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© Charles Morgan Mossworks Studio 77 Moss Street Victoria, B.C. V8V 4M2 CANADA revised October, 2006 www.mossworks.com firstname.lastname@example.org
I. Introduction .................................................................................. 3 A. Name ....................................................................................... 3 B. Origin ...................................................................................... 3 C. Advantages .............................................................................. 4 D. Disadvantages ......................................................................... 5 Making the Plate .......................................................................... 6 A. Specimen Preparation ............................................................. 6 B. Making the Sandwich ............................................................. 7 1. Composing on the Backing ........................................... 8 2. Composing on the Foil .................................................. 11 C. Finishing the plate ................................................................... 13 1. Etching Press ................................................................. 13 2. The Palm Press .............................................................. 18 3. Rolling Pin ..................................................................... 24 4. Platen Press .................................................................... 27 5. Mallet Press ................................................................... 28 6. Blemishes .......................................................................29 7. Summary Comparison ................................................... 30 Inking the Plate ............................................................................ 31 A. Blind Embossing ..................................................................... 32 B. Inks .......................................................................................... 32
C. Inking Tools ............................................................................ 34 D. Roll-up .................................................................................... 37 E. Masking ................................................................................... 38 F. Freehand .................................................................................. 40 G. Intaglio .................................................................................... 41 H. Combination Techniques ........................................................ 42 IV. Printing the Plate .......................................................................... 43 A. Paper Selection ........................................................................ 43 B. Presses ..................................................................................... 44 C. Cleaning the Plate ....................................................................46 Advanced Topics ......................................................................... 47 A. Multiple Passes and Plates ...................................................... 47 B. Embossing Powder Plates ....................................................... 49 Revisions ...................................................................................... 53 A. More Comments on Intaglio Inking .......................................53 B. Inking Very Thin Subjects ...................................................... 56 C. Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press .................................. 61 D. Bottle Jack Press Plans ............................................................69
I. Introduction I.A. Name Lithography done on aluminum plate instead of stone is called aluminography. So, if you make a collagraph using aluminum foil rather than acrylic medium, you should call it ... alumigraph, of course!!! And that is what I called it when I first discovered it. Because in some parts of the world the word “aluminum” is pronounced “al-you-mi-nee-um”, some folks began referring to the process as “aluminograph”. However, unknown to me at the time, an artist by the name of Nancy Wells used the term “alumigraph” in an article published in the Spring, 2002, edition of Printmaking Today (vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 28-29), to refer to a rather different process. So, I have decided in fairness to switch to the terms “foilograph” and “foilography” instead. I.B. Origin I have been doing nature prints for a number of years, but was not happy with the monotype aspect. You go to all that trouble to get nice specimens, arrange them in a nice composition, and then you get only one print. And often with delicate subjects, the inking of the subject destroys it before you can print it. Many times I have had to peel pieces of leaves, insect wings, etc. from my roller and not been able to get even one print. Or I find when I print that I have over- or under-inked the specimen and it is too delicate to re-ink it. I wanted to be able to print at least a small edition, and with as little damage to the subject as possible. During the summer of 2001, I took a one day workshop on doing lithography on aluminum foil. Part of the process required wrapping some aluminum foil around a plexiglass plate and then putting it through an etching press to smooth it out. We had to be very carful to keep everything spotlessly clean, as the smallest dust mote showed up under the foil. I found I was not that interested in the lithography at the time, but that process of smoothing out the foil wrapped around a sheet of plexiglass was intriguing. I wondered what would happen if I put a leaf under the foil. So, when I got home, I tried it. I was amazed at the result. I played around with it for a while, and finally got a workable process by spring of 2002. I showed examples to a few friends in Victoria, and posted a version of the technique on the
I have only been able to track down two specific references. the foil takes the imprint of the design. much of the detail is lost by the . I. Further. what he describes is using the collagraph plate to press multiple images into sheets of aluminum foil. Although the author talks about making prints using a small press. I have continued to experiment and refine the technique since that time. one begins by glueing pressed leaves down on cardboard. Then one is directed to spread contact adhesive over the leaves and cardboard.C. and hair. One begins by gluing flattened and dried natural material or paper cutouts to cardboard or plexiglass. Neither of the two is exactly the process I employ. several people mentioned that they had heard of something similar. Then glue is spread over the entire surface before covering with aluminum foil. such as down. and finally a board on top of all. By hammering on the board. Finally the reader is directed to rub the surface with a wad of cotton to bring out the details. Advantages With collagraph. by John Hathorn and Ludwik Luksza.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 4 PrintAustralia web site in the summer of 2002.). A similar method is described in the book A Treasure Trove of Ideas. It is so simple. you glue your bits and pieces to a backing. Methuen of Australia. I would not be outrageously surprised to find that the technique I have called foilography is not completely new. essentially making a collagraph plate. Next a couple of layers of soft fabric are laid on top. For one thing. it seems someone must have done it before. for many nature subjects. by Francois Cherrier. Angus and Robertson (U. fine feathers. For the sake of completeness. A method for making “silver pictures” is described in the book Things for Children to Make and Do: Craft Starting Points. In their technique. But the lack of written material perhaps justifies my writing these notes. I will briefly describe the references here. and cover all with aluminum foil. as with any print making technique. 1978. 1972. applying acrylic medium badly distorts many delicate subjects.K. and neither uses the foil plate to make prints on paper. After a few years of talking to others about the technique. There are a number of problems with collagraphs. and then coat it with acrylic or some other reasonably tough coating.
If you are not happy with the composition. And the specimen does not get coated with waxy goo.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 5 coating. Foilography avoids these problems. The only damage to the specimen will be caused by the pressure of the press. if you are not pleased with the composition of your collagraph. In appearance. Finally. and there are some disadvantages with . one of my very first. the foilograph technique does not obscure details of natural subjects to nearly the extent that collagraphs do. the subject is lost forever once it is bonded to the plate and covered with gunk. in fact. Figure 1 is a foilograph of Oregon grape. And with foilography. Disadvantages No printmaking technique is perfect. For examples. Fragile materials such as down. veins in flower petals and surface detail in leaves get filled in or obscured when coated with acrylic.D. You probably do not want to take that old rose your grandmother pressed in the family bible and permanently cover it with acrylic. and hair. you can recover your original specimen after printing. it is not possible to change it once you have coated everything with acrylic medium. foilograph prints are often similar to soft ground etchings. are not nearly so subject to distortion. the foilograph technique brings out many fine details that are hard to see with the naked eye. But there are no acids or chemical baths. Figure 1: Oregon grape I. you can make another plate and try again. fine feathers. In addition. Further.
Specimen Preparation For natural subjects. You can print items ranging from extremely thin flower petals to things as thick as . You do not need it to be really bone dry. and pop it all in the microwave. Then the plate is finished by applying pressure with some sort of press. loosely wrapped in aluminum foil. Making the Plate Making a foilograph plate is very similar to making a collagraph plate. II. and the felt will feel wet. Simply place the item between two layers of cheap felt from a fabric store. The microwave oven will heat the water in the specimen. When you check your specimen. But fresh natural subjects contain too much water. you can speed the drying process by using a microwave oven. since they tear the foil. and then check it again. plant material will seem damp and very limp. begin by pressing and drying your specimens. The time will of course depend on the power of the machine. It is best to be cautious. obscuring natural details.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 6 foilography. The water is squeezed out during the process and makes a bumpy surface which prints. And items with sharp protrusions. and the hot water will migrate to the felt. After the initial heating. You can always put your material back in the microwave for a bit more time if the item is not quite dry enough. such as eggshell. cannot be printed with this technique.A. You can use well wilted material as well. II. place the felt between two microwave safe plates. The technique does not work well with very thick items. which would be damaged by the pressure of the press. cannot be printed. rather than being coated with acrylic medium. The major difference is that the material and backing plate are “shrink wrapped” in aluminum foil. If you have very fresh material and you do not wish to wait for it to dry naturally. Place the limp material between the pages of a phone book and let it sit for a few minutes. start with about 20 seconds and check the results. like pine cones or sea shells. a leathery texture is quite good. First you must make a “sandwich” consisting of a properly prepared specimen on a rigid baking. Very fragile items. and finally removing any blemishes. like thorny branches. you may well see steam.
Of course. zinc. and it is almost impossible not to get lint from the air on the plexiglass. etc. it is very important edges and round the backing material. Very thick items. II. you may use tape. or plexiglass. Before making your that you bevel the corners of your corners and edges will and ruin the plate. windows. serving the same function as aquatint for intaglio plates.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 7 the central spine of large eagle feathers.B. Plexiglass is very electrostatic. you may make a foilograph using any sort of relatively thin material. For example. brass. as these can pierce the tinfoil. ribbons. You may use crumpled paper or tissue for interesting textural effects. Fine sandpaper will produce a texture that will hold a lot of ink. as with collagraph. cut or torn bits of paper. Usually it is important that the backing be SMOOTH. or even vases and flower pots. You should avoid material with really sharp edges. such as torn or cut bits of paper. Even very small bits of lint will print. you will need a tough. copper. Making the Sandwich To begin. and similar material to produce images of frames. Matboard and cardboard do not work well. doors. steel. firm backing for the plate. You could use MDF. may need to be shaved on the back to reduce their thickness. I prefer to use plexiglass. and you may have some problems getting it absolutely clean. as they tend to bend and distort. such as thick stems or feather spines. fabric. Extremely thick specimens such as pine cones do not work well. aluminum. You may also use thin bits of metal or found objects. Sharp pierce the aluminum foil Figure 2: Plexiglass backing with smoothed and rounded corners and edges . string. at least in MY house!! In spite of its electrostatic properties. lace. Thick stems are squashed out of shape and do not show true dimensions or shapes. plate. since they cannot be covered by the foil without tearing it. hardboard. Any grain or surface imperfections will print.
