RELIEF AND INTAGLIO PRINTING
Lino cut and wood cut are refered to as relief printing, where only the raised parts of the printing surface will show when inked. In Intaglio printing such as etching and drypoint, only the areas below the printing surface will print when inked. Ink is wiped into the hollows, the surplus wiped off; paper is then placed over the plate and when rolled through a press the ink will be transferred to the paper.
As in other relief techniques areas of the lino are cut away and the remaining raised surface is rolled with ink and printed. To make a ‘reduction’ print, several pulls are made from the first cut on the lino. The second cut removes the areas which are to remain in the first colour used. It is more successful to start with the lightest colour on your design and with progressive cuts work toward the darkest colours. Single or multi block prints can be printed very well without a press using a baren (traditional Japanese burnisher made from bamboo).
This is a cheap and accessible way to make a print. The process is a combination of intaglio and relief. The plate can be mountboard, thin plywood or aluminium. Create a collaged plate using a variety of materials including textured papers, string, tapes, glues, tile cement, texture paints and carborundum to build the surface of your plate. Draw into the surface with various implements to make interesting lines, cut and tear away the surface of the mountboard to give a rich texture when printed. It’s all about mark making, building tonal areas by adding different textures. Marks printed will be created by the lines and marks from the plate as well as the spaces in between. The collaged plate can then be sealed with quick drying clear varnish or PVA glue. Collagraph plates are usually inked intaglio, but you can also ‘top roll’ the plate after inking to give add extra colour, or add soft rubs of colour over the surface of an inked plate to add an extra layer of subtle colour.
Carborundum powder can be used to add areas of tone, texture or very strong colour. The powder comes in three grades; fine, medium and coarse. By mixing the grit with PVA wood glue a surface is created which holds a lot of ink. You can paint the surface of your plate with wood glue and sprinkle the carborundum on then shake off the surplus. Or you can make a mix of glue and carborundum and apply to areas of the plate. Even if used very sparingly you’ll be suprised at the amount of ink that is held.
Dried leaves, bark, textured wall paper; fabrics can all be inked up and printed directly. No drawing, no fuss!
MONOPRINT (meaning a one-off print)
There are lots of ways to make a monoprint. The printing plate should have a smooth surface which you can easily clean, as the surface will not be altered it can be used again to make different images. The marks transferred during the process are completely different to painting or drawing. Make vibrant swathes of colour or delicate translucent shades, draw into the ink on the plate; try dropping white spirit into the oil paint, roller the colours on, wipe areas off, or use masks. New colours will be formed where colours overlap. If you are using transparent plastic (perspex), you can put a drawing underneath the plate or draw your design directly onto the plate with an indelible pen, (reversing the image). This is an immediate and low tech way to make a print, and can be done without a printing press by applying pressure to the back of the paper with your hand or a clean roller.
Traditionally the metals used are zinc, copper or steel (or aluminium for non toxic etching using copper sulphate). The surface of the plate is completely degreased, a ground is then applied and once dried you can draw into it using an etching needle. Anything with a blunt point can serve as an etching tool, the idea being to remove the ground where you wish the mordant to bite into the metal. Errors can be corrected by covering with a stop-out fluid and re-drawing when this is dry. The plate is then etched in a mordant. Tones can be achieved by adding more stop out in certain areas and etching again. The ground is removed, plate inked and wiped and then printed onto dampened paper.