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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Work-in-progress: The Crow King (vinyl & board print)

Continuing my corvid phase, today I used a lino-like material called Japanese Soft Cut vinyl that I bought online from Intaglio Printmaker.co.uk It’s floppier and shinier and softer than lino, though I think lino still has some way to go to be beaten. The vinyl I found much ‘stickier’ than lino, with the end of the cutting stroke often rebounding or not finishing in a clean manner. However, if you are not planning anything too fine in detail, it’s lovely stuff and very easy to carve.
Carving fine lines is tricky with vinyl
The pencil ‘rubbing’ to check progress
Mixing a two-colour gradation on the roller
Ready to roll. Note the card registration blocks at the top
The first ones drying
Inking the card background
Once my design is carved, I make a ‘lino rubbing’, placing a sheet of thin cartridge paper over the lino/vinyl to check that all is well with the image. Then I cut out the shape with a craft knife (easier to do than with lino) and stick it onto a board to keep it stable for printing and to register it properly. Rather than use a solo black for the crow, which after all, have irridescent feathers, I opted to mix a blue and black gradation on the roller. Then it’s just a case of testing the roller pressure and away I go. I tend to try out different paper colours as artists prints (AP’s) until I find my preferred one. In this case it was a humble brown paper. On to the background. Sometimes the background simply doesn’t warrant the efforts of lino/vinyl cutting or I simply prefer to use a different substrate for its unique texture. As was the case here - I cut out the negative area left by the crow from card, the kind you find on the back of layout and cartridge pads. It’s not as soft or corrugated like cardboard and being made of pulp, reveals interesting textures when inked up, not a dull smoothness. Use shellac or PVA to prevent the inks from seeping too much into the absorbent card though. Once this has dried and the cut-out married up to another board and registered, make the second colour print-run. The main photo reveals the final print, which I am very happy with! Seawhite (of Brighton) waterbased printing inks on (Paperchase) recycled ribbed brown Kraft paper (A4: 297mm w x 210mm h).

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