Relief and Intaglio printing Lino cut and wood cut are refered to as relief printing, where only the raised parts of the printing surface will show when inked. In Intaglio printing such as etching and drypoint, only the areas below the printing surface will print when inked. Ink is wiped into the hollows, the surplus wiped off; paper is then placed over the plate and when rolled through a press the ink will be transferred to the paper.
Collagraph This is a cheap and accessible way to make a print. The process is a combination of intaglio and relief. The plate can be mountboard, thin plywood or aluminium. Create a collaged plate using a variety of materials including textured papers, string, tapes, glues, tile cement, texture paints and carborundum to build the surface of your plate. Draw into the surface with various implements to make interesting lines, cut and tear away the surface of the mountboard to give a rich texture when printed. It’s all about mark making, building tonal areas by adding different textures. Marks printed will be created by the lines and marks from the plate as well as the spaces in between. The collaged plate can then be sealed with quick drying clear varnish or PVA glue. Collagraph plates are usually inked intaglio, but you can also ‘top roll’ the plate after inking to give add extra colour, or add soft rubs of colour over the surface of an inked plate to add an extra layer of subtle colour.
Carborundum Carborundum powder can be used to add areas of tone, texture or very strong colour. The powder comes in three grades; fine, medium and coarse. By mixing the grit with PVA wood glue a surface is created which holds a lot of ink. You can paint the surface of your plate with wood glue and sprinkle the carborundum on then shake off the surplus. Or you can make a mix of glue and carborundum and apply to areas of the plate. Even if used very sparingly you’ll be suprised at the amount of ink that is held.
Direct Printing Dried leaves, bark, textured wall paper; fabrics can all be inked
up and printed directly. No drawing, no fuss!
Lino Cut As in other relief techniques areas of the lino are cut away and the remaining raised surface is rolled with ink and printed. To make a ‘reduction’ print, several pulls are made from the first cut on the lino. The second cut removes the areas which are to remain in the first colour used. It is more successful to start with the lightest colour on your design and with progressive cuts work toward the darkest colours. Lino can be printed on an etching press but registering successive reductions are not always satisfactory. It is better to use a Relief Press such as an Albion or Columbian. Single or multi block prints can be printed very well without a press using a baren (traditional Japanese burnisher made from bamboo). Many printmakers use nothing more sophisticated than the back of a wooden spoon to burnish.
Monoprint (meaning a one-off print) There are lots of ways to make a monoprint. Use a piece of thin plastic sheet or aluminium or zinc plate. The printing plate should have a smooth surface which you can easily clean, as the surface will not be altered it can be used again to make different images. The marks transferred during the process are completely different to painting or drawing. Use water based printing inks or oil based products. Make vibrant swathes of colour or delicate translucent shades, draw into the ink on the plate; try dropping white spirit into the oil paint, roller the colours on, wipe areas off, or use masks. New colours will be formed where colours overlap. If you are using transparent plastic (perspex), you can put a drawing underneath the plate or draw your design directly onto the plate with an indelible pen, (reversing the image). Place the plate inked side up on the press and lay dampened paper over the top before rolling through the press. This is an immediate and low tech way to make a print, and can be done without a printing press by applying pressure to the back of the paper with your hand or a clean roller.
Etching Traditionally the metals used are zinc, copper or steel (or aluminium for non toxic etching using copper sulphate). Plates are prepared for etching, the edges of the metal are bevelled to a 45º angle, the surface is completely degreased, a ground is then applied and the back of the plate protected with sticky back plastic. Once the ground is dried you can draw into it using an etching needle. Anything with a blunt point can serve as an etching tool, the idea being to remove the ground where you wish the mordant to bite into the metal. Errors can be corrected by covering with a stop-out fluid and re-drawing when this is dry. When the image is completed check over the plate to stop-out any unwanted lines, holes in the ground and protect the bevelled edges with stop out. The plate is then etched in a mordant. Tones can be achieved by adding more stop out in certain areas and etching again. The ground is removed, plate inked and wiped and then printed onto dampened paper.