21 July 2006

Discovering Textures

Michael Fraley commented this morning (see previous post) and asked about carving the texture he sees in the rocks, so I thought I'd show a closer view of that last overlay.


The grainy quality you see is not in the carving, but in the printing. One of the beauties of working with watercolors and printing by hand is that one can get quite a bit of control (which I'm still trying to do) over how the pigment transfers to the paper. By varying the amount of water, the amount of paste, and the amount of baren pressure, many effects can be achieved. What you see here is light baren pressure and much more water than paste. I also didn't sand the blocks at all, so there's some wood grain showing, especially on the green shape. The darker area on the green shape is purely happenstance, although it was fairly consistent on the whole print run - the grain there seemed to be more porous and it held more pigment. Another interesting thing I've observed which affects texture is that each type of pigment behaves a little differently. There are a lot of variables to learn about.

I've heard another way of getting a grainy quality, which is to lay some sandpaper or similar substance face down on the wood and take something like a rolling pin to it! (I haven't tried that yet.)


Kris Shanks said...

Oh, nice to see the details. I'm really intrigued by your hand printing experiment. The whole point of the baren is that you don't pick up ink from the cleared areas, but I wonder about doing a print where the texture of the cleared area is part of the design. I usually clean my blocks at the end of a printing run by using my hands to press clean newsprint everywhere to clean up the extra ink, and sometimes the resulting image is quite nice . It would be interesting to vary the pressure by hand and really press the paper into the crevices of the block.

Michael Fraley said...

Thanks for answering my question, Annie. In other words, you've taken those printing mistakes that I've been trying to educate myself out of, and you've found an actual USE for them! This is the sort of thing you can do when you know what you're doing and the effect you're wanting to achieve - and I think that's great.