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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

using the plate marks as a guide. 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. arrange your specimen directly on the foil. Figure 8: Using backing outline. gently place the backing on top of the specimen. and remove backing Next remove the plate and.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 12 Then place the backing material on top of the foil and press down lightly to mark the outline of the backing material on the foil. Figure 7: Press backing into foil to mark outline. .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Figure 20: Third passes Figure 21: Fourth passes .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.

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

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

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

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

which may be secured in place with string or a rubber band. the surface of the disk may be covered with a thin layer of felt. just throw it away.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 34 You will need a convenient place to roll out your inks. You will also need a variety of ink rollers. After you are finished. so your ink should not penetrate the paper. Figure 38: Variety of brayers You will also want to have a few large. But a more convenient inking slab to use is a piece of white butcher paper or freezer paper. print makers usually call this an inking slab. Hard dabbers are made by using a small piece of dowel or similar material for a handle and gluing or screwing a small disk (1 inch to 2 inches in diameter. which you can buy in most large grocery stores. I have specified white because it is easier to see your colors on white paper. and place the shiny. Brayers come in a variety of sizes and degrees of hardness. Smaller sizes are readily available in most art supply stores. 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. clean up is simple . These papers have a plasticised side that is impervious to water. You can use a piece of plexiglass or a piece of real glass. and any felt. but except for color distortion.. Finally the disk. hard dabbers. Or . Hard dabbers are useful for applying ink to the high spots of a plate. is covered with a layer of smooth leather or fine mesh silk or similar material. or “brayers”. Cut off a piece of convenient size.. For a bit of softness. depending on the size you need) to the end of the dowel. grease and oil. Furniture glides work well for the disks and are available in a variety of sizes at most hardware stores. plasticised side up and tape it to a firm surface with masking tape. the brown butcher paper works just as well.

Figure 39: Hard dabbers In addition to hard dabbers. Generally you get smoother results with a soft dabber.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 ink specific areas with a paint brush or a dabber. I make my hard dabbers with smooth leather scraps. Figure 40: Soft dabbers . 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. 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. Cloth coverings would have to be removed and washed after each use. Paint brushes tend to leave brush marks. Instead. you may apply ink by hand to specific areas of the plate by using soft dabbers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ink the plate. Then you can use lithographers’ registration pins or similar devices taped to the bed or bottom plate of the press to locate the plate on the bed. Carefully note that the registration pins must be placed in such a way that they do not go under the roller of the etching press nor under the pressure plate of the inline press. attach the plate to the carrier sheet.Morgan Foilography Printmaking Page 48 Figure 49: Registration technique Use a two or three hole paper punch to punch holes in the end of the carrier sheet. You can then easily remove the carrier sheet. Using the two or three hole punch ensures that the holes are placed at the same position in all of your material. Position the plate+carrier sheet . The carrier sheet may be placed on this extra bottom plate with the registration pins positioned out of the way of the pressure plate. Use the same paper punch to punch holes in one end of the printing paper. So. For a bottle jack press or similar press. 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. 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. leaving the pins taped in place. you will probably need to make an extra bottom plate or “sliding board” of plexiglass or other material that extends out to the side beyond the pressure plate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mossworks. If the thin material consists of just one area.Charles Morgan Inking Very Thin Subjects Page 56 Inking Very Thin Subjects Using an Inking Sheet and Mask Charles Morgan Mossworks Studio 77 Moss Street Victoria.ca www. resulting in an unsuitable print. then using a roller and a simple mask often leads to deposits of ink in the many voids. For some thin material. intaglio inking seems to work well. The problems is that there is enough variation in the thickness of various parts of the specimen that a hard roller will miss the thinnest parts. then good results may be had by cutting a close fitting mask of acetate or other thin material and inking the plate with a roller. It is very difficult to apply ink to the foil covering exceedingly thin material without getting ink on the background as well. However. I have developed a technique which I call . However. V8V 4M2 CANADA (250) 920-0281 cmorgan@uvic. for some subjects it is difficult using intaglio inking to get good contrast between the subject and the background. like a flower petal. If one uses a very hard roller in an effort to avoid getting ink in the shallow voids. if the thin material is complex in shape. with many voids. 2006 Foilograph plates made from very thin subjects offer special challenges when it comes to inking. And the look obtained by intaglio inking and wiping may not be what is desired by the artist. To help solve some of these problems.com © October 22. B.C. then it is often the case that significant areas of the specimen will remain un-inked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and continue making overlapping strokes from the bottom to the top until you have gone over the entire surface of the plate. The paper will now have the plate mark well embossed. 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. 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 65 Figure 66: Palm press position In this position. Now you want to repeat the process. and this will help to hold the paper in position.

put both hands on the palm press. . Pick up the press and bring it back to the lower edge of the plate again. lean your upper body weight onto the press. 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.Charles Morgan Printing Foilographs with a Palm Press Page 66 Figure 67: Begin second passes As before. and continue making overlapping strokes from the bottom to the top until you have gone over the entire surface of the plate. Hopefully your foilograph will now be printed.

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 72 .

Charles Morgan Bottle Jack Press Page 73 .