This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
© Charles Morgan Mossworks Studio 77 Moss Street Victoria, B.C. V8V 4M2 CANADA revised October, 2006 www.mossworks.com firstname.lastname@example.org
I. Introduction .................................................................................. 3 A. Name ....................................................................................... 3 B. Origin ...................................................................................... 3 C. Advantages .............................................................................. 4 D. Disadvantages ......................................................................... 5 Making the Plate .......................................................................... 6 A. Specimen Preparation ............................................................. 6 B. Making the Sandwich ............................................................. 7 1. Composing on the Backing ........................................... 8 2. Composing on the Foil .................................................. 11 C. Finishing the plate ................................................................... 13 1. Etching Press ................................................................. 13 2. The Palm Press .............................................................. 18 3. Rolling Pin ..................................................................... 24 4. Platen Press .................................................................... 27 5. Mallet Press ................................................................... 28 6. Blemishes .......................................................................29 7. Summary Comparison ................................................... 30 Inking the Plate ............................................................................ 31 A. Blind Embossing ..................................................................... 32 B. Inks .......................................................................................... 32
C. Inking Tools ............................................................................ 34 D. Roll-up .................................................................................... 37 E. Masking ................................................................................... 38 F. Freehand .................................................................................. 40 G. Intaglio .................................................................................... 41 H. Combination Techniques ........................................................ 42 IV. Printing the Plate .......................................................................... 43 A. Paper Selection ........................................................................ 43 B. Presses ..................................................................................... 44 C. Cleaning the Plate ....................................................................46 Advanced Topics ......................................................................... 47 A. Multiple Passes and Plates ...................................................... 47 B. Embossing Powder Plates ....................................................... 49 Revisions ...................................................................................... 53 A. More Comments on Intaglio Inking .......................................53 B. Inking Very Thin Subjects ...................................................... 56 C. Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press .................................. 61 D. Bottle Jack Press Plans ............................................................69
I. Introduction I.A. Name Lithography done on aluminum plate instead of stone is called aluminography. So, if you make a collagraph using aluminum foil rather than acrylic medium, you should call it ... alumigraph, of course!!! And that is what I called it when I first discovered it. Because in some parts of the world the word “aluminum” is pronounced “al-you-mi-nee-um”, some folks began referring to the process as “aluminograph”. However, unknown to me at the time, an artist by the name of Nancy Wells used the term “alumigraph” in an article published in the Spring, 2002, edition of Printmaking Today (vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 28-29), to refer to a rather different process. So, I have decided in fairness to switch to the terms “foilograph” and “foilography” instead. I.B. Origin I have been doing nature prints for a number of years, but was not happy with the monotype aspect. You go to all that trouble to get nice specimens, arrange them in a nice composition, and then you get only one print. And often with delicate subjects, the inking of the subject destroys it before you can print it. Many times I have had to peel pieces of leaves, insect wings, etc. from my roller and not been able to get even one print. Or I find when I print that I have over- or under-inked the specimen and it is too delicate to re-ink it. I wanted to be able to print at least a small edition, and with as little damage to the subject as possible. During the summer of 2001, I took a one day workshop on doing lithography on aluminum foil. Part of the process required wrapping some aluminum foil around a plexiglass plate and then putting it through an etching press to smooth it out. We had to be very carful to keep everything spotlessly clean, as the smallest dust mote showed up under the foil. I found I was not that interested in the lithography at the time, but that process of smoothing out the foil wrapped around a sheet of plexiglass was intriguing. I wondered what would happen if I put a leaf under the foil. So, when I got home, I tried it. I was amazed at the result. I played around with it for a while, and finally got a workable process by spring of 2002. I showed examples to a few friends in Victoria, and posted a version of the technique on the
several people mentioned that they had heard of something similar.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 4 PrintAustralia web site in the summer of 2002. I have only been able to track down two specific references.). Finally the reader is directed to rub the surface with a wad of cotton to bring out the details. By hammering on the board. as with any print making technique. One begins by gluing flattened and dried natural material or paper cutouts to cardboard or plexiglass. by John Hathorn and Ludwik Luksza. and finally a board on top of all. I will briefly describe the references here. Then one is directed to spread contact adhesive over the leaves and cardboard. There are a number of problems with collagraphs. I. and then coat it with acrylic or some other reasonably tough coating. 1972. Further. For the sake of completeness. applying acrylic medium badly distorts many delicate subjects. and hair. It is so simple. you glue your bits and pieces to a backing. it seems someone must have done it before.K. Next a couple of layers of soft fabric are laid on top. Advantages With collagraph. fine feathers. the foil takes the imprint of the design. and neither uses the foil plate to make prints on paper. and cover all with aluminum foil. Then glue is spread over the entire surface before covering with aluminum foil. Although the author talks about making prints using a small press. much of the detail is lost by the . I have continued to experiment and refine the technique since that time. In their technique. essentially making a collagraph plate. Angus and Robertson (U. what he describes is using the collagraph plate to press multiple images into sheets of aluminum foil. for many nature subjects. by Francois Cherrier. A similar method is described in the book A Treasure Trove of Ideas. such as down. Neither of the two is exactly the process I employ.C. For one thing. After a few years of talking to others about the technique. 1978. one begins by glueing pressed leaves down on cardboard. But the lack of written material perhaps justifies my writing these notes. Methuen of Australia. I would not be outrageously surprised to find that the technique I have called foilography is not completely new. A method for making “silver pictures” is described in the book Things for Children to Make and Do: Craft Starting Points.
veins in flower petals and surface detail in leaves get filled in or obscured when coated with acrylic. foilograph prints are often similar to soft ground etchings. it is not possible to change it once you have coated everything with acrylic medium. you can recover your original specimen after printing. For examples. Foilography avoids these problems. Finally. In appearance.D. You probably do not want to take that old rose your grandmother pressed in the family bible and permanently cover it with acrylic. the subject is lost forever once it is bonded to the plate and covered with gunk. And with foilography. And the specimen does not get coated with waxy goo. Figure 1 is a foilograph of Oregon grape. you can make another plate and try again. The only damage to the specimen will be caused by the pressure of the press. the foilograph technique brings out many fine details that are hard to see with the naked eye. Fragile materials such as down. Further. Figure 1: Oregon grape I. In addition. are not nearly so subject to distortion. and there are some disadvantages with . the foilograph technique does not obscure details of natural subjects to nearly the extent that collagraphs do. one of my very first.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 5 coating. If you are not happy with the composition. But there are no acids or chemical baths. fine feathers. and hair. if you are not pleased with the composition of your collagraph. Disadvantages No printmaking technique is perfect. in fact.
like thorny branches. You can use well wilted material as well.A. The time will of course depend on the power of the machine. and then check it again. First you must make a “sandwich” consisting of a properly prepared specimen on a rigid baking. Specimen Preparation For natural subjects. you may well see steam. II. such as eggshell. Place the limp material between the pages of a phone book and let it sit for a few minutes. But fresh natural subjects contain too much water. The microwave oven will heat the water in the specimen. a leathery texture is quite good. Very fragile items. The major difference is that the material and backing plate are “shrink wrapped” in aluminum foil. and the hot water will migrate to the felt. If you have very fresh material and you do not wish to wait for it to dry naturally. start with about 20 seconds and check the results. plant material will seem damp and very limp. You can print items ranging from extremely thin flower petals to things as thick as . and the felt will feel wet. Simply place the item between two layers of cheap felt from a fabric store. you can speed the drying process by using a microwave oven. obscuring natural details. You do not need it to be really bone dry. loosely wrapped in aluminum foil. and pop it all in the microwave. since they tear the foil. cannot be printed with this technique. When you check your specimen. which would be damaged by the pressure of the press. It is best to be cautious. rather than being coated with acrylic medium. The water is squeezed out during the process and makes a bumpy surface which prints. like pine cones or sea shells. You can always put your material back in the microwave for a bit more time if the item is not quite dry enough. cannot be printed. place the felt between two microwave safe plates. begin by pressing and drying your specimens. After the initial heating.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 6 foilography. And items with sharp protrusions. II. The technique does not work well with very thick items. Making the Plate Making a foilograph plate is very similar to making a collagraph plate. Then the plate is finished by applying pressure with some sort of press. and finally removing any blemishes.
