Today we went to visit a friend of mine, the Canadian-born artist Heather Carroll to watch her at work printing in her studio.
She makes some of her printing plates out of stiff card and, in this case, covered the surface with gesso, adding sand for texture and glueing thread in place to provide a relief for the hair and the outline of the legs of the reclining female figure. First of all she put the inks she was going to use (today they were water-based but she also uses oils) on a glass sheet. She added liquid glycerine to achieve the right degree of viscosity to prevent the colours from blending into each other and become muddy.
Using a brayer and starting with the lightest colour first – yellow – she inked over the whole plate. Then she added green and blue. She used red and black on the outer edges of the plate to provide definition.
Priscilla was fascinated by all this
but we decided to put her in a place of safety so that she didn’t get ink all over her clothes.
From this vantage point she could watch as Heather ran the print through the press. Today she was using 100% linen handmade, 300gm, paper. When she had finished inking the plate
she put the printing plate, painted surface upwards, in the press and laid a sheet of paper on top. This was then covered with two layers of felt and was run twice through the press, more slowly the second time to ensure that the colour really took well. Needless to say Priscilla felt obliged to lend a hand when it came to turning the wheel on the press when it became obvious that Heather couldn’t manage on her own.
When the print has been run through the press twice both the print and the plate are removed.
Heather then inked up a second printing plate, another female figure
which produced this
No two prints will ever be identical as there will inevitably be variations in the colouring, as can be seen with these four prints
Heather explained that this is a very simple form of printing. More complicated prints can be made using backgrounds and layers and a much greater variety of colour can be achieved this way.
Heather makes prints from plates she has made, natural materials like leaves and grasses,
and also carves stone from which she prints.
(the two prints at bottom centre were printed from stone carvings).
She is also a sculptress – making both large and small sculptures –
an artist – this is a drawing of “la cantadora”
and a graphic designer – she made this large scale banner for one of her exhibitions in 2006
We were sad to have to bid farewell to Heather and Priscilla was especially sad to say goodbye to Elsie, whose acquaintance she only made this afternoon.
Between you and me I think Priscilla may have got some ideas from this visit and may well be conducting some experiments soon …..