'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Sunday 30 June 2013

Never say never.

I may have said on this blog - I have certainly said it elsewhere - that I don't like monoprinting. I like what other people do with it, I just don't like my own efforts. 

So you might assume I would not be in the least bit interested in a Gelli plate. But I like the look of what other people do with them, and then Handprinted  had a 10% off offer - and I succumbed. The plate sat around for a while, while I did other things, including subscribing to an on-line course with Carla Sonheim, and reading everything Google could find on the subject.

Yesterday I felt like getting on with it, despite it being the first day of a certain bike race. I did have the TV  on in the next room so I could rush in when things got exciting, and of course I made sure I didn't miss the rather unusual and disappointing finale.

I needed to work in the conservatory (only place with enough space) and it was 35 degrees in there, even with the doors open and the fan running. There were two advantages to this - it was easy to persuade the last drops to emerge from my elderly bottles of Lumiere paint, and paint dried quickly. There were three disadvantages - I was dripping with sweat, my specs kept sliding off my nose because of it, and the paint dried quickly.

I am not going to show you the results of yesterday. 

Today I decided to have another go, but using fabric instead of paper, so I collected an eclectic selection of Gelli plate sized bits and got going. It was even hottter today, so I  - er, let's just say it's a good job our conservatory is not overlooked, and I have paint in unusual places...

These are the edited highlights of the results.

Top right is a piece of PVC.  I don't know if the paint will stay in place, but it definitely makes boring brown PVC more interesting.

The grey piece in the middle of the bottom row is furnishing velvet. The print is very soft, as you would expect, and I love it - just need to work out what to do with it!

The others range from a very fine polyester to furnishing  fabrics, and all worked well, in different ways.

Things I learned.

1. There are no very crisp prints, but I suspect that is due to the speed with which the paint dried.

2. If you don't clean the plate between prints, some of the colour will come off on subsequent prints. I like this effect, but obviously you need to think about the colours you use. That was the problem with some of the paper prints from yesterday.

3. I personally prefer the more abstract imagery to the representational stencils and rubbing plates I used. Some time ago I made some print plates for making 'collographs' without a press, using various scraps and junk papers, and those worked well.

4. Most were made with just a single application of paint, but using 2-3 different colours, and I think most of them are good enough to use as they are - they are intended to be backgrounds for stitch, not finished pieces.

5. Adding fabric medium to the paint seemed to extend the drying time a bit - but only a bit.

6. A bit of metallic paint - or a lot - works well.

7. I read somewhere that you can clean the plate by adding a final layer of paint, adding the paper or fabric and leaving it to dry. That's what I did with the largest image in the collage and it's gorgeous, but  unfortunately it's on paper not fabric. I did the same yesterday using a bit of patterned paper bag and it is the best thing I did all afternoon.

8. I used some fabrics which were already dyed, printed or accidentally marked - not all of them worked, stronger marks were a bad idea. I'd like to try some commercial fabrics - black and white prints, say, or possibly batiks.

Ooops, nearly forgot.

More repetition. On the left, the book page which inspired the work on the right.

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