as these can pierce the tinfoil. it is very important edges and round the backing material. copper. Plexiglass is very electrostatic. etc. you may use tape. You may also use thin bits of metal or found objects. steel. you may make a foilograph using any sort of relatively thin material. Extremely thick specimens such as pine cones do not work well. Before making your that you bevel the corners of your corners and edges will and ruin the plate. ribbons. For example.B. lace. plate. you will need a tough. Sharp pierce the aluminum foil Figure 2: Plexiglass backing with smoothed and rounded corners and edges . aluminum. string. Fine sandpaper will produce a texture that will hold a lot of ink. serving the same function as aquatint for intaglio plates. as they tend to bend and distort. You could use MDF. Matboard and cardboard do not work well. I prefer to use plexiglass. and you may have some problems getting it absolutely clean. You may use crumpled paper or tissue for interesting textural effects. Very thick items. or even vases and flower pots. Any grain or surface imperfections will print. zinc. Making the Sandwich To begin. since they cannot be covered by the foil without tearing it. Usually it is important that the backing be SMOOTH.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 7 the central spine of large eagle feathers. such as torn or cut bits of paper. fabric. Thick stems are squashed out of shape and do not show true dimensions or shapes. may need to be shaved on the back to reduce their thickness. windows. at least in MY house!! In spite of its electrostatic properties. and it is almost impossible not to get lint from the air on the plexiglass. Even very small bits of lint will print. Of course. and similar material to produce images of frames. You should avoid material with really sharp edges. or plexiglass. such as thick stems or feather spines. cut or torn bits of paper. II. brass. hardboard. doors. firm backing for the plate. as with collagraph.
or (2) you can arrange your composition on the foil and then lay the backing on top of the composition.B. it is usually best to place the back of leaves facing out away from the backing. Consequently.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 8 You may want a thin knife or spatula. II. I have a beard and long hair. there are two ways to proceed: (1) you can arrange your composition directly on the smooth backing and then cover with aluminum foil. I decided to print dust bunnies. a needle or pin. and we live with two dogs and a cat. and tweezers to help position your specimen. On the other hand. Once you have your specimen and your backing materials. I got down on my hands and knees and roamed around the house until I had collected a good wad of dust bunnies.1. remember that left and right will be reversed when the plate is printed. . Composing on the Backing Arranging your specimen directly on the backing initially seems natural. my sweetie has long hair. So for this example. As an example of this approach. I first arranged my dust bunnies composition directly on the plexiglass sheet. but it can be a bit cumbersome when it comes time to wrap everything with foil. let’s have a look at the making of the plate for my print “Dustbunnies”. When arranging your composition directly on the backing. For good detail. I find that I get better results with feathers if the back of the feather is facing the backing. I wanted to show something that would be hard to print using the traditional collagraph approach. we always have lots of dust bunnies around the house.
and gently smooth out the foil. you do not want to glue it down with permanent glue. keeping it as wrinkle free as possible. Now. Once you have a composition to your liking. which shows up as texture in the print. specimen on top. I find that pressed flower petals adhere very well to the surface of the plate with no glue. I like to use repositionable glue so I can move objects around if I place them incorrectly the first time. Cut the foil so it is big enough to completely cover the backing and the subject and still leave enough to fold around by an inch or so on all sides. and small bits of trash as you can. I put the foil DULL SIDE OUT. and it always seems to give too thick a coat. I have tried using the spray glue. I find the repositionable glue sold in stick form is the best. place the backing and specimen on a smooth clean work surface. . 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. Keep the backing as free of lint. hair (not appropriate in this example!). You may find it useful to use a paintbrush to remove any stray bits of lint or other unwanted material from the plate. DO NOT FOLD IT YET!!! Place the foil over the backing with the specimen in place. And certainly if you wish to recover the specimen after printing.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 9 Figure 3: Dust bunnies arranged on plexiglass Depending on your subject matter.
Then being very careful not to shift the specimen. you want to tape the foil to the backing. Begin by putting a small piece of tape near the two corners of one edge. flip the sandwich over so you can get at the back of the plate. With the foil on top. as I find the dull side takes ink a bit better. flip the plate with the specimen over and gently lay the whole works down on the foil. pull the foil tight without tearing it and put tape at each of the other corners. specimen. Then you can reach under and lift the sandwich up without disturbing the composition. .Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 10 shiny side against the specimen. you may want to put more tape. Figure 4: Foil wrapped on two sides If your specimen is well adhered to the backing plate. carefully pick up the backing. Fold the foil over the edges and around to the back of the plate on the left and right sides. In any case. Then on the other edge. leave the two ends unfolded for the moment. on the table. For large plates. you may find it easier to put the foil down on a flat surface. with part of the backing hanging over the 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. Place the backing with specimen on top. From the rear of the plate. and the foil as a sandwich. Then drape the foil carefully over the specimen and plate.
with regard to left and right.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 11 Figure 5: Foil taped to back of plate You are now ready to finish the plate by using some kind of press. you may find it easier to use the second approach mentioned above and make your composition directly on the foil.2. II. Figure 6: Foil on felt.B.. shiny side up . Take a piece of foil a bit larger than your backing and place it on top of the felt. Composing on the Foil Depending on the type of material you are dealing with. Begin by placing a couple of pieces of thin. left and right will NOT be reversed.. remember that when printed. dull side down. shiny side up. fabric store felt down on a firm work surface. the composition will appear as it does on the foil . When making your composition directly on the foil.
and remove backing Next remove the plate and. gently place the backing on top of the specimen. . using the plate marks as a guide. arrange your specimen directly on the foil.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 12 Then place the backing material on top of the foil and press down lightly to mark the outline of the backing material on the foil. Figure 7: Press backing into foil to mark outline. With the foil-specimen-backing sandwich lying on the felt. Figure 8: Using backing outline. arrange specimen on foil Being careful not to shift the specimen around on the foil.
Put the two rails along the two sides of the press bed for the press roller to ride on. We will begin with the etching press. II. 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. you now need to use a press of some kind. Etching Press Once the sandwich is made. stretch) away from the thickest parts of your specimen and . Figure 9: Replace backing. Finishing the Plate In order the finish the plate. Because of its high pressure and rolling action. fold and tape foil on two edges You are now ready to finish the plate by using some kind of press. such as fine down. you are ready to put it through the etching press. At the end we will discuss how to remove blemishes from the finished plate. Adjust the roller pressure with the felts in place between these rails and the press roller. an etching press gives the best results. II. However. and then go on to other alternatives.too much pressure causes the foil to "flow" (i. This prevents too much pressure from being applied to the aluminum foil -. very good results can be had with a number of other press types. except for very thin material.e.1.C.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.C.
so the sandwich goes through the press twice. Arrange the plate so that the first pass through the press will roll toward the thickest part of the specimen first . like plant stems. I usually run the press forward and then back. The unfolded ends of the tinfoil should go front and back through the press. and the hard backing plate (with the foil folded around it) against the press bed. After going through the press.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 14 become very thin. with the folded foil at the sides. However. Use pretty good pressure. You may find that you get better detail with some specimens if you do the same. Run the whole thing through your etching press. so the thickest part of the specimen goes under the roller first. with blankets in place. If possible taper the edges of thick items... This seems to produce fewer wrinkles. Place the sandwich between the rails. you should have a very smooth sandwich with the details of the specimen embossed in the aluminum foil. When I first started. I now usually dispense with the dampened paper and just rely on the pressure and flexibility inherent in the press blankets. Figure 10: Foil package on press bed with rails in place . Try to avoid abrupt edges in the specimen. with the foil covered specimen facing the press blankets. resulting in a puncture or a tear. I used dampened paper over the sandwich when I was making the plate.
If you find the material has shifted. I re-did the dust bunnies plate several times to get it the way I wanted it. You may also discover that there are small pieces of lint. or it will become permanent. The blemish in the foil can then be removed by rubbing it with a cotton swab. You do not need to run a whole line of tape continuously around the edges. Figure 11: Initial dust bunnies plate from etching press You will find a final version of the plate below. never rub crosswise to the wrinkle. you must carefully untape the foil and lift it. or if you do not like the composition. Remove the trash with a fine. fold the remaining two foil edges over and around to the back of the plate.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 15 Check your composition at this point. When you look at the plate. It should be sufficient to use a piece of tape at each end. you may discover that there are wrinkles in the foil where you do not want them to be. . dust. just start over with a fresh piece of foil. or other trash under the foil. and indeed it is not a good idea to do so. pull toward the midline of the plate and tape them to the backing. and perhaps a piece in the middle if the plate is large. To remove these. and replace the foil. When you are happy with the look of the plate. Most wrinkles can be removed by rubbing along the wrinkle with a cotton swab. dry brush.