I got down on my hands and knees and roamed around the house until I had collected a good wad of dust bunnies. it is usually best to place the back of leaves facing out away from the backing. but it can be a bit cumbersome when it comes time to wrap everything with foil. When arranging your composition directly on the backing.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 8 You may want a thin knife or spatula. . I first arranged my dust bunnies composition directly on the plexiglass sheet.1. I find that I get better results with feathers if the back of the feather is facing the backing. Consequently. or (2) you can arrange your composition on the foil and then lay the backing on top of the composition. For good detail. So for this example. remember that left and right will be reversed when the plate is printed. my sweetie has long hair. I wanted to show something that would be hard to print using the traditional collagraph approach. a needle or pin. let’s have a look at the making of the plate for my print “Dustbunnies”. and tweezers to help position your specimen. Once you have your specimen and your backing materials. II.B. and we live with two dogs and a cat. we always have lots of dust bunnies around the house. I have a beard and long hair. On the other hand. I decided to print dust bunnies. there are two ways to proceed: (1) you can arrange your composition directly on the smooth backing and then cover with aluminum foil. Composing on the Backing Arranging your specimen directly on the backing initially seems natural. As an example of this approach.
. Once you have a composition to your liking. I find that pressed flower petals adhere very well to the surface of the plate with no glue. Cut the foil so it is big enough to completely cover the backing and the subject and still leave enough to fold around by an inch or so on all sides. And certainly if you wish to recover the specimen after printing. hair (not appropriate in this example!). you may find it useful to put a VERY SMALL touch of repositionable glue on the back of some things to keep them from moving around. I put the foil DULL SIDE OUT. place the backing and specimen on a smooth clean work surface. I find the repositionable glue sold in stick form is the best. Now. You may find it useful to use a paintbrush to remove any stray bits of lint or other unwanted material from the plate. DO NOT FOLD IT YET!!! Place the foil over the backing with the specimen in place. I like to use repositionable glue so I can move objects around if I place them incorrectly the first time. specimen on top. which shows up as texture in the print. and it always seems to give too thick a coat.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 9 Figure 3: Dust bunnies arranged on plexiglass Depending on your subject matter. you want to remove a piece of kitchen aluminum foil from the roll. Keep the backing as free of lint. you do not want to glue it down with permanent glue. and gently smooth out the foil. and small bits of trash as you can. I have tried using the spray glue. keeping it as wrinkle free as possible.
Figure 4: Foil wrapped on two sides If your specimen is well adhered to the backing plate. you may find it easier to put the foil down on a flat surface. carefully pick up the backing. flip the plate with the specimen over and gently lay the whole works down on the foil. In any case. you want to tape the foil to the backing. you may want to put more tape. .Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 10 shiny side against the specimen. With the foil on top. pull the foil tight without tearing it and put tape at each of the other corners. Then you can reach under and lift the sandwich up without disturbing the composition. flip the sandwich over so you can get at the back of the plate. Place the backing with specimen on top. Begin by putting a small piece of tape near the two corners of one edge. For large plates. Then on the other edge. on the table. with part of the backing hanging over the edge. specimen. Then being very careful not to shift the specimen. Then drape the foil carefully over the specimen and plate. leave the two ends unfolded for the moment. as I find the dull side takes ink a bit better. I find I get fewer wrinkles if I press the tape to the foil and then use the tape to pull the foil at a diagonal toward the nearest corner. and the foil as a sandwich. From the rear of the plate. Fold the foil over the edges and around to the back of the plate on the left and right sides.
Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 11 Figure 5: Foil taped to back of plate You are now ready to finish the plate by using some kind of press. you may find it easier to use the second approach mentioned above and make your composition directly on the foil. Take a piece of foil a bit larger than your backing and place it on top of the felt. dull side down. Composing on the Foil Depending on the type of material you are dealing with.B. Begin by placing a couple of pieces of thin.. with regard to left and right. Figure 6: Foil on felt.2. shiny side up. the composition will appear as it does on the foil .. left and right will NOT be reversed. shiny side up . When making your composition directly on the foil. fabric store felt down on a firm work surface. remember that when printed. II.
Figure 8: Using backing outline. using the plate marks as a guide. Figure 7: Press backing into foil to mark outline.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 12 Then place the backing material on top of the foil and press down lightly to mark the outline of the backing material on the foil. arrange your specimen directly on the foil. and remove backing Next remove the plate and. With the foil-specimen-backing sandwich lying on the felt. gently place the backing on top of the specimen. . arrange specimen on foil Being careful not to shift the specimen around on the foil.
and then go on to other alternatives.C. you now need to use a press of some kind. an etching press gives the best results.1. very good results can be had with a number of other press types. Cut two long "rails" (as long at the bed of your press) about 1 inch wide of the same material as the backing you are using to make the plate. such as fine down. Put the two rails along the two sides of the press bed for the press roller to ride on.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 13 just carefully fold the foil over onto the back of the backing on two opposing sides and tape it in place. Adjust the roller pressure with the felts in place between these rails and the press roller.e. At the end we will discuss how to remove blemishes from the finished plate. We will begin with the etching press. Because of its high pressure and rolling action. Finishing the Plate In order the finish the plate.C. stretch) away from the thickest parts of your specimen and . except for very thin material. you are ready to put it through the etching press. Etching Press Once the sandwich is made. II. However. Figure 9: Replace backing.too much pressure causes the foil to "flow" (i. II. This prevents too much pressure from being applied to the aluminum foil -. fold and tape foil on two edges You are now ready to finish the plate by using some kind of press.
. and the hard backing plate (with the foil folded around it) against the press bed. Arrange the plate so that the first pass through the press will roll toward the thickest part of the specimen first . When I first started. I now usually dispense with the dampened paper and just rely on the pressure and flexibility inherent in the press blankets. Use pretty good pressure. like plant stems. However. with blankets in place. you should have a very smooth sandwich with the details of the specimen embossed in the aluminum foil. This seems to produce fewer wrinkles. resulting in a puncture or a tear. The unfolded ends of the tinfoil should go front and back through the press. I usually run the press forward and then back. After going through the press. Figure 10: Foil package on press bed with rails in place . with the foil covered specimen facing the press blankets. with the folded foil at the sides. so the sandwich goes through the press twice. You may find that you get better detail with some specimens if you do the same. so the thickest part of the specimen goes under the roller first. I used dampened paper over the sandwich when I was making the plate. Try to avoid abrupt edges in the specimen.. Run the whole thing through your etching press.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 14 become very thin. Place the sandwich between the rails. If possible taper the edges of thick items.
and indeed it is not a good idea to do so. or it will become permanent. and replace the foil. . Most wrinkles can be removed by rubbing along the wrinkle with a cotton swab. fold the remaining two foil edges over and around to the back of the plate. Remove the trash with a fine. or other trash under the foil. I re-did the dust bunnies plate several times to get it the way I wanted it. pull toward the midline of the plate and tape them to the backing.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 15 Check your composition at this point. It should be sufficient to use a piece of tape at each end. When you look at the plate. Figure 11: Initial dust bunnies plate from etching press You will find a final version of the plate below. To remove these. If you find the material has shifted. You do not need to run a whole line of tape continuously around the edges. you may discover that there are wrinkles in the foil where you do not want them to be. never rub crosswise to the wrinkle. you must carefully untape the foil and lift it. You may also discover that there are small pieces of lint. or if you do not like the composition. and perhaps a piece in the middle if the plate is large. The blemish in the foil can then be removed by rubbing it with a cotton swab. dust. dry brush. just start over with a fresh piece of foil. When you are happy with the look of the plate.
