seaweed prints

I recently started a beginners printmaking course at a wonderful and friendly print studio and I have come to look forward very much to my Tuesday nights at this inspiring place.

Last week we were introduced to the process of drypoint printing, and I took along an ink drawing of some seaweed as my starting point.

First of all the image had to be scanned and reduced to fit the size of the perspex plate on which we were working.

Then the perspex plate was laid over the image and I carefully 'drew' over it using a drypoint needle, scratching the surface of the perspex to leave the characteristic 'burr' of raised perspex where the needle had been.

After bevelling the edges of the plate, it was then inked up using black intaglio ink which was pressed into the scratch marks with a piece of stiff card and then wiped off gently using scrim and tissue paper.

Then the plate was ready to print, made into a sandwich on the etching press with newsprint, soaked and blotted cartridge paper and heavy wool blankets. The action of rolling the plate through the press is physical and very satisfying.

And this was the result! I was delighted with the quality and expression of the line and the lovely indented plate mark on the paper, as well as the unexpected smudges and smears of ink that mark it out as a learner piece - but one that I was very pleased to produce.

 A closer view of the finished print:

Next week we are doing collograph, but I am going early to see how many more editions I can print from my seaweed plate before the burr deteriorates. I'm very excited by this new process and can already see all sorts of imaginary work in my head... as usual.


I feel a bit embarrassed walking in here as if everything was normal and I'd only popped out for a few minutes when in fact it's been nearly two months since my last post!

To make up for it I thought I'd share a couple of things that have inspired me recently: first of all the work of Rex Ray, and in particular this inspiring video about his working practices and perspective on life. I'm not so keen on his more psychedelic creations, but I do love those early collages, and I'm planning a therapeutic session of cutting and sticking myself this Easter weekend.

Secondly, I can't remember where I came across it, but this book of Indian spiritual drawings, some from the seventeenth century, is amazing. This New York Times article describes the work as 'seventeenth-century modernism' and it certainly causes you to consider the work of people like Patrick Heron, Sandra Blow and Ben Nicholson in a new way. There is a breathtaking simplicity that draws you deeper in these wonderful artworks.

I've signed up for a five-week beginners' printing course which starts on Tuesday, and so I hope to have a few bits and pieces to share with you over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, have a very happy Easter. In our house we have mini-eggs, a new baby Emma Bridgewater chick mug, a tiny fluffy lamb, a lemon cake, a 'make-your-own-Easter-balloon-kit' and a roast dinner to look forward to, as well as all that resurrection and new life, of course.