Project 13 Combination Monoprint

For this project, I wanted to continue to build on work from previous projects where I felt my plates could be enhanced by a monoprinted background. In particular, I wanted to look at the idea of combining a monoprinted background with a collagraph plate printed as a ‘key’ plate.

in PA previous assignment I had cut a lino plate of a snail but felt I hadn’t realised the background effectively. My tutor suggested a graphic background would have been more successful and to consider the work of Mustafa Hulusi. His ‘expander’ graphic would have been perfect but I had to think of my own approach.

part 5 (16 of 19)

I played about with some monoprinted backgrounds developed from the idea of the shell spirals, with a obligatory nod to Matisse. I felt the contrast with a really graphic background would be more powerful.

snail (8 of 8) snail (7 of 8) snail (6 of 8) snail (5 of 8)

I then looked at graphic backgrounds such as warning or poison notices, and settled on one developed from electricity warnings. To achieve the graphic element this was linocut rather than monoprinted.

snail (4 of 8) snail (3 of 8)

I then tried to monoprint an iridescent slimy snail trail as an extra layer, but, for the irridence, I had to use acrylic paint, and this warped the paper.

snail (1 of 8)


This print is a rework of a print from an earlier project, suggested by my tutor. I think this linocut is greatly enhanced by the addition of a graphic background, inspired by Hulusi’s expander graphic. My plan was to include a monoprinted iridescent slime trail, but the iridescent paint adversely affected the paper, rippling it badly.

The contrast between the soft curves of the snail with its rather organic cutting created by using a Dremel, and the hard, straight edges of the background ‘warning’ work very well. I think the scale of the background graphic is just a bit too big.

I would have preferred to use neon inks, had I had any available, although I understand that neon ink is always of questionable archive quality. I was tempted to introduce more colours in the background but felt that this would detract from the strength of the graphic image.

In my final prints, I masked the non-printing areas with tissue paper to create as clean a print as possible with no cutting ‘noise’. I think the print is improved by masking out the cutting lines.

Ultimately, I find this print unsatisfying because I don’t think I have moved the idea on enough from Hulusi’s expander logo to make it my own. However, it has shown me how two styles can be combined and contrasted to great effect. I have tried to use this insight in my combination prints.


Further combination Monoprints.

These prints didn’t really fulfil the core idea of a monoprint background with a key plate overprint, but I hoped my next print would.

In a previous project, I had been looking at industrial buildings, and this was reinforced when  I recently visited Ironbridge, where I saw the 18th century blast furnaces and iron being cast.

I wanted to capture the heat and fury of the process, and the way the night sky was lit up in the past by the blast furnaces. I wanted to use ideas of melting, flowing and bubbling. The technique of using a blow torch on a collagraph plate seemed perfect for this.

coalbrookdale (17 of 26) coalbrookdale (14 of 26) coalbrookdale (12 of 26) coalbrookdale (7 of 26) coalbrookdale (6 of 26) coalbrookdale (4 of 26)coalbrookdale (16 of 26)

I had taken a lot of reference photos on site, including some of a video showing a blast furnace and steam hammer in action. I used painting, drawing photos and collage in my sketch book to distill my ideas.

part 5 (10 of 19) part 5 (11 of 19)

part 5 (12 of 19)part 5 (13 of 19)

My first prints used monoprinted backgrounds in yellow and red layers. The ink was rolled on to a Kraft board plate, wiped in places, and spattered with white spirit which was allowed to run and drip. My object was to produce a background that looked hot and molten.

coolbrookdale (2 of 6) coolbrookdale (3 of 6)

On the back of the Kraft board plate (so identical size),  I applied fabric, tile cement and pva glue and subjected these to a blow torch to make them melt and bubble. I also applied carborundum and brown parcel tape to create the silhouettes of industrial buildings and chimneys. I proofed this and  made some minor changes.

coolbrookdale (5 of 6)

Collagraph plate proof

I overprinted in cyan initially.

coolbrookdale (6 of 6)

My registration was poor, I think because my key plate was warped by the heat and didn’t meet the rollers flat. Also, I had thought my plate exactly square but I think it was a little out, magnifying inaccuracies when I printed it in reverse over the monoprint.

I thought the blue too bright and producing too much green, so reprinted in blue/black.

blast furnace (4 of 7)

Again, poor registration and the black ink is weak; overwiped. I had three more backgrounds and moved to french blue for the key plate.

blast furnace (5 of 7) blast furnace (7 of 7)

These two prints also have registration issues and the smoke from the chimneys has been overwiped and looks contrived. In my final print I decreased the quantity of blue ink to create a less contrasty and representational image.

blast furnace (6 of 7)


This print was inspired by explorations into industrial architecture and by the history of iron founding at Ironbridge. The foundries worked continuously and lit the night sky. I wanted to capture the heat and fury of this industrial landscape whilst not being too representational. The colours and the large size of the print (nearly A2) are intended to make instant impact.

The print is a combination of a monoprinted background, in a yellow and then red layer, textured with white spirit and also draw into. This was then overprinted with a collagraph ‘key’ plate made by melting materials on a board with a blowtorch, and adding carborundum and tapes for tonal range. The objective of this plate was to imply the landscape through materials in flux from one state to another, mirroring the smelting process.

The size of the print is right at the limit of my press bed, and this added to registration problems caused by the board warping under applied heat.

Reference photographs taken at Ironbridge inspired my choice of colours. The use of blue, rather than the traditional black for a key plate, contrasts with and emphasises the hot colours. I have achieved a wide tonal range in the print but would have liked to have stronger blue ink at the bottom of the print to really bring out the textures there. The texture at the bottom of the plate is, I think, its most successful element and I would have liked it to be more obvious. However, the greater wiping of the blue plate has made the buildings less obvious, subtler and more abstract.

On the whole, I feel I have achieved the rich colour and texture I hoped for by combining these techniques. The industrial process of making metal offers a rich seam of subject matter to further explore.



About starrybird

I am mature student studying art with The Open College of the Arts. My passion is printmaking.
This entry was posted in Part 5 Combining Print Techniques, Printmaking 1, Project 13 - Combination Monoprint and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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