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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Figure 8: Using backing outline.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 12 Then place the backing material on top of the foil and press down lightly to mark the outline of the backing material on the foil. using the plate marks as a guide. and remove backing Next remove the plate and. gently place the backing on top of the specimen. arrange specimen on foil Being careful not to shift the specimen around on the foil. arrange your specimen directly on the foil. Figure 7: Press backing into foil to mark outline. With the foil-specimen-backing sandwich lying on the felt. .

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

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

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

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

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

squeezing out air and stretching the foil over the specimen in a continuous movement from one end to the other.. Presto . if you cut your own. The threaded stub on the casters I have is 5/16 inch in diameter. Your fridge or stove comes with 4 small. you need an action like squeezing a tooth paste tube. circular skid plates. just drill a 9/32 hole in the center. You want a set made to go on a fridge or stove. and I suspect that is a North American standard.. you now have a palm press. Now. . essentially for leveling the appliance. Get a 9/32 inch drill.. III.5 inches in diameter. Each caster consists of two small diameter plastic rollers. For best results. lithographic press. and drill out the hole in the drawer pull.. potter’s slab press. or something similar seems to be required. if you can find the kind that screws onto the square rod through the door that the old latches used to have.C.. one screwed into each corner of the bottom.. Take the nut off. you want something at least 1.2 The Palm Press To make the best possible plate. These casters are designed to replace the little skid plates with rollers so you can move your fridge or stove around. Go to the hardware store and look at the array of casters for furniture that are for sale.. they make a platform type that the whole appliance sits on . You need to start with pressure at one end of the sandwich and move toward the other end. that is NOT what you want. you can take a scrap piece of 2x4 and saw out a circle about 2 inches in diameter. The threaded stub will have a nut on it. Or.. You want a package of four casters. The best alternative that I have found to an etching press for making foilographs is a simple palm press. 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. an etching press. You could also use an old door knob for a handle. but they usually come as a set of 2 or 4. There will be a short threaded stub out the top of each metal case. housed in a metal case. The one that I use is easily made from readily available materials. Careful . However. You will only need one of these little casters. Buy the largest diameter ball drawer pull you can find . just screw the handle down onto the caster as tight as you can. there is a way to achieve very good results by hand.

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

and continue making overlapping strokes from the bottom to the top until you have gone over the entire surface of the plate. Figure 17: Palm press position In this position. Then turn the plate with felts around 180° and . Pick up the press and bring it back to the lower edge of the plate again. put both hands on top of the press. Place the palm press on the bottom edge of the plate. you now roll the palm press forward and off the far edge of the Figure 18: First passes plate.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 20 Next use the palm press to press the foil around the specimen. lean onto the press with your upper body. and keeping your arms stiff.

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

you may prefer to apply ink to specific parts of the plate in a freehand manner. . Figure 45: Inking dust bunnies The dust bunnies plate was hand inked using soft dabbers for the blue. Both soft and hard dabbers are very useful for this purpose. and cotton swabs to get color on the bit of leaf and the few wood chips. a hard dabber to get black on the suface of some of the hair.You may also ink the plate by using a nitrile or latex glove and using a finger to gently smear the ink around on the plate. Freehand In some cases.F.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 40 III.

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

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

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

use a bit less pressure on the top roller. the foil pulls on the plate. then you are very likely to stretch the foil when you print. However. If you are printing with the plate on the bed. You do not need to use an etching press to print it. then the paper. I find it useful to put two rails down the side of the bed. producing wrinkles. covered by the etching felt. The heavier the pressure. In cases of blanket creep. then the felts. Presses Once the plate is made and inked. 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. you will want to print it. it may help to turn the plate 90 degrees to your normal orientation. One of the primary problems with using an etching press to print your plate is that it tends to stretch the aluminum foil. With the printing surface facing the driving roller. so the foil will become very thin at the high spots and eventually tear. rather than the plate to pull the foil. then the plate (printing the plate face down. the shorter the life of the plate. which will pull on the foil. the blanket tends to be dragged by the top roller. dry or damp. the paper pulls on the foil. then the paper. Using the foil to pull the plate. then the paper. then I get more stretching than if I place the plate on the bed. If I place felts on the bed.. The blanket will pull on the paper. put a couple of layers of fabric store felt on the bed. IV. In some cases. and the plate pulls on the upper roller.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 44 As with most everything else in printmaking.B. the felts pull on the paper. and use some means of applying pressure. Just as when making the plate. The problem of stretching is worsened if the printing surface of the foil is closest to the driving roller. seems to stretch the foil more. as it were). and finally the plate.. Aluminum tends to flow under pressure.. the following sequence happens: the driving roller pulls on the bed. rather than turning the top roller. to see what suits you and your subject. Cover with a couple of pieces of fabric store felt. the driving roller is below the bed. dry and damp.. In fact. As a last resort. For example. you can sometimes lessen stretching by printing the plate “upside down” . paper on top. you may have to use velcro strips to attach the etching felt to the bed. and you have blanket creep. on my press. some small etching presses with small diameter top rollers suffer from blanket creep . Basically you just lay your selected paper. on top of the plate. . there are some good reasons NOT to do so. you really need to experiment with papers. the bed pulls on the felts.

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

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

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

You can then easily remove the carrier sheet. The carrier sheet may be placed on this extra bottom plate with the registration pins positioned out of the way of the pressure plate. That is why the carrier sheet is generally quite long. 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. 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. Using the two or three hole punch ensures that the holes are placed at the same position in all of your material.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. leaving the pins taped in place. Position the plate+carrier sheet . Use the same paper punch to punch holes in one end of the printing paper. For a bottle jack press or similar press. 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. So. Then you can use lithographers’ registration pins or similar devices taped to the bed or bottom plate of the press to locate the plate on the bed. Ink the plate. attach the plate to 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or you can use baby wipes to clean the plate.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.. .

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

Figure 53: Fine down plate The first step is to cut a mask from a piece of acetate or similar material. Start with the plate face up on a piece of newsprint on your work surface. 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. I made a foilograph plate from a wispy piece of down. Then place the mask on the plate. As an example of a subject that is challenging to ink.Charles Morgan Inking Very Thin Subjects Page 57 “sheet inking”. Figure 54: Mask in place .

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

But great . Figure 57: Inked plate If the inking is too light. 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.

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

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

held in place by the spring clamp. Figure 61: Non-slip on clipboard Place your inked plate on the non-slip material. 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. 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.

fabric store “felt”. .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 63: Paper in place Cover the paper with two sheets of thin.

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

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. you now roll the palm press forward and off the far edge of the plate. Now you want to repeat the process. but beginning at the end of the clipboard away from the spring clip. and continue making overlapping strokes from the bottom to the top until you have gone over the entire surface of the plate. Pick up the press and bring it back to the lower edge of the plate again. . The paper will now have the plate mark well embossed.

and then roll the palm press forward and off the far edge of the plate. Hopefully your foilograph will now be printed. and continue making overlapping strokes from the bottom to the top until you have gone over the entire surface of the plate. 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. put both hands on the palm press. . lean your upper body weight onto the press. 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.

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

and come equipped with two large spring clips like those found on clipboards. These boards are 18 inches to several feet on a side.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 68 For larger plates. you can easily make your own printing board from a piece of plywood or MDF. . Alternatively. Simply cut it to size and screw on a couple of spring clips purchased from an office supply store. the process is much the same. Art supply stores sell sketching boards that work very well for our purposes. but of course you will probably need something larger than a clipboard.

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

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

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

Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 72 .

Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 73 .

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