FOILOGRAPHY PRINTMAKING

© Charles Morgan Mossworks Studio 77 Moss Street Victoria, B.C. V8V 4M2 CANADA revised October, 2006 www.mossworks.com cmorgan@uvic.ca

Contents
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

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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

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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

and cover all with aluminum foil. It is so simple. After a few years of talking to others about the technique. by Francois Cherrier. Advantages With collagraph. In their technique. By hammering on the board. essentially making a collagraph plate. I have continued to experiment and refine the technique since that time. and finally a board on top of all. 1978. Next a couple of layers of soft fabric are laid on top. it seems someone must have done it before. Further. Although the author talks about making prints using a small press. I. the foil takes the imprint of the design. I would not be outrageously surprised to find that the technique I have called foilography is not completely new. 1972.). what he describes is using the collagraph plate to press multiple images into sheets of aluminum foil. Then glue is spread over the entire surface before covering with aluminum foil. Neither of the two is exactly the process I employ. you glue your bits and pieces to a backing. and neither uses the foil plate to make prints on paper. one begins by glueing pressed leaves down on cardboard. A method for making “silver pictures” is described in the book Things for Children to Make and Do: Craft Starting Points. For one thing. for many nature subjects. by John Hathorn and Ludwik Luksza. Finally the reader is directed to rub the surface with a wad of cotton to bring out the details. as with any print making technique.C. applying acrylic medium badly distorts many delicate subjects. One begins by gluing flattened and dried natural material or paper cutouts to cardboard or plexiglass. several people mentioned that they had heard of something similar. I will briefly describe the references here.K. and hair. much of the detail is lost by the . and then coat it with acrylic or some other reasonably tough coating. Angus and Robertson (U. Methuen of Australia. Then one is directed to spread contact adhesive over the leaves and cardboard. There are a number of problems with collagraphs. fine feathers. A similar method is described in the book A Treasure Trove of Ideas.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 4 PrintAustralia web site in the summer of 2002. I have only been able to track down two specific references. such as down. For the sake of completeness. But the lack of written material perhaps justifies my writing these notes.

and hair. Foilography avoids these problems. if you are not pleased with the composition of your collagraph.D. But there are no acids or chemical baths. the subject is lost forever once it is bonded to the plate and covered with gunk. And the specimen does not get coated with waxy goo. the foilograph technique does not obscure details of natural subjects to nearly the extent that collagraphs do. Finally. For examples. Figure 1: Oregon grape I. And with foilography. you can make another plate and try again. in fact.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 5 coating. In appearance. Figure 1 is a foilograph of Oregon grape. one of my very first. you can recover your original specimen after printing. Fragile materials such as down. Further. it is not possible to change it once you have coated everything with acrylic medium. the foilograph technique brings out many fine details that are hard to see with the naked eye. veins in flower petals and surface detail in leaves get filled in or obscured when coated with acrylic. and there are some disadvantages with . foilograph prints are often similar to soft ground etchings. If you are not happy with the composition. In addition. You probably do not want to take that old rose your grandmother pressed in the family bible and permanently cover it with acrylic. Disadvantages No printmaking technique is perfect. fine feathers. are not nearly so subject to distortion. The only damage to the specimen will be caused by the pressure of the press.

You can print items ranging from extremely thin flower petals to things as thick as . like pine cones or sea shells. cannot be printed with this technique. Simply place the item between two layers of cheap felt from a fabric store. The microwave oven will heat the water in the specimen. such as eggshell. which would be damaged by the pressure of the press. Place the limp material between the pages of a phone book and let it sit for a few minutes. The major difference is that the material and backing plate are “shrink wrapped” in aluminum foil. The time will of course depend on the power of the machine. and pop it all in the microwave. Then the plate is finished by applying pressure with some sort of press. begin by pressing and drying your specimens. You can use well wilted material as well. rather than being coated with acrylic medium. It is best to be cautious. and the hot water will migrate to the felt. Very fragile items. You can always put your material back in the microwave for a bit more time if the item is not quite dry enough. And items with sharp protrusions. a leathery texture is quite good. loosely wrapped in aluminum foil. Specimen Preparation For natural subjects. II. After the initial heating. But fresh natural subjects contain too much water. The water is squeezed out during the process and makes a bumpy surface which prints. and finally removing any blemishes. Making the Plate Making a foilograph plate is very similar to making a collagraph plate. First you must make a “sandwich” consisting of a properly prepared specimen on a rigid baking. start with about 20 seconds and check the results. like thorny branches. you can speed the drying process by using a microwave oven. since they tear the foil. you may well see steam. The technique does not work well with very thick items. and then check it again. You do not need it to be really bone dry.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 6 foilography. place the felt between two microwave safe plates. plant material will seem damp and very limp. cannot be printed. obscuring natural details. and the felt will feel wet. When you check your specimen. If you have very fresh material and you do not wish to wait for it to dry naturally.A. II.

serving the same function as aquatint for intaglio plates. steel. Even very small bits of lint will print. zinc. string. etc. since they cannot be covered by the foil without tearing it. it is very important edges and round the backing material. You may use crumpled paper or tissue for interesting textural effects. Very thick items. hardboard. at least in MY house!! In spite of its electrostatic properties. or plexiglass. and it is almost impossible not to get lint from the air on the plexiglass. Making the Sandwich To begin. or even vases and flower pots. windows. You may also use thin bits of metal or found objects. Plexiglass is very electrostatic. and you may have some problems getting it absolutely clean. firm backing for the plate. Of course. II.B. You should avoid material with really sharp edges. Usually it is important that the backing be SMOOTH. fabric. ribbons. Matboard and cardboard do not work well. as these can pierce the tinfoil. and similar material to produce images of frames. Thick stems are squashed out of shape and do not show true dimensions or shapes. such as torn or cut bits of paper. lace. such as thick stems or feather spines. I prefer to use plexiglass. as they tend to bend and distort. aluminum. Fine sandpaper will produce a texture that will hold a lot of ink. Before making your that you bevel the corners of your corners and edges will and ruin the plate. copper. Sharp pierce the aluminum foil Figure 2: Plexiglass backing with smoothed and rounded corners and edges . Extremely thick specimens such as pine cones do not work well. you may make a foilograph using any sort of relatively thin material. For example. as with collagraph. may need to be shaved on the back to reduce their thickness.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 7 the central spine of large eagle feathers. Any grain or surface imperfections will print. plate. you will need a tough. doors. you may use tape. cut or torn bits of paper. brass. You could use MDF.

Once you have your specimen and your backing materials. So for this example. When arranging your composition directly on the backing. . but it can be a bit cumbersome when it comes time to wrap everything with foil. II. remember that left and right will be reversed when the plate is printed. it is usually best to place the back of leaves facing out away from the backing. Composing on the Backing Arranging your specimen directly on the backing initially seems natural. I find that I get better results with feathers if the back of the feather is facing the backing. Consequently. On the other hand. and we live with two dogs and a cat. and tweezers to help position your specimen. let’s have a look at the making of the plate for my print “Dustbunnies”. my sweetie has long hair. or (2) you can arrange your composition on the foil and then lay the backing on top of the composition. I have a beard and long hair. I wanted to show something that would be hard to print using the traditional collagraph approach. we always have lots of dust bunnies around the house. For good detail. there are two ways to proceed: (1) you can arrange your composition directly on the smooth backing and then cover with aluminum foil.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 8 You may want a thin knife or spatula. a needle or pin.1. I decided to print dust bunnies. As an example of this approach. I first arranged my dust bunnies composition directly on the plexiglass sheet. I got down on my hands and knees and roamed around the house until I had collected a good wad of dust bunnies.B.

