Wednesday 27 November 2013

Edinburgh revisited - Day 2 Printing the stone

After  a very good night's sleep - it's tiring, all this intense concentration - I'm raring to get this stone printed!

Before starting, I rolled up the stone with roll-up black so that I could see how the washes were looking and make any necessary adjustments to the tone. Areas can be lightened or erased using different strengths of gum arabic and nitric acid. This is called 'etching'. Heavy areas can also be scraped away with a razor blade before etching. Once happy with the image, I cleaned off the black ink and got ready to print.

First job was mixing a nice deep blue, one of the colours which evoke the mountain world for me. Next, rolling out the ink so that it will cover the stone but not clagg up the subtleties of the washes! Aiming for a nice quiet hiss from the roller, rather than a sticky slurp!

Then begins the process of inking up the image. The stone is rolled up with three coats of ink before it is passed through the press for the first time, using newsprint (a cheap, thin paper) for the first proof.

This process is repeated twice, gradually building up the ink on the stone until it gives a good depth of colour on the proof. You can see the transition from pale to more intense colour in the photograph. Three proofs on newsprint and the first proof on Fabriano Rosaspina, bottom right.

It is also possible to adjust the image while on the press. Once satisfied with the proof, it's time to edition the print. This is a detail showing the Aiguille - I adjusted the shape of the tower on top slightly before continuing with the editioning. 

Now the stone only needs one roll up for each print. A nice smooth editioning paper - Fabriano Rosaspina - is just the thing for my edition. I'm using both white and the softer colour, ivory to give two different 'feels' to the image.

The final image - this one on white, giving a good impression of the cold light of the snowfields.

Now I'm looking forward to next weekend at Edinburgh Printmakers for the second litho course - this time on using colour - can't wait!

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Edinburgh revisited - Day 1 Drawing the stone

At the beginning of November I spent another two days working in the studio at Edinburgh Printmakers. I wanted to consolidate what I had learned on the weekend course by drawing a new stone and producing another lithograph - this time working more independently. Alastair was still on hand to offer advice though!

This time I worked on a larger stone (A2) which needed grinding with a levigator and carborundum, a coarse grit, to remove the previous image - another new skill under my belt! It can be quite heavy going at first and quite tricky until you get in the swing of it.

A quick check that the stone surface was completely flat, then it was time to get to work on that inviting surface. Again I used the tuche crayons and washes to make an image of the Aiguille du Midi on the Mont Blanc massif.

The washes took a while to dry, even with the help of a fan heater.

Time for a quick cup of tea, then back to work processing the stone - coating it with gum arabic to preserve the white areas and then removing the tuche. It's quite worrying as you see all your drawing disappearing!

However, the tuche is very greasy and leaves its residue in the stone. Priming it with a little black ink magically restores the drawing as it sticks to the greasy areas and is easily washed away from the areas protected by the gum.  

And that was it for the day! Time flies when you're having fun!

Back tomorrow to print it!