Friday, 10 October 2014

Talkin' 'Bout Giant 2 Colour Hand Prints

After ordering a roll of paper big enough to take prints from the Talkin' 'Bout Regeneration woodcut which I did for the Steam Engine printing - I cut a few sheets from the roll to 1m square.

Trying anything this size in my workshop is fraud with problems. Where to hang the prints? Can I make a surface big enough to print it? Will I be able to juggle printing two colours at once with only one good inking roller? Will the ink stay wet enough to print? Will I be able to apply enough pressure by hand over such a large area? etc. etc.

Part of the reason for doing the 'Yo' Welcom'' print was to see if the paper/ink combination would work okay - and it did. I'd previously done a two colour test area print which also worked well.

It took half the morning to prepare the workshop by creating a hanging ladder and bulldog clip arrangement for drying. I found a large sheet of toughened glass from an old lightbox to use for inking. Moved the plan-chest away from the wall and put two large sheets of paper together to rest the block on and mark the alignment of the paper - then I was ready!

Inking one colour with a comparatively small roller takes a lot of effort, constantly having to add more ink to the roller and trying to keep it wet and even. With the turquoise background inked I had to clean the roller and roll out the black on the slab before inking the black block. Same effort involved, then I had to pick up the wet block and position it in the jigsaw space of the turquoise one. Then there's the problem of handling a meter square piece of paper in a confined space and aligning it with the jigsaw block before letting it down on to the inked surface!

Now the workout begins! I first rubbed over the whole block with my hand to stick the paper to the block and find the edges. Then I used a thin, round cornered coloured pastels tin to burnish over the whole print. This allowed me to find the open areas and watching the sheen on the back of the paper, see where the design was 'coming through'. It may have been okay at this point but to be sure I then spent the same time again burnishing with a hard rubber roller (my usual technique).

Very pleasantly surprised how well they've come out generally. The first one was a bit light - before the ink built up - but still works well giving a more distressed look which suits the design well anyway.

I had thought I might struggle to get three or four done in a day, but in the end I managed a respectable edition of 6 before the cleaning up marathon!

All signed and ready to take to Pie Factory Margate tomorrow where I will be in the gallery...

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Yo' Welcom'

Back from holiday tour of West USA we encountered some great characters, non-more so than the lovely driver who, when you thanked him, always responded with a catch-phrase 'you're welcome' but in a really cool accent like spoken graffiti! A helping hand was always offered and I couldn't help adding the American universal gesture of discreet gratuity for the other.

I started off with a simple single colour but didn't like the speech bubble or bland type. The I had the idea of a more graffiti style speech on a coloured background, so cut a second lino for a separate colour.

I printed the Magenta backgrounds first, then by the time I'd trimmed the black block it was dry enough to print the black over.

Very pleased with the character 'look' and the course textures. Just right.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Nerves of Steel!

Today I decided it was time to bite the bullet and have a go at cutting the block into two areas as was the original intention.

Felt a bit like make or break. One false move or mechanical glitch and the whole thing could be ruined...

I roughly marked the contour I wanted to follow and loaded the jigsaw with a new, sharp, fine blade and did a quick test cut to check its corner turning ability. As I thought you still need to create a small open area where you want to change direction but luckily there was already a wide open area around most of the contour so it wasn't too much of a problem.

I was very careful about supporting the block as I cut around slowly. Shifting, clamping and cutting in small stretches. Eventually the two pieces separated including a very narrow piece between the heads that I had thought would need to be separate.

After adoring the two separate pieces I couldn't resist having a go at printing an area to see if it was going to work. For ease of speed and clearing up I used water-based inks and a spare piece of good smooth paper I only just found today.

Didn't expect it would come out so well as I hadn't 'run up' the ink. There was no bad areas at the joins and it looks very promising for full size prints when the paper arrives.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Turquoise Scooter Print

Cutting another 200 x 300mm mask I decided to crop an area showing the words 'Mods &' and the 'face' of the scooter. This time trying a strong colour. I thought about magenta but went for turquoise in the end.

This is water based block printing ink. I've always shied away from using water based ink in the past suspecting that it would dry too quick and not cover so well. How wrong am I!

The ink is much thinner and more paint-like than the sticky black ink I've been used to using but is very opaque, covers well and gives a good, sharp print.

I had noticed with the sticky black oil-based ink that when it was thinned down for cleaning, fairly good results were appearing on the news paper. So I'm wondering if it can be reduced to be more absorbent...

Anyway, the turquoise prints came out really nicely - shame I ran out of paper to print on but glad I gave it go as it was a bit of a rush because I had to trim, sign and wrap my other prints from this block to take to Dawn Cole at Pushing Print for the 5 years on exhibition

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Giant Detail

I wanted to see how it came out printing the 'steam roller' block by hand burnishing and came up with the idea to isolate an area with inking a smaller area, then masking it off before laying paper over top to burnish/print.

First the hiss of the ink and roller!


