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