Keep the backing as free of lint. and it always seems to give too thick a coat. You may find it useful to use a paintbrush to remove any stray bits of lint or other unwanted material from the plate. 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. I find the repositionable glue sold in stick form is the best. I find that pressed flower petals adhere very well to the surface of the plate with no glue. Now. keeping it as wrinkle free as possible. and gently smooth out the foil. place the backing and specimen on a smooth clean work surface. I like to use repositionable glue so I can move objects around if I place them incorrectly the first time. which shows up as texture in the print.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 9 Figure 3: Dust bunnies arranged on plexiglass Depending on your subject matter. I put the foil DULL SIDE OUT. I have tried using the spray glue. and small bits of trash as you can. DO NOT FOLD IT YET!!! Place the foil over the backing with the specimen in place. you do not want to glue it down with permanent glue. And certainly if you wish to recover the specimen after printing. Once you have a composition to your liking. . 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. hair (not appropriate in this example!). specimen on top. you want to remove a piece of kitchen aluminum foil from the roll.

with part of the backing hanging over the edge. Then being very careful not to shift the specimen. carefully pick up the backing. you want to tape the foil to the backing. you may want to put more tape. . Then on the other edge. 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. flip the plate with the specimen over and gently lay the whole works down on the foil. In any case. you may find it easier to put the foil down on a flat surface. With the foil on top. For large plates. as I find the dull side takes ink a bit better. Then drape the foil carefully over the specimen and plate. on the table. Begin by putting a small piece of tape near the two corners of one edge. pull the foil tight without tearing it and put tape at each of the other corners.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 10 shiny side against the specimen. flip the sandwich over so you can get at the back of the plate. Figure 4: Foil wrapped on two sides If your specimen is well adhered to the backing plate. leave the two ends unfolded for the moment. specimen. 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. Place the backing with specimen on top. Then you can reach under and lift the sandwich up without disturbing the composition.

remember that when printed. you may find it easier to use the second approach mentioned above and make your composition directly on the foil.B. dull side down. shiny side up .. the composition will appear as it does on the foil . fabric store felt down on a firm work surface. When making your composition directly on the foil. II. left and right will NOT be reversed.2. Figure 6: Foil on felt. Composing on the Foil Depending on the type of material you are dealing with. Begin by placing a couple of pieces of thin.. shiny side up.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. with regard to left and right. Take a piece of foil a bit larger than your backing and place it on top of the felt.

arrange your specimen directly on the foil.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 specimen on foil Being careful not to shift the specimen around on the foil. With the foil-specimen-backing sandwich lying on the felt. Figure 8: Using backing outline. gently place the backing on top of the specimen. Figure 7: Press backing into foil to mark outline. and remove backing Next remove the plate and. using the plate marks as a guide. .

C. II.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. Finishing the Plate In order the finish the plate. This prevents too much pressure from being applied to the aluminum foil -. Figure 9: Replace backing. 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. Etching Press Once the sandwich is made.C. such as fine down.too much pressure causes the foil to "flow" (i. except for very thin material. Adjust the roller pressure with the felts in place between these rails and the press roller. stretch) away from the thickest parts of your specimen and . We will begin with the etching press. you are ready to put it through the etching press. Put the two rails along the two sides of the press bed for the press roller to ride on. you now need to use a press of some kind. very good results can be had with a number of other press types. Because of its high pressure and rolling action. fold and tape foil on two edges You are now ready to finish the plate by using some kind of press. At the end we will discuss how to remove blemishes from the finished plate. and then go on to other alternatives. However.1. an etching press gives the best results. II.e.

Place the sandwich between the rails. Try to avoid abrupt edges in the specimen. like plant stems. with blankets in place. I usually run the press forward and then back. After going through the press. Arrange the plate so that the first pass through the press will roll toward the thickest part of the specimen first . I now usually dispense with the dampened paper and just rely on the pressure and flexibility inherent in the press blankets. so the thickest part of the specimen goes under the roller first. with the folded foil at the sides. resulting in a puncture or a tear. The unfolded ends of the tinfoil should go front and back through the press. I used dampened paper over the sandwich when I was making the plate. You may find that you get better detail with some specimens if you do the same. Use pretty good pressure. Figure 10: Foil package on press bed with rails in place . Run the whole thing through your etching press. When I first started.. with the foil covered specimen facing the press blankets. This seems to produce fewer wrinkles. If possible taper the edges of thick items. However.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 14 become very thin.. so the sandwich goes through the press twice. you should have a very smooth sandwich with the details of the specimen embossed in the aluminum foil. and the hard backing plate (with the foil folded around it) against the press bed.

pull toward the midline of the plate and tape them to the backing.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 15 Check your composition at this point. . just start over with a fresh piece of foil. you may discover that there are wrinkles in the foil where you do not want them to be. To remove these. dry brush. When you look at the plate. and indeed it is not a good idea to do so. Remove the trash with a fine. dust. or other trash under the foil. Figure 11: Initial dust bunnies plate from etching press You will find a final version of the plate below. When you are happy with the look of the plate. I re-did the dust bunnies plate several times to get it the way I wanted it. If you find the material has shifted. and perhaps a piece in the middle if the plate is large. or if you do not like the composition. never rub crosswise to the wrinkle. You may also discover that there are small pieces of lint. It should be sufficient to use a piece of tape at each end. or it will become permanent. and replace the foil. fold the remaining two foil edges over and around to the back of the plate. The blemish in the foil can then be removed by rubbing it with a cotton swab. you must carefully untape the foil and lift it. Most wrinkles can be removed by rubbing along the wrinkle with a cotton swab. You do not need to run a whole line of tape continuously around the edges.

Figure 13: Correct taping . Unlike the example in figure 12. as it is in figure 12. I do not like to have the back completely covered by foil. you should try to tape the foil 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. whereas taping the foil to other bits of foil allows the whole thing to move and shift. If necessary. Taping the foil to the backing keeps it in place relative to the backing. And if you are using plexiglass backing. you are advised to trim the ends of the foil before taping to the backing.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 16 Figure 12: Undesirable taping Unless the plate is very small. It is useful to have bare areas of the plate to which to tape the foil.

Figure 14: Finished dust bunnies plate You will be amazed at how much detail shows in the foil. . The tab will allow you to more easily lift the tape if you need to re-tighten the foil later. Use the tab on the free end of the tape to pull the foil. You will find it easier to do if you make a tab on the end of the tape you attach to the backing. then make a tab on the free end by folding the tap on itself. Stick the tape well down to the loose foil edge. pull the edges of the foil tight and tape them down again. With feathers. You should now have a complete plate. You want to avoid wrinkles in the middle of the sides. you get all the fine detail of the down. all covered with aluminum foil which wraps around everything on all sides.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 17 When taping. pulling on the foil. you should angle your tension at each end of the foil toward the adjoining edge. As you print. and you may want to re-tighten it by lifting the tape from the backing. With leaves. you can sometimes actually see the pores in the leaf. with a specimen on top. consisting of a backing. and then finally stick the free end of the tape down to the backing. And with flower petals. It is easier to get good tension if you use the tape to help pull the foil. Then you can easily free the tape from the backing. although you are pulling toward the midline. as described above. the foil may tend to stretch a little. you can actually see the veins in the petals. and then sticking it back down.

