Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Beginning Print Making

So, I haven't shared any of my printmaking projects with you yet so here are a few that I have on hand. I will try my best to explain the process of each one, but I'm only a beginning student so don't hold me to it!! 

This class was really intimidating to me. My roommate had taken it the semester before me and made beautiful pieces of work and tried to explain the process to me. I just didn't get it, there are so many steps that I was not looking forward to this class at all.

Luckily I had my girls take the class with me so it wasn't as scary as originally thought. (My girls are some of my best friends that I was lucky enough to have nearly every class with them this past semester. Being with each other from 10am-8pm nearly every day really brought us closer!)

So, our first project was etching on a metal plate (I am pretty sure they are zinc plates). We had multiple tools that we could use to literally scratch in to the plate to make your image. The technique we used was covering the plate with hardground, which is a hard acid resistant substance that we paint on to our warmed etching plates. Once the hardground has hardened on the plate you then take your etching needle and draw the image through the hardground. The areas that the hardground was removed then would be exposed to the acid during the acid bath. The acid eats away the zinc and literally leaves your image on the plate. Once you have the image the way you would like you then card it with ink, wipe it off, and run it through the press. 
(There is a lot more to it then that, but I didn't wanna get too technical. )

This project (1) we did exactly what I explained above. We picked an object from the studio and had to render it in a way that was inspired by an artist or artistic style. I chose the aprons hanging in the classroom and decided I wanted to focus on the natural lines that they created. 

Our second project was to learn the aquatent technique. Aquatent is a technique used to create more tonal variations. You begin by placing your zinc plate in to a resin box and coving your plate with a very fine resin dust. You then melt the resin on to the plate and draw on your image with a litho pencil. A litho pencil is basically a wax pencil (kinda like a crayon) that resists the acid. Aquatent is difficult because you have to work backwards. The places you want to be darkest you DON'T draw. You want the acid to hit the darker spots leaving marks in the zinc plate which would then hold the ink for the print. So, you are basically drawing your image in the negative allowing the darker tones to be hit by the acid in the bath and the lighter spots to be covered, completely shielded from the acid. This can take multiple steps, or bites, to get all of the variations wanted. 
This is an image I altered from one of my photographs of Reed in the garage. As you can see I didn't master the aquatent. There are some really harsh lines that I should have bled out a little more. 

For the third project we could pick one of the two, or both, of the techniques mentioned above but we had to add color. I chose to stick with the basic line etching technique. I did a simple drawing of a girl fishing. I was commenting on how you can be feminine while doing typically "masculine" activities. I never really mastered this technique either. But I will explain the color process as best I can. You can't see it on the scan but I carded (meaning I wiped ink in to the lines and cleaned off the excess only leaving the ink in the marks left by the acid.) the figure in black and the dock and trees in a darker brown. I then did a blend roll over the top. A blend roll is where you take at least 2 separate colors and roll them together and blending them in the center. After you have the color blocked out on the table you then roll it across your zinc plate. To avoid the figure and the dock I cut out a stencil and laid it on the plate and then rolled  my yellow and blue blend across it. You can tell on the far left side of the figure that the stencil shifted some. I should have added more lines or aquatint on the dock to allow it to pick up more color.
And of course I don't have my 4th project to show you, it is still at school. I will do a post at the beginning of the semester showing all of my projects that were still being graded at the end of school. 

I do have my final. This is a totally different technique than mentioned before. This is a woodcut. That means, no zinc plates, no hardground, no etching, no acid! A woodcut is pretty self explanatory. You are cutting your design in to a block of wood. You essentially make a large stamp out of wood. But when you start adding in different colors that is when it becomes something a little more complicated. For this piece we did 4 color runs. With woodblock you are also working backwards. But this time you draw out your image (if you want) on your block with a sharpie. You then pick what you want to be your lightest/highlights and carve those out. In this piece I left a few highlights on the barrel and then carved out the lace pattern in the handle. You then mix up your second lightest color and run your prints through the press. After that you then pick what you want to remain that 2nd to lightest color and carve all of that out. So I carved out everything that is left that pale, dusky lavender. You continue this pattern all the way until black, or what you want to be your darkest color. So at the end of the process you really have very little of your image left on the block. I only had the small black lines around the front of the gun. Again, I commented on how you can be feminine and take part in "masculine" activities. I chose the revolver because my dad is a gun smith and guns were something that I grew up around and I chose the lace because of its soft, elegant, presence in clothing and the home. 

There is a lot more to each of these processes, that is just a beginners quick explanation. Printmaking is truly a lot of fun and very relaxing. I'm unsure as to if I will take it again before I graduate but I would really recommend at least taking a beginners course in it if you ever have the chance!!

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