Wednesday 31 March 2021

Contact Printing

 A couple of weeks ago I was excited to take part in a Zoom workshop on contact printing, a simple and straightforward technique of making monoprints that has somehow managed to elude me. The workshop was put on by Graphic Studio Dublin (which has also been hosting fabulous artist talks every Friday morning) and facilitated by artist Clare Henderson who had sent out materials packs in advance of the workshop. Although I had tried this technique before, I was never able to get good results so was really looking forward to actual instruction to help me come to grips with it. As with other remote workshops that I have taken over lockdown, I commandeered the kitchen for a workspace. 

The materials pack included a new roller, azua ink, magneisum powder, spreaders, an acetate plate and sheets of newsprint as well as various sheets of fine Japanese printing paper. Participants were asked to bring rags, bowl of water, a variety of mark-making tools and masking tape.

The instructions were clear and straightforward: attach the fine paper to the acetate, cover with the newsprint, roll out azua ink on the acetate plate, fold the paper over the ink, cover with the newsprint and make marks on the newsprint. The pressure marks made on the newsprint would lift the ink from the acetate plate to create the monoprint. There was a beautiful additional light background texture that the paper would pick up from the rolled ink where pressure hadn't been applied. This is my first test print.

For my second test print I worked larger and only used a few mark-making tools (pencil and some stamps)/

I couldn't believe how quickly the time went by, but I definitely got an understanding of the process. Here is my workspace towards the end of the workshop. I didn't need to use the magnesium powder but Clare Henderson went over its use and demonstrated how to mix it with the azua if the ink was not viscous enough.

Clare Henderson specifically recommended azua inks when I asked about using other water-based inks. However, I did not want to go out and buy a new set of inks when I already have large tubs of Speedball ink, which I use for lino and wood block prints. I have found Speedball inks infinitely superior to other lino inks that I have attempted to use so I wanted to try them out on contact prints. Here is the contact print I made using Speedball ink and I am very happy with the results! I used a pencil and a hard eraser to make the marks.

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