FOILOGRAPHY PRINTMAKING

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

Contents
I. Introduction .................................................................................. 3 A. Name ....................................................................................... 3 B. Origin ...................................................................................... 3 C. Advantages .............................................................................. 4 D. Disadvantages ......................................................................... 5 Making the Plate .......................................................................... 6 A. Specimen Preparation ............................................................. 6 B. Making the Sandwich ............................................................. 7 1. Composing on the Backing ........................................... 8 2. Composing on the Foil .................................................. 11 C. Finishing the plate ................................................................... 13 1. Etching Press ................................................................. 13 2. The Palm Press .............................................................. 18 3. Rolling Pin ..................................................................... 24 4. Platen Press .................................................................... 27 5. Mallet Press ................................................................... 28 6. Blemishes .......................................................................29 7. Summary Comparison ................................................... 30 Inking the Plate ............................................................................ 31 A. Blind Embossing ..................................................................... 32 B. Inks .......................................................................................... 32

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C. Inking Tools ............................................................................ 34 D. Roll-up .................................................................................... 37 E. Masking ................................................................................... 38 F. Freehand .................................................................................. 40 G. Intaglio .................................................................................... 41 H. Combination Techniques ........................................................ 42 IV. Printing the Plate .......................................................................... 43 A. Paper Selection ........................................................................ 43 B. Presses ..................................................................................... 44 C. Cleaning the Plate ....................................................................46 Advanced Topics ......................................................................... 47 A. Multiple Passes and Plates ...................................................... 47 B. Embossing Powder Plates ....................................................... 49 Revisions ...................................................................................... 53 A. More Comments on Intaglio Inking .......................................53 B. Inking Very Thin Subjects ...................................................... 56 C. Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press .................................. 61 D. Bottle Jack Press Plans ............................................................69

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I. Introduction I.A. Name Lithography done on aluminum plate instead of stone is called aluminography. So, if you make a collagraph using aluminum foil rather than acrylic medium, you should call it ... alumigraph, of course!!! And that is what I called it when I first discovered it. Because in some parts of the world the word “aluminum” is pronounced “al-you-mi-nee-um”, some folks began referring to the process as “aluminograph”. However, unknown to me at the time, an artist by the name of Nancy Wells used the term “alumigraph” in an article published in the Spring, 2002, edition of Printmaking Today (vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 28-29), to refer to a rather different process. So, I have decided in fairness to switch to the terms “foilograph” and “foilography” instead. I.B. Origin I have been doing nature prints for a number of years, but was not happy with the monotype aspect. You go to all that trouble to get nice specimens, arrange them in a nice composition, and then you get only one print. And often with delicate subjects, the inking of the subject destroys it before you can print it. Many times I have had to peel pieces of leaves, insect wings, etc. from my roller and not been able to get even one print. Or I find when I print that I have over- or under-inked the specimen and it is too delicate to re-ink it. I wanted to be able to print at least a small edition, and with as little damage to the subject as possible. During the summer of 2001, I took a one day workshop on doing lithography on aluminum foil. Part of the process required wrapping some aluminum foil around a plexiglass plate and then putting it through an etching press to smooth it out. We had to be very carful to keep everything spotlessly clean, as the smallest dust mote showed up under the foil. I found I was not that interested in the lithography at the time, but that process of smoothing out the foil wrapped around a sheet of plexiglass was intriguing. I wondered what would happen if I put a leaf under the foil. So, when I got home, I tried it. I was amazed at the result. I played around with it for a while, and finally got a workable process by spring of 2002. I showed examples to a few friends in Victoria, and posted a version of the technique on the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Composing on the Foil Depending on the type of material you are dealing with.B. shiny side up .2. Take a piece of foil a bit larger than your backing and place it on top of the felt..Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 11 Figure 5: Foil taped to back of plate You are now ready to finish the plate by using some kind of press. you may find it easier to use the second approach mentioned above and make your composition directly on the foil. Begin by placing a couple of pieces of thin. shiny side up. left and right will NOT be reversed. the composition will appear as it does on the foil . remember that when printed. When making your composition directly on the foil. II. Figure 6: Foil on felt. with regard to left and right. fabric store felt down on a firm work surface. dull side down..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 20 Next use the palm press to press the foil around the specimen. lean onto the press with your upper body. and keeping your arms stiff. put both hands on top of the press. Then turn the plate with felts around 180° and . Figure 17: Palm press position In this position. Place the palm press on the bottom edge of the plate. 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 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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Figure 29: Using a rolling pin By pushing it away from you, slowly roll the pin from the bottom toward the top of the plate and off the edge. Then turn the sandwich and felt 180 degrees, and roll the pin beginning at the top of the plate and off the bottom edge of the plate. Next, turn the sandwich and the felt 90 degrees, and this time run the rolling pin starting at one side of the plate and off the opposite side. Finally, turn the sandwich and plate 180 degrees and roll the plate one last time in the opposite direction. Now you can remove the felt. The plate should look pretty much as in figure 22. As previously indicated, you can now remove any captured dust particles and smooth wrinkles with a cotton swab. Trim the ends of the foil as in figure 23 and finish the plate by folding the foil ends to the back of the plate and taping them in place, as in figure 24. For large plates, the rolling pin just does not seem to have enough pressure. However, for small plates the rolling pin works quite well. For very small plates, you may have difficulty keeping the pin balanced on top of the plate as you roll it along. To cure this problem, simply place two rails, one along each side of the plate, under the felt, for the rolling pin to rest on.

