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.

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 🙂

Collagraph plate experiments – thin card

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized

I have been experimenting with making printing plates from various materials I had on hand (some of which I had bought years ago but never got around to trying of course). These can be used to remove paint to create texture on the Gelli plate (if they have some flexibility and no sharp projections) or as printing plates in their own right. I recently did quite a bit of reading about different ways to create collagraph plates. In particular I was interested in ways of waterproofing the plates if they were made from materials which weren’t already waterproof such as paper/card or fabric. This is because I have had experience in the past where some glues become sticky again when wet.

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I have made one out of thin card (140gsm) and paper shapes glued onto a thicker card (600gsm) which I have sealed with 2 coats of Atelier Regular Gel (Gloss) and 2 coats of WestArt Crystal Clear spray varnish. Concerns are that the edges will not be waterproof as it is difficult to make sure they are coated. I haven’t tried it yet and as they say “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. I have since read that Shellac waterproofs paper and card because it works by soaking in rather than sitting on the surface. This has 2 benefits: the entire plate is waterproofed rather than just the surface, and fine details are not filled in by the sealant.

I am therefore in the process of making another plate, with the texture of weaving, from the same thin card which I will glue onto thicker card and then seal with Shellac (which I have used before to seal wooden stamp blocks, but not for paper). I am interested to know whether the texture of the weaving will show or whether I will just get dots in a regular grid from the high spots.

These are the marks that were on the scrap paper that I cut into strips to make the woven paper collagraph.

These are the marks that were on the scrap paper that I cut into strips to make the woven paper collagraph.

While I was making this I became intrigued with the way the lines that were printed on the thin card were displayed in a completely new way. It looks almost like a code or cipher. So I’ve filed this away in the back of my mind in the “inspiration” category.

Standing Station – Perfect Version

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I put in a request to the resident handyman (Edgar – my Father in Law) to build me a more substantial and useful version of a standing station for my art room.

This is the standing station that my FIL Edgar built for me based on the measurements I took from the temporary version. It doubles as a drying rack. Brilliant! :)

This is the standing station that my FIL Edgar built for me based on the measurements I took from the temporary version. It doubles as a drying rack. Brilliant! 🙂

You can see the temporary version featured in my previous post here. I already had 2 tables at which I could sit and paint/draw but I figured I could only sit at one at a time – so why not make the second table into a standing station?

This is the permanent version – and it’s brilliant! I usually paint A4 or A3 size papers, but by allowing for an A2-sheet-plus-a-bit I ended up with shelves which can take twice the number of papers that used to fit on the available floor space – and I don’t have to keep dodging around them worrying about leaving painted footprints all round the house. The shelves are completely removable so I can use them to carry the wet artwork around easily too.

It’s very sturdy and just perfect for my needs. The tables have not been altered at all so if I ever need to use both tables together I can easily move the standing station elsewhere temporarily. This is one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever had 🙂

Standing Station – Temporary Version

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I used this set up as a standing station for months. I used the stack of plastic box, upside down ironing board and drawing board to get exactly the right height for working whilst standing up. For me that is 38cm above the desk top.

I used this set up as a standing station for months. I used the stack of plastic box, upside down ironing board and drawing board to get exactly the right height for working whilst standing up. For me that is 38cm above the desk top.

I’ve known for a long time that alternating between sitting and standing to work has lots of health benefits over sitting for all work. So I rigged up a temporary standing station and have been using it for months – changing the items in the stack until I found the perfect height. The height of this plastic box/ironing board, drawing board stack has worked perfectly although the board on the top is a bit wobbly – especially if I lean on it too far towards the back or the front edges.

I measured the total height from the top of the table to the top of the drawing board (for me, and knowing it would always go on the same table, this turned out to be 38cm). Then I analysed what else I needed this standing station to do. I needed lots of removable shelves about an inch or so apart that could take an A2 (420 x 594 mm) sheet of paper (for when I’m painting papers so they’re not sitting all over the floor while they dry). The worktop and shelves needed to be moisture resistant. I knew it would be reasonably heavy (a good thing – it won’t move as I work on it) so I wanted a “lip” at the front and back so it could be lifted easily. It needed a back so that papers wouldn’t get pushed through, and the back also served as extra support for the shelves. I wanted the front to be open so that air could circulate and help the papers to dry faster. I wanted a bit of extra width on the worktop to allow me to have an A2 paper plus a small paint dish beside it. Once I had decided all these things I put in a request to Edgar the resident handyman (Father in Law). It took a few weeks but I now have the perfect standing station – to be revealed in the next post 🙂

Viewfinders

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DIY Viewfinder “Ls” made from mat board

DIY Viewfinder “Ls” made from mat board

These are some L-shaped viewfinders I have cut from mat board. The largest measures 1m along the longest edge. I cut the largest one first and then cut the smaller ones from the centre piece that was left. I can see I will use these a lot for deciding the best framing shape/size for the work. Up to now I’ve waited until I’m at the framers to make the decision. Having these available to me in the studio all the time means I can lay them out, take a photo, try a different shape, take a photo, and so on. Then I can choose the one I like best.