In October I took a workshop on printing with plastic plates, and I'm planning to put some of what I learned to use now. A couple of the things I want to accomplish in this print are things that would be difficult (impossible, even) if I used only woodblock. For one thing, I want to show how the Darfur villages look after they're burned down by the janjaweed -- scorched rings in the earth is all that remains of the destroyed huts. I think that carborundum applied to a plastic plate can be used to achieve this effect. The other thing I want to replicate is the look of a child's drawing of the janjaweed horsemen. I want this part to look like it's drawn in pencil or pen and colored with crayon. Drawing/etching into a plastic plate is how I plan to create this linework, called drypoint.
The plastic that we used in the workshop is PETG plastic. It's completely clear like acrylic, but a bit softer and more flexible. It looks blue in the photo below because I've left the protective peel-away plastic film on the back to keep it protected. PETG can be rolled, can be cut with a knife or even with scissors, and is easy to carve into.
I began my preparations by pasting my sketch onto an already-cut woodblock. That way I can put the plastic plate over the wood plate and "trace" through it to be sure that everything will line up. I also cut out some strips and a couple of corners. I'll glue these to the plastic plate to guide the paper placement, exactly where the kento guides are on the wood plate.
First I made a plate with carborundum.
Carborundum is an industrial abrasive made of silicon carbide, but it's used in printmaking for collagraphs. You mix it with acrylic gel medium and just paint it onto the plate. Here's the block with the plastic taped in place and the carborundum painted on:
Then I put a new plastic plate into position on the same block and did a drypoint rendering of the child's janjaweed drawings. Here's that plate.
I'll be printing these plastic plates on a press next Thursday, after I've printed the 5 woodblocks from the previous post. Nothing like a deadline to get a person moving!