Taping the foil to the backing keeps it in place relative to the backing. It is useful to have bare areas of the plate to which to tape the foil. Unlike the example in figure 12.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 16 Figure 12: Undesirable taping Unless the plate is very small. And if you are using plexiglass backing. whereas taping the foil to other bits of foil allows the whole thing to move and shift. Figure 13: Correct taping . I do not like to have the back completely covered by foil. you should try to tape the foil to the backing. If necessary. you may be able to see bits of lint that need to be removed or see items that have shifted position. you are advised to trim the ends of the foil before taping to the backing. as it is in figure 12. not to other parts of the foil.
You want to avoid wrinkles in the middle of the sides. Stick the tape well down to the loose foil edge. the foil may tend to stretch a little. You should now have a complete plate. And with flower petals. Use the tab on the free end of the tape to pull the foil. then make a tab on the free end by folding the tap on itself.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 17 When taping. all covered with aluminum foil which wraps around everything on all sides. with a specimen on top. You will find it easier to do if you make a tab on the end of the tape you attach to the backing. As you print. With leaves. as described above. Then you can easily free the tape from the backing. pull the edges of the foil tight and tape them down again. although you are pulling toward the midline. consisting of a backing. you can actually see the veins in the petals. With feathers. you should angle your tension at each end of the foil toward the adjoining edge. pulling on the foil. you get all the fine detail of the down. It is easier to get good tension if you use the tape to help pull the foil. you can sometimes actually see the pores in the leaf. The tab will allow you to more easily lift the tape if you need to re-tighten the foil later. and you may want to re-tighten it by lifting the tape from the backing. and then finally stick the free end of the tape down to the backing. and then sticking it back down. Figure 14: Finished dust bunnies plate You will be amazed at how much detail shows in the foil. .
Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 18 The challenge is to ink the plate in such a way as to reveal these details. Your fridge or stove comes with 4 small. You will only need one of these little casters. The threaded stub on the casters I have is 5/16 inch in diameter. they make a platform type that the whole appliance sits on . you now have a palm press. Or. use epoxy to hold it in place. but they usually come as a set of 2 or 4.2 The Palm Press To make the best possible plate. if you cut your own. there is a way to achieve very good results by hand... just drill a 9/32 hole in the center. You need to start with pressure at one end of the sandwich and move toward the other end. and I suspect that is a North American standard. However. just screw the handle down onto the caster as tight as you can. Go to the hardware store and look at the array of casters for furniture that are for sale. Get a 9/32 inch drill. an etching press. These casters are designed to replace the little skid plates with rollers so you can move your fridge or stove around. housed in a metal case. you can take a scrap piece of 2x4 and saw out a circle about 2 inches in diameter. You could also use an old door knob for a handle. There will be a short threaded stub out the top of each metal case. Careful . The best alternative that I have found to an etching press for making foilographs is a simple palm press. if you can find the kind that screws onto the square rod through the door that the old latches used to have... squeezing out air and stretching the foil over the specimen in a continuous movement from one end to the other. . The one that I use is easily made from readily available materials. Now. circular skid plates. For best results. one screwed into each corner of the bottom. essentially for leveling the appliance. that is NOT what you want. Presto . The threaded stub will have a nut on it. and drill out the hole in the drawer pull. III. you need an action like squeezing a tooth paste tube. or something similar seems to be required.. Take the nut off. Buy the largest diameter ball drawer pull you can find .... You want a package of four casters. potter’s slab press. lithographic press. You want a set made to go on a fridge or stove.C. Each caster consists of two small diameter plastic rollers. you want something at least 1.5 inches in diameter.
The backing should be on the bottom. like a table top. fabric store felt. Cover the sandwich with two pieces of thin. specimen. Figure 16: Place felt on top . with the specimen next and the foil at the top.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 19 Figure 15: Making a simple palm press To use your palm press to make a foilograph plate. foil sandwich on a firm surface preferably below waist high. place your backing.
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. Place the palm press on the bottom edge of the plate.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 20 Next use the palm press to press the foil around the specimen. put both hands on top of the press. and continue making overlapping strokes from the bottom to the top until you have gone over the entire surface of the plate. and keeping your arms stiff. you now roll the palm press forward and off the far edge of the Figure 18: First passes plate. Figure 17: Palm press position In this position. lean onto the press with your upper body.
Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 21 repeat the process. essentially rolling over the plate in the opposite direction. Figure 19: Second passes Next turn the plate 90° and repeat the same steps going from side to side. Figure 20: Third passes Figure 21: Fourth passes .
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. Figure 23: Trimming ends and removing wrinkles . 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 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. Rubbing lengthways along the wrinkles gives the best chance of smoothing them out. you are likely to produce a small fold which will be almost impossible to remove.
Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 23 Finally. And if there are any undesirable bits of lint or other trash under the foil. we need to turn the plate over. remove them carefully with a dry brush. you must untape the foil. Figure 25: The finished plate Aluminum foil is quite plastic and will reveal an amazing amount of detail. Finally we need to fold the foil ends onto the back of the plate and tape them. and retape. As with a plate made on the etching press. If the foil seems loose. pull the foil to tighten it. Figure 24: Taping the back At this point. the plate is essentially finished. it may be necessary to carefully peel the tape holding one edge of the foil. retape the foil. if there are any remaining wrinkles. they should be removed by carefully rubbing along their length with a cotton swab. and smooth out the bumps in the foil. as long .
C.3 Rolling Pin It is possible to make decent small foilograph plates using a rolling pin. Two handles are pressed onto the shaft. one at each end of the roller. Figure 27: Marble rolling pin As purchased. I prefer to use a marble rolling pin. a shaft runs longitudinally through the center of the roller and through two plastic bushings. If this becomes . one at each end. Figure 26: Plate detail II. and under the full leaning weight of your body such small shafts tend to bend.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 24 as we have used enough pressure in making the plate. although a wooden one will also work well. Rolling pins of the sort we want to use are constructed with a roller about 2 inches in diameter. rolling pins for kitchen use come with quite a small shaft.
Cover the sandwich with a couple of pieces of thin fabric store felt. about 5/16 or even 3/8 inch in diameter. with the backing down and the specimen covered with foil facing up. If the handles are too loose on the shaft. lean your body weight onto the rolling pin. Place the sandwich on a firm surface. then you may have to use glue to hold them in place. using the old shaft as a pattern. The rolling pin is used in much the same was as the palm press. Figure 28: Replacement rolling pin shaft Purchase a length of smooth steel rod from the hardware store. Place the rolling pin on top of the felt. Also drill out the handles to be a press fit onto the shaft. it is a simple matter to replace the shaft with one larger in diameter. Try just twisting them in opposite directions until they loosen and can be pulled off. Then reassemble your rolling pin. With your hands on the handles at each end of the rolling pin and your arms stiff. on the plate at the bottom. Remove the handles from the original shaft. Use a drill of appropriate size to drill out the bushings to accept your new shaft. Cut the new shaft to length. For convenience. . Remove the original shaft from the rolling pin. I will assume that the bottom of the plate is closest to you and the top of the plate is furthest away from you.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 25 a problem.
Figure 29: Using a rolling pin By pushing it away from you, slowly roll the pin from the bottom toward the top of the plate and off the edge. Then turn the sandwich and felt 180 degrees, and roll the pin beginning at the top of the plate and off the bottom edge of the plate. Next, turn the sandwich and the felt 90 degrees, and this time run the rolling pin starting at one side of the plate and off the opposite side. Finally, turn the sandwich and plate 180 degrees and roll the plate one last time in the opposite direction. Now you can remove the felt. The plate should look pretty much as in figure 22. As previously indicated, you can now remove any captured dust particles and smooth wrinkles with a cotton swab. Trim the ends of the foil as in figure 23 and finish the plate by folding the foil ends to the back of the plate and taping them in place, as in figure 24. For large plates, the rolling pin just does not seem to have enough pressure. However, for small plates the rolling pin works quite well. For very small plates, you may have difficulty keeping the pin balanced on top of the plate as you roll it along. To cure this problem, simply place two rails, one along each side of the plate, under the felt, for the rolling pin to rest on.
II.C.4. Platen Press Although a press with a rolling action seems to give the best results when making a foilograph plate, you can obtain excellent results with platen presses unless your material is very fine (e.g. very fine down). A platen press consists of two flat surfaces ... a bed and a platen. Essentially a platen press simply presses the two surfaces together, applying pressure to whatever we have placed between. A relatively cheap, commonly available platen press is a book binding press, sometimes called a nipping press. These presses are usually made of cast iron and are quite heavy. Pressure is applied through a simple screw mechanism by turning a handle. Because of the limitations of the screw action, it is difficult to obtain really high pressures with a book binding press.