Unlike the example in figure 12. you are advised to trim the ends of the foil before taping to the backing. Figure 13: Correct taping . as it is in figure 12. If necessary.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 16 Figure 12: Undesirable taping Unless the plate is very small. whereas taping the foil to other bits of foil allows the whole thing to move and shift. Taping the foil to the backing keeps it in place relative to the backing. not to other parts of the foil. you may be able to see bits of lint that need to be removed or see items that have shifted position. I do not like to have the back completely covered by foil. It is useful to have bare areas of the plate to which to tape the foil. you should try to tape the foil to the backing. And if you are using plexiglass backing.
and then sticking it back down. and then finally stick the free end of the tape down to the backing. And with flower petals. . You should now have a complete plate. consisting of a backing. and you may want to re-tighten it by lifting the tape from the backing. as described above. The tab will allow you to more easily lift the tape if you need to re-tighten the foil later. Stick the tape well down to the loose foil edge. although you are pulling toward the midline. Figure 14: Finished dust bunnies plate You will be amazed at how much detail shows in the foil.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 17 When taping. It is easier to get good tension if you use the tape to help pull the foil. you should angle your tension at each end of the foil toward the adjoining edge. you get all the fine detail of the down. You want to avoid wrinkles in the middle of the sides. Use the tab on the free end of the tape to pull the foil. As you print. You will find it easier to do if you make a tab on the end of the tape you attach to the backing. pull the edges of the foil tight and tape them down again. With feathers. you can sometimes actually see the pores in the leaf. then make a tab on the free end by folding the tap on itself. pulling on the foil. Then you can easily free the tape from the backing. all covered with aluminum foil which wraps around everything on all sides. you can actually see the veins in the petals. with a specimen on top. the foil may tend to stretch a little. With leaves.
You will only need one of these little casters. potter’s slab press. an etching press.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 18 The challenge is to ink the plate in such a way as to reveal these details. one screwed into each corner of the bottom. circular skid plates. The threaded stub will have a nut on it. just drill a 9/32 hole in the center. These casters are designed to replace the little skid plates with rollers so you can move your fridge or stove around. Buy the largest diameter ball drawer pull you can find . you need an action like squeezing a tooth paste tube.. you now have a palm press. there is a way to achieve very good results by hand.5 inches in diameter. The one that I use is easily made from readily available materials. Get a 9/32 inch drill. There will be a short threaded stub out the top of each metal case. and I suspect that is a North American standard. Each caster consists of two small diameter plastic rollers. you can take a scrap piece of 2x4 and saw out a circle about 2 inches in diameter. III. housed in a metal case.. or something similar seems to be required. Careful .2 The Palm Press To make the best possible plate. You could also use an old door knob for a handle. they make a platform type that the whole appliance sits on .. just screw the handle down onto the caster as tight as you can.. and drill out the hole in the drawer pull.C. squeezing out air and stretching the foil over the specimen in a continuous movement from one end to the other. The best alternative that I have found to an etching press for making foilographs is a simple palm press. Take the nut off.. essentially for leveling the appliance. if you can find the kind that screws onto the square rod through the door that the old latches used to have. if you cut your own. The threaded stub on the casters I have is 5/16 inch in diameter. For best results. Your fridge or stove comes with 4 small. Now. You need to start with pressure at one end of the sandwich and move toward the other end. lithographic press. . Or. You want a package of four casters.. You want a set made to go on a fridge or stove. but they usually come as a set of 2 or 4.. However.. Go to the hardware store and look at the array of casters for furniture that are for sale. you want something at least 1. Presto . that is NOT what you want. use epoxy to hold it in place.
Cover the sandwich with two pieces of thin.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 19 Figure 15: Making a simple palm press To use your palm press to make a foilograph plate. specimen. Figure 16: Place felt on top . fabric store felt. The backing should be on the bottom. with the specimen next and the foil at the top. like a table top. foil sandwich on a firm surface preferably below waist high. place your backing.
and keeping your arms stiff. you now roll the palm press forward and off the far edge of the Figure 18: First passes plate. Pick up the press and bring it back to the lower edge of the plate again. put both hands on top of the press. Then turn the plate with felts around 180° and . and continue making overlapping strokes from the bottom to the top until you have gone over the entire surface of the plate.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 20 Next use the palm press to press the foil around the specimen. Figure 17: Palm press position In this position. Place the palm press on the bottom edge of the plate. lean onto the press with your upper body.
Figure 20: Third passes Figure 21: Fourth passes . essentially rolling over the plate in the opposite direction. Figure 19: Second passes Next turn the plate 90° and repeat the same steps going from side to side.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 21 repeat the process.
Figure 23: Trimming ends and removing wrinkles . Figure 22: Plate in initial condition One thing we want to do is to cut off the excess of aluminum foil at the ends of the plate. leaving about an inch or so to fold under. you are likely to produce a small fold which will be almost impossible to remove. We also want to use a cotton swab to rub out any wrinkles that have appeared because of the stretching of the foil. Rubbing lengthways along the wrinkles gives the best chance of smoothing them out. If you rub crossways.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 22 Now we can remove the felt to see how the plate looks.
it may be necessary to carefully peel the tape holding one edge of the foil. retape the foil. and retape. as long . pull the foil to tighten it. you must untape the foil. they should be removed by carefully rubbing along their length with a cotton swab. As with a plate made on the etching press. we need to turn the plate over. the plate is essentially finished. remove them carefully with a dry brush. And if there are any undesirable bits of lint or other trash under the foil. If the foil seems loose. and smooth out the bumps in the foil. Figure 24: Taping the back At this point. Finally we need to fold the foil ends onto the back of the plate and tape them.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 23 Finally. if there are any remaining wrinkles. Figure 25: The finished plate Aluminum foil is quite plastic and will reveal an amazing amount of detail.
C. If this becomes . and under the full leaning weight of your body such small shafts tend to bend. one at each end of the roller. Figure 27: Marble rolling pin As purchased. Two handles are pressed onto the shaft. one at each end. although a wooden one will also work well. Rolling pins of the sort we want to use are constructed with a roller about 2 inches in diameter. I prefer to use a marble rolling pin. a shaft runs longitudinally through the center of the roller and through two plastic bushings. rolling pins for kitchen use come with quite a small shaft. Figure 26: Plate detail II.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 24 as we have used enough pressure in making the plate.3 Rolling Pin It is possible to make decent small foilograph plates using a rolling pin.
For convenience. Cut the new shaft to length. about 5/16 or even 3/8 inch in diameter. Figure 28: Replacement rolling pin shaft Purchase a length of smooth steel rod from the hardware store. . it is a simple matter to replace the shaft with one larger in diameter. using the old shaft as a pattern. Then reassemble your rolling pin. If the handles are too loose on the shaft. Also drill out the handles to be a press fit onto the shaft. with the backing down and the specimen covered with foil facing up. Place the sandwich on a firm surface. then you may have to use glue to hold them in place. lean your body weight onto the rolling pin. With your hands on the handles at each end of the rolling pin and your arms stiff. Cover the sandwich with a couple of pieces of thin fabric store felt. Try just twisting them in opposite directions until they loosen and can be pulled off. Remove the handles from the original shaft. The rolling pin is used in much the same was as the palm press. Use a drill of appropriate size to drill out the bushings to accept your new shaft. Remove the original shaft from the rolling pin. on the plate at the bottom. I will assume that the bottom of the plate is closest to you and the top of the plate is furthest away from you.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 25 a problem. Place the rolling pin on top of the felt.
Figure 29: Using a rolling pin By pushing it away from you, slowly roll the pin from the bottom toward the top of the plate and off the edge. Then turn the sandwich and felt 180 degrees, and roll the pin beginning at the top of the plate and off the bottom edge of the plate. Next, turn the sandwich and the felt 90 degrees, and this time run the rolling pin starting at one side of the plate and off the opposite side. Finally, turn the sandwich and plate 180 degrees and roll the plate one last time in the opposite direction. Now you can remove the felt. The plate should look pretty much as in figure 22. As previously indicated, you can now remove any captured dust particles and smooth wrinkles with a cotton swab. Trim the ends of the foil as in figure 23 and finish the plate by folding the foil ends to the back of the plate and taping them in place, as in figure 24. For large plates, the rolling pin just does not seem to have enough pressure. However, for small plates the rolling pin works quite well. For very small plates, you may have difficulty keeping the pin balanced on top of the plate as you roll it along. To cure this problem, simply place two rails, one along each side of the plate, under the felt, for the rolling pin to rest on.
II.C.4. Platen Press Although a press with a rolling action seems to give the best results when making a foilograph plate, you can obtain excellent results with platen presses unless your material is very fine (e.g. very fine down). A platen press consists of two flat surfaces ... a bed and a platen. Essentially a platen press simply presses the two surfaces together, applying pressure to whatever we have placed between. A relatively cheap, commonly available platen press is a book binding press, sometimes called a nipping press. These presses are usually made of cast iron and are quite heavy. Pressure is applied through a simple screw mechanism by turning a handle. Because of the limitations of the screw action, it is difficult to obtain really high pressures with a book binding press.
Figure 30: Book binding press Better results can be had with a simple home made bottle jack press. There are many designs, and the details are not important. The one illustrated uses a fixed bed and a moveable platen; the bungee chords retract the jack and platen when the valve is turned to release the pressure. The more powerful the jack used, the more pressure can be applied, up to the limit of the press frame. I have found that at least a 6-ton jack is preferable. The larger the plate you want to make, the stronger the jack you should use.
