Following on from last week's post about solarplate etching, I decided to run the test plates from the workshop through my pasta machine press. To anyone who has missed earlier posts where I've mentioned this little beauty, it is exactly what it says - a pasta making machine which I use for intaglio printmaking. I learned about this in an online printmaking course I took a couple of years ago.
To pass the test plates, which are only small strips approx 10cm x 3cm through the press, I decided to place the plate on some perspex. The dampened paper goes does next and then I experimented with the "felts". For the pasta press I use half sheets of the felt that you buy from craft shops. Depending on type of plate you are using and therefore how thick it is, I have used up to 3 layers of felt to give the desired pressure. In this case, with the perspex backing sheet, 1 layer of felt was all that would fit through between the rollers. And the results are below:
I have to confess that the umber speckles on the person are old sepia ink from the workshop that I hadn't cleaned off properly. They make the clouds look more like land masses I think, and could be useful in certain circumstances. I am pretty happy with how these tests turned out, and plan to continue developing this imagery. I think the pasta press has shown that it is definitely up to doing test runs, and if the imagery is not as finely detailed as the clouds on the left, it can even be used for the final print, especially where embossing is a feature.
Next I thought I would try my zinc etching plate through the pasta press, just to see how that worked. Almost straight away I discovered a problem:
Photo: kschmic, photobucket
Unless your plate is shorter than the distance from the rollers to the base plate, it needs to be flexible, so you can pull it forward as you wind the plate through. Previously I've used perspex, mylar and mat board for the plate, so flexibility has never been an issue, but with the zinc plate being 20cm long and obviously inflexible, it couldn't pass through the press. Oh well! maybe I'm the only person crazy enough to think of putting a zinc plate through a pasta machine anyway!
I do have a couple of prints of the etching I did on zinc to show you. It's not completely finished but the term of classes I was doing at Studio West End has come to an end, so this is as far as I can take the etching for now. I apologize for the quality of the images, but the prints are a bit large for my scanner so I have photographed them, and it's getting a bit dark.
This first attempt (below) is just the line etch with plate tone in sepia. I quite liked it, but I thought more atmosphere could be created by working with the light.
For this version (below), we added a number of aquatints, progressively darkening the plate. I think we've maybe gone a bit far, but it is possible to burnish back some areas to lighten them. I was about to try this when I discovered the pasta press couldn't be used to print the result.
Soon I will have access to an etching press through the community printmaking studio Impress Printmakers, so I'll be able to keep working on this plate then.