Figure 30: Book binding press Better results can be had with a simple home made bottle jack press. There are many designs, and the details are not important. The one illustrated uses a fixed bed and a moveable platen; the bungee chords retract the jack and platen when the valve is turned to release the pressure. The more powerful the jack used, the more pressure can be applied, up to the limit of the press frame. I have found that at least a 6-ton jack is preferable. The larger the plate you want to make, the stronger the jack you should use.
Figure 31: Bottle jack press The process of making the plate with a platen press is much the same as we have already discussed. Simply cover the sandwich with a couple of layers of fabric store felt, and place the whole works on the bed. Then apply pressure. The more pressure you apply, the more detail will be revealed on the plate. Because they do not have a rolling action, platen presses usually produce more wrinkles on the plate. After removing the plate from the press, remove blemishes and smooth wrinkles as previously described. II.C.5. Mallet Press There was a German patent issued in 1940 for a technique for printing etchings with a mallet. Essentially a mechanism was designed to keep paper from shifting on the plate. In use, an inked plate was place in the apparatus, covered with dampened paper. A pyramidal shaped platen was placed on the back of the paper and hammered with a mallet. I have experimented a bit with making foilograph plates this way. Basically one places the sandwich, covered with a couple of layers of fabric store felt, between two flat boards and then hammers away with a mallet. In theory it should work just fine. The impetus of the hammering should mold the aluminum foil around the specimen. But in my experiments, I did not find the technique to produce consistent
I have not pursued this technique. You may find that there are stray bits of hair and dust that have been caught under the foil. 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. After re-taping. Given the ease of making foilograph plates by other means. Rather. Be very careful not to move the specimen during this whole process. After the offending particles have been removed.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 29 results. you might try using a very slightly damp brush if you are having difficulty with a particularly recalcitrant particle. You may then use a fine water color brush or something similar to carefully brush lint from the surface of the backing. you may also find that rubbing length wise along a wrinkle with your finger will remove the wrinkle. Then tape the foil securely to the back side of the backing. But you must be careful not to introduce any moisture under the foil. . In some cases the offending particle will remain embedded in the foil. then you must remove them. carefully remove the tape and unfold the foil from one edge. Do not rub across a wrinkle. you need to replace and re-tape the foil. Because moisture helps reduce electrostatic attraction. you may find that there are wrinkles in the surface of the foil. rub along the length of each wrinkle. you may carefully smooth them out by rubbing them with the back of a fingernail or with a cotton swab. II. Blemishes After the sandwich has been through the press process. When re-taping the foil. Because the foil stretches during the press process. If you do not want these imperfections to show up on your print. so be sure to examine the foil carefully. In order to remove a hair or piece of lint. Any bump that is visible on the foil will catch and hold ink and be printed. If there are any small wrinkles in 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. as this will tend to produce fine folds in the foil which are impossible to remove. use a fine brush to remove any particle embedded in the foil.C. If your plate is large enough. you may smooth out the lint "bump" with the back of a finger nail or cotton swab. after forming the plate in the press.6. Again. look at the front surface of the plate very carefully. But be careful rubbing with your finger.
But when used carefully. If the foil is loose. here are some plates made with the different techniques. The first plate of this sort I saw was made by Carole Carroll. To tighten up the foil. Summary Comparison In general an etching press seems to give the best results when making a foilograph plate. For small plates. it will be harder to ink the plate properly. and then re-tape it to the backing. Such a plate can make very interesting prints. carefully pull the foil to tighten it.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 30 Figure 32: Dust particles and wrinkles After first forming the plate. a simple palm press can do almost as well. undo the tape from the backing. you may find that the foil appears to be loose. Having spent a lot of time telling you how to remove wrinkles. such as mustard or poppy seeds or small grass seeds. or some mixture. and you may introduce wrinkles during the printing process. For comparison purposes. let me take a step back and suggest that sometimes the wrinkles can add a great deal to the image. II.C. but not as good as a palm press.7. Make your plate. a rolling pin would probably be the next best. For an example. and you will find a network of wrinkles joining the seeds in a random way. sprinkle some small seeds on the plate. . a bottle jack press will generally yield better results than a rolling pin. But for larger plates. or after a few prints.
Blind Embossing . each producing somewhat different results: (1) blind embossing with no ink. (3) masking. Inking the Plate Figure 36: Bottle jack press plate A foilograph plate is a very low relief plate. viscosity inking) should work as well for foilographs. The greatest challenge is in inking the plate to achieve the desired results. (5) intaglio wiping. I think of there being five main inking techniques.g. Any inking method appropriate for collagraphs (e. (4) free-hand color application. (2) a basic roll-up.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 31 Figure 33: Etching press plate Figure 34: Palm press plate Figure 35: Rolling pin plate III. III. 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.A.
Any good quality oil based ink formulated for block printing will work well. Some additional plasticiser such as honey seems to be required. Oil based inks seem to work the best. just place your paper over the plate and run it through your press. Speedball water based inks seem to work fine. If you have particularly fluffy paper and a high pressure press. foilograph plates are very good for producing blind embossings. Although lithographic inks have very good pigment content. Although there will be some loss of detail. Thick papers made for etching work well for such an application. However. I have tried mixing pigments with rice paste. it is best to dampen your paper. as with Japanese woodblock printing.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 32 A blind embossing is a design impressed into paper without any ink. they are far too sticky . though their pigment content is not high. For blind embossing. Once the plate is made. but the resulting ink just balled up on the aluminum. then obviously no inking is required. dry paper is much harder on the plate. and the foil will not last as long as with damp paper. Applying very sticky ink to the plate tends to lift and stretch the foil. Figure 37: Blind embossing III. you may be able to produce acceptable emobossings on dry paper. creating wrinkles and spreading ink into unwanted areas. If you are only going to do blind embossing.B Inks Because it is aluminum. I find that water based inks sometimes ball up on the surface.
your ink should have the consistency of oil paint. If you like to make your own inks. I find that I need to use dampened paper to get the ink off the plate. they may be added directly to the stand oil on your inking slab and thoroughly mixed with a spatula or pallet knife. Aluminum reacts very readily with many materials. The viscosity of stand oil is suitable for inking a foilograph plate. you may want to add a drop of cobalt drier. They tend to clump and ball up because the oil does not penetrate the powder well. Ethyl alcohol is what is found in booze. Mix the dry powdered pigment with enough alcohol to make a paste. To ensure proper drying. water-mixable oils seem to dry a lot faster than inks specifically made for print making. Some inks may react with the aluminum and discolor slightly. I have used stand oil and pigment dispersions from Guerra in New York in this way. However.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 33 to use unthinned on a foilograph plate.C. again. it is best to buy the highest grade available from an artist’s supply store. you may wish to add a drop of cobalt drier to ensure proper drying. If you are using print dispersions. Only experimentation will help you find out what color you will get with a specific ink on your aluminum foil. dry pigments can be use if you first make a paste with the pigment and very pure isopropyl or ethyl alcohol. Since you will not be using much oil. Isopropyl alcohol can be purchased in drug stores and can be found 99% pure in many locales. then thin it with artist’s quality linseed oil. When using water-mixable oils. Inking Tools . In some locations you can buy ethyl alcohol that is 95% pure (190 proof). it is sold under trade names like “Clear Spring”. Dry pigments are difficult to mix directly into stand oil. but they may also work. I have not tried other oil paints. or “Pure Grain Alcohol”. “Ever Clear”. To avoid stretching your foil. III. I find that even etching inks are too sticky unless well thinned. you may begin with artist’s grade stand oil from any good art supplier. I have gotten quite reasonable results with water-mixable oil colors but again find they are best thinned slighty. If your ink is too sticky. Then mix the pigment paste with the stand oil to make your ink.
print makers usually call this an inking slab. Cut off a piece of convenient size. or “brayers”. plasticised side up and tape it to a firm surface with masking tape. and place the shiny. and any felt. clean up is simple . Hard dabbers are useful for applying ink to the high spots of a plate. Smaller sizes are readily available in most art supply stores.. just throw it away. which may be secured in place with string or a rubber band. I have specified white because it is easier to see your colors on white paper. Furniture glides work well for the disks and are available in a variety of sizes at most hardware stores. A hard dabber may be inked with a roller. so your ink should not penetrate the paper.. which you can buy in most large grocery stores. These papers have a plasticised side that is impervious to water. depending on the size you need) to the end of the dowel. For a bit of softness. grease and oil. Figure 38: Variety of brayers You will also want to have a few large. Brayers come in a variety of sizes and degrees of hardness. but except for color distortion. After you are finished. Finally the disk.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 34 You will need a convenient place to roll out your inks. the brown butcher paper works just as well. hard dabbers. the surface of the disk may be covered with a thin layer of felt. Or . is covered with a layer of smooth leather or fine mesh silk or similar material. You can use a piece of plexiglass or a piece of real glass. But a more convenient inking slab to use is a piece of white butcher paper or freezer paper. 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. You will want some brayers that are quite hard (often made from plexiglass rod) and some that are softer. You will also need a variety of ink rollers.
Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 35 it may be inked by using it to smear a bit of ink around on the inking slab. Generally you get smoother results with a soft 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. 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. Instead. Figure 39: Hard dabbers In addition to hard dabbers. I make my hard dabbers with smooth leather scraps. Do NOT use mat board or rolled up felt to scrape ink across the surface of the plate as you would with an etching. 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. Paint brushes tend to leave brush marks. Figure 40: Soft dabbers .
You can also easily make soft dabbers from most any close weave fabric. it may simply be discarded. Simply place a few cotton balls in the middle of a square of fabric. Then bring the corners of the fabric together and twist to make a tadpole shape. first the ink should be rolled out on an inking slab with a “brayer”. Then dab the head several times on a clear portion of the inking slab until the ink is evenly distributed. and rubber bands. Another useful soft dabber is made from a cut off finger from a nitrile glove. Finally. You can also use a soft dabber to gently smear ink into recessed areas of the plate.D. They may be bought cheaply at most cosmetics outlets or drug stores.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 36 Cosmetic sponges make very decent soft dabbers. The tendency of beginners is to use way too much ink. cotton balls. Then apply the ink to the plate by dabbing with the inked tadpole. You will have to re-ink the dabber frequently. If cheap material is used. III. secure the “tail” with a rubber band. Roll-up To do a simple roll up. or ink roller. These dabbers can be cleaned after use by throwing away the cotton balls and washing the material covering in soap and water. Simply place a cotton ball or two in the tip of the finger. You . A "dab" is a light. The tail forms a convenient handle. insert a cotton swab for use as a handle. To use a soft dabber. and secure the cut off finger to the swab with a rubber band. hold the dabber by the tail handle and dab the head of it into the ink on your inking slab. Cosmetic sponges are hard to clean. but are so cheap they may simply be discarded after use. bouncing motion.
leaving a halo around them. if in doubt. The ink is applied to the foilograph plate by rolling the brayer very lightly over the surface. Experimentation will allow you to determine the look you like. Masking If you want to limit the ink application to only a certain part of the plate (e. Particularly for small plates..Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 37 want a very. use less ink. Depending on the amount of ink desired. You may wish to change the orientation of the plate relative to the roller in order to produce a more uniform inking.E. the more ink will get on the shallower parts of the plate. The print in Figure 41 was produced by a simple roll up using thinned sepia etching ink. you may find it useful to place the plate between two rails of the same thickness as the backing. If you use a very hard roller. Strive for a smooth transition from lights to darks. without applying any other pressure. You must be careful to avoid getting sharp lines when you reapply the brayer to the plate. Figure 41: Memories of summers past III. You should just use the weight of the brayer itself. only the highest details will receive ink. you may wish to run the roller over the plate several times.g.. The softer the roller. This process will put ink on the high spots of the plate. avoid . very thin coat of ink on your brayer . you will have to re-ink your brayer many times. simply run the roller over the plate. If you are using a small diameter brayer. Then resting the inked brayer on the rails.
use a cotton swab and alcohol to carefully remove any stray ink from the plate. before printing. . Either make a blind embossing or ink up the plate and then print it with light pressure on the paper mask material. Then put the sheet on some other backing and use a knife to cut out the shape of the specimen. Place the plastic over the plate and use a felt pen to draw around the specimen. Figure 42: Mylar mask You can also make a mask from plain paper. Then cut out the mask. Use dry paper. then you can use clear plastic sheet for a mask. and when you are finished inking. or else the mask will change dimensions as it dries.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 38 getting ink on the plate around the outside of a leaf). Spaying a paper mask with fixative or painting it with shellac or acrylic medium will make it last longer. Use the mask when inking.
it is possible to ink with multiple colors that shade nicely into each other. producing a stripe of each ink on the brayer. For a rainbow roll. My print of stair step moss was done using this technique and three colors. Using a rainbow roll on the plate. A brayer is then run through the adjacent ink. Figure 44: Stair step moss . two or more colors are laid out close together on one inking slab. with a blend between the stripes.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 39 Figure 43: Horse chestnut Using a mask with a rainbow roll can produce very nice results.
.You may also ink the plate by using a nitrile or latex glove and using a finger to gently smear the ink around on the plate.F. Figure 45: Inking dust bunnies The dust bunnies plate was hand inked using soft dabbers for the blue.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 40 III. 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. Freehand In some cases. a hard dabber to get black on the suface of some of the hair. you may prefer to apply ink to specific parts of the plate in a freehand manner.
Place a sheet of paper over the inked plate. place it on a non-slip surface. if the plate is too large. Then use news print or old phone book pages to very gently wipe the plate.G. Be sure your ink is quite loose. Others may prefer to use their gloved fingers. and trying to move your wiping hand in a circular motion. If the plate is small enough. and use very light pressure with your hand on the paper. Try to gently move your hand in a very small circular motion on the paper. working it well into low spots. You will begin by more blotting than wiping. Remember that you cannot use straight etching ink for this process. Eventually you will feel the paper begin to slide over the plate. This . Try not to lift of stretch the foil. hold it in one gloved hand. Keep removing the inked paper and replacing it by fresh. Look at the plate to see how much ink has been removed.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 41 Figure 46: Dust bunnies print III. I prefer to use soft dabbers to apply and smear the ink. and replace it by another. Carefully remove and discard the paper. it is too sticky and will stretch and tear the foil. Intaglio You may also use intaglio techniques for inking the plate. The basic idea is to gently apply ink in blobs to the plate and then gently smear the ink around. The paper may stick to the surface of the plate at first.
After wiping the plate. you may then use a hard dabber or a hard roller to apply another color to the high parts of the plate.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 gently wipe the high spots by hand using a nitrile glove or with a piece of newsprint to remove the ink from the high spots. Alternatively. you can produce very subtle gradations of tone. III.. By differential wiping. By using different colors of ink on different parts of the plate and carefully blending the areas during smearing and wiping. Often inking obscures some of the details available on the plate. After doing a roll-up or using a mask. To reveal details. Combination Techniques Of course all of these inking techniques may be applied in combinations. . 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.. Figure 47: Light as . it may be useful to wipe ink from the higher parts of the plate as is done in intaglio.H. you can create quite intricate gradations in color and tonal quality.
you may use a thin. Gently wipe the high parts with newsprint. . a thin ink will cover a stiff ink. lighter weight papers tend to give me better details than heavier weight papers. But heavier papers may be printed either damp or dry. such as BFK Rives. You can apply this principle to get multicolors on your plate. known as viscosity inking. and consequently it is hard on the plate. However. I really like fluffier papers. such as card stock or cover stock. Paper selection can greatly influence the outcome. Then use a hard brayer to apply a water based ink to the high areas. Thin Japanese papers may be printed damp or dry. So. one could begin by appling an oil based ink to the lower parts of the plate using a dabber or a soft brayer. you will probably have to use dampened paper just to get the color to come off. the technique relied on the fact that inks of very different viscosities would not stick together readily. I find I get finer details with dampened paper. but the very finest details sometimes do not show up on it. A variant of the viscosity technique is based on the fact that in general water and oil do not readily mix.A. The hard brayer will help to keep the ink application on the high parts. In practice. soupy ink will reject a stiffer ink. as long as you do not use water mixable oils. IV. On the other hand. gently wipe the high areas with newsprint.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 43 As an aid in this two color inking process. As with intaglio. But remember that if you are using water-mixable oils. As a generalization. Printing the Plate IV. A very thin. for most subjects you can get quite acceptable results with dry paper. Then use a hard brayer to apply a stiffer ink to the high parts of the plate. reveal quite fine details. one can rely on a technique from intaglio printing. You can also get good detail on oriental “rice” papers. Very smooth papers. Paper Selection Having inked the plate you are now ready to print. In its original form. I find that water based inks will not adhere when applied on top of oil based inks. But card stock is very hard paper. Next. In practice. soupy ink on a soft roller or dabber to ink the lower parts of your plate. This was the process used to produce the print of Oregon grape in Figure 1. if you use dampened paper. Rice paper must be printed dry. you will pick up the ink in the little crevices of the plate.