Figure 31: Bottle jack press The process of making the plate with a platen press is much the same as we have already discussed. Simply cover the sandwich with a couple of layers of fabric store felt, and place the whole works on the bed. Then apply pressure. The more pressure you apply, the more detail will be revealed on the plate. Because they do not have a rolling action, platen presses usually produce more wrinkles on the plate. After removing the plate from the press, remove blemishes and smooth wrinkles as previously described. II.C.5. Mallet Press There was a German patent issued in 1940 for a technique for printing etchings with a mallet. Essentially a mechanism was designed to keep paper from shifting on the plate. In use, an inked plate was place in the apparatus, covered with dampened paper. A pyramidal shaped platen was placed on the back of the paper and hammered with a mallet. I have experimented a bit with making foilograph plates this way. Basically one places the sandwich, covered with a couple of layers of fabric store felt, between two flat boards and then hammers away with a mallet. In theory it should work just fine. The impetus of the hammering should mold the aluminum foil around the specimen. But in my experiments, I did not find the technique to produce consistent
you may find that there are wrinkles in the surface of the foil. These wrinkles will hold ink and print if they are not removed. Rather. you might try using a very slightly damp brush if you are having difficulty with a particularly recalcitrant particle. Do not rub across a wrinkle. You may find that there are stray bits of hair and dust that have been caught under the foil. as this will tend to produce fine folds in the foil which are impossible to remove. you may carefully smooth them out by rubbing them with the back of a fingernail or with a cotton swab. If there are any small wrinkles in the foil. After the offending particles have been removed.C. be sure the tape is firmly attached to the foil and use it as a “handle” to pull and stretch the foil tightly around the backing. Again. You may then use a fine water color brush or something similar to carefully brush lint from the surface of the backing. you may also find that rubbing length wise along a wrinkle with your finger will remove the wrinkle. If your plate is large enough. . Then tape the foil securely to the back side of the backing. But be careful rubbing with your finger. you may smooth out the lint "bump" with the back of a finger nail or cotton swab. Given the ease of making foilograph plates by other means. Any bump that is visible on the foil will catch and hold ink and be printed. After re-taping. Blemishes After the sandwich has been through the press process. When re-taping the foil.6. so be sure to examine the foil carefully.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 29 results. In order to remove a hair or piece of lint. then you must remove them. Because the foil stretches during the press process. use a fine brush to remove any particle embedded in the foil. Be very careful not to move the specimen during this whole process. In some cases the offending particle will remain embedded in the foil. Because moisture helps reduce electrostatic attraction. I have not pursued this technique. rub along the length of each wrinkle. look at the front surface of the plate very carefully. as the friction will tend to stretch the foil or even tear it. carefully remove the tape and unfold the foil from one edge. But you must be careful not to introduce any moisture under the foil. If you do not want these imperfections to show up on your print. you need to replace and re-tape the foil. II. after forming the plate in the press.
a simple palm press can do almost as well. sprinkle some small seeds on the plate. but not as good as a palm press. But when used carefully. it will be harder to ink the plate properly.C.7. Having spent a lot of time telling you how to remove wrinkles. or after a few prints. and then re-tape it to the backing. you may find that the foil appears to be loose. and you may introduce wrinkles during the printing process. II. here are some plates made with the different techniques. For an example. and you will find a network of wrinkles joining the seeds in a random way.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 30 Figure 32: Dust particles and wrinkles After first forming the plate. Make your plate. Summary Comparison In general an etching press seems to give the best results when making a foilograph plate. let me take a step back and suggest that sometimes the wrinkles can add a great deal to the image. . or some mixture. a bottle jack press will generally yield better results than a rolling pin. For small plates. such as mustard or poppy seeds or small grass seeds. To tighten up the foil. undo the tape from the backing. carefully pull the foil to tighten it. But for larger plates. For comparison purposes. The first plate of this sort I saw was made by Carole Carroll. Such a plate can make very interesting prints. a rolling pin would probably be the next best. If the foil is loose.
The greatest challenge is in inking the plate to achieve the desired results.g. (3) masking. Inking the Plate Figure 36: Bottle jack press plate A foilograph plate is a very low relief plate. III. I think of there being five main inking techniques. as long as you are gentle and do not stretch or pierce the foil. (4) free-hand color application. each producing somewhat different results: (1) blind embossing with no ink. viscosity inking) should work as well for foilographs. Blind Embossing .A.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 31 Figure 33: Etching press plate Figure 34: Palm press plate Figure 35: Rolling pin plate III. Of course these techniques can all be combined in various ways. Any inking method appropriate for collagraphs (e. (2) a basic roll-up. (5) intaglio wiping.
Once the plate is made. I find that water based inks sometimes ball up on the surface. Although lithographic inks have very good pigment content. Oil based inks seem to work the best.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 32 A blind embossing is a design impressed into paper without any ink. creating wrinkles and spreading ink into unwanted areas. then obviously no inking is required. If you have particularly fluffy paper and a high pressure press. foilograph plates are very good for producing blind embossings. as with Japanese woodblock printing. For blind embossing. I have tried mixing pigments with rice paste. just place your paper over the plate and run it through your press. you may be able to produce acceptable emobossings on dry paper. If you are only going to do blind embossing.B Inks Because it is aluminum. Thick papers made for etching work well for such an application. Applying very sticky ink to the plate tends to lift and stretch the foil. Some additional plasticiser such as honey seems to be required. it is best to dampen your paper. but the resulting ink just balled up on the aluminum. However. they are far too sticky . and the foil will not last as long as with damp paper. Figure 37: Blind embossing III. Any good quality oil based ink formulated for block printing will work well. Although there will be some loss of detail. Speedball water based inks seem to work fine. though their pigment content is not high. dry paper is much harder on the plate.
or “Pure Grain Alcohol”. Aluminum reacts very readily with many materials. water-mixable oils seem to dry a lot faster than inks specifically made for print making. Some inks may react with the aluminum and discolor slightly. they may be added directly to the stand oil on your inking slab and thoroughly mixed with a spatula or pallet knife. you may wish to add a drop of cobalt drier to ensure proper drying. you may begin with artist’s grade stand oil from any good art supplier. Isopropyl alcohol can be purchased in drug stores and can be found 99% pure in many locales. I have used stand oil and pigment dispersions from Guerra in New York in this way. I have gotten quite reasonable results with water-mixable oil colors but again find they are best thinned slighty. Mix the dry powdered pigment with enough alcohol to make a paste. They tend to clump and ball up because the oil does not penetrate the powder well. I find that even etching inks are too sticky unless well thinned. The viscosity of stand oil is suitable for inking a foilograph plate. but they may also work.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 33 to use unthinned on a foilograph plate. again.C. Dry pigments are difficult to mix directly into stand oil. I find that I need to use dampened paper to get the ink off the plate. To ensure proper drying. If you like to make your own inks. dry pigments can be use if you first make a paste with the pigment and very pure isopropyl or ethyl alcohol. To avoid stretching your foil. it is best to buy the highest grade available from an artist’s supply store. If your ink is too sticky. In some locations you can buy ethyl alcohol that is 95% pure (190 proof). then thin it with artist’s quality linseed oil. Then mix the pigment paste with the stand oil to make your ink. “Ever Clear”. When using water-mixable oils. it is sold under trade names like “Clear Spring”. Since you will not be using much oil. If you are using print dispersions. Inking Tools . However. you may want to add a drop of cobalt drier. I have not tried other oil paints. III. Only experimentation will help you find out what color you will get with a specific ink on your aluminum foil. Ethyl alcohol is what is found in booze. your ink should have the consistency of oil paint.
Furniture glides work well for the disks and are available in a variety of sizes at most hardware stores. Smaller sizes are readily available in most art supply stores. the brown butcher paper works just as well. You will also need a variety of ink rollers. which may be secured in place with string or a rubber band. grease and oil. A hard dabber may be inked with a roller. the surface of the disk may be covered with a thin layer of felt. and place the shiny. Hard dabbers are useful for applying ink to the high spots of a plate. Brayers come in a variety of sizes and degrees of hardness. print makers usually call this an inking slab. depending on the size you need) to the end of the dowel. and any felt.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 34 You will need a convenient place to roll out your inks. These papers have a plasticised side that is impervious to water. or “brayers”. clean up is simple . Hard dabbers are made by using a small piece of dowel or similar material for a handle and gluing or screwing a small disk (1 inch to 2 inches in diameter. I have specified white because it is easier to see your colors on white paper. is covered with a layer of smooth leather or fine mesh silk or similar material. Figure 38: Variety of brayers You will also want to have a few large. hard dabbers. But a more convenient inking slab to use is a piece of white butcher paper or freezer paper. After you are finished. plasticised side up and tape it to a firm surface with masking tape. For a bit of softness. You will want some brayers that are quite hard (often made from plexiglass rod) and some that are softer. Or . so your ink should not penetrate the paper. just throw it away. Finally the disk... You can use a piece of plexiglass or a piece of real glass. Cut off a piece of convenient size. which you can buy in most large grocery stores. but except for color distortion.