you need an action like squeezing a tooth paste tube. you want something at least 1. if you cut your own. an etching press. Or. squeezing out air and stretching the foil over the specimen in a continuous movement from one end to the other.. or something similar seems to be required.. Each caster consists of two small diameter plastic rollers. there is a way to achieve very good results by hand. For best results. You could also use an old door knob for a handle. just drill a 9/32 hole in the center. There will be a short threaded stub out the top of each metal case. and I suspect that is a North American standard. Get a 9/32 inch drill. lithographic press..5 inches in diameter. use epoxy to hold it in place.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 18 The challenge is to ink the plate in such a way as to reveal these details.. The best alternative that I have found to an etching press for making foilographs is a simple palm press. housed in a metal case. Careful . that is NOT what you want. potter’s slab press. circular skid plates. but they usually come as a set of 2 or 4. if you can find the kind that screws onto the square rod through the door that the old latches used to have.C. you can take a scrap piece of 2x4 and saw out a circle about 2 inches in diameter. The threaded stub on the casters I have is 5/16 inch in diameter.. The one that I use is easily made from readily available materials. You will only need one of these little casters. Take the nut off. essentially for leveling the appliance. you now have a palm press. You need to start with pressure at one end of the sandwich and move toward the other end.. one screwed into each corner of the bottom. The threaded stub will have a nut on it.. Presto . III. Your fridge or stove comes with 4 small. You want a set made to go on a fridge or stove. and drill out the hole in the drawer pull. You want a package of four casters. Go to the hardware store and look at the array of casters for furniture that are for sale. Now.2 The Palm Press To make the best possible plate. Buy the largest diameter ball drawer pull you can find . they make a platform type that the whole appliance sits on . These casters are designed to replace the little skid plates with rollers so you can move your fridge or stove around. .. just screw the handle down onto the caster as tight as you can. However.

foil sandwich on a firm surface preferably below waist high. like a table top. specimen. The backing should be on the bottom. fabric store felt.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 19 Figure 15: Making a simple palm press To use your palm press to make a foilograph plate. Cover the sandwich with two pieces of thin. Figure 16: Place felt on top . place your backing. with the specimen next and the foil at the top.

lean onto the press with your upper body. put both hands on top of the press. Then turn the plate with felts around 180° and . and keeping your arms stiff. Figure 17: Palm press position In this position.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 20 Next use the palm press to press the foil around the specimen. Place the palm press on the bottom edge of the plate. and continue making overlapping strokes from the bottom to the top until you have gone over the entire surface of the plate. 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.

Figure 19: Second passes Next turn the plate 90° and repeat the same steps going from side to side. Figure 20: Third passes Figure 21: Fourth passes . essentially rolling over the plate in the opposite direction.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 21 repeat the process.

Rubbing lengthways along the wrinkles gives the best chance of smoothing them out. We also want to use a cotton swab to rub out any wrinkles that have appeared because of the stretching of the foil. If you rub crossways. Figure 23: Trimming ends and removing wrinkles . you are likely to produce a small fold which will be almost impossible to remove. leaving about an inch or so to fold under. 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.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 22 Now we can remove the felt to see how the plate looks.

Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 23 Finally. you must untape the foil. if there are any remaining wrinkles. If the foil seems loose. Finally we need to fold the foil ends onto the back of the plate and tape them. we need to turn the plate over. remove them carefully with a dry brush. pull the foil to tighten it. they should be removed by carefully rubbing along their length with a cotton swab. and retape. As with a plate made on the etching press. Figure 24: Taping the back At this point. Figure 25: The finished plate Aluminum foil is quite plastic and will reveal an amazing amount of detail. as long . it may be necessary to carefully peel the tape holding one edge of the foil. the plate is essentially finished. And if there are any undesirable bits of lint or other trash under the foil. and smooth out the bumps in the foil. retape the foil.

one at each end. Two handles are pressed onto the shaft.C. Rolling pins of the sort we want to use are constructed with a roller about 2 inches in diameter. Figure 26: Plate detail II. although a wooden one will also work well. If this becomes . a shaft runs longitudinally through the center of the roller and through two plastic bushings.3 Rolling Pin It is possible to make decent small foilograph plates using a rolling pin. I prefer to use a marble rolling pin.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 24 as we have used enough pressure in making the plate. one at each end of the roller. Figure 27: Marble rolling pin As purchased. rolling pins for kitchen use come with quite a small shaft. and under the full leaning weight of your body such small shafts tend to bend.

on the plate at the bottom.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 25 a problem. lean your body weight onto the rolling pin. If the handles are too loose on the shaft. it is a simple matter to replace the shaft with one larger in diameter. Also drill out the handles to be a press fit onto the shaft. 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. Place the rolling pin on top of the felt. then you may have to use glue to hold them in place. with the backing down and the specimen covered with foil facing up. Remove the original shaft from the rolling pin. For convenience. Cut the new shaft to length. Try just twisting them in opposite directions until they loosen and can be pulled off. about 5/16 or even 3/8 inch in diameter. The rolling pin is used in much the same was as the palm press. Place the sandwich on a firm surface. Figure 28: Replacement rolling pin shaft Purchase a length of smooth steel rod from the hardware store. Then reassemble your rolling pin. . Remove the handles from the original shaft. Use a drill of appropriate size to drill out the bushings to accept your new shaft. I will assume that the bottom of the plate is closest to you and the top of the plate is furthest away from you. using the old shaft as a pattern.

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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.

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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.

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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

Be very careful not to move the specimen during this whole process. II. In order to remove a hair or piece of lint. you may smooth out the lint "bump" with the back of a finger nail or cotton swab. You may find that there are stray bits of hair and dust that have been caught under the foil. you may find that there are wrinkles in the surface of the foil. you may also find that rubbing length wise along a wrinkle with your finger will remove the wrinkle. These wrinkles will hold ink and print if they are not removed. If your plate is large enough.C. Do not rub across a wrinkle. In some cases the offending particle will remain embedded in the foil. When re-taping the foil. I have not pursued this technique. You may then use a fine water color brush or something similar to carefully brush lint from the surface of the backing.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 29 results. as this will tend to produce fine folds in the foil which are impossible to remove. after forming the plate in the press. then you must remove them. you need to replace and re-tape the foil. If you do not want these imperfections to show up on your print. If there are any small wrinkles in the foil.6. carefully remove the tape and unfold the foil from one edge. . But you must be careful not to introduce any moisture under the foil. use a fine brush to remove any particle embedded in the foil. Because moisture helps reduce electrostatic attraction. Then tape the foil securely to the back side of the backing. Any bump that is visible on the foil will catch and hold ink and be printed. Again. Rather. you might try using a very slightly damp brush if you are having difficulty with a particularly recalcitrant particle. look at the front surface of the plate very carefully. But be careful rubbing with your finger. as the friction will tend to stretch the foil or even tear it. Blemishes After the sandwich has been through the press process. rub along the length of each wrinkle. so be sure to examine the foil carefully. 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. After the offending particles have been removed. After re-taping. you may carefully smooth them out by rubbing them with the back of a fingernail or with a cotton swab. Given the ease of making foilograph plates by other means. Because the foil stretches during the press process.

Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 30 Figure 32: Dust particles and wrinkles After first forming the plate. such as mustard or poppy seeds or small grass seeds. For comparison purposes. a rolling pin would probably be the next best. For an example. or some mixture. let me take a step back and suggest that sometimes the wrinkles can add a great deal to the image. For small plates. II. sprinkle some small seeds on the plate. here are some plates made with the different techniques. Having spent a lot of time telling you how to remove wrinkles.7. or after a few prints. and you may introduce wrinkles during the printing process. But when used carefully. and then re-tape it to the backing. If the foil is loose. a simple palm press can do almost as well. . Make your plate. but not as good as a palm press. you may find that the foil appears to be loose. Summary Comparison In general an etching press seems to give the best results when making a foilograph plate. carefully pull the foil to tighten it. But for larger plates. and you will find a network of wrinkles joining the seeds in a random way. undo the tape from the backing. The first plate of this sort I saw was made by Carole Carroll. a bottle jack press will generally yield better results than a rolling pin. To tighten up the foil. it will be harder to ink the plate properly. Such a plate can make very interesting prints.C.

(3) masking. Of course these techniques can all be combined in various ways.g. The greatest challenge is in inking the plate to achieve the desired results. (5) intaglio wiping. Inking the Plate Figure 36: Bottle jack press plate A foilograph plate is a very low relief plate. each producing somewhat different results: (1) blind embossing with no ink. as long as you are gentle and do not stretch or pierce the foil. Blind Embossing . (2) a basic roll-up.A. III. (4) free-hand color application. Any inking method appropriate for collagraphs (e. viscosity inking) should work as well for foilographs.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 31 Figure 33: Etching press plate Figure 34: Palm press plate Figure 35: Rolling pin plate III. I think of there being five main inking techniques.

they are far too sticky . I find that water based inks sometimes ball up on the surface. Oil based inks seem to work the best. as with Japanese woodblock printing. but the resulting ink just balled up on the aluminum. foilograph plates are very good for producing blind embossings. Although lithographic inks have very good pigment content. it is best to dampen your paper. creating wrinkles and spreading ink into unwanted areas. Speedball water based inks seem to work fine. I have tried mixing pigments with rice paste. you may be able to produce acceptable emobossings on dry paper. Any good quality oil based ink formulated for block printing will work well. However.B Inks Because it is aluminum. For blind embossing. dry paper is much harder on the plate. If you are only going to do blind embossing. Although there will be some loss of detail. Applying very sticky ink to the plate tends to lift and stretch the foil. If you have particularly fluffy paper and a high pressure press. Once the plate is made. just place your paper over the plate and run it through your press.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 32 A blind embossing is a design impressed into paper without any ink. Thick papers made for etching work well for such an application. then obviously no inking is required. though their pigment content is not high. Some additional plasticiser such as honey seems to be required. and the foil will not last as long as with damp paper. Figure 37: Blind embossing III.

I have used stand oil and pigment dispersions from Guerra in New York in this way. Some inks may react with the aluminum and discolor slightly. III. Mix the dry powdered pigment with enough alcohol to make a paste. To ensure proper drying. dry pigments can be use if you first make a paste with the pigment and very pure isopropyl or ethyl alcohol. Since you will not be using much oil. Only experimentation will help you find out what color you will get with a specific ink on your aluminum foil. then thin it with artist’s quality linseed oil. your ink should have the consistency of oil paint. but they may also work. The viscosity of stand oil is suitable for inking a foilograph plate. To avoid stretching your foil. again. I have not tried other oil paints. I find that even etching inks are too sticky unless well thinned. or “Pure Grain Alcohol”. However. If you like to make your own inks. They tend to clump and ball up because the oil does not penetrate the powder well. I have gotten quite reasonable results with water-mixable oil colors but again find they are best thinned slighty. it is best to buy the highest grade available from an artist’s supply store. Aluminum reacts very readily with many materials. Dry pigments are difficult to mix directly into stand oil. they may be added directly to the stand oil on your inking slab and thoroughly mixed with a spatula or pallet knife. Inking Tools . In some locations you can buy ethyl alcohol that is 95% pure (190 proof). it is sold under trade names like “Clear Spring”. water-mixable oils seem to dry a lot faster than inks specifically made for print making. you may want to add a drop of cobalt drier. Ethyl alcohol is what is found in booze. When using water-mixable oils. Isopropyl alcohol can be purchased in drug stores and can be found 99% pure in many locales.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 33 to use unthinned on a foilograph plate. If you are using print dispersions. you may wish to add a drop of cobalt drier to ensure proper drying. I find that I need to use dampened paper to get the ink off the plate.C. you may begin with artist’s grade stand oil from any good art supplier. “Ever Clear”. If your ink is too sticky. Then mix the pigment paste with the stand oil to make your ink.

Hard dabbers are useful for applying ink to the high spots of a plate. You can use a piece of plexiglass or a piece of real glass. You will want some brayers that are quite hard (often made from plexiglass rod) and some that are softer. I have specified white because it is easier to see your colors on white paper. Figure 38: Variety of brayers You will also want to have a few large. Cut off a piece of convenient size. A hard dabber may be inked with a roller. Brayers come in a variety of sizes and degrees of hardness. print makers usually call this an inking slab. so your ink should not penetrate the paper. These papers have a plasticised side that is impervious to water. For a bit of softness. After you are finished. clean up is simple . hard dabbers. the brown butcher paper works just as well.. Or . and any felt. which you can buy in most large grocery stores. Furniture glides work well for the disks and are available in a variety of sizes at most hardware stores. grease and oil.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 34 You will need a convenient place to roll out your inks. just throw it away. but except for color distortion. depending on the size you need) to the end of the dowel. or “brayers”. plasticised side up and tape it to a firm surface with masking tape. and place the shiny. Smaller sizes are readily available in most art supply stores. But a more convenient inking slab to use is a piece of white butcher paper or freezer paper. You will also need a variety of ink rollers. 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. Finally the disk. is covered with a layer of smooth leather or fine mesh silk or similar material. which may be secured in place with string or a rubber band.. the surface of the disk may be covered with a thin layer of felt.

Do NOT use mat board or rolled up felt to scrape ink across the surface of the plate as you would with an etching. Generally you get smoother results with a soft dabber. Instead. Figure 39: Hard dabbers In addition to hard dabbers. Paint brushes tend to leave brush marks. I make my hard dabbers with smooth leather scraps. They may be cleaned by using vegetable oil followed by soap and water. Figure 40: Soft dabbers . you may ink specific areas with a paint brush or a dabber. 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. Cloth coverings would have to be removed and washed after each use. Such measures tend to stretch and/or tear the foil. you may apply ink by hand to specific areas of the plate by using soft dabbers.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 35 it may be inked by using it to smear a bit of ink around on the inking slab.

You will have to re-ink the dabber frequently. The tail forms a convenient handle. Another useful soft dabber is made from a cut off finger from a nitrile glove. but are so cheap they may simply be discarded after use. bouncing motion. III. Cosmetic sponges are hard to clean. The tendency of beginners is to use way too much ink. first the ink should be rolled out on an inking slab with a “brayer”. A "dab" is a light. secure the “tail” with a rubber band. Then dab the head several times on a clear portion of the inking slab until the ink is evenly distributed. cotton balls. Simply place a cotton ball or two in the tip of the finger.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 36 Cosmetic sponges make very decent soft dabbers. Then apply the ink to the plate by dabbing with the inked tadpole. Roll-up To do a simple roll up. To use a soft dabber. or ink roller. it may simply be discarded. Simply place a few cotton balls in the middle of a square of fabric. and rubber bands. Then bring the corners of the fabric together and twist to make a tadpole shape. hold the dabber by the tail handle and dab the head of it into the ink on your inking slab. These dabbers can be cleaned after use by throwing away the cotton balls and washing the material covering in soap and water. Finally. They may be bought cheaply at most cosmetics outlets or drug stores. You can also easily make soft dabbers from most any close weave fabric. and secure the cut off finger to the swab with a rubber band. You . If cheap material is used. insert a cotton swab for use as a handle. You can also use a soft dabber to gently smear ink into recessed areas of the plate.D.

