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AP1 Sketch Book October



Using the photographs I took and sketches as inspiration, I’ve been creating collagraphs full of geometric shapes, that represent the hazards I face everyday within my environment.

I wanted clean harsh lines on my collagraph plates, so I cut my design into the surface of the mount board and applied PVA on areas I wanted highlighted, when dry I sealed them with button polish.

I find this process very versatile, I’ve been experimenting with the different collagraph processes since rediscovering it last year.

Above Images Collagraph and collagraph plate

Below Image Embossing with Collagraph plates

The plates are just as important as pieces of art as the prints themselves and often more interesting. They are considered a nontoxic form of printmaking because no acid or ground is used. I also feel it’s a great way to make art out of recycled materials.

Above images By Alexia Tala

These Collagraph installations are by Chilean artist/printmaker Alexia Tala. I’m drawn to the, scale, colour and tactile nature of her work.

I’ve wanted to find ways to make my prints physically imposing for along time, seeing installation art work like this reinforces, my desire to combine print and sculpture. I now have to work on developing my 3D skills.

Plaster induction

I’ve now had my induction in the plaster room, I learnt how to mix plaster through touch rather than relying on scales, which was unexpected and gives me the confidence to go in there and use the space.

I would like to find a way to combine plaster and print and see what results I get?

Artist Alexia Tala is the first artist I saw combine plaster and printmaking plates, she used wood cuts and plaster to create ‘First Memory’ 2008. Seeing artists combine processes like this is exciting and you realise there are lots of possibilities to combine plaster and some form of print matrix to create installation based art.

Above image by Alexia Tala

Plaster tiles

I created clay impressions of the areas of Margaret St I struggle with as a VI person and I turned them into plaster tiles. The first two test pieces did not have enough detail but through experimentation I learnt that using a flat hard object on top of the clay helped create even pressure and gave a more detailed impression when cast.

Working with plaster has given me a glimpse of the potential this material has. This is making me more determined to improve my 3D skills. I would also like to learn how to add pigment and create moulds

Dry point course

I contacted artist/printmaker Gemma Gunning and attended her experimental drypoint course at Spike Island print-studio Bristol, in the hopes of developing my existing skills and loosening up my style, I felt my work was to rigid and lacked fluid marks.

I learnt how to create a wide range of marks and tone in my work and I freed up my drypoint style by using a wide variety of tools and materials, including, nails, Brillo pads, sandpaper etc and used traditional tools like roulettes and scribes. I experimented with drypoint plastic and card, the drypoint card gave me a mixture of collagraph and drypoint marks all on one plate, which for me really worked, the plastic took the subtle marks better and you have the option to lay it over images and see what your working on, although copper can be challenging to use, I like it’s weight and once again I think it becomes a piece of art in itself but the plastic, card and copper all provide such different results, it would really depend on what look I was going for.

Once I created my image and printed a few copies I experimented with over printing, I like the how over printing can change an image so drastically, I had not used this technique in a long time.

I also explored different ways to create the effect of water and different ways to distress my prints, using white spirit. These are techniques I will continue to experiment with.

Plaster and concrete workshop London

I had a transformative experience at the London Sculpture Workshop, experimenting with materials I’ve never used before,

I had successes and failures during this course, on one occasion I took my Jesmonite out of its mould to early and half of it stuck to the mould, this taught me to be patient but now I know how to create an object with a derelict ascetic, which lends itself to my work.

My least favourite material was the mastercrete, I don’t like it’s rough surface but I’m intrigued that the sides are smooth and shiny, this was from being incased in the steel mould, I wonder if I can sand the upper layer? Or find a way to encase the whole object in a mould.

I got some interesting results with plaster but I find it to fragile I also found it dilutes the pigments so you don’t get true colours.

I made a black and blue triangle with rust running through it, the rust was a happy accident, I’d made my mould out of steel, which rust overnight, due to all the moisture from the plaster, the rust became imbedded in the plaster.

This is something I have intentionally been recreating since, I’ve been leaving my work in steel moulds for 24-48hrs to rust them and on some I’ve rust the steel first.

I like the look and feel of Jesmonite and found it absorbs colour much better than plaster, the colours are much stronger.

I like the potential to dry fragments and re enter them into your work and it can be finished to look like almost any other hard material wood metal etc, you can make large installations out of it like a Rachel Whiteread or small sculptures.

It was invented in the UK in 1984 by Peter Hawkins, who has kept the materials properties a secret.

All I can find out is it’s plaster and fibre glass based, on their website they say it’s

“Solvent free, Fire resistant, lightweight & impact resistant”

Above images Fibrocem plain with steel and Jesmonite green and yellow pigment with steel

Although I experimented with a lot of colour on this course my favourite piece is the plain fibrecem triangle with steel embedded into it. The steel has started to rust so this piece is constantly evolving.

Fibrecem is more robust then plaster and is smooth and cold to the touch, almost like marble.

I would like to create a large scale version of this.


Plaster - water first then powder

Fibrocem - powder first then water mix until like humus

Mastercrete - 3 part 2 part 2 part powder first then Water

Jesmonite - must be measured, add no more than 2% pigment or it won’t set, mix until like thick soup. If any left over, spread out on cling film and allow to dry, then break up and can be added to new work.

Algenate - powder first then water, Mix until like porridge


After the course I looked at Rachel Whiteread’s work. .

Rachel Whiteread, Image Tate mdern Website

I looked at her work because she creates installations out of plaster, inspired by buildings, this piece untitled (stairs) is made of Jesmonite, which was one of my favourite materials during the concrete and plaster workshop. This piece has been compared by some to the Graphic art works of Escher, both artists work have stairs going in all directions that ultimately lead nowhere.

I have often used Escher’s work to describe the uneasy sensation I feel of navigating the world as a partially sighted person.

Etching Aquatint

I cut and prepped my plates before putting them in the aquatint booth for 5 min, I sealed the resin and left to cool.

I treated a silkscreen, transferred my negative image onto the screen and printed my image using Bitumen on to the plates this will protected my plate from the acid, they were left to cure over night. The back was covered in tape to protect it from the acid. The copper plate went in Ferric chloride for 25 minutes and the Steel was In Nitric Acid for 25 min, I rinsed them in water and then washed off the Bitumen with mentholated spirit and then white spirit.

Above images Aquatints

I used the same image on all 5 plates but they have come out completely different, but they all have a different amount of aquatint on, I’ve seen what I can do with aquatint and how I can keep re working and distorting my image, then putting it back in the acid and print it and it’s been interesting to see how differently each metal behaves in the acid. I like the contrast you get with zinc and how deeply it etch’s. This works well with my concept of making tactile work for people to touch.

Lino Etch

I silk screened a positive and a negative image onto the Lino using a retarder, when dry I covered the surface with caustic soda 15 min was not long enough so I gave it a further 10, I rinsed and printed, I found this process un predictable and my images is completely distorted, this looks interesting on the Lino’s but the results from the prints are not as interesting.

Above image Lino etch

In future I would be more selective about where the caustic soda is applied, this would give me more variation in tone.

I now understand I can’t treat this like a copper etching.

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