Do NOT use mat board or rolled up felt to scrape ink across the surface of the plate as you would with an etching. I make my hard dabbers with smooth leather scraps. Instead. you may apply ink by hand to specific areas of the plate by using soft dabbers. Generally you get smoother results with a soft dabber. you may ink specific areas with a paint brush or a dabber. Cloth coverings would have to be removed and washed after each use. Such measures tend to stretch and/or tear the foil. Figure 39: Hard dabbers In addition to hard dabbers. The hard dabber is used to apply ink to the high parts of the plate by carefully pressing the dabber against the appropriate parts of the plate. Paint brushes tend to leave brush marks.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 35 it may be inked by using it to smear a bit of ink around on the inking slab. They may be cleaned by using vegetable oil followed by soap and water. Figure 40: Soft dabbers .
first the ink should be rolled out on an inking slab with a “brayer”. You . bouncing motion. Another useful soft dabber is made from a cut off finger from a nitrile glove. insert a cotton swab for use as a handle. Cosmetic sponges are hard to clean. They may be bought cheaply at most cosmetics outlets or drug stores. and rubber bands. Simply place a few cotton balls in the middle of a square of fabric. To use a soft dabber. Then dab the head several times on a clear portion of the inking slab until the ink is evenly distributed.D. hold the dabber by the tail handle and dab the head of it into the ink on your inking slab.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 36 Cosmetic sponges make very decent soft dabbers. Then bring the corners of the fabric together and twist to make a tadpole shape. it may simply be discarded. III. secure the “tail” with a rubber band. or ink roller. If cheap material is used. cotton balls. You can also use a soft dabber to gently smear ink into recessed areas of the plate. These dabbers can be cleaned after use by throwing away the cotton balls and washing the material covering in soap and water. but are so cheap they may simply be discarded after use. Finally. You can also easily make soft dabbers from most any close weave fabric. A "dab" is a light. Simply place a cotton ball or two in the tip of the finger. The tail forms a convenient handle. You will have to re-ink the dabber frequently. and secure the cut off finger to the swab with a rubber band. The tendency of beginners is to use way too much ink. Then apply the ink to the plate by dabbing with the inked tadpole. Roll-up To do a simple roll up.
Figure 41: Memories of summers past III. You must be careful to avoid getting sharp lines when you reapply the brayer to the plate. Then resting the inked brayer on the rails. You may wish to change the orientation of the plate relative to the roller in order to produce a more uniform inking. you will have to re-ink your brayer many times. you may find it useful to place the plate between two rails of the same thickness as the backing. use less ink. avoid . The ink is applied to the foilograph plate by rolling the brayer very lightly over the surface. Depending on the amount of ink desired. The softer the roller. the more ink will get on the shallower parts of the plate. if in doubt.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 37 want a very. The print in Figure 41 was produced by a simple roll up using thinned sepia etching ink.E. you may wish to run the roller over the plate several times. If you are using a small diameter brayer. This process will put ink on the high spots of the plate. Experimentation will allow you to determine the look you like. Strive for a smooth transition from lights to darks. You should just use the weight of the brayer itself. Particularly for small plates.g. very thin coat of ink on your brayer . only the highest details will receive ink. Masking If you want to limit the ink application to only a certain part of the plate (e. simply run the roller over the plate. without applying any other pressure. If you use a very hard roller.. leaving a halo around them..
Use the mask when inking. . use a cotton swab and alcohol to carefully remove any stray ink from the plate. or else the mask will change dimensions as it dries. before printing. and when you are finished inking. Figure 42: Mylar mask You can also make a mask from plain paper. Then put the sheet on some other backing and use a knife to cut out the shape of the specimen. then you can use clear plastic sheet for a mask. Then cut out the mask. Use dry paper. Spaying a paper mask with fixative or painting it with shellac or acrylic medium will make it last longer. Place the plastic over the plate and use a felt pen to draw around the specimen. Either make a blind embossing or ink up the plate and then print it with light pressure on the paper mask material.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 38 getting ink on the plate around the outside of a leaf).
producing a stripe of each ink on the brayer. A brayer is then run through the adjacent ink. with a blend between the stripes. two or more colors are laid out close together on one inking slab. Using a rainbow roll on the plate. For a rainbow roll.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 39 Figure 43: Horse chestnut Using a mask with a rainbow roll can produce very nice results. it is possible to ink with multiple colors that shade nicely into each other. Figure 44: Stair step moss . My print of stair step moss was done using this technique and three colors.
Both soft and hard dabbers are very useful for this purpose.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 40 III. you may prefer to apply ink to specific parts of the plate in a freehand manner. . and cotton swabs to get color on the bit of leaf and the few wood chips. Figure 45: Inking dust bunnies The dust bunnies plate was hand inked using soft dabbers for the blue. a hard dabber to get black on the suface of some of the hair.You may also ink the plate by using a nitrile or latex glove and using a finger to gently smear the ink around on the plate.F. Freehand In some cases.
it is too sticky and will stretch and tear the foil. Be sure your ink is quite loose. hold it in one gloved hand. working it well into low spots. place it on a non-slip surface.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 41 Figure 46: Dust bunnies print III. This . Look at the plate to see how much ink has been removed.G. If the plate is small enough. Try to gently move your hand in a very small circular motion on the paper. I prefer to use soft dabbers to apply and smear the ink. and use very light pressure with your hand on the paper. Then use news print or old phone book pages to very gently wipe the plate. The paper may stick to the surface of the plate at first. Carefully remove and discard the paper. and trying to move your wiping hand in a circular motion. and replace it by another. Eventually you will feel the paper begin to slide over the plate. if the plate is too large. Try not to lift of stretch the foil. Keep removing the inked paper and replacing it by fresh. Place a sheet of paper over the inked plate. Others may prefer to use their gloved fingers. Remember that you cannot use straight etching ink for this process. You will begin by more blotting than wiping. Intaglio You may also use intaglio techniques for inking the plate. The basic idea is to gently apply ink in blobs to the plate and then gently smear the ink around.
After wiping the plate. you can gently wipe the high spots by hand using a nitrile glove or with a piece of newsprint to remove the ink from the high spots. . Alternatively.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 42 wiping process will tend to leave ink in the low parts of the plate and remove it from the high parts. After doing a roll-up or using a mask. III. you may wish to add contrast and modeling by applying one color to the recessed parts of the plate and a different color to the high portions of the plate. Often inking obscures some of the details available on the plate.. Figure 47: Light as . you can create quite intricate gradations in color and tonal quality. To reveal details. you may then use a hard dabber or a hard roller to apply another color to the high parts of the plate. you can produce very subtle gradations of tone. it may be useful to wipe ink from the higher parts of the plate as is done in intaglio. Combination Techniques Of course all of these inking techniques may be applied in combinations. By using different colors of ink on different parts of the plate and carefully blending the areas during smearing and wiping..H. By differential wiping.
However. Very smooth papers. lighter weight papers tend to give me better details than heavier weight papers. Thin Japanese papers may be printed damp or dry. such as BFK Rives. Then use a hard brayer to apply a stiffer ink to the high parts of the plate. for most subjects you can get quite acceptable results with dry paper. Then use a hard brayer to apply a water based ink to the high areas. Paper selection can greatly influence the outcome. The hard brayer will help to keep the ink application on the high parts. you may use a thin.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 43 As an aid in this two color inking process. such as card stock or cover stock. Rice paper must be printed dry. As with intaglio. IV. if you use dampened paper. In practice. In practice. But remember that if you are using water-mixable oils. Next. one could begin by appling an oil based ink to the lower parts of the plate using a dabber or a soft brayer. A very thin. But heavier papers may be printed either damp or dry. one can rely on a technique from intaglio printing. you will probably have to use dampened paper just to get the color to come off. But card stock is very hard paper. I find that water based inks will not adhere when applied on top of oil based inks. Printing the Plate IV. known as viscosity inking. You can also get good detail on oriental “rice” papers. This was the process used to produce the print of Oregon grape in Figure 1. Gently wipe the high parts with newsprint. reveal quite fine details. you will pick up the ink in the little crevices of the plate. . soupy ink will reject a stiffer ink. gently wipe the high areas with newsprint. Paper Selection Having inked the plate you are now ready to print. On the other hand. In its original form. I really like fluffier papers. I find I get finer details with dampened paper. soupy ink on a soft roller or dabber to ink the lower parts of your plate. and consequently it is hard on the plate. As a generalization. as long as you do not use water mixable oils. but the very finest details sometimes do not show up on it. a thin ink will cover a stiff ink. So. A variant of the viscosity technique is based on the fact that in general water and oil do not readily mix. the technique relied on the fact that inks of very different viscosities would not stick together readily. You can apply this principle to get multicolors on your plate.A.
and finally the plate. and the plate pulls on the upper roller. the shorter the life of the plate. Basically you just lay your selected paper. A second problem with using the etching press to print the foilograph plate is the high pressures which may result unless a great deal of care is exercised. As a last resort. However. to see what suits you and your subject. The heavier the pressure. put a couple of layers of fabric store felt on the bed. dry or damp. on top of the plate.B. paper on top. seems to stretch the foil more. . you will want to print it. producing wrinkles. on my press.. then the paper. the foil pulls on the plate. In fact. If I place felts on the bed. which will pull on the foil. then the paper. there are some good reasons NOT to do so. The blanket will pull on the paper. dry and damp. You do not need to use an etching press to print it. it may help to turn the plate 90 degrees to your normal orientation.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 44 As with most everything else in printmaking. rather than the plate to pull the foil. If you are printing with the plate on the bed. With the printing surface facing the driving roller. Using the foil to pull the plate. Just as when making the plate. Presses Once the plate is made and inked. some small etching presses with small diameter top rollers suffer from blanket creep . In cases of blanket creep.. the blanket tends to be dragged by the top roller. One of the primary problems with using an etching press to print your plate is that it tends to stretch the aluminum foil. and use some means of applying pressure. then the plate (printing the plate face down. In some cases. covered by the etching felt. use a bit less pressure on the top roller. so the foil will become very thin at the high spots and eventually tear. rather than turning the top roller. IV. the bed pulls on the felts. Cover with a couple of pieces of fabric store felt.. I find it useful to put two rails down the side of the bed. the felts pull on the paper. The problem of stretching is worsened if the printing surface of the foil is closest to the driving roller. the driving roller is below the bed.. you can sometimes lessen stretching by printing the plate “upside down” . Aluminum tends to flow under pressure. the paper pulls on the foil. the following sequence happens: the driving roller pulls on the bed. then the felts. you really need to experiment with papers. then the paper. For example. then I get more stretching than if I place the plate on the bed. as it were). and you have blanket creep. then you are very likely to stretch the foil when you print. you may have to use velcro strips to attach the etching felt to the bed.