simply run the roller over the plate. Figure 41: Memories of summers past III. you will have to re-ink your brayer many times.E.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 37 want a very. If you use a very hard roller. leaving a halo around them. use less ink. Masking If you want to limit the ink application to only a certain part of the plate (e. if in doubt. You must be careful to avoid getting sharp lines when you reapply the brayer to the plate. you may wish to run the roller over the plate several times.g. avoid . The softer the roller. The ink is applied to the foilograph plate by rolling the brayer very lightly over the surface. Then resting the inked brayer on the rails. This process will put ink on the high spots of the plate. You should just use the weight of the brayer itself. very thin coat of ink on your brayer .. without applying any other pressure. the more ink will get on the shallower parts of the plate. Strive for a smooth transition from lights to darks. Particularly for small plates. If you are using a small diameter brayer.. only the highest details will receive ink. Experimentation will allow you to determine the look you like. Depending on the amount of ink desired. You may wish to change the orientation of the plate relative to the roller in order to produce a more uniform inking. you may find it useful to place the plate between two rails of the same thickness as the backing. The print in Figure 41 was produced by a simple roll up using thinned sepia etching ink.

Then put the sheet on some other backing and use a knife to cut out the shape of the specimen. Figure 42: Mylar mask You can also make a mask from plain paper. Then cut out the mask. and when you are finished inking. or else the mask will change dimensions as it dries.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 38 getting ink on the plate around the outside of a leaf). Use dry paper. before printing. 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. use a cotton swab and alcohol to carefully remove any stray ink from the plate. Use the mask when inking. Spaying a paper mask with fixative or painting it with shellac or acrylic medium will make it last longer. then you can use clear plastic sheet for a mask. .

My print of stair step moss was done using this technique and three colors. with a blend between the stripes. Using a rainbow roll on the plate. two or more colors are laid out close together on one inking slab. Figure 44: Stair step moss . it is possible to ink with multiple colors that shade nicely into each other. A brayer is then run through the adjacent ink. For a rainbow roll. producing a stripe of each ink on the brayer.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 39 Figure 43: Horse chestnut Using a mask with a rainbow roll can produce very nice results.

and cotton swabs to get color on the bit of leaf and the few wood chips.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 40 III. Freehand In some cases. 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 prefer to apply ink to specific parts of the plate in a freehand manner.F. . Both soft and hard dabbers are very useful for this purpose.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.

Then use news print or old phone book pages to very gently wipe the plate. place it on a non-slip surface. The paper may stick to the surface of the plate at first. it is too sticky and will stretch and tear the foil. Intaglio You may also use intaglio techniques for inking the plate. Try to gently move your hand in a very small circular motion on the paper. hold it in one gloved hand. Look at the plate to see how much ink has been removed. and replace it by another. Carefully remove and discard the paper. Others may prefer to use their gloved fingers. If the plate is small enough. Remember that you cannot use straight etching ink for this process. Be sure your ink is quite loose.G. working it well into low spots. and trying to move your wiping hand in a circular motion. Eventually you will feel the paper begin to slide over the plate. I prefer to use soft dabbers to apply and smear the ink.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 41 Figure 46: Dust bunnies print III. This . Try not to lift of stretch the foil. Place a sheet of paper over the inked plate. Keep removing the inked paper and replacing it by fresh. and use very light pressure with your hand on the paper. if the plate is too large. You will begin by more blotting than wiping. The basic idea is to gently apply ink in blobs to the plate and then gently smear the ink around.

Often inking obscures some of the details available on the plate.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. By using different colors of ink on different parts of the plate and carefully blending the areas during smearing and wiping.. 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. 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. After wiping the plate. you may then use a hard dabber or a hard roller to apply another color to the high parts of the plate. . By differential wiping. you can create quite intricate gradations in color and tonal quality.H. III. To reveal details. 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. Figure 47: Light as . Alternatively. After doing a roll-up or using a mask.. Combination Techniques Of course all of these inking techniques may be applied in combinations.

But heavier papers may be printed either damp or dry. and consequently it is hard on the plate. for most subjects you can get quite acceptable results with dry paper. you will probably have to use dampened paper just to get the color to come off. Very smooth papers. . A variant of the viscosity technique is based on the fact that in general water and oil do not readily mix. such as BFK Rives. Next. known as viscosity inking. soupy ink will reject a stiffer ink. Then use a hard brayer to apply a water based ink to the high areas. Printing the Plate IV. one could begin by appling an oil based ink to the lower parts of the plate using a dabber or a soft brayer. This was the process used to produce the print of Oregon grape in Figure 1.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 43 As an aid in this two color inking process. On the other hand. As with intaglio. soupy ink on a soft roller or dabber to ink the lower parts of your plate. In its original form. you will pick up the ink in the little crevices of the plate. lighter weight papers tend to give me better details than heavier weight papers. a thin ink will cover a stiff ink. gently wipe the high areas with newsprint. Paper Selection Having inked the plate you are now ready to print. Gently wipe the high parts with newsprint. The hard brayer will help to keep the ink application on the high parts. Then use a hard brayer to apply a stiffer ink to the high parts of the plate. but the very finest details sometimes do not show up on it. I find I get finer details with dampened paper. In practice. you may use a thin. So. As a generalization. But remember that if you are using water-mixable oils. You can also get good detail on oriental “rice” papers. the technique relied on the fact that inks of very different viscosities would not stick together readily. IV. A very thin. one can rely on a technique from intaglio printing. if you use dampened paper. In practice. reveal quite fine details. You can apply this principle to get multicolors on your plate. I find that water based inks will not adhere when applied on top of oil based inks. However.A. Rice paper must be printed dry. Paper selection can greatly influence the outcome. as long as you do not use water mixable oils. I really like fluffier papers. But card stock is very hard paper. Thin Japanese papers may be printed damp or dry. such as card stock or cover stock.

rather than the plate to pull the foil. and you have blanket creep. The blanket will pull on the paper. the driving roller is below the bed. In fact. As a last resort. Basically you just lay your selected paper. covered by the etching felt. Presses Once the plate is made and inked.. the bed pulls on the felts.. However. you may have to use velcro strips to attach the etching felt to the bed. For example. dry or damp. then the plate (printing the plate face down. IV. so the foil will become very thin at the high spots and eventually tear. on top of the plate. Aluminum tends to flow under pressure. If I place felts on the bed. then the felts. use a bit less pressure on the top roller. dry and damp. I find it useful to put two rails down the side of the bed. then the paper. put a couple of layers of fabric store felt on the bed. and use some means of applying pressure. 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. there are some good reasons NOT to do so. then I get more stretching than if I place the plate on the bed. the paper pulls on the foil. and the plate pulls on the upper roller. you really need to experiment with papers. 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. the blanket tends to be dragged by the top roller. the following sequence happens: the driving roller pulls on the bed.B. you can sometimes lessen stretching by printing the plate “upside down” . . to see what suits you and your subject. you will want to print it. then the paper. rather than turning the top roller. which will pull on the foil. then you are very likely to stretch the foil when you print. producing wrinkles. seems to stretch the foil more. With the printing surface facing the driving roller. Using the foil to pull the plate. some small etching presses with small diameter top rollers suffer from blanket creep . the foil pulls on the plate. One of the primary problems with using an etching press to print your plate is that it tends to stretch the aluminum foil. The heavier the pressure. the felts pull on the paper. In cases of blanket creep.. on my press. the shorter the life of the plate. as it were). paper on top. and finally the plate. Cover with a couple of pieces of fabric store felt.. You do not need to use an etching press to print it. The problem of stretching is worsened if the printing surface of the foil is closest to the driving roller. If you are printing with the plate on the bed. Just as when making the plate. In some cases. then the paper.

