Thursday, 5 February 2015

lino cutting at Omega Print Makers

Sketch up of an idea for a really simple lino cut. The two or three I have made before have all been mono-colour so I thought I'd experiment with introducing colours this time.
Once the design was complete I traced it onto tracing paper to reverse it and then used a piece of good old fashioned blue ===== paper to transfer the design onto a rectangle of lino.

Once this was done I used the smallest lino-cutting blade to channel out an outline. To my surprise the lino was actually quite crumbly unlike the synthetic lino 'lookalike' that I had used for the other prints that I have done.

Mary Stephens suggested using the straight blade to make the initial cut and although this does slow down the process it makes things far more accurate and crisp. I found I had to surrender to the slowness of the process and just not try to hurry became quite meditative and enjoyable.

 A wide blade was then used to lift off the lino that didn't need to be included in the colouring. I'd decided to make the whole of the background colour yellow.
To finish off the design I made a monogram to the side.

I made a register for the plate and marked it with a T for 'top' and put a simple cross in one corner.

Very exciting I was to use the big old Albion Press.

I mixed up the oily inks white and yellow using the brayer to get an even consistency. In oder to create a yellow colour across the whole of the print I inked up a clean and uncut piece of lino identical in size to the one I had cut the design onto.

The Albion Press has a horizontal bed that sits under the press mechanism when It's not in use. This is moved forward by turning the handle to the side. 

 A hinged cover is raised to reveal the bed. The template or register is laid on the bed and the lino on top of it..placed carefully so as the make the following prints line up. A clean piece of printing paper was placed on top of the inked lino.Two or in this case three layers of padding were then placed on top of the paper and the hinged cover was lowered. The large side handled was rotated in the direction of travel of the bed until the whole profile of the bed was clear and the edge could be seen out the other side. The beautifully patinated and rather stained by use handle that goes across the front of the press and forces it downwards is pulled...then released. Once more the side handle is turned and the bed reappears.

I know it's only a simple rectangle of yellow ink but it was wonderful to see it so crisp and clean.
The paper is vertical and the inked lino is lying on the bed.

The inked lino.

 There are now five sheets of perfect paper each with a yellow rectangle of ink, waiting for me on the drying rack to transform into prints of my design next week. I love this printing business!!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Printing at Omega Press in Portsmouth January 2015

I had to miss the first class as I was ill with a horrible cough so was delighted to finally make it down to the Omega Arts Centre in Portsmouth where the Omega Print makers run a course under the tutorship of Mary Stephens Having failed to produce an image the first time round with my do-it-yourself efforts I was really pleased that the first session was in dry point techniques. 

Mary  had a beautiful German  book of the first photographic images of close ups of seeds and botanical subjects. She photocopied the one I chose to work on and I taped it and a thin acrylic sheet to the back of my A3 sketch book. Using a simple etching needle I scored the dry point grooves to make the image. 
Once it was as I wanted  I transferred a small amount of oil based ink onto the glass mixing plate and using a folded square of card smeared it all over the plate making sure that it filled each burr.
Then using an already blackened piece of scrim I lifted off the bulk of the ink working it into the grooves. The plate still looked mostly black but not as thick as it had been. With a cleaner piece of scrim or tartalan I continued to clean the plate. The final polish was done with a scrap of torn up telephone directory.

The thick watercolour paper we were using was put to soak in a water bath for a good ten minutes. It was then taken out and placed against a vertical plastic surface to drain for a while. Once it had stopped dripping it was put between large sheets of blotting paper to dry off until touch damp.

This beautiful press was bought from a lady who had it in her kitchen...lucky thing.

This beauty is a cast iron Albion Press but not for our purpose. They were originally designed and manufactured in London by Richard Whittaker Cope around 1820. They continued to be manufactured, in a range of sizes, until the 1930s.

This far more modest press is the one I used. Still it's a lovely thing. I have just bought a really good quality woollen blanket in a charity shop and intend to boil wash it to make it into felt so that I can cut it up to make y own..I'm already fantasising about one day buying my own press...sigh!!

An A1 drying rack for the prints to dry once they have been pulled from the press.

I thought the grass would look good with a flash of yellow and so I used a brayer loaded with a light film of yellow ink to roll a thin stripe onto the plate before placing the paper on top of a piece of unprinted news print and then covering with the damp printing paper and blankets. I'm still messy as anything with the sticky black ink and have to make a special effort to use folded scraps of card to pick up and move the clean pieces of paper,

This is the etched and inked acrylic sheet just before printing from it.
Here is my first ever print using a press. I was thrilled to bits.

This is the inked up acrylic or plexiglass sheet that I tried and failed to get a pink print from using my mangle.

And here is the first print of the hare. I can see a number of changes I'd like to make and was surprised at how long it took me to ink up and wipe down the plate. I need to do a better job of cleaning the edges of the plate. I did enjoy the whole process enormously and am looking forward to doing lots more.

Here are some interesting links;
1) Demonstration of how to make a plexiglass etching

2) This is where I am now attending classes

3) This is our fantastic tutor

4) And here are some great general links