.. and cover the whole with a thick cushion layer. there is less wrinkling of the aluminum foil. using the toes and balls of the feet to apply pressure all over. so there should be less of a problem with wrinkling the aluminum foil. then cover with some cushion material (felt. Walking presses can be quite simple or more complicated. try placing an extra loose sheet or two of thin felt from the fabric store over the paper. and cover with a cushion (felt or foam) also between the rails. you can use a letter press. To print your foilograph plate. These techniques produce less shearing action. an improvised bottle jack or car jack press.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 45 made of the same material as the plate backing. Also. For simple in-line pressure presses (letter press. cover with a sheet of paper. If you are not getting good results. A walking press consists of a simple backing board with a long leather or (or similar material) flap attached at one end of the backing board. book binding press. lean over the rolling pin with stiffened arms to put pressure on the rolling pin. just place the plate on a backing board. Place the rolling pin on the rails. The plate-paper-feltcushion sandwich is placed on the backing board and wrapped with the flap to hold everything in place as the user walks around on top of the flap. then the paper. Since there is no shearing action. place the plate on a firm table between two rails of the same thickness as the backing. Then the paper and plate should give plenty of pressure to print without stressing the foil unduly. Experience is the best guide. a “walking” press. so your plate should last longer and you will get more impressions from it. Then adjust the pressure so the roller and blankets are riding on the two rails . these printing options generally do not result in as high a pressure as an etching (or similar action) press. firm pressure on the rails should be sufficient. The basic idea is to place the paper over the plate and cover with a cushion (felt or foam). That little bit of extra flexible thickness is often all that is required to get the pressure just right. bottle jack press). or even a “bean can” press. With foilographs. Then with bare feet. and roll over the sandwich. then use less pressure than with dampened paper. foam). If you are using thicker paper. I find this works best if you put a thin layer of felt down. a marble rolling pin. If you are using dry paper. place the whole in the press. and apply pressure. you should use less pressure. good. To print with a rolling pin. walk carefully around on top. You may need to roll over the sandwich several . a book binding press. then the plate. Leave room between the rails for the plate and the paper. Place the paper over the plate between the rails.
I just wipe it with a damp tissue when using water mixable colors. it is a good idea to remove as much of the ink as possible by printing the plate under light pressure several times on paper toweling. Cleaning the Plate If you get too much ink on your plate or you want to switch to a different color scheme. In preparation for cleaning.C. petroleum jelly). on top of the sandwich. Or you can use soap and water. just remove the aluminum foil to retrieve the specimen. Or you can store the plate. Then place a piece of thin plexiglass across the rails. you must be very carful not to introduce liquids beneath the foil. use stiffened arms to put pressure on the can. It may help to apply a small amount of lubricant to the bottom of the can (e. Alcohol on a bit of cotton batting works well to clean foilograph plates. or when you have finished printing your edition. Place a small can of tinned vegetables or fruit on end on top of the plexiglass. Advanced Topics V. Then place both hands on the top of the can. provided that the enclosed specimen is well dried and will not mold. Place the plate-paper-cushion sandwich between rails as with the rolling pin.. V. and rub the can all around the plexiglass. If the ink dries on the plate.A. A “bean can” press works in much the same way as the rolling pin press. The same technique will work using the palm press described earlier. After printing. Alcohol and water can also sometimes be used to remove dry inks. I use tissue and a bit of vegetable oil. or you will produce bubbles and wrinkles that ruin the plate. note that the aluminum foil is reasonably delicate. As a last result. you will want to clean your plate. IV. acetone will generally remove dried inks. so wrap the plate in newspaper to preserve it for future use. I find I can sometimes get it off easily by just buffing softly with a dry tissue.g. For normal oily inks. No matter what you use. A marble rolling pin works just as well as the very expensive stainless steel “pin press” sold by art suppliers.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 46 times to get a good image. To clean the plate. Multiple Passes and Plates . If you want to keep the plate.
Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 47 In the printing. Or they may be made from brass. aluminum or plastic. thin tab about an inch long and 3/4 of an inch wide with a small perpendicular dowel at one end. In Figure 49. You could use paper for your carrier sheet. the tape should attach to the backing material of the plate. one fundamental question concerns whether there will be just one pass through the press or multiple passes. The carrier sheet must be long enough to extend well beyond the plate. but I prefer to use plastic since any stray ink can be easily wiped off. . I made some simply by cutting small pieces of thin plexiglass and gluing a short 1/4 inch plexiglass dowel at one end. registration is more of a problem because usually the foil wrapped around the edges of the backing does not give a precise registration edge. Figure 48: Registration pins The basic idea is to use double backed tape to attach the plate to one end of a carrier sheet consisting of a long piece of mylar. Multiple passes and/or multiple plates introduce the usual problems of registration. The dowel must be the exact size of the holes made by the punch (frequently 1/4 inch or the metric equivalent of 6 mm). You want to be able to print the plate but keep one end of the carrier sheet from going under the roller or pressure plate. or similar material. To be sure the plate stays in position on the carrier sheet. not to the foil. Registration pins of stainless steel may be purchased from lithographers’ supply outlets. There are some simple pin registration techniques which work well. Each registration pin consists of a flat. I have used a piece of blue paper for the carrier sheet for ease of viewing. acetate. With foilograph plates.
So. Carefully note that the registration pins must be placed in such a way that they do not go under the roller of the etching press nor under the pressure plate of the inline press. Using the two or three hole punch ensures that the holes are placed at the same position in all of your material. You can then easily remove the carrier sheet. That is why the carrier sheet is generally quite long. Use the same paper punch to punch holes in one end of the printing paper. attach the plate to the carrier sheet. Position the plate+carrier sheet . For a bottle jack press or similar press. you will probably need to make an extra bottom plate or “sliding board” of plexiglass or other material that extends out to the side beyond the pressure plate. but you will be able to replace the carrier sheet exactly where it was before by placing the holes in the carrier sheet over the pins on the bed.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 48 Figure 49: Registration technique Use a two or three hole paper punch to punch holes in the end of the carrier sheet. You can then position the inked plate+carrier and the paper on the plexiglass bottom plate and then slide it into position in the press. Then you can use lithographers’ registration pins or similar devices taped to the bed or bottom plate of the press to locate the plate on the bed. Ink the plate. The carrier sheet may be placed on this extra bottom plate with the registration pins positioned out of the way of the pressure plate. leaving the pins taped in place.
Place the transparent print from the first plate on the registration pins over the second plate. Since your printing paper is punched and registered to the same pins as your plates.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 49 on the pins. In this way you can over-print one plate several times. Place your second plate in approximately the right position. After one pass through the press. Place a second carrier sheet on the pins. Attach your first plate to a carrier sheet as before. then one can produce very nice results using plates made with embossing powder. Use the pins to place the paper over the plate. perhaps changing the inking at each pass. Embossing powder is essentially very fine particles of plastic that will melt under . the end of the paper with the registration holes can be cut or torn away. Then you can use the registration pins to reposition the paper exactly. Then instead of printing on paper. Remove the transparent print and the first plate with its carrier sheet.B Embossing Powder Plates I owe the idea for the technique of using embossing powder to make plates to Fred Mullet. When you have the second plate properly positioned. Then you can replace the plate on the pins exactly where it was before by using the registration pins and the holes in the carrier sheet. But the general characteristics of the subject are retained. but do not tape it to the carrier sheet yet. remove the carrier sheet with the plate. print on a piece of mylar or other clear material that is also punched and registered on the pins. You can use the same technique to align several plates to print in registration with each other. V. you should be able to print multiple plates in registration on your paper. Cover with cushions as usual. use double backed tape to tape it in position on the second carrier sheet. and re-ink the plate leaving it attached to the carrier sheet. In this way you can register as many plates as you like to each other. If one is more concerned about artistry and not so much concerned about biological accuracy. Much biological accuracy is lost because of the embossing powders tend to form small lumps when fused. to whom I extend my very warm thanks. you can remove the paper. After printing. You can then use the image on the transparent sheet as a guide to position the second plate.
