Making the cardboard print for Leaping Salmon

The logo made with cardboard printing
Logo in-situ
After printing a simple oast house logo for my wife Fiona’s blog, ‘Fiona’s Kent Food’, I felt inspired to test the boundaries of printing using paper and card. Unlike the glass-smooth surface of lino, cardboard and paper can have a lovely texture and the fact that it is easily cut offsets the downside that you can’t print more than a few runs from your ‘block’. These are really monoprints, in fact, as no two will be the same. Because Fiona’s end product was a logo for digital reproduction and thus only one was needed, it wasn’t really worth crafting it in lino anyway.
It is the lovely texture of a hand-pulled print that was the important thing. Of course, I could have imitated this printed effect digitally in Photoshop, but where’s purity/fun in that? So, accepting the limitations of paper and card I chose a simple image of  a leaping salmon, as fishing is a subject close to my heart.
The cardboard salmon © Peter Gander
Cornelissen’s Shellac Varnish
This cardboard is taken from the back of one of my drawing pads. It’s quite solid and just thick enough (about 3mm) to be able to cut through easily with a scalpel blade. Also you can see where I’ve debossed and incised areas like the gills and fins with scribing tools. I also used the back end of a paintbrush to dimple the fish’s body and thus create white spots where the ink won’t reach. PG’s TIP If you’re using uncoated paper and card you will need to prevent ink soaking into the substrate, so use Shellac varnish or PVA to coat your relief ‘block’. I use shellac as it dries very quickly. The one shown was purchased at London’s Cornelissen’s art shop. A couple of coats or more may be necessary, but they dry very quickly. So once your image is cut out, you can adhere it to another board for stability, but a small one-off design won’t need it, if you’re going to print it rubber-stamp style. Small surface areas can be sponged or painted with a thin layer of ink or use a roller and sheet of glass to roll out your ink on. If you’re crafty and have a little space between seperate colours or tones, you can easily dab on colour all in one go if you’re quick and can do it before the first colour you put down dries out. As the print is relatively simple, I wanted to make use of some spare fancy Japanese Yuki paper. This handmade paper has threads of silk running through it. It’s not very evident from the main pic, but the detail photo here shows how the threads reflect the light.

Soaking the card with shellac
The Yuki paper
The salmon just before it’s ‘ready to roll’
I cut a window the same size as the baseboard holding the fish, out of a larger piece of paper which was then taped to the bed of my roller press. The larger piece of paper matches the paper size that will be used for printing on. Then I drop the freshly-inked printing block inside the window, lay a piece of paper face down onto that, then keep it in place with the felt blanket. Then it’s a case of adjusting the roller press pressure to suit and get printing!


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