then the paper. producing wrinkles. Presses Once the plate is made and inked. IV. the shorter the life of the plate..Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 44 As with most everything else in printmaking.B. as it were). and you have blanket creep. However. .. covered by the etching felt. Aluminum tends to flow under pressure. to see what suits you and your subject. and the plate pulls on the upper roller. the following sequence happens: the driving roller pulls on the bed. Cover with a couple of pieces of fabric store felt.. The heavier the pressure. then I get more stretching than if I place the plate on the bed. the foil pulls on the plate. the blanket tends to be dragged by the top roller. rather than turning the top roller. it may help to turn the plate 90 degrees to your normal orientation. The blanket will pull on the paper. the felts pull on the paper. then the paper. on top of the plate. If I place felts on the bed. Just as when making the plate. In some cases. In fact. the bed pulls on the felts. Using the foil to pull the plate. there are some good reasons NOT to do so. seems to stretch the foil more. The problem of stretching is worsened if the printing surface of the foil is closest to the driving roller. 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 really need to experiment with papers. which will pull on the foil. then the paper. Basically you just lay your selected paper. the paper pulls on the foil. then the felts. You do not need to use an etching press to print it. some small etching presses with small diameter top rollers suffer from blanket creep . I find it useful to put two rails down the side of the bed. In cases of blanket creep. put a couple of layers of fabric store felt on the bed. the driving roller is below the bed. and finally the plate. paper on top. For example. One of the primary problems with using an etching press to print your plate is that it tends to stretch the aluminum foil. use a bit less pressure on the top roller. on my press. then the plate (printing the plate face down. With the printing surface facing the driving roller. then you are very likely to stretch the foil when you print. As a last resort. dry or damp. you may have to use velcro strips to attach the etching felt to the bed. and use some means of applying pressure. rather than the plate to pull the foil. so the foil will become very thin at the high spots and eventually tear. If you are printing with the plate on the bed.. you can sometimes lessen stretching by printing the plate “upside down” . dry and damp. you will want to print it.
That little bit of extra flexible thickness is often all that is required to get the pressure just right. and cover the whole with a thick cushion layer. Then the paper and plate should give plenty of pressure to print without stressing the foil unduly. If you are using dry paper. Walking presses can be quite simple or more complicated. you can use a letter press. Since there is no shearing action. just place the plate on a backing board.. For simple in-line pressure presses (letter press. so there should be less of a problem with wrinkling the aluminum foil. you should use less pressure. You may need to roll over the sandwich several . there is less wrinkling of the aluminum foil. If you are using thicker paper. Also. foam). Place the paper over the plate between the rails. If you are not getting good results. try placing an extra loose sheet or two of thin felt from the fabric store over the paper. so your plate should last longer and you will get more impressions from it. and cover with a cushion (felt or foam) also between the rails. then use less pressure than with dampened paper. Experience is the best guide. walk carefully around on top. book binding press. then cover with some cushion material (felt. cover with a sheet of paper. a marble rolling pin. a book binding press. place the whole in the press. To print your foilograph plate. an improvised bottle jack or car jack press. Leave room between the rails for the plate and the paper. 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. With foilographs. then the paper. Place the rolling pin on the rails. The basic idea is to place the paper over the plate and cover with a cushion (felt or foam). Then with bare feet. These techniques produce less shearing action. and roll over the sandwich. and apply pressure. bottle jack press). firm pressure on the rails should be sufficient. I find this works best if you put a thin layer of felt down. lean over the rolling pin with stiffened arms to put pressure on the rolling pin. place the plate on a firm table between two rails of the same thickness as the backing. then the plate. To print with a rolling pin.. a “walking” press. 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.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 45 made of the same material as the plate backing. Then adjust the pressure so the roller and blankets are riding on the two rails . these printing options generally do not result in as high a pressure as an etching (or similar action) press. or even a “bean can” press. good. using the toes and balls of the feet to apply pressure all over.
. If the ink dries on the plate. In preparation for cleaning. you will want to clean your plate. and rub the can all around the plexiglass. I find I can sometimes get it off easily by just buffing softly with a dry tissue. 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. I use tissue and a bit of vegetable oil. The same technique will work using the palm press described earlier. IV. Alcohol on a bit of cotton batting works well to clean foilograph plates. As a last result. or when you have finished printing your edition. Multiple Passes and Plates . To clean the plate. Or you can store the plate. A “bean can” press works in much the same way as the rolling pin press. I just wipe it with a damp tissue when using water mixable colors. Advanced Topics V. Cleaning the Plate If you get too much ink on your plate or you want to switch to a different color scheme. or you will produce bubbles and wrinkles that ruin the plate. use stiffened arms to put pressure on the can.g. Place the plate-paper-cushion sandwich between rails as with the rolling pin. A marble rolling pin works just as well as the very expensive stainless steel “pin press” sold by art suppliers. Then place a piece of thin plexiglass across the rails. For normal oily inks. on top of the sandwich. Place a small can of tinned vegetables or fruit on end on top of the plexiglass. so wrap the plate in newspaper to preserve it for future use. It may help to apply a small amount of lubricant to the bottom of the can (e. Then place both hands on the top of the can.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 46 times to get a good image. After printing. If you want to keep the plate. note that the aluminum foil is reasonably delicate. No matter what you use. provided that the enclosed specimen is well dried and will not mold.C.A. V. acetone will generally remove dried inks. you must be very carful not to introduce liquids beneath the foil. Or you can use soap and water. petroleum jelly). Alcohol and water can also sometimes be used to remove dry inks. just remove the aluminum foil to retrieve the specimen.
acetate. Each registration pin consists of a flat. With foilograph plates. 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. Registration pins of stainless steel may be purchased from lithographers’ supply outlets. To be sure the plate stays in position on the carrier sheet. You could use paper for your carrier sheet. 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. Multiple passes and/or multiple plates introduce the usual problems of registration. registration is more of a problem because usually the foil wrapped around the edges of the backing does not give a precise registration edge. one fundamental question concerns whether there will be just one pass through the press or multiple passes. 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.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 47 In the printing. I made some simply by cutting small pieces of thin plexiglass and gluing a short 1/4 inch plexiglass dowel at one end. Or they may be made from brass. In Figure 49. There are some simple pin registration techniques which work well. aluminum or plastic. thin tab about an inch long and 3/4 of an inch wide with a small perpendicular dowel at one end. the tape should attach to the backing material of the plate. not to the foil. The carrier sheet must be long enough to extend well beyond the plate. . but I prefer to use plastic since any stray ink can be easily wiped off. or similar material.
Using the two or three hole punch ensures that the holes are placed at the same position in all of your material. 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. 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. 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. leaving the pins taped in place. attach the plate to the carrier sheet. Ink the plate. Use the same paper punch to punch holes in one end of the printing paper. but you will be able to replace the carrier sheet exactly where it was before by placing the holes in the carrier sheet over the pins on the bed.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 48 Figure 49: Registration technique Use a two or three hole paper punch to punch holes in the end of the carrier sheet. Position the plate+carrier sheet . So. That is why the carrier sheet is generally quite long. For a bottle jack press or similar press. 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. 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.
V.B Embossing Powder Plates I owe the idea for the technique of using embossing powder to make plates to Fred Mullet. print on a piece of mylar or other clear material that is also punched and registered on the pins. You can use the same technique to align several plates to print in registration with each other. remove the carrier sheet with the plate. Since your printing paper is punched and registered to the same pins as your plates. If one is more concerned about artistry and not so much concerned about biological accuracy. When you have the second plate properly positioned. the end of the paper with the registration holes can be cut or torn away. In this way you can register as many plates as you like to each other. Use the pins to place the paper over the plate. Place a second carrier sheet on the pins. After printing. Then you can use the registration pins to reposition the paper exactly. Place the transparent print from the first plate on the registration pins over the second plate. but do not tape it to the carrier sheet yet. Cover with cushions as usual. Embossing powder is essentially very fine particles of plastic that will melt under . you can remove the paper. and re-ink the plate leaving it attached to the carrier sheet. Much biological accuracy is lost because of the embossing powders tend to form small lumps when fused. use double backed tape to tape it in position on the second carrier sheet. Place your second plate in approximately the right position. you should be able to print multiple plates in registration on your paper. perhaps changing the inking at each pass. 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. You can then use the image on the transparent sheet as a guide to position the second plate. After one pass through the press. But the general characteristics of the subject are retained. Remove the transparent print and the first plate with its carrier sheet.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 49 on the pins. to whom I extend my very warm thanks. Attach your first plate to a carrier sheet as before. In this way you can over-print one plate several times. Then instead of printing on paper. then one can produce very nice results using plates made with embossing powder.