The inked areas should appear dull from the adhering powder. you want to remove all the excess powder. You could make a design with a paint brush instead of a leaf print. Gently refold the paper. Be careful not to set the paper on fire. You will need a good heat gun to fuse the powder. Be sure to put the lid back on your powder container at this point. Now you are ready to fuse the embossing powder. Next. . Direct the flow from the heat gun onto the powdered print.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 50 moderate temperature. You can buy heat guns for stripping paint or welding plastic. As it gets hot. Carefully go over the entire print to be sure all the powder has fused. I use an old salt shaker for this purpose. Examine the print closely. and let the powder slide down the crease and back into your container. and in use tends to go everywhere. the powder should fall onto your creased paper. You may see powder in other places on the print. Fold a piece of paper in the middle and then open it out flat on the work surface. Use a small dry brush to dust off areas of the print where the powder should not be. Carefully pick up your creased paper with the excess powder. and many craft stores sell appropriate heat guns. using an oil based ink. First you make a print of a leaf or similar material on good quality card stock or similar paper. so you want to capture it. the powder will fuse. You may want to hold your print down with a couple of stones or something similar at the edges. The powder will adhere to the wet ink. Turn the dusted print upside down over the paper and tap it on the back to remove the excess powder. as the heat gun blows very hot air. The powder is very fine. The excess powder can be re-used. but should not adhere to the dry paper. Then you sprinkle liberal amounts of embossing powder over the print. turning from opaque to shiny. The basic technique is very simple. So be sure to cover your work area with old newspapers or something similar. Set your print to one side. You can purchase embossing powders from most craft stores and from outlets carrying rubber stamps. A hair drier will not do the job. just be sure the ink is not too thick on the paper.
on a stiff backing. At this point. such as plexiglass. wrapped around two sides.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 51 Figure 50: Print with fused embossing powder Once it is fused. Place the paper. Apply pressure from a press. you make a foilograph plate from the embossed paper in the usual way. Finish the plate in the usual way. Cover with aluminum foil. and the plastic should be slightly beaded up on the surface of the paper. These plates are very low relief and require a lot of pressure. the ink should feel dry to the touch. embossing up. Figure 51:Detail of embossing powder plate .
SEND ME COPIES OF YOUR PRINTS !! .Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 52 Because the plate is so low relief. and by all means. Give it a try. experiment with it. Figure 52: Embossing powder plate print CONCLUSION This is a VERY simple technique. perhaps the most successful way to print it is to ink and wipe it as intaglio. Let me know how it works for you. which seems more complicated in the telling than in the doing.
that foil is thin and stretches easily. The linseed oil will dry. If the ink is sticking and the dabber is . you will be unlikely to have much success. and of course much longer when inking a larger plate. circular motion. like Speedball. In general. but less success with water based inks. Remember. and collagraphs. or engravings. like matboard. The first thing I want to emphasize is that intaglio inking is quite time consuming. You need to be careful in your selection of inks. hard applicator. to apply and spread the ink. you will stretch or tear the foil. You need to be prepared to spend 15 minutes inking a small plate. If you try to rush the process. etchings. You may try true water based block printing inks. engravings. You need to use LOOSE ink. You want to loosen your inks with a product that will dry and harden over time. But you will most certainly need to use a retarder to keep water based inks from drying too quickly on the plate. one frequently uses a very stiff. but the oil has been modified to be mixable with water. even most block printing inks are too stiff. I have had the best results using a soft dabber to smear the ink around on the plate. I have had good success with oil based inks. it is quite different from doing collagraph. Take your time . oily stains on your print over time. Other ink additives may lead to creeping. These days many manufacturers are producing inks advertised as “soap and water clean up”. do not be in a hurry. Never do this with a foilograph. Use a gentle. Standard etching inks are much too sticky. When applying the ink to a foilograph. so I thought I would make a few additional comments. The next thing I want to emphasize is that you should use very loose inks for intaglio inking a foilograph plate. When inking a foilograph as intaglio. When inking standard etchings. the characteristics that allow the foil to reveal such fine detail make it difficult to ink with stiff inks.. I have not had good success with acrylics. I find that water mixable oil colors dry much too quickly to be used for intaglio inking of a foilograph plate. like linseed oil..Charles Morgan More Comments on Intaglio Inking Page 53 More Comments on Intaglio Inking A number of students seem to have trouble with intaglio inking of a foilograph plate. You may want to use Miracle Gel or Easy Wipe to loosen your oily inks. Such inks are really oil based inks. I have good results with plain artist’s grade linseed oil.
. Again. twisting motion to blot the plate and take the ink off the high spots. Do not press the dabber down and then lift it straight up.Charles Morgan More Comments on Intaglio Inking Page 54 dragging.. Remove the dabber by sliding it off an edge of the plate. put a few drops of linseed oil on a piece . For water based inks. it means you are dragging an edge or a fold in your wiping paper. you will lift the foil. nonskid material. For oily inks. If you are getting white lines when your are wiping.. I wear disposable gloves to keep ink off my hands.. You are not going to be able to remove all the ink from the aluminum . As more of the ink is removed. do not lift the paper straight up. put your finger near the edge of a piece of paper and use it to wipe the ink from the specimen toward the edge of the plate. even then.. you may want to place it on some rubbery. BE GENTLE. you will not get it shiny clean. rough material. To keep the large plate from slipping. With a foilograph plate. you will be wiping the high surfaces clean and leaving ink in the low spots next to the relief. You could use paper towels or kleenex to wipe the plate from the specimen toward the edge of the plate. I begin with a sheet of paper on my upturned left palm and place the plate flat in my left hand. but not for general wiping of the specimen. Then I cover the inky plate with another sheet of paper flat in my right hand . Try to wipe only with flat material. ink side up. I do not clean between inkings unless there is way too much ink . because that will take too much ink out of the image. you must be much more gentle. engravings. I usually just print the plate several times on paper towel to remove excess ink. Try to wipe the plate. like wiping your palms together. or any similar stiff. For larger plates. Wiping etchings.. moving the paper toward an edge. gently slide the dabber around in the same plane as the foil.. Pay careful attention to your wiping materials and technique. use a lightly moistened kleenex. if you lift the dabber straight up. Remember.. use a gentle. I would not use paper towels or kleenex to wipe the image. BE GENTLE.. you will have to place the plate on a flat working surface. You are looking for good contrast between what is left on the specimen and what is left on the plate. or you will lift the foil .. and collagraphs is usually done with a fair amount of pressure and vigor. I use old phone book pages. For small plates. loosen the ink. The inking is more like a dry point than an etching . NEVER use tarlatan. If you feel you must clean the plate during a run.
Charles Morgan More Comments on Intaglio Inking Page 55 of kleenex and carefully wipe the plate . ... then use clean kleenex to take off the residue. Or you can use baby wipes to clean the plate.
It is very difficult to apply ink to the foil covering exceedingly thin material without getting ink on the background as well. resulting in an unsuitable print. To help solve some of these problems. If the thin material consists of just one area. However.ca www.com © October 22. 2006 Foilograph plates made from very thin subjects offer special challenges when it comes to inking. then using a roller and a simple mask often leads to deposits of ink in the many voids. for some subjects it is difficult using intaglio inking to get good contrast between the subject and the background. And the look obtained by intaglio inking and wiping may not be what is desired by the artist. B. The problems is that there is enough variation in the thickness of various parts of the specimen that a hard roller will miss the thinnest parts. if the thin material is complex in shape. If one uses a very hard roller in an effort to avoid getting ink in the shallow voids.mossworks. V8V 4M2 CANADA (250) 920-0281 cmorgan@uvic. However.C. I have developed a technique which I call . intaglio inking seems to work well. For some thin material. with many voids. like a flower petal. then it is often the case that significant areas of the specimen will remain un-inked. then good results may be had by cutting a close fitting mask of acetate or other thin material and inking the plate with a roller.Charles Morgan Inking Very Thin Subjects Page 56 Inking Very Thin Subjects Using an Inking Sheet and Mask Charles Morgan Mossworks Studio 77 Moss Street Victoria.
Figure 54: Mask in place . Start with the plate face up on a piece of newsprint on your work surface. Then place the mask on the plate.Charles Morgan Inking Very Thin Subjects Page 57 “sheet inking”. Figure 53: Fine down plate The first step is to cut a mask from a piece of acetate or similar material. As an example of a subject that is challenging to ink. You may find it useful to use tape hinges at one end of the mask to make it easier to flip the mask out of the way. I made a foilograph plate from a wispy piece of down. but to return it when needed.
