Sunday, 21 January 2007

Altered Journal

I've had great fun recently altering journals. This one was first covered with torn pages from a 1950s school edition of Macbeth. It even has pencil notes written by a previous student! I added Distressing ink to age it further. I also used Distressing ink to colour the tape and stamped a strip of paper with pen images. I used an art mold to make the key embellishment and coloured it with Brilliance ink. I also added stamped images to the inside covers.

Thursday, 18 January 2007

Intaglio Printing

I've been looking for things to add to my Etsy site. I decided to list some of the prints I made a couple of years ago which has got me thinking about the whole printing process, how I got my press etc.

My sister and I attended some Creative Arts days several years ago where we used an etching press for the first time to make mono-prints. We both loved it and wanted to learn more. So we both did some courses at The Works in Beccles, including collographs, intaglio and screen printing. My favourites were the intaglio and screen printing. Although I initially enjoyed mono-printing the results were very unpredictable. With the intaglio technique I had much more control of the outcome. We both wanted to do more but didn't have a press to use at home. Unfortunately neither of us had spare money for one! So Nan came to the rescue...

My Grandfather was a prisoner of war in Japan during the Second World War. A few years ago compensation was given, and as he was no longer alive it went to my Nan. She was always so generous that she wanted my sister and I to have some it. An etching press was a perfect choice as it was something we both wanted yet couldn't afford. We were even able to get some oil-based printing inks and paper.

Intaglio printing:

Intaglio printing uses a plate that has an incised image on it. Ink is rubbed into the grooves, excess removed and then printed. There are several materials that can be used to make the plates and different ways to incise the image. I use mount board.

To make the printing plate -

  1. Draw the design onto mount board (I use the standard sort used for picture framing).

  2. Use a sharp craft knife or scalpel to carefully cut through the top layer of the board, following the lines of the design. Double lines must be cut so that a section can be peeled away to leave a recess for the ink.

  3. Seal the board with button polish/shellac on both sides. It's very important to do this as smoothly as possible as any imperfections will show on the final print.

Example of a finished plate

To prepare the paper -

  1. Take a piece of specialist printing paper at least 1" larger on each side than the plate.
  2. Soak paper in cold water for at least an hour - can be left in all day!
  3. Take the paper out of the water and lay between blotting paper with a weight on top - an old piece of wooden board works great.
  4. The paper needs to be left at least 20 mins - or the time it takes to ink the plate - its not crucial as long as the paper hasn't dried out completely, it needs to be damp but not wet.

To ink the plate -

  1. Mix linseed oil relief printing ink with copper plate oil to give the ink a smooth consistency.
  2. Use a small piece of credit card to smooth the ink into the grooves on the plate.
  3. Use a cloth to wipe away excess ink (I like to use old t-shirts). This is the hardest part as the quality of the final print relies on the amount of ink left on the plate. Too much and it looks messy, not enough and the print has holes or feint sections.
  4. Make sure the edges of the plate are wiped clean.

To print the plate -

  1. Put a piece of newsprint onto the etching press and place the inked plate on top, ink side up.
  2. Lay the damp printing paper on top of the plate and place another piece of newsprint on top.
  3. Roll through the etching press.
  4. Remove the printing paper and wrap in tissue paper - this protects the print while the ink dries.
  5. Clean the plate or make another print.

Notes -

Oil based inks are very messy and can get everywhere! Wear old clothes and surgical gloves.

Wednesday, 17 January 2007


I have finally taken the plunge and started a blog!

Well actually this is the second attempt as I originally typed my email incorrectly and therefore couldn't access my blog after I'd created it. It's taken a while to sort out - the guys at Blogger Support are very helpful - and at last I'm back in.

My life is very hectic with teaching and crafting so we'll see how often I get to add to my bog. However, I'm hoping to be able to share projects I'm working on, tips and tricks, finished items (hopefully not too many disasters - or should I say 'learning experiences') and have some fun along the way.

So I'm off to do some crafting!

Wishful thinking, unfortunately, as I'm off work with Bronchitis! I will therefore now crawl back to bed and dream about all the wonderful projects I could be working on if I had the energy.