or even a “bean can” press. With foilographs. book binding press.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 45 made of the same material as the plate backing. you can use a letter press. try placing an extra loose sheet or two of thin felt from the fabric store over the paper. 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. and apply pressure. place the whole in the press. and roll over the sandwich. an improvised bottle jack or car jack press. Place the rolling pin on the rails. Walking presses can be quite simple or more complicated. these printing options generally do not result in as high a pressure as an etching (or similar action) press. and cover with a cushion (felt or foam) also between the rails. a book binding press. firm pressure on the rails should be sufficient. there is less wrinkling of the aluminum foil. Also. lean over the rolling pin with stiffened arms to put pressure on the rolling pin. For simple in-line pressure presses (letter press. just place the plate on a backing board. bottle jack press). To print with a rolling pin. then use less pressure than with dampened paper. then the paper. place the plate on a firm table between two rails of the same thickness as the backing. good. That little bit of extra flexible thickness is often all that is required to get the pressure just right. and cover the whole with a thick cushion layer. you should use less pressure. Since there is no shearing action. Then adjust the pressure so the roller and blankets are riding on the two rails . foam). a “walking” press. If you are not getting good results. then cover with some cushion material (felt. a marble rolling pin. so there should be less of a problem with wrinkling the aluminum foil. Leave room between the rails for the plate and the paper. so your plate should last longer and you will get more impressions from it. Then the paper and plate should give plenty of pressure to print without stressing the foil unduly. using the toes and balls of the feet to apply pressure all over. Experience is the best guide.. If you are using thicker paper. The basic idea is to place the paper over the plate and cover with a cushion (felt or foam). Then with bare feet.. You may need to roll over the sandwich several . I find this works best if you put a thin layer of felt down. These techniques produce less shearing action. walk carefully around on top. 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 plate. If you are using dry paper. cover with a sheet of paper. To print your foilograph plate. Place the paper over the plate between the rails.

I just wipe it with a damp tissue when using water mixable colors. IV. In preparation for cleaning. Advanced Topics V. use stiffened arms to put pressure on the can. Then place a piece of thin plexiglass across the rails. Or you can use soap and water. After printing.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 46 times to get a good image. A marble rolling pin works just as well as the very expensive stainless steel “pin press” sold by art suppliers. just remove the aluminum foil to retrieve the specimen. I use tissue and a bit of vegetable oil. A “bean can” press works in much the same way as the rolling pin press. or you will produce bubbles and wrinkles that ruin the plate. note that the aluminum foil is reasonably delicate. For normal oily inks. It may help to apply a small amount of lubricant to the bottom of the can (e. or when you have finished printing your edition. you will want to clean your plate.C. To clean the plate. on top of the sandwich. acetone will generally remove dried inks.g. Place a small can of tinned vegetables or fruit on end on top of the plexiglass. Then place both hands on the top of the can. Or you can store the plate. If you want to keep the plate. you must be very carful not to introduce liquids beneath the foil. 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. No matter what you use.. If the ink dries on the plate. Place the plate-paper-cushion sandwich between rails as with the rolling pin. As a last result. and rub the can all around the plexiglass. I find I can sometimes get it off easily by just buffing softly with a dry tissue. so wrap the plate in newspaper to preserve it for future use. V.A. Alcohol on a bit of cotton batting works well to clean foilograph plates. Multiple Passes and Plates . Cleaning the Plate If you get too much ink on your plate or you want to switch to a different color scheme. provided that the enclosed specimen is well dried and will not mold. Alcohol and water can also sometimes be used to remove dry inks. The same technique will work using the palm press described earlier. petroleum jelly).

Multiple passes and/or multiple plates introduce the usual problems of registration. Each registration pin consists of a flat. 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). 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. In Figure 49. I made some simply by cutting small pieces of thin plexiglass and gluing a short 1/4 inch plexiglass dowel at one end. 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. the tape should attach to the backing material of the plate.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 47 In the printing. registration is more of a problem because usually the foil wrapped around the edges of the backing does not give a precise registration edge. or similar material. but I prefer to use plastic since any stray ink can be easily wiped off. The carrier sheet must be long enough to extend well beyond the plate. I have used a piece of blue paper for the carrier sheet for ease of viewing. Or they may be made from brass. aluminum or plastic. With foilograph plates. not to the foil. acetate. To be sure the plate stays in position on the carrier sheet. one fundamental question concerns whether there will be just one pass through the press or multiple passes. thin tab about an inch long and 3/4 of an inch wide with a small perpendicular dowel at one end. There are some simple pin registration techniques which work well. . Registration pins of stainless steel may be purchased from lithographers’ supply outlets. You could use paper for your carrier sheet.

For a bottle jack press or similar press. Position the plate+carrier sheet . 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Using the two or three hole punch ensures that the holes are placed at the same position in all of your material. Ink the plate. 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. attach the plate to the carrier sheet. So. You can then easily remove the carrier sheet.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. 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.

to whom I extend my very warm thanks. Use the pins to place the paper over the plate.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 49 on the pins. Then instead of printing on paper. Place a second carrier sheet on the pins. you should be able to print multiple plates in registration on your paper. and re-ink the plate leaving it attached to the carrier sheet. Remove the transparent print and the first plate with its carrier sheet. But the general characteristics of the subject are retained. You can use the same technique to align several plates to print in registration with each other. Then you can use the registration pins to reposition the paper exactly. After printing. Place the transparent print from the first plate on the registration pins over the second plate. Cover with cushions as usual. 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. Place your second plate in approximately the right position.B Embossing Powder Plates I owe the idea for the technique of using embossing powder to make plates to Fred Mullet. After one pass through the press. Much biological accuracy is lost because of the embossing powders tend to form small lumps when fused. V. You can then use the image on the transparent sheet as a guide to position the second plate. the end of the paper with the registration holes can be cut or torn away. perhaps changing the inking at each pass. use double backed tape to tape it in position on the second carrier sheet. but do not tape it to the carrier sheet yet. print on a piece of mylar or other clear material that is also punched and registered on the pins. If one is more concerned about artistry and not so much concerned about biological accuracy. Since your printing paper is punched and registered to the same pins as your plates. When you have the second plate properly positioned. then one can produce very nice results using plates made with embossing powder. In this way you can register as many plates as you like to each other. Embossing powder is essentially very fine particles of plastic that will melt under . you can remove the paper. remove the carrier sheet with the plate. In this way you can over-print one plate several times. Attach your first plate to a carrier sheet as before.

