Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gelatin Printmaking Day

Book artists were "ready to roll" as they assembled their brayers, inks, papers, lace, leaves, stamps, string, plastic wrap, bubble wrap, embossed wallpaper, stencils, strips of paper, embossed paper towels, corrugated cardboard, and bits of nylon mesh. After everyone set up their workspace there was a presentation of the finer details of rolling ink onto the brayer. Use of the color wheel was demonstrated and then people were ready to create backgrounds using only motions of the brayer or by subtracting ink from the plate with the use of bubble or plastic wrap. That done we moved on to negative prints (inking the plate, placing a leaf on the place, and then printing) as well as positive prints (not re-inking, removing the leaf, and then printing). The gelatin plate is particularly good at producing positive prints, revealing detail that seems three dimensional. Ghost images (a second printing without re-inking) were also discussed.

The four prints on the left are negative prints (a term picked up from drawing classes) and the fern on the right is a positive print resulting from printing after the fern was picked up from the plate. The print in the middle of the bottom row is translucent because it was printed on parchment paper.

This print is only about 2.5 by 3.5 inches but the detail is remarkable. The background pattern was formed using an embossed paper towel. This is a positive print. Clicking on any of these images will produce a larger image and this one is worth a closer look!
One of the advantages of working with a large, enthusiastic group of people is that we learn more than working alone. There were problems with the some of the black and dark blue inks; the gelatin plate didn't accept the ink as well as other colors. It was also important that there be a thin layer of ink on the brayer, mixing inks is best when done on a palette rather than using the brayer rolling surface, and it pays to sit by someone who has complementary colors!

To see these images and more, please use the following link. Once the Picasa window you have the following options: 
  • click on the first image to see a larger image, using the arrows at the top to view the rest of the photos. There is also an option for "full screen".
  • choose to view a slideshow of images.


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  1. Loved the photographs and descriptions of the workshop. Plans to continue with more gelatin printing have been interrupted by the earthquake but maybe I'll get to it today. Thanks for a great workshop Michele!

  2. Thanks Michele for getting the pixs of the workshop up so soon after what happened with the Saturday quake. So grateful it didn't happen while we were there! You certainly caught the spirit of the workshop, look how intense we all are! Great samples of the work.