Set your print to one side. Next. The powder will adhere to the wet ink. The powder is very fine. Direct the flow from the heat gun onto the powdered print. using an oil based ink. Gently refold the paper. The inked areas should appear dull from the adhering powder. just be sure the ink is not too thick on the paper. the powder will fuse. . Use a small dry brush to dust off areas of the print where the powder should not be. Examine the print closely. and many craft stores sell appropriate heat guns. Now you are ready to fuse the embossing powder. and let the powder slide down the crease and back into your container. turning from opaque to shiny. you want to remove all the excess powder. You can buy heat guns for stripping paint or welding plastic. Be sure to put the lid back on your powder container at this point. You could make a design with a paint brush instead of a leaf print.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 50 moderate temperature. Turn the dusted print upside down over the paper and tap it on the back to remove the excess powder. Carefully go over the entire print to be sure all the powder has fused. You may see powder in other places on the print. The excess powder can be re-used. You may want to hold your print down with a couple of stones or something similar at the edges. A hair drier will not do the job. Then you sprinkle liberal amounts of embossing powder over the print. I use an old salt shaker for this purpose. Be careful not to set the paper on fire. The basic technique is very simple. the powder should fall onto your creased paper. You will need a good heat gun to fuse the powder. so you want to capture it. as the heat gun blows very hot air. and in use tends to go everywhere. First you make a print of a leaf or similar material on good quality card stock or similar paper. You can purchase embossing powders from most craft stores and from outlets carrying rubber stamps. Carefully pick up your creased paper with the excess powder. Fold a piece of paper in the middle and then open it out flat on the work surface. So be sure to cover your work area with old newspapers or something similar. As it gets hot. but should not adhere to the dry paper.
on a stiff backing. Cover with aluminum foil. These plates are very low relief and require a lot of pressure. Figure 51:Detail of embossing powder plate . such as plexiglass. and the plastic should be slightly beaded up on the surface of the paper. you make a foilograph plate from the embossed paper in the usual way. Finish the plate in the usual way. Place the paper.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 51 Figure 50: Print with fused embossing powder Once it is fused. embossing up. wrapped around two sides. At this point. the ink should feel dry to the touch. Apply pressure from a press.
and by all means. Give it a try.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 52 Because the plate is so low relief. SEND ME COPIES OF YOUR PRINTS !! . Figure 52: Embossing powder plate print CONCLUSION This is a VERY simple technique. perhaps the most successful way to print it is to ink and wipe it as intaglio. Let me know how it works for you. which seems more complicated in the telling than in the doing. experiment with it.
and of course much longer when inking a larger plate. Such inks are really oil based inks. like matboard. like linseed oil. it is quite different from doing collagraph. or engravings.. The first thing I want to emphasize is that intaglio inking is quite time consuming. that foil is thin and stretches easily. engravings. When inking a foilograph as intaglio. the characteristics that allow the foil to reveal such fine detail make it difficult to ink with stiff inks. to apply and spread the ink. circular motion. you will stretch or tear the foil. but less success with water based inks. 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 use LOOSE ink. You may want to use Miracle Gel or Easy Wipe to loosen your oily inks. If the ink is sticking and the dabber is . When inking standard etchings. etchings. You need to be careful in your selection of inks. you will be unlikely to have much success. and collagraphs. If you try to rush the process. Remember. The next thing I want to emphasize is that you should use very loose inks for intaglio inking a foilograph plate. You need to be prepared to spend 15 minutes inking a small plate. When applying the ink to a foilograph. Standard etching inks are much too sticky. The linseed oil will dry. In general. Never do this with a foilograph.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. I find that water mixable oil colors dry much too quickly to be used for intaglio inking of a foilograph plate. one frequently uses a very stiff. You may try true water based block printing inks. These days many manufacturers are producing inks advertised as “soap and water clean up”. but the oil has been modified to be mixable with water. Take your time .. so I thought I would make a few additional comments. Use a gentle. I have good results with plain artist’s grade linseed oil. Other ink additives may lead to creeping. You want to loosen your inks with a product that will dry and harden over time. I have had good success with oil based inks. like Speedball. I have had the best results using a soft dabber to smear the ink around on the plate. do not be in a hurry. I have not had good success with acrylics. hard applicator. even most block printing inks are too stiff. oily stains on your print over time.
I usually just print the plate several times on paper towel to remove excess ink. I wear disposable gloves to keep ink off my hands. Try to wipe the plate. BE GENTLE. As more of the ink is removed. do not lift the paper straight up. You are not going to be able to remove all the ink from the aluminum . nonskid material. I would not use paper towels or kleenex to wipe the image. it means you are dragging an edge or a fold in your wiping paper. I do not clean between inkings unless there is way too much ink . like wiping your palms together. or any similar stiff. For oily inks. use a lightly moistened kleenex. Remember. For water based inks. engravings. For larger plates.. If you feel you must clean the plate during a run.. you will lift the foil. or you will lift the foil .. loosen the ink. you will not get it shiny clean. Wiping etchings. but not for general wiping of the specimen. To keep the large plate from slipping. you may want to place it on some rubbery. gently slide the dabber around in the same plane as the foil. you will be wiping the high surfaces clean and leaving ink in the low spots next to the relief. because that will take too much ink out of the image. NEVER use tarlatan. BE GENTLE. I use old phone book pages..... Do not press the dabber down and then lift it straight up. If you are getting white lines when your are wiping. you must be much more gentle. twisting motion to blot the plate and take the ink off the high spots. moving the paper toward an edge.Charles Morgan More Comments on Intaglio Inking Page 54 dragging. Again. rough material. I begin with a sheet of paper on my upturned left palm and place the plate flat in my left hand. You could use paper towels or kleenex to wipe the plate from the specimen toward the edge of the plate. you will have to place the plate on a flat working surface. For small plates. use a gentle. The inking is more like a dry point than an etching . 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. and collagraphs is usually done with a fair amount of pressure and vigor. Remove the dabber by sliding it off an edge of the plate. put a few drops of linseed oil on a piece . You are looking for good contrast between what is left on the specimen and what is left on the plate. ink side up.. Then I cover the inky plate with another sheet of paper flat in my right hand .. Try to wipe only with flat material. Pay careful attention to your wiping materials and technique. With a foilograph plate.. even then. if you lift the dabber straight up.
then use clean kleenex to take off the residue. 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 it is often the case that significant areas of the specimen will remain un-inked.ca www. with many voids. However. To help solve some of these problems. However. B. V8V 4M2 CANADA (250) 920-0281 email@example.com © October 22.mossworks.Charles Morgan Inking Very Thin Subjects Page 56 Inking Very Thin Subjects Using an Inking Sheet and Mask Charles Morgan Mossworks Studio 77 Moss Street Victoria. like a flower petal. If the thin material consists of just one area.C. I have developed a technique which I call . If one uses a very hard roller in an effort to avoid getting ink in the shallow voids. for some subjects it is difficult using intaglio inking to get good contrast between the subject and the background. 2006 Foilograph plates made from very thin subjects offer special challenges when it comes to inking. 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 good results may be had by cutting a close fitting mask of acetate or other thin material and inking the plate with a roller. And the look obtained by intaglio inking and wiping may not be what is desired by the artist. It is very difficult to apply ink to the foil covering exceedingly thin material without getting ink on the background as well. then using a roller and a simple mask often leads to deposits of ink in the many voids. resulting in an unsuitable print. intaglio inking seems to work well. if the thin material is complex in shape. For some thin material.
As an example of a subject that is challenging to ink. Figure 54: Mask in place . but to return it when needed.Charles Morgan Inking Very Thin Subjects Page 57 “sheet inking”. 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. Start with the plate face up on a piece of newsprint on your work surface. I made a foilograph plate from a wispy piece of down. Then place the mask on the plate. Figure 53: Fine down plate The first step is to cut a mask from a piece of acetate or similar material.