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II.C.4. Platen Press Although a press with a rolling action seems to give the best results when making a foilograph plate, you can obtain excellent results with platen presses unless your material is very fine (e.g. very fine down). A platen press consists of two flat surfaces ... a bed and a platen. Essentially a platen press simply presses the two surfaces together, applying pressure to whatever we have placed between. A relatively cheap, commonly available platen press is a book binding press, sometimes called a nipping press. These presses are usually made of cast iron and are quite heavy. Pressure is applied through a simple screw mechanism by turning a handle. Because of the limitations of the screw action, it is difficult to obtain really high pressures with a book binding press.

Figure 30: Book binding press Better results can be had with a simple home made bottle jack press. There are many designs, and the details are not important. The one illustrated uses a fixed bed and a moveable platen; the bungee chords retract the jack and platen when the valve is turned to release the pressure. The more powerful the jack used, the more pressure can be applied, up to the limit of the press frame. I have found that at least a 6-ton jack is preferable. The larger the plate you want to make, the stronger the jack you should use.

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Figure 31: Bottle jack press The process of making the plate with a platen press is much the same as we have already discussed. Simply cover the sandwich with a couple of layers of fabric store felt, and place the whole works on the bed. Then apply pressure. The more pressure you apply, the more detail will be revealed on the plate. Because they do not have a rolling action, platen presses usually produce more wrinkles on the plate. After removing the plate from the press, remove blemishes and smooth wrinkles as previously described. II.C.5. Mallet Press There was a German patent issued in 1940 for a technique for printing etchings with a mallet. Essentially a mechanism was designed to keep paper from shifting on the plate. In use, an inked plate was place in the apparatus, covered with dampened paper. A pyramidal shaped platen was placed on the back of the paper and hammered with a mallet. I have experimented a bit with making foilograph plates this way. Basically one places the sandwich, covered with a couple of layers of fabric store felt, between two flat boards and then hammers away with a mallet. In theory it should work just fine. The impetus of the hammering should mold the aluminum foil around the specimen. But in my experiments, I did not find the technique to produce consistent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. you may prefer to apply ink to specific parts of the plate in a freehand manner. Both soft and hard dabbers are very useful for this purpose. . a hard dabber to get black on the suface of some of the hair.F. and cotton swabs to get color on the bit of leaf and the few wood chips. Figure 45: Inking dust bunnies The dust bunnies plate was hand inked using soft dabbers for the blue. Freehand In some cases.

