Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Carborundum

Since moving to Ireland in 1988, I became aware of a printmaking process that I had never heard about (printmaking was one of my courses in art school). My curiosity has peaked about the process of carborundum since I have become re-interested in printmaking over these past few years. I have looked at a number of courses and workshops, but usually they entail a night class or weekend workshop on the north side of Dublin -- something that would be difficult for me to travel to. So I completely jumped at the chance to attend a workshop being held by Trinity Arts Workshop, near the DART, and not starting till 10 am on a Sunday morning. The facilitator, Daniel Lipstein, outlined a course that would cover whatever aspects of printmaking prospective participants were interested in. I wrote to him, secured a place and he had a variety of plates ready for me to work on when I arrived.


Lipstein explained the process to me with the pre-prepared plates. A mixture of carborundum, a sandy powder, was mixed with pva glue and painted onto a plate (the plates were completely de-greased first with ammonia, water, and chalk powder). After thoroughly drying plates, a design was painted on with either oil paint or oil printing ink. The process was similar to monoprinting, and the first print pull would look simply like a monoprint. The second print would show off the carborundum texture.


The printing process is fairly quick, so I worked on a few of the ready-made plates during the class. The direction of the carborundum on this plate reminded me of the field in front of a house in which I used to live in Kerry, so I made Knockeen the subject of this print.


But I also had a go at mixing the carborundum with pva myself and


preparing my own plate by painting the carborundum/glue mix. It does need to dry thoroughly before painting with oils or ink, and unfortunately this plate only finally dried by the end of the workshop. However, I got a very thorough understanding of the process from the few hours, and look forward to another workshop in a couple of moths, where I can ink this up and print it as well as work on a few other processes that I want to re-visit.


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