Before moving on to multiplate prints, I wanted to explore some aspects further:
- cutting precision, curves, circles
- using japanese vinyl
- devising a motif or symbol which might be repeated
- producing clean, well placed prints.
Initially, I was thinking of a fish motif, but I thought my sketches too representational. I am not good at thinking graphically. I chose a paisley design because I enjoy Indian designs and these are easy to design and embellish endlessly. They are also traditionally block printed.
I played about with idea in my ‘sketchbook’ (currently loose sheets) and then sketched a design on to A4 paper, using this sketch to plan my areas of positive and negative.
I then used a scanner to scale it down so that I would have finer lines. I taped copy paper to the back and tried to transfer it to the vinyl, but the ink wouldn’t transfer. I scribbled densely over the back of my paper with a 6B pencil and redraw the design with the paper taped to the vinyl. This worked slightly but gave me enough reference points for me to redraw the design in the plate and add some further embellishments.
Cutting the vinyl was very easy with the cutters moving very smoothly. In some areas, such as the zigzag pattern, I cut two parallel lines with a craft knife and the cut towards these, to get a sharp smooth edge. To get even, smooth negative dots, used a Dremel. I cleared as much as I could of the surrounding area with a flat u cutter. Generally, I like the character of cutting lines, but didn’t want to much of that texture here. Having proofed the image, I tried to flatten the background cut marks more, but it made little difference.
Ink colours were chosen either to be bright and reminiscent of Indian cottons, or plae and bright to print on coloured paper. Paper was chosen to compliment the image either because of its bright colour, or to show the ink colours well, or to give an Indian feel, such as Lokta or Khadi.
I also tried printing the motif repeatedly.
Here I printed the second print immediately after the other. I should have let the ink dry on the first print, because some of its ink was stripped during the second print, making one slightly fainter than the other impression.
Here I printed three times but the final, pink print is a bit lost, so I tried over printing later with gold acrylic paint. I hadn’t planned to do this so I didn’t have a registration sheet. I used two large metal blocks with straight edges to line up on two sided of the pink print and then nudged my block against these. It was far from precise since there is little edge information to go on. I had to have just the briefest contact between the paper and the acrylic ink so that it didn’t stick. However, I do think it has improved the print. Hand pulling the print also meant I got fewer cutting lines.
I tried this again with a single overprint in contrasting colours with planned registration, and this has worked better.
The different papers responded in different ways. The lighter papers picked up crisp detail but more cutting marks. I wanted to print on very delicate lokta paper, so for this final print, I carefully wiped as much of the background as I safely could, after rolling over my ink.
This is my favourite of these prints. I think it would look even better in gold ink, but the only gold ink I have seen used printed a rather dirty khaki colour.
I could further develop this idea with:
- using small rollers to apply multiple colours
- it would be a good design for a reduction print
- a background print of smaller paisley motifs with little detail would be interesting
- a gold ink which really printed gold.