Figure 55: Inking sheet in place Now. inked side down.Charles Morgan Inking Very Thin Subjects Page 58 Rather than using an inked brayer to apply ink to the plate. pressing it lightly down on the plate. Moderation is the key. which is in place on the plate. You can use the developing image of the specimen as a guide to tell where you need to do a bit more with the un-inked brayer. we use a brayer to roll an even coat of ink on the inking sheet. To begin. You will probably need to make several passes with the brayer in several different directions. As you progress. you do not want the ink to be so sloppy thick that it oozes into the low spots on the plate. use an un-inked brayer and a light touch to roll over the back of the inking sheet. you should begin to see the specimen through the inking sheet. . on top of the mask. carefully place the sheet. It is flexible enough to reach appropriate areas of the specimen. Be careful not to move the mask. we will use a sheet of acetate or flexible plastic table cloth material. When the image of the specimen is reasonably clear. but still stiff enough to bridge over the really low areas. My personal preference is to use the thickest version of plastic table cloth material. You will want enough ink on the sheet to transfer readily to the foil covering the specimen. Let your own experience and working habits be your guide. When the sheet is evenly inked. But. you are finished.
you may re-ink the inking sheet and reapply it. But great .Charles Morgan Inking Very Thin Subjects Page 59 Figure 56: Inking sheet after rolling Now you may carefully peel the inking sheet away from the mask and the specimen to reveal the inked plate. Figure 57: Inked plate If the inking is too light.
When the inking is satisfactory. I find that I get the best detail with such plates by printing them dry on very smooth. If there is only a bit of excess ink in a few places. you may proceed to remove the mask and print the plate. like card stock. you must clean the plate and begin again. Again. experimentation is the key. to get the effect you want. . hard paper. damp and dry. so that you may compare the two. Try various papers. you may carefully remove it with a cotton swab. Figure 58: Finished print Getting good detail is especially important with very thin specimens. the tendency is to get too much ink where it is not wanted. If the inking is too heavy. The scan of the print reproduced below has been rotated and flipped to correspond to the orientation of the image of the plate printed above.Charles Morgan Inking Very Thin Subjects Page 60 care is needed to re-apply the inking sheet.
Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 61 Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Charles Morgan Mossworks Studio 77 Moss Street Victoria.ca In order to print a foilograph with your palm press. 2006 (250) 920-0281 cmorgan@uvic. For small plates. Figure 59: Non-slip material Next. flat surface a bit below waist height. This will keep the . B. place the clipboard down on the non-slip material. overlapping strokes with the palm press. you will need to keep the paper from shifting on the plate while you make multiple. put a sheet of non-slip material on a firm.C. V8V 4M2 Canada ©October 21. you can use a clipboard and some of that non-slip rubbery sheet that is sold for shelf liners. but it is cheaper if you buy it where shelf liner is sold in large cut-rate department stores. First. The rubbery stuff can be found in marine and RV supply outlets.
Figure 61: Non-slip on clipboard Place your inked plate on the non-slip material. Position the plate so that it will print where you want it when the paper is under the spring clamp. . This will keep the plate from moving around while you are printing.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 62 clipboard from moving around during the printing process. Figure 60: Clipboard in place Now place another piece of non-slip material on the clipboard. held in place by the spring clamp. inked side up.
Figure 63: Paper in place Cover the paper with two sheets of thin. .Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 63 Figure 62: Plate in place Carefully slip your dampened paper under the spring clamp. fabric store “felt”.
**** That will help keep the paper from moving while you print. Keep your arms stiff and lean your body weight onto the press. Put both hands on top of the press. Place your palm press at the bottom edge.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 64 Figure 64: Place felt under camp ****It is important to start at the end nearest the spring clip. Figure 65: Begin first passes Begin with the palm press toward one side edge of the plate. . with one roller on the plate and one off the plate.
you now roll the palm press forward and off the far edge of the plate. Pick up the press and bring it back to the lower edge of the plate again. The paper will now have the plate mark well embossed. and continue making overlapping strokes from the bottom to the top until you have gone over the entire surface of the plate. Now you want to repeat the process.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 65 Figure 66: Palm press position In this position. . and this will help to hold the paper in position. but beginning at the end of the clipboard away from the spring clip.
You can check on your progress by going to the edge furthest from the spring clip and carefully lifting the top felts and the edge of the paper.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 66 Figure 67: Begin second passes As before. and then roll the palm press forward and off the far edge of the plate. Pick up the press and bring it back to the lower edge of the plate again. put both hands on the palm press. lean your upper body weight onto the press. and continue making overlapping strokes from the bottom to the top until you have gone over the entire surface of the plate. Hopefully your foilograph will now be printed. .
with a resulting double image. at right angles to the original spring clip. and repeat strokes with your palm press in any places that seem too faint. But with two clips so arranged. For me. it becomes more difficult to lift the paper and check on the progress of the print. I have not had good success running the palm press from side to side. let the paper and the top felts relax back into position.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 67 Figure 68: Check progress If the image is not satisfactory. Such shifting could probably be eliminated by putting another clip on the clipboard along one edge. Figure 69: Finished print . doing so almost always results in shifting the paper slightly. Be careful not to shift the paper as you make additional strokes.
. and come equipped with two large spring clips like those found on clipboards. These boards are 18 inches to several feet on a side. you can easily make your own printing board from a piece of plywood or MDF. Simply cut it to size and screw on a couple of spring clips purchased from an office supply store. the process is much the same. Art supply stores sell sketching boards that work very well for our purposes. Alternatively. but of course you will probably need something larger than a clipboard.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 68 For larger plates.
but they are expensive to buy in an appropriate size.Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 69 Bottle Jack Press Charles Morgan Mossworks Studio 77 Moss Street Victoria. The wooden top and bottom bars must be drilled through to take the bolts which attach them to the uprights. and it can even handle most collagraphs and mono-prints. and amply strong.. I use bungee chord to retract the platen and the jack.. The top and bottom bars are made by screwing and glueing two pieces of 2x4 lumber together. and could be used for that. and that is the design I used for this press.mossworks. I have shown it with a 6-ton jack. with the unmoving platen fixed to the top bar. I used threaded “ready rod” for the through bolts. cheap. V8V 4M2 (250) 920-0281 www. One could use 4x4 material.com cmorgan@uvic. In some the jack sits stationary on the bottom and raises the bed. 1 3/8 inches per side.C. but if you are doing only relief work. I personally prefer a press with a fixed bed and a moveable platen. Bungee chords are cheap and easy . One could use springs. B. 2006 This little bottle jack press is very handy for relief printing. There are many designs for such presses available. This material is readily available. 1/8 inch thick. This press has the same action as a bookbinding (or nipping) press. This construction provides ample strength. a 2-ton jack would probably be sufficient.ca © October. it need not be drilled. I used wing nuts to make disassembly easy. Also. cut to appropriate length. light. but it will be more prone to cracking and not be as strong as the laminated design. I used slotted steel angle for the uprights .
as the pressure of the bungee chords and jack will hold them in place.Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 70 to find. But too much flop is to be avoided. parallel to the bottom bar. The bottom plate is centered on the bottom bar. I put two guide screws in the edge of each side of the platen to prevent too much back and forth sway. The platen needs to have some play in order to be self-levelling. If the bungee chord available to you is too wimpy to raise the jack. If you find the jack shifting around in use. The bed is well supported from the bottom. Cover the paper with whatever felt blankets or backing material you choose to use. . And it is desirable to have some means of keeping the ram centered on the top bar. Some designs dispense with the bungee chords and springs altogether. You may find it desirable to use blocks of wood or dowels attached (glued and screwed) to the edge of the platen for the same purpose. I used angle brackets to attach the bed to the bottom bar and the end supports. just glue some corner guides to the top of the platen to match the base of the jack. and one layer is sufficient. Then just slide the plexiglass in place on the bed. I find this to be exceedingly tedious. Be sure the screws for the brackets are shorter than the thickness of the bottom plate so they do not come through the surface. the printing plate needs to be well centered on the bed. A piece of thin sheet metal and a couple of angle brackets would serve the same purpose. the two layers need not be attached to each other. It is undesirable for the ram of the jack to be digging into the wood of the top bar. I use a ruled sheet of plexiglass. especially during an edition. Supports of 2x4 material are attached to the underside of the bottom plate at each end. Place the plate with the paper on top in the center of the plexiglass sheet. simply double it. In use. The jack should be centered on the top of the platen. and they work well. The side to side motion of the platen is restricted by the uprights. In my design. Because I had a piece of scrap. screwed to the underside of the top bar. with a hole cut out for the ram. The platen on my press is just two layers to improve stiffness. I used a piece of box sectioned steel tube. relying on retracting the jack by hand. but one could use plywood. I used old 5/8 inch thick melamine counter top material for the bed and the platen.
be sure the valve on the jack is closed ... Use whatever material is to hand and adjust the dimensions appropriately... When contact is made. problems. most turn clockwise to close. One end of the handle should be a close fit over the head of the valve. And of course I would be delighted to hear from other press makers and to get photos of your creations. The only proviso is that if the bed is much larger. Most jacks are designed so you can use the jack handle for this purpose.. If you have any questions. None of the dimensions nor the material is crucial. lowering the platen. Turn in a counter clockwise direction to release the pressure.. experience and the quality of the print will guide you.. please feel free to contact me. To release the pressure. then a stronger jack must be used for large plates.Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 71 To apply pressure. This action will extend the ram. Then place the jack handle in the appropriate recess and pump up and down. Close the valve when you have enough clearance to slide out the plexiglass sheet with your print and plate.. or suggestions. continue pumping until the desired pressure is obtained . you must open the valve on the jack. Cheers . Charles . and the jack and platen should start to rise.
Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 72 .
Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 73 .
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