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

By using different colors of ink on different parts of the plate and carefully blending the areas during smearing and wiping. it may be useful to wipe ink from the higher parts of the plate as is done in intaglio. Combination Techniques Of course all of these inking techniques may be applied in combinations. 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. you can produce very subtle gradations of tone.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 42 wiping process will tend to leave ink in the low parts of the plate and remove it from the high parts. you may then use a hard dabber or a hard roller to apply another color to the high parts of the plate. By differential wiping. After wiping the plate. Often inking obscures some of the details available on the plate. After doing a roll-up or using a mask.H. To reveal details. III. you can create quite intricate gradations in color and tonal quality. Figure 47: Light as . Alternatively.. 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. ..

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

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

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

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

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

Use the same paper punch to punch holes in one end of the printing paper. 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. attach the plate to the carrier sheet. Position the plate+carrier sheet .Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 48 Figure 49: Registration technique Use a two or three hole paper punch to punch holes in the end of the carrier sheet. So. leaving the pins taped in place. Using the two or three hole punch ensures that the holes are placed at the same position in all of your material. Then you can use lithographers’ registration pins or similar devices taped to the bed or bottom plate of the press to locate the plate on the bed. The carrier sheet may be placed on this extra bottom plate with the registration pins positioned out of the way of the pressure plate. 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. 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. 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. That is why the carrier sheet is generally quite long. For a bottle jack press or similar press. You can then easily remove the carrier sheet. Ink the plate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Morgan More Comments on Intaglio Inking Page 55 of kleenex and carefully wipe the plate . then use clean kleenex to take off the residue... Or you can use baby wipes to clean the plate. .

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

As an example of a subject that is challenging to ink. Figure 53: Fine down plate The first step is to cut a mask from a piece of acetate or similar material. Then place the mask on the plate.Charles Morgan Inking Very Thin Subjects Page 57 “sheet inking”. You may find it useful to use tape hinges at one end of the mask to make it easier to flip the mask out of the way. Figure 54: Mask in place . Start with the plate face up on a piece of newsprint on your work surface. but to return it when needed. I made a foilograph plate from a wispy piece of down.

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

you may re-ink the inking sheet and reapply it.Charles Morgan Inking Very Thin Subjects Page 59 Figure 56: Inking sheet after rolling Now you may carefully peel the inking sheet away from the mask and the specimen to reveal the inked plate. But great . Figure 57: Inked plate If the inking is too light.

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. like card stock. When the inking is satisfactory. . Figure 58: Finished print Getting good detail is especially important with very thin specimens. so that you may compare the two. you may carefully remove it with a cotton swab. hard paper. damp and dry.Charles Morgan Inking Very Thin Subjects Page 60 care is needed to re-apply the inking sheet. Again. If the inking is too heavy. experimentation is the key. to get the effect you want. Try various papers. you may proceed to remove the mask and print the plate. you must clean the plate and begin again. 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. If there is only a bit of excess ink in a few places.

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

Position the plate so that it will print where you want it when the paper is under the spring clamp. This will keep the plate from moving around while you are printing.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 62 clipboard from moving around during the printing process. Figure 61: Non-slip on clipboard Place your inked plate on the non-slip material. . Figure 60: Clipboard in place Now place another piece of non-slip material on the clipboard. inked side up. held in place by the spring clamp.

Figure 63: Paper in place Cover the paper with two sheets of thin. fabric store “felt”.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 63 Figure 62: Plate in place Carefully slip your dampened paper under the spring clamp. .

Place your palm press at the bottom edge.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 64 Figure 64: Place felt under camp ****It is important to start at the end nearest the spring clip. . Keep your arms stiff and lean your body weight onto the press. Put both hands on top of the press.**** That will help keep the paper from moving while you print. with one roller on the plate and one off the plate. Figure 65: Begin first passes Begin with the palm press toward one side edge of the plate.

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

Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 66 Figure 67: Begin second passes As before. lean your upper body weight onto the press. . Pick up the press and bring it back to the lower edge of the plate again. put both hands on the palm press. and continue making overlapping strokes from the bottom to the top until you have gone over the entire surface of the plate. and then roll the palm press forward and off the far edge of the plate. You can check on your progress by going to the edge furthest from the spring clip and carefully lifting the top felts and the edge of the paper. Hopefully your foilograph will now be printed.

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 72 .

Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 73 .

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