You can purchase embossing powders from most craft stores and from outlets carrying rubber stamps. Fold a piece of paper in the middle and then open it out flat on the work surface. the powder will fuse. Direct the flow from the heat gun onto the powdered print. The basic technique is very simple. using an oil based ink. As it gets hot. A hair drier will not do the job. You can buy heat guns for stripping paint or welding plastic. Gently refold the paper. The powder is very fine. just be sure the ink is not too thick on the paper. I use an old salt shaker for this purpose. So be sure to cover your work area with old newspapers or something similar. turning from opaque to shiny. and many craft stores sell appropriate heat guns. as the heat gun blows very hot air. You could make a design with a paint brush instead of a leaf print. but should not adhere to the dry paper. Next. The excess powder can be re-used. Now you are ready to fuse the embossing powder. Carefully pick up your creased paper with the excess powder. First you make a print of a leaf or similar material on good quality card stock or similar paper. You may want to hold your print down with a couple of stones or something similar at the edges. the powder should fall onto your creased paper. and let the powder slide down the crease and back into your container. Turn the dusted print upside down over the paper and tap it on the back to remove the excess powder. Be sure to put the lid back on your powder container at this point. Set your print to one side.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 50 moderate temperature. You will need a good heat gun to fuse the powder. Carefully go over the entire print to be sure all the powder has fused. . Use a small dry brush to dust off areas of the print where the powder should not be. Be careful not to set the paper on fire. The powder will adhere to the wet ink. and in use tends to go everywhere. Examine the print closely. The inked areas should appear dull from the adhering powder. so you want to capture it. you want to remove all the excess powder. Then you sprinkle liberal amounts of embossing powder over the print. You may see powder in other places on the print.

you make a foilograph plate from the embossed paper in the usual way. embossing up. These plates are very low relief and require a lot of pressure. such as plexiglass. the ink should feel dry to the touch. Cover with aluminum foil. Place the paper. and the plastic should be slightly beaded up on the surface of the paper. Finish the plate in the usual way. on a stiff backing. wrapped around two sides. Apply pressure from a press.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 51 Figure 50: Print with fused embossing powder Once it is fused. Figure 51:Detail of embossing powder plate . At this point.

Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 52 Because the plate is so low relief. SEND ME COPIES OF YOUR PRINTS !! . Give it a try. Figure 52: Embossing powder plate print CONCLUSION This is a VERY simple technique. and by all means. which seems more complicated in the telling than in the doing. Let me know how it works for you. perhaps the most successful way to print it is to ink and wipe it as intaglio. experiment with it.

that foil is thin and stretches easily. one frequently uses a very stiff. so I thought I would make a few additional comments. I have had the best results using a soft dabber to smear the ink around on the plate. You need to use LOOSE ink. When inking a foilograph as intaglio. engravings. you will be unlikely to have much success. but less success with water based inks. etchings.. Take your time . You need to be careful in your selection of inks. and of course much longer when inking a larger plate. You may try true water based block printing inks. If you try to rush the process. You may want to use Miracle Gel or Easy Wipe to loosen your oily inks. Remember. But you will most certainly need to use a retarder to keep water based inks from drying too quickly on the plate. Use a gentle. the characteristics that allow the foil to reveal such fine detail make it difficult to ink with stiff inks. circular motion. Never do this with a foilograph.. Such inks are really oil based inks. I have not had good success with acrylics. These days many manufacturers are producing inks advertised as “soap and water clean up”. like linseed oil. Other ink additives may lead to creeping. even most block printing inks are too stiff. The first thing I want to emphasize is that intaglio inking is quite time consuming. You need to be prepared to spend 15 minutes inking a small plate. You want to loosen your inks with a product that will dry and harden over time. or engravings. like matboard. If the ink is sticking and the dabber is . do not be in a hurry. hard applicator. to apply and spread the ink. you will stretch or tear the foil. like Speedball. but the oil has been modified to be mixable with water. and collagraphs. I have good results with plain artist’s grade 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. Standard etching inks are much too sticky. I find that water mixable oil colors dry much too quickly to be used for intaglio inking of a foilograph plate. When applying the ink to a foilograph. In general. it is quite different from doing collagraph. The linseed oil will dry. When inking standard etchings. oily stains on your print over time. I have had good success with oil based inks. The next thing I want to emphasize is that you should use very loose inks for intaglio inking a foilograph plate.

.. or you will lift the foil . Do not press the dabber down and then lift it straight up. because that will take too much ink out of the image. even then. like wiping your palms together.. you may want to place it on some rubbery.. engravings. You could use paper towels or kleenex to wipe the plate from the specimen toward the edge of the plate. For water based inks. you will not get it shiny clean. Remove the dabber by sliding it off an edge of the plate. Again.. or any similar stiff. I wear disposable gloves to keep ink off my hands. nonskid material. twisting motion to blot the plate and take the ink off the high spots. rough material. Try to wipe only with flat material.. Pay careful attention to your wiping materials and technique. and collagraphs is usually done with a fair amount of pressure and vigor. you must be much more gentle. use a lightly moistened kleenex. You are not going to be able to remove all the ink from the aluminum . If you are getting white lines when your are wiping. you will lift the foil.. loosen the ink. Remember. 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. If you feel you must clean the plate during a run.. BE GENTLE. ink side up. put a few drops of linseed oil on a piece . Try to wipe the plate. you will be wiping the high surfaces clean and leaving ink in the low spots next to the relief. With a foilograph plate. For small plates... BE GENTLE. Wiping etchings. do not lift the paper straight up. To keep the large plate from slipping. The inking is more like a dry point than an etching . gently slide the dabber around in the same plane as the foil. For larger plates. You are looking for good contrast between what is left on the specimen and what is left on the plate. you will have to place the plate on a flat working surface. I usually just print the plate several times on paper towel to remove excess ink. use a gentle.Charles Morgan More Comments on Intaglio Inking Page 54 dragging. I begin with a sheet of paper on my upturned left palm and place the plate flat in my left hand. As more of the ink is removed. NEVER use tarlatan. I would not use paper towels or kleenex to wipe the image. I do not clean between inkings unless there is way too much ink . I use old phone book pages. if you lift the dabber straight up. moving the paper toward an edge. but not for general wiping of the specimen. Then I cover the inky plate with another sheet of paper flat in my right hand . For oily inks. it means you are dragging an edge or a fold in your wiping paper.

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.

To help solve some of these problems. If the thin material consists of just one area.com © October 22.ca www.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. 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. V8V 4M2 CANADA (250) 920-0281 cmorgan@uvic. However. for some subjects it is difficult using intaglio inking to get good contrast between the subject and the background. 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. And the look obtained by intaglio inking and wiping may not be what is desired by the artist. 2006 Foilograph plates made from very thin subjects offer special challenges when it comes to inking.mossworks. with many voids. B. then using a roller and a simple mask often leads to deposits of ink in the many voids. For some thin material. I have developed a technique which I call . intaglio inking seems to work well.C. If one uses a very hard roller in an effort to avoid getting ink in the shallow voids. However. resulting in an unsuitable print. It is very difficult to apply ink to the foil covering exceedingly thin material without getting ink on the background as well. if the thin material is complex in shape.

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. but to return it when needed. Start with the plate face up on a piece of newsprint on your work surface. I made a foilograph plate from a wispy piece of down.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. Then place the mask on the plate. Figure 54: Mask in place . As an example of a subject that is challenging to ink.

which is in place on the plate. you are finished. Figure 55: Inking sheet in place Now. My personal preference is to use the thickest version of plastic table cloth material. we use a brayer to roll an even coat of ink on the inking sheet. pressing it lightly down on the plate. As you progress. Let your own experience and working habits be your guide. When the image of the specimen is reasonably clear.Charles Morgan Inking Very Thin Subjects Page 58 Rather than using an inked brayer to apply ink to the plate. we will use a sheet of acetate or flexible plastic table cloth material. inked side down. you do not want the ink to be so sloppy thick that it oozes into the low spots on the plate. It is flexible enough to reach appropriate areas of the specimen. You will probably need to make several passes with the brayer in several different directions. When the sheet is evenly inked. . Moderation is the key. 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. But. To begin. carefully place the sheet. 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. You will want enough ink on the sheet to transfer readily to the foil covering the specimen. Be careful not to move the mask. on top of the mask. but still stiff enough to bridge over the really low areas.

you may re-ink the inking sheet and reapply it.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. But great .

you must clean the plate and begin again. Figure 58: Finished print Getting good detail is especially important with very thin specimens. When the inking is satisfactory. so that you may compare the two. damp and dry. If the inking is too heavy. the tendency is to get too much ink where it is not wanted. 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. to get the effect you want. I find that I get the best detail with such plates by printing them dry on very smooth. you may carefully remove it with a cotton swab. If there is only a bit of excess ink in a few places. Again. you may proceed to remove the mask and print the plate. experimentation is the key. like card stock.Charles Morgan Inking Very Thin Subjects Page 60 care is needed to re-apply the inking sheet. Try various papers. . hard paper.

