Sunday, November 21, 2010
More on Gelatin Printmaking
It’s been awhile, as I found that during the summer, my gelatin plates were disintegrating in the most disgusting way far to quickly (they go mouldy). For those of you who don’t already know, gelatin printing involves cooking up a batch of gelatin, pouring into a mould, letting it set (usually overnight) and the next day rolling ink onto it with a brayer. The method itself ensures that each impression is unique, discarding the need for ‘editions’.
I use two plates for my printing, one a large slab of 9”x12”, and a second small square of 5”x5”. For the print above, I began by rolling out yellow onto the large plate, then presssed my relief linocuts onto the surface for texture, and then lay my paper on top and gently rub by hand. The process gets repeated many times (overprinting) as I change colours. I also used the small plate as a ‘stamp pad’. I ink the small plate, then lay the linocut onto the slab to ink it up, and then ‘stamp’ onto the large plate. It has a distinctive ‘bubbly’ and translucent quality. The finally layer in two shades of blue is inked the traditional way by apply ink directly to the linoleum with a brayer which adds an opaque top layer.
I never know where I’m going with these, I only know when I’m done (if I’m lucky). If I’m unlucky, I’ll add one layer too many and kill the whole thing