Embroider the Truth

Blog by artist/printmaker Dawn Cole

Taking a print from a plaster casting.

At last I have had the time to spend a day in my studio photographing the process of inking, wiping and printing a plate made from a plaster casting.

1. Very important to prepare your paper first while your hands are still clean. For printing this body of work i have used Fabriano Rosaspina Avorio 285gsm. The paper is torn down to siz, damped and then stacked under blotters until ready to print.

2. Prepare a simple template to make sure the plate is always placed squarely and prints in the same place every time. I use a piece of cartridge paper sealed with water based varnish. This means i can wipe it clean after every printing and also prolongs its life.

Template ready on press

3. Inks are then mixed ready. I use oil based etching ink and the ones shown here have been mixed with 50/50 extender to make them more translucent. I use brushes to ink my plates.

Inks mixed ready for printing

4.  First I ink the plate all over in a white base colour, making sure to work it right down in to the deeper areas of the plate. The white ink has also been mixed 50/50 with extender. Individual colours are then applied, with small brushes, to the detail.

Applying a white base colour

Individual colours applied using small brushes

5. Once all the colours have been applied, and again take care to work the colours in to the deeeper areas of the plate, the plate is then wiped with scrim. Wiping needs to be done carefull so as not to mix the colours, bt a certain amount of blending is good to give a coherence to the finished print. I wipe directionally with the plate design to avoid too much mixing and potential muddying of colours. I tend to use a large ball of scrim as i find this far easier than small fiddly pieces.

Wiping the plate with scrim

6. Once all the excess ink is wiped off the surface of the plate, i then finish the wiping using a piece of tissue paper. Holding the paper and rubbing with a flat hand all over the plate removes the final residue of ink off the highest detail. I then wipe the edges of the plate with a rag.

Final wiping of the plate with tissue paper

7. The plate is now ready to print. Place the paper on to the template and run the top edge under the roller. Hold the paper back using a clip and then place your plate on to the template. Release the paper so it drop down over the plate and lower blankets. Mt press is a Hunter Penrose and i use a pressure that is just a bit lighter (a couple of notches) than i would use for an etching. The plates are not very thick and I find that they neeed quite a lot of pressure to get the paper down in to the lower areas. Obviously the pressure will vary for different presses and it is advisable to do a test print first.

Paper secured in press

Paper held back with a simple homemade clip

Plate placed on the template

Paper released to drop on to the plate


2 comments on “Taking a print from a plaster casting.

  1. ainescannell
    September 20, 2016

    Hello Dawn I was recently delighted to find that you had posted on your blog about taking an impression from a mix of PVA and household polyfiller. The one thing that I wondered about was whether you might apply a layer of some kind of acrylic varnish onto the cast plaster collagraph plate ? Or perhaps you didn’t….I would love to know.
    I have some items I have been thinking of using in a print for a good while now and am thinking of trying this technique. I had been aware of it from ages ago but seeing your blog post (esp. with the proportions of water PVA etc and the consistency to aim for when mixing the ‘plaster’ made me more confident as to taking the leap so to speak. I always enjoy reading your blog and about the work you are making and the underlying dialogue/concerns etc. Keep it up and best wishes

    • dawncole
      September 21, 2016

      Hi Aine. Glad you found the post interesting. Yes, once the plate is dry it needs a very light sand down to remove any sharp bits and then a couple of every thin coats of household waterbased quick dry varnish works very well to seal the plate. Varnish front and back.

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This entry was posted on August 20, 2012 by in Uncategorized.
Resting Place is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
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All images and content © Dawn Cole 2013
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