I felt I still had unfinished business with stencils. I wanted to produce one really good negative print from a positive stencil. I printed a stencil cut in thin paper and laid on a black inked plate. I wanted to give the effect of stage lighting in the background, so I spattered on some white spirit. I left it to work for a few minutes and produce halos. It was really tricky to lay this complex, large stencil down cleanly. I haven’t quite managed to line it up with the bottom of the plate.
My stencil wasn’t quite square and the white spirit stars have all but disappeared. Disappointing. I tried again.
This is better. The stencil is square on but not quite butted up to both edges. More white spirit had no better effect. Each of these two prints has a slight smudge at one corner. I am not sure if this is a hesitation on my part placing the paper, or perhaps the plate is getting a little nudge as it encounters the rollers?
I really want to make a perfect print! And it is really difficult.
The ghost left on the plate looked great though, so I printed this for future use. And there are my stars, at last. I like this stencil – it has drama and I like the fact that the shadows are as important as the figure.
Another stencil I had been wanting to try was a skeletonised leaf. My magnolia produces these and they are very tough. I thought that the leaf would need an interesting background, because the shape is quite ordinary with fine detail. I did this at the open studio because I thought I would need an etching press and damp paper to bring out the detail. I developed a plate with orange and yellow ink for an autumn feel, and small rollers to generate texture. One of the small rollers has been ruined by poor cleaning (not by me!) and this made for extra texture.
I quite like this; I think it is a good balance between the interest of the background and the detail of the leaf. Each would be dull without the other. I was worried that the leaf would disintegrate, but I was able to peel it off, reink it in gold ink and flip it over onto the ghost on the plate.
The gold has come out rather grey and the ghost leaf is very ghostly. Not as powerful as the first pull.
Scrapping off my inks to clean up at the end of a day’s printing made great patterns so I cut a stencil, masked the edged of the ink and printed the residue on newsprint. All good fun and a good use of a stencil. I like the sense of movement. I left this to dry at the studio and sadly it got mistreated and very creased.
I found stencils rather dull tostart off with but I can really see their possibilities now, especially combined with textures and multiple colours. This tempted me to just one more experiment. I was recently given a small (about 10cm sq) mounted canvas and asked to produce something for a charity art sale. I had been thinking about what supports I could use for printing apart from 2d paper. Ahha! I took the idea of using natural objects as stencils and used grass seed heads, printed in acrylic paint using a gelatine plate. I used gelatine because the slight give in the surface allowed me to get colour into the weave of the canvas. I also printed the sides with grass stencils. I printed about 6 layers, finally ending with gold.
I think it could have done with one more negative shape on the front, but all in all not a bad experiment. Hope somebody likes it.