I’ve talked a lot before about the importance of experimenting. That you have to mess up to learn.
So this week, my development goal was to experiment with a totally different medium – Ink!
I am fortunate enough to have the Curwen Print Study Centre around 15 miles from where I live. It’s a renowned studio with a host of well known alumni. The huge space, which is full of industrial looking manual print making machines, is based out in the sticks, right next to a vineyard! So I signed myself up for an Introduction to monoprinting course with very little understanding of what mono printing actually is. I find sometimes walking into situations with no expectations makes for a way more interesting experience!
It turns out that monoprinting mainly means that you are creating one unique print, often through multiple techniques. This is different to something like screen printing where you can make multiple editions of the same print.
The course was described as monoprinting using found objects like leaves and fabrics, so I took along a bag of scrap yarn and half made granny squares with an idea that they might somehow be useful.
The process works by applying printing ink with a roller to a piece of acetate, then using objects and stencils to mask out area or create textures. You then lay dampened paper on top of the acetate and roll them both through the big printing press. I got quite a work out – those things are heavy!
This creates the first layer of your print. After which you keep repeating the process using different colours, masks and objects. You can reuse the same acetate multiple times with each print having slightly less ink on it as it pulls off the acetate.
I’m not going to lie, I was not a natural! It took a lot to get my head round the masking and negative space approach but I very much had an experimental head on so decided to just go for it and see what happened!
We had a demo first where we used old net curtains to a far more beautiful effect than hanging in a window…
I’ve posted some snaps of my experimental efforts below (apologies for the poor light quality if the pictures – It has not stopped raining since I took the course to get some decent light!).
I love how you can see the elements carried through the different prints!
This was the first run I did using some hessian sack, ribbon and muslin among other things, which created some bases to work from.
Then I moved onto a new approach using some solid granny squares, some cardboard bobbins I had in my scrap bag and some lengths of different types of yarn., leaving the initial experiments to return to later.
These to were a bit of a mess but I remind myself that this was not about reaching perfection. It took a while to understand how the layering worked… I’m about 1% there!!
Then I really went to town with the yarn!
Some of these are quite eerie and look like some virus you might see under a microscope in a sci-fi movie!
I am amazed by the amount of detail which transferred from the texture of some of the scrap yarn I had used.
Then It was time to put everything together…
It was amazing to get such a volume of work in such a short space of time. I think this is the advantage of just going for broke – I was definitely not over planning!!!
I have a new found respect for people who create such amazing work with this method. You need both a logical brain to work out how to create the image you want, but also a willingness to experiment. And if something goes awry, as it did with several of my attempts, there is no going back a step, so it kind of takes guts to keep going and potentially ruin your work.
This was such a great experience to just try something from scratch. I would definitely like to have another go some time. It was so useful, and kinda fun to get out of my comfort zone of planning what I want something to look like and to just go for it instead. It was really very liberating!
These two are my runners up – I love the shapes you can see in the yarn in one and the bright colours in the other.
This one was my favourite I think – I might even put one of them my gallery wall as a reminder to be experimental.
I love the mix of colours and texture, maybe more because it’s creation was a total accident and surprise – but isn’t that how all the best discoveries are made?
Until next week