Proofing at my Mentor’s Studio

So! My mentor and I are going to meet a number of times this semester–and he’s kindly allowed me to do some printing on his AWESOME electric Griffin Press. I did some proofing yesterday afternoon, to test out a new collagraph plate and to do some drypoints.

I liked the transparency in some of the layers I was building, but I was not pleased with the collagraph plate print quality. It was too flat (see the last image below), even though I’d spent hours carving. Part of the problem was that I forgot to seal the plate with medium before printing as I was too excited to get some print time–the other problem is that I suspect the cut mat board technique simply will not deliver what I want. I’ll do a couple more tests, coating them first, to see if that avenue is worth pursuing. Otherwise, I’ll stick to the silk aquatint collagraph and carborundum textures. Karsten recommended methods of increasing the tonal variance on future mat board collagraphs, which I will definitely try this semester. Since this is my semester for experimentation, I thought it would be nice to play with plate techniques I had not yet had the time to try.

The drypoint plates printed nicely (even though my photos are terribly blurry):

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These proofs are rather small to me. Anything that’s not at least a full sheet (22 x 30) feels small lately and these guys would have to be grouped together as a larger set (I did several pieces), in order to feel complete. They also need to be finished, of course. The piece above is about halfway done.

For those not familiar with printmaking, sometimes it can take many sessions, or layered elements, to complete an actual piece. What you’re seeing here are proofs or UNDER layers, not finished pieces.

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Some interesting things did happen with the dud collagraph plate, as in the photos immediately above and below. These can definitely be pushed with additional layers.

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Inking the plate! Karsten has an excellent inking table.

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A few of my pieces in-progress (above). If the plate proofing went well, these pieces would have gotten additional layers. I decided to hold off this time, though. The additional touches needed would not have been supplied well by the plates I proofed, but they’ll be done shortly.

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A shot of Karsten (my mentor’s) awesome print shop!

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Another shot of Karsten’s shop, and his press. We’ll be doing a lot of work in here, some troubleshooting, printing sessions and mentor meetings here. 🙂

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Here’s an example of one of the proofs I wasn’t too happy with. The kind of tonal variation I expect from carborundum or silk aquatint collagraphs just didn’t happen with the cut mat board version. It was complicated by the fact that the plate wanted to hold ink, so I couldn’t wipe enough to have as much tonal variety as I wanted.

Normally I don’t take photos of iffy pulls. I add them to a pile of “happy accidents” and revisit them in the future, after new plates or ideas have percolated. Sometimes the “dud” prints end up being grand underlayers for pretty pleasing compositions. Other times, they hang around until the time is right (if it ever is) for additional manipulation.

I took a photo of this one as I wanted to share a little about my process, what I do with proofs and how I treat plates or pulls that fall short of expectation. As I mess with this piece, adding more to it, removing elements, etc., its evolution from flat pull to finished piece should be interesting.

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