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 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GWAHsL7Yvw

2) This is where I am now attending classes 
http://www.omegaprintmakers.co.uk

3) This is our fantastic tutor
http://www.marystephens.co.uk/slideshow.aspx

4) And here are some great general links
www.printmaker.co.uk/links.html