This will keep the .Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 61 Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Charles Morgan Mossworks Studio 77 Moss Street Victoria. Figure 59: Non-slip material Next. overlapping strokes with the palm press.C. but it is cheaper if you buy it where shelf liner is sold in large cut-rate department stores. put a sheet of non-slip material on a firm. B. flat surface a bit below waist height. place the clipboard down on the non-slip material. For small plates. 2006 (250) 920-0281 cmorgan@uvic. you can use a clipboard and some of that non-slip rubbery sheet that is sold for shelf liners. V8V 4M2 Canada ©October 21. First. The rubbery stuff can be found in marine and RV supply outlets.ca In order to print a foilograph with your palm press. you will need to keep the paper from shifting on the plate while you make multiple.

. Figure 60: Clipboard in place Now place another piece of non-slip material on the clipboard. Position the plate so that it will print where you want it when the paper is under the spring clamp. held in place by the spring clamp. inked side up. 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 61: Non-slip on clipboard Place your inked plate on the non-slip material.

fabric store “felt”. 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.

Figure 65: Begin first passes Begin with the palm press toward one side edge of the plate. Put both hands on top of the press. . with one roller on the plate and one off the plate.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. Place your palm press at the bottom edge. Keep your arms stiff and lean your body weight onto the press.**** That will help keep the paper from moving while you print.

The paper will now have the plate mark well embossed. Now you want to repeat the process. but beginning at the end of the clipboard away from the spring clip. you now roll the palm press forward and off the far edge of the plate. and continue making overlapping strokes from the bottom to the top until you have gone over the entire surface of the plate. . and this will help to hold the paper in position.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 65 Figure 66: Palm press position In this position. Pick up the press and bring it back to the lower edge of the plate again.

Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 66 Figure 67: Begin second passes As before. 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. put both hands on the palm press. 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. 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.

it becomes more difficult to lift the paper and check on the progress of the print.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 67 Figure 68: Check progress If the image is not satisfactory. with a resulting double image. For me. Be careful not to shift the paper as you make additional strokes. I have not had good success running the palm press from side to side. doing so almost always results in shifting the paper slightly. Figure 69: Finished print . let the paper and the top felts relax back into position. and repeat strokes with your palm press in any places that seem too faint. Such shifting could probably be eliminated by putting another clip on the clipboard along one edge. at right angles to the original spring clip. But with two clips so arranged.

the process is much the same. 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. Art supply stores sell sketching boards that work very well for our purposes. and come equipped with two large spring clips like those found on clipboards. Simply cut it to size and screw on a couple of spring clips purchased from an office supply store. . Alternatively.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 68 For larger plates. but of course you will probably need something larger than a clipboard.

V8V 4M2 (250) 920-0281 www. This construction provides ample strength.mossworks. One could use 4x4 material. I used threaded “ready rod” for the through bolts. I have shown it with a 6-ton jack. 1/8 inch thick.. This material is readily available. with the unmoving platen fixed to the top bar.Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 69 Bottle Jack Press Charles Morgan Mossworks Studio 77 Moss Street Victoria.C. 2006 This little bottle jack press is very handy for relief printing. light. The top and bottom bars are made by screwing and glueing two pieces of 2x4 lumber together. B. Bungee chords are cheap and easy . 1 3/8 inches per side.com cmorgan@uvic. a 2-ton jack would probably be sufficient. it need not be drilled. I used slotted steel angle for the uprights . Also. cheap. and that is the design I used for this press. In some the jack sits stationary on the bottom and raises the bed. but they are expensive to buy in an appropriate size.. I personally prefer a press with a fixed bed and a moveable platen. I use bungee chord to retract the platen and the jack. This press has the same action as a bookbinding (or nipping) press.ca © October. and could be used for that. cut to appropriate length. I used wing nuts to make disassembly easy. and it can even handle most collagraphs and mono-prints. but it will be more prone to cracking and not be as strong as the laminated design. There are many designs for such presses available. but if you are doing only relief work. One could use springs. and amply strong. The wooden top and bottom bars must be drilled through to take the bolts which attach them to the uprights.

Be sure the screws for the brackets are shorter than the thickness of the bottom plate so they do not come through the surface. just glue some corner guides to the top of the platen to match the base of the jack. Place the plate with the paper on top in the center of the plexiglass sheet.Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 70 to find. I used old 5/8 inch thick melamine counter top material for the bed and the platen. The bed is well supported from the bottom. 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. And it is desirable to have some means of keeping the ram centered on the top bar. the printing plate needs to be well centered on the bed. If you find the jack shifting around in use. as the pressure of the bungee chords and jack will hold them in place. simply double it. Some designs dispense with the bungee chords and springs altogether. I used angle brackets to attach the bed to the bottom bar and the end supports. In my design. Then just slide the plexiglass in place on the bed. I use a ruled sheet of plexiglass. screwed to the underside of the top bar. The bottom plate is centered on the bottom bar. But too much flop is to be avoided. the two layers need not be attached to each other. I put two guide screws in the edge of each side of the platen to prevent too much back and forth sway. and they work well. Because I had a piece of scrap. It is undesirable for the ram of the jack to be digging into the wood of the top bar. I find this to be exceedingly tedious. The platen needs to have some play in order to be self-levelling. but one could use plywood. . relying on retracting the jack by hand. Supports of 2x4 material are attached to the underside of the bottom plate at each end. with a hole cut out for the ram. especially during an edition. parallel to the bottom bar. I used a piece of box sectioned steel tube. and one layer is sufficient. The platen on my press is just two layers to improve stiffness. The side to side motion of the platen is restricted by the uprights. Cover the paper with whatever felt blankets or backing material you choose to use. If the bungee chord available to you is too wimpy to raise the jack. A piece of thin sheet metal and a couple of angle brackets would serve the same purpose. In use. The jack should be centered on the top of the platen.

And of course I would be delighted to hear from other press makers and to get photos of your creations. This action will extend the ram. or suggestions. experience and the quality of the print will guide you. Then place the jack handle in the appropriate recess and pump up and down.Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 71 To apply pressure... Cheers .. One end of the handle should be a close fit over the head of the valve. then a stronger jack must be used for large plates... The only proviso is that if the bed is much larger. you must open the valve on the jack. Close the valve when you have enough clearance to slide out the plexiglass sheet with your print and plate.. Most jacks are designed so you can use the jack handle for this purpose.. most turn clockwise to close. please feel free to contact me. be sure the valve on the jack is closed .. and the jack and platen should start to rise. If you have any questions. Use whatever material is to hand and adjust the dimensions appropriately. When contact is made. To release the pressure. Turn in a counter clockwise direction to release the pressure. None of the dimensions nor the material is crucial. continue pumping until the desired pressure is obtained . Charles . lowering the platen. problems.

Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 72 .

Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 73 .