Cutting a window in a piece of newsprint to a size 200 x 300mm to fit inside a standard 300 x 400 mm frame, I was able to float it over the image on the block to find a suitable composition. Then it was a case of carefully marking out the lay of the paper and attaching the mask by one edge so it could be folded back whilst the block was inked before being laid back over the block and the printing paper positioned over that (if that makes sense).

After running-up the ink it's worked rather well and opens up the possibility of picking other areas in the future.
There's an edition of 12 prints now just drying off nicely.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Let it Roll

Thank you to all the organisers and helpers of Pushing Print Margate who ran such an enjoyable day at The Giant Print Event.

A beautiful vintage steam engine and a dedicated crew of print assistants made for a wonderful and busy day.

Too tired to write much tonight so I'll add a couple of pics and write a longer report later.

Giant Print Event - Margate 2014

It's been such a busy weekend I'm writing this after the event.

Saturday saw us doing the long trek to Margate with a box full for printing bits and the woodcut I've been working on over the week. My 6 year old Grandson and I had to struggle with our heavy load from the Dreamland car park to the Pushing Print venue at the sea side end of the High Street stopping several times on the way to to relieve aching hands.

We arrived later than I had hoped but we needn't have worried as the Steam Roller had yet to appear. He and arrived on a low-loader and was preparing - presumably getting up steam - to drive from the car park to the venue. This was good for me as it gave us time to meet the Pushing Print crew and make introductions. Have a chat and start setting up.

I can't thank Dawn enough for being so accommodating. I was expecting to have to keep out of the way on the pavement to ink-up but they had set up a pair of tables for me to use along with paper and water and even shared the sandwiches.

Artist Hugh Ribbans had produced another beautiful animal lino cut for this year's event and talking to him and seeing his three (chicken, elephant and tiger) giant linos in the flesh I could see that the magic of his prints was in having generous open areas alongside moderate darks (this would allow for heavy inking and even distribution of pressure producing a clean print under variable conditions) where as my block had finer open areas and some large solids. So I was apprehensive that with generous inking my block might fill in badly on the whites and not print evenly on the darks.

Norman Murray and his Steam Roller Sovereign arrived making a wonderful entrance with it's loud steam whistle making our heads spin! Hugh had a block inked and ready to go and the PP crew started the public mono-print action - Grandson Ben being one of the first to create an image. While the crew were already printing with the Steam Roller on the road I was back at my table inking up the block. Ben came and helped after printing his mono-print and at last it was time to take a print.

Following directions and advice from Dawn and Hugh we placed the heavily inked block on the plywood under sheet on the road, I had brought some off-cuts of 9mm MDF to place against the blocks edge (this was something I had read about roller printing with higher block to prevent the roller smashing the the edge of the paper and block). Two blankets were then placed over the paper which ad been placed on the block and Dawn had the good sense to create a pad of blanket in front of the block to soften the blow. A quick whistle and Norman set the roller in motion. Given the 'dog-clutch' drive of the roller he did a great job of just getting the front roller over the print and then (alarmingly quickly) back again.

The moment of truth. We removed the blankets and peel the print from the block. It's well stuck on which is a good sign. The image appears. A success! Much better than I had thought it might be. All the smaller details printed and held well but there was an area down the middle where the split in the Steam Roller's front roller had left it light. So I thought next time I'll ask to put a board over the top to spread the load - it would either work well or be light all over. I was banking on the roller being so heavy that it would work.

The Pushing Print crew where incredibly busy all day feeding the Steam Roller with mono-prints and relief prints. Hugh's chicken print looked amazing in bright red. And after I had re-inked and done a second print with the board over the top, which had shown that it did print better that way, his next prints looked really clean and sharp. Very nice.

By now there was a great buzz around the printing tables and Paul was doing a fantastic job of hanging up the prints around the walls of a nearby boarded up shop as a street gallery. People were coming down to see what was going on. Asking questions, chatting and creating their own mono-prints. In between I was able to produce three prints, each one better than the last before starting to 'wash-up'. 

The colourful Mick Minter from the Margate Museum had heard that someone had done a print showing Mods and Rockers so he had come down to take a look. Unbeknown to me the Museum has The Wildest Ones exhibition on and Mick asked to have a print to display in the museum. I was only too happy to get one on display and he insisted on me coming to have a look. So we carried the very wet (as it will be for weeks) print throughout the people in the Square to the wonderful museum, which I didm't even know was there. I was given a quick tour of the exhibition by one of the curators and it is fascinating. I wish I had visited it before doing my print. It is full of photos, quotes, clothes, interviews, personal stories, brochures and even a BSA and a Lambretta all from 1964. The Museum building is the old Town Hall and is the place where the cells are that were used to hold the arrested mods and rockers who were later tried in the same building. So it couldn't have been better for my print. Mick temporarily placed it in the back of a cell display (banged-up for crimes against printmaking).

Dawn also asked that I supply prints for a Pushing Print exhibition that are holding later in the year for a 5 year celebration. After how the wonderful opportunity they have allowed me to experience it would be the least I can do to donate some prints and hopefully allow them to raise more money to keep Pushing Print running in the future.

Meantime I have got to experiment with taking giant prints without a Steam Roller! Would a hired road roller be better than hand burnishing?...