph plate

A detail of the print from the Gelli® plate where the woven card coated with Shellac was used to remove paint. You can see the woven texture.

A detail of the print from the Gelli® plate where the woven card coated with Shellac was used to remove paint. You can see the woven texture.

It was ok until I came to clean the plate – at which point it became a disaster. I managed 5 prints. I did notice that the plate had become sticky after the second print but I thought that was the paint. Then I noticed that the smell had changed – not for the better. After 5 prints I decided to clean the plate. I submerged it in water and wiped with a cloth. The paint didn’t move so I scrubbed with a nailbrush. The paint and shellac all came off where the paint was in contact with the shellac – so the card absorbed quite a bit of water.

The shellac coating came off when washing (submerged in cool water and scrubbed). The shellac came off where there was paint. I think the Matisse open medium acted as a solvent for the shellac. It didn't come off where there was no paint.

The shellac coating came off when washing (submerged in cool water and scrubbed). The shellac came off where there was paint. I think the Matisse open medium acted as a solvent for the shellac. It didn’t come off where there was no paint.

Where there was shellac only (around the edges and on the back) the shellac remained intact (even when it was scrubbed with the nailbrush). I can only conclude that something in the open medium affected the shellac (or maybe the medium in combination with paints from another brand). I must admit I was not using the Matisse open medium with the Matisse Structure paints for which it was intended so it could be the combination and not the open medium by itself that has caused the problem. I have left the plate in the sun to dry out as I quite like it as it is so it could be sealed once dry and re-used for another purpose.

Lessons Learned

I learnt that I should have tested the shellac as a waterproofing agent on some small pieces of the card rather than using it for the first time on a plate that took me several hours to make. Then I should have tested the painting medium on those samples. My reading had indicated that shellac was the way to go but most of the books I was referring to were pretty old – open medium and paints that can be “unlocked” have been developed since they were written. The information I had would have been written for plates that were intended to be used with printing ink (which at that time would have all been oil based I imagine). Now I do actually have some Derivan Matisse Structure paints and some of their Block Printing inks (water clean up is also a recent development) so I guess there is a whole new area of enquiry right there. The question is – am I ever going to actually produce any artwork or am I going to carry on testing for ever? 🙂

Collagraph plate experiments – thin card + shellac

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized

How I made the collagraph plate

I have finished weaving paper (it took me ages – much longer than I anticipated!) to make another collagraph plate.

Woven paper collagraph coated with Shellac. I like the effect - looks almost like bamboo.

Woven paper collagraph coated with Shellac. I like the effect – looks almost like bamboo.

I used Selly’s Exterior Aquadhere PVA to glue the finished weaving to a piece of thicker card previously sealed with WestArt Crystal Clear spray varnish (but I forgot about that when I glued the paper weaving on).

Once the glue was dry I sealed both sides with Shellac. I think I did about 6 coats on the weaving because that is going to get a lot of use, and I did 2 on the back because I realised that it wasn’t soaking in as I had previously sealed the thick card with WestArt Crystal Clear varnish. So that indicates to me that the Crystal Clear may be a good enough water-proofing agent by itself.

The back of the woven paper collagraph coated with Shellac. I like the texture.

The back of the woven paper collagraph coated with Shellac. I like the texture.

A detail of the woven paper collagraph plate. I like the inclusion of the printed lines from the scrap paper.

A detail of the woven paper collagraph plate. I like the inclusion of the printed lines from the scrap paper.

I really like the appearance (and the feel) of the paper sealed with Shellac and will experiment more with this on different papers/fabrics/threads. I’m also wondering what Shellac would look like over different colours of paper/painted paper. Tissue paper and brown paper could look very interesting.

And I still like the broken lines that look like code too 🙂