Printing the block proved to be harder than anticipated.
I had in my mind before printing two methods for inking the block, the first was using toothbrushes to apply different coloured inks to the block. Then wiping away excess using fabric scraps so that the ink wasn’t too heavily applied to the block. This idea came from a video demonstration by Printmaker Lynn Bailey (see link below).
But this method was riskier to begin with given that I had never attempted it before.
The second was the traditional roller method, simply inking the roller and applying that to the block. I considered within this using two inks of the inking plate, a dark blue and a green to get two colours on the collage at once. I was already familiar with the method so less apprehensive about it.
First day of printing
On the first day of printing from the block I began printing using the new method of applying ink using toothbrushes. I applied an orange to the houses, and a green or blue to different areas of the landscape. I then wiped any excess away and things seemed ready for printing. I had soaked some cotton water colour paper and that too seemed ready for printing on. The results however were slightly disappointing:
If you look at the print you may at first think the photo is blurry and therefore the print appears blurry. In fact the print itself is blurry as a result of movement in the printing stage. I used a rolling pin to do the first roll over the block to try and get the paper to stick then use a barren to try and bring out the detail. Unfortunately I’ve managed to move the paper in the process and the print is somewhat spoiled. But you can make out the different colours which is a plus of sorts.
I tried to rectify this by re-inking the block and trying on a thinner piece of Japanese printing paper:
I like the subtle/faded nature of the colour which I think is achieved by the new inking method. But once again there’s lots of double lines and movement in the image. So I then thought it best to try the familiar method of inking the block and inked up some dark green:
This print was more successful in terms of there being less movement visible on the print itself. But I much prefer the colours of the first prints as these were what I had in mind, they bring much more life/interest to the print.
Second day printing:
After the first days results were poor I thought that coating the block in a PVA seal and doing a second day of printing would be best. But this time I wanted to use a jig and a backing on the block to try and reduce movement during the printing process.
The results were a slight improvement but still not a particularly good standard for a final print which was disappointing.
I used the toothbrush application method again for the above print and it’s interesting to see how the colour is much denser on this print than those on the first day. It is less blurry but still has lots of room for improvement. So I tried again with a thinner paper:
The colours are subtler here and it’s easier to pick out each individual colour as there’s less blending. But this print suffers from lines where the paper has moved in printing again. I thought it was worth doing one more print but this time I inked the block in dark blue/green using a toothbrush. The result wasn’t spectacular:
All in all the second day of printing produced some better prints, in terms of there being less signs of movement on the printed image. But I seemed to be unable to get a good quality print from the block apart from when using the traditional method. I’m not sure whether this is due to not using a press or whether I’m doing a part of the new method incorrectly. Either way I’m now at the point of no return and will have to submit some of these as final images which is frankly disappointing. It’s mostly disappointing because I felt I’d improved in my ability to translate the idea into a print form, or ha at the point prior to printing the block. I think if the print had come off cleaner and the colours clearer I could’ve had a really great series of prints unfortunately there’s much room for improvement.