Moderation is the key. You will want enough ink on the sheet to transfer readily to the foil covering the specimen. on top of the mask. but still stiff enough to bridge over the really low areas. You can use the developing image of the specimen as a guide to tell where you need to do a bit more with the un-inked brayer. But. It is flexible enough to reach appropriate areas of the specimen. pressing it lightly down on the plate. Figure 55: Inking sheet in place Now. which is in place on the plate. Let your own experience and working habits be your guide. we use a brayer to roll an even coat of ink on the inking sheet. we will use a sheet of acetate or flexible plastic table cloth material. To begin. inked side down. When the sheet is evenly inked. . As you progress. you are finished. you should begin to see the specimen through the inking sheet. You will probably need to make several passes with the brayer in several different directions. When the image of the specimen is reasonably clear.Charles Morgan Inking Very Thin Subjects Page 58 Rather than using an inked brayer to apply ink to the plate. My personal preference is to use the thickest version of plastic table cloth material. carefully place the sheet. Be careful not to move the mask. you do not want the ink to be so sloppy thick that it oozes into the low spots on the plate. use an un-inked brayer and a light touch to roll over the back of the inking sheet.
Figure 57: Inked plate If the inking is too light.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. you may re-ink the inking sheet and reapply it. But great .
Try various papers. the tendency is to get too much ink where it is not wanted. If there is only a bit of excess ink in a few places. If the inking is too heavy. Again. you must clean the plate and begin again. you may proceed to remove the mask and print the plate. experimentation is the key. so that you may compare the two. hard paper. damp and dry. . 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. When the inking is satisfactory. Figure 58: Finished print Getting good detail is especially important with very thin specimens. to get the effect you want. 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 may carefully remove it with a cotton swab. like card stock.
flat surface a bit below waist height. you will need to keep the paper from shifting on the plate while you make multiple. put a sheet of non-slip material on a firm.ca In order to print a foilograph with your palm press.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 61 Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Charles Morgan Mossworks Studio 77 Moss Street Victoria. B. overlapping strokes with the palm press. place the clipboard down on the non-slip material. 2006 (250) 920-0281 cmorgan@uvic. Figure 59: Non-slip material Next. you can use a clipboard and some of that non-slip rubbery sheet that is sold for shelf liners. First. V8V 4M2 Canada ©October 21. For small plates.C. but it is cheaper if you buy it where shelf liner is sold in large cut-rate department stores. This will keep the . The rubbery stuff can be found in marine and RV supply outlets.
This will keep the plate from moving around while you are printing. held in place by the spring clamp. Figure 60: Clipboard in place Now place another piece of non-slip material on the clipboard.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 62 clipboard from moving around during the printing process. Position the plate so that it will print where you want it when the paper is under the spring clamp. inked side up. Figure 61: Non-slip on clipboard Place your inked plate on the non-slip material. .
Figure 63: Paper in place Cover the paper with two sheets of thin.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 63 Figure 62: Plate in place Carefully slip your dampened paper under the spring clamp. . fabric store “felt”.
**** That will help keep the paper from moving while you print. Put both hands on top of the press. Place your palm press at the bottom edge.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 64 Figure 64: Place felt under camp ****It is important to start at the end nearest the spring clip. Figure 65: Begin first passes Begin with the palm press toward one side edge of the plate. with one roller on the plate and one off the plate. . Keep your arms stiff and lean your body weight onto the press.
Now you want to repeat the process.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 65 Figure 66: Palm press position In this position. Pick up the press and bring it back to the lower edge of the plate again. and this will help to hold the paper in position. but beginning at the end of the clipboard away from the spring clip. you now roll the palm press forward and off the far edge of the plate. The paper will now have the plate mark well embossed. and continue making overlapping strokes from the bottom to the top until you have gone over the entire surface of the plate. .
put both hands on the palm press. and then roll the palm press forward and off the far edge of the plate.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 66 Figure 67: Begin second passes As before. and continue making overlapping strokes from the bottom to the top until you have gone over the entire surface of the plate. lean your upper body weight onto the press. You can check on your progress by going to the edge furthest from the spring clip and carefully lifting the top felts and the edge of the paper. . Pick up the press and bring it back to the lower edge of the plate again. Hopefully your foilograph will now be printed.
I have not had good success running the palm press from side to side. with a resulting double image. and repeat strokes with your palm press in any places that seem too faint. Figure 69: Finished print . Such shifting could probably be eliminated by putting another clip on the clipboard along one edge. But with two clips so arranged. it becomes more difficult to lift the paper and check on the progress of the print. For me. let the paper and the top felts relax back into position. Be careful not to shift the paper as you make additional strokes.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 67 Figure 68: Check progress If the image is not satisfactory. at right angles to the original spring clip. doing so almost always results in shifting the paper slightly.
Simply cut it to size and screw on a couple of spring clips purchased from an office supply store. and come equipped with two large spring clips like those found on clipboards. Alternatively. you can easily make your own printing board from a piece of plywood or MDF. the process is much the same. These boards are 18 inches to several feet on a side.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 68 For larger plates. . 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.
cut to appropriate length. and amply strong. The top and bottom bars are made by screwing and glueing two pieces of 2x4 lumber together. 1/8 inch thick.. 1 3/8 inches per side. I used slotted steel angle for the uprights . and could be used for that.C. but it will be more prone to cracking and not be as strong as the laminated design.ca © October. I used threaded “ready rod” for the through bolts. This material is readily available. but if you are doing only relief work. I have shown it with a 6-ton jack. V8V 4M2 (250) 920-0281 www. The wooden top and bottom bars must be drilled through to take the bolts which attach them to the uprights. light.com cmorgan@uvic. and that is the design I used for this press. This construction provides ample strength.. There are many designs for such presses available. This press has the same action as a bookbinding (or nipping) press.mossworks. One could use springs. I used wing nuts to make disassembly easy. with the unmoving platen fixed to the top bar. Also.Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 69 Bottle Jack Press Charles Morgan Mossworks Studio 77 Moss Street Victoria. I personally prefer a press with a fixed bed and a moveable platen. cheap. a 2-ton jack would probably be sufficient. 2006 This little bottle jack press is very handy for relief printing. I use bungee chord to retract the platen and the jack. and it can even handle most collagraphs and mono-prints. it need not be drilled. B. One could use 4x4 material. Bungee chords are cheap and easy . In some the jack sits stationary on the bottom and raises the bed. but they are expensive to buy in an appropriate size.
The bottom plate is centered on the bottom bar. I put two guide screws in the edge of each side of the platen to prevent too much back and forth sway. but one could use plywood. simply double it. The platen on my press is just two layers to improve stiffness. Cover the paper with whatever felt blankets or backing material you choose to use. especially during an edition. If you find the jack shifting around in use. Then just slide the plexiglass in place on the bed. The bed is well supported from the bottom. relying on retracting the jack by hand. 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. as the pressure of the bungee chords and jack will hold them in place. It is undesirable for the ram of the jack to be digging into the wood of the top bar. Supports of 2x4 material are attached to the underside of the bottom plate at each end. I use a ruled sheet of plexiglass. I used angle brackets to attach the bed to the bottom bar and the end supports. In my design. I used old 5/8 inch thick melamine counter top material for the bed and the platen. Be sure the screws for the brackets are shorter than the thickness of the bottom plate so they do not come through the surface. the printing plate needs to be well centered on the bed. I used a piece of box sectioned steel tube. But too much flop is to be avoided. If the bungee chord available to you is too wimpy to raise the jack. Place the plate with the paper on top in the center of the plexiglass sheet. with a hole cut out for the ram. And it is desirable to have some means of keeping the ram centered on the top bar. Because I had a piece of scrap. Some designs dispense with the bungee chords and springs altogether.Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 70 to find. and one layer is sufficient. parallel to the bottom bar. and they work well. the two layers need not be attached to each other. In use. The side to side motion of the platen is restricted by the uprights. A piece of thin sheet metal and a couple of angle brackets would serve the same purpose. I find this to be exceedingly tedious. just glue some corner guides to the top of the platen to match the base of the jack. The jack should be centered on the top of the platen. The platen needs to have some play in order to be self-levelling. screwed to the underside of the top bar. .
. If you have any questions. To release the pressure.. Turn in a counter clockwise direction to release the pressure. Then place the jack handle in the appropriate recess and pump up and down. Most jacks are designed so you can use the jack handle for this purpose. Cheers .. be sure the valve on the jack is closed . The only proviso is that if the bed is much larger. then a stronger jack must be used for large plates. One end of the handle should be a close fit over the head of the valve. None of the dimensions nor the material is crucial. Use whatever material is to hand and adjust the dimensions appropriately. most turn clockwise to close. experience and the quality of the print will guide you... 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. or suggestions.. you must open the valve on the jack. When contact is made. This action will extend the ram. problems.. please feel free to contact me. continue pumping until the desired pressure is obtained . lowering the platen.Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 71 To apply pressure. Charles . And of course I would be delighted to hear from other press makers and to get photos of your creations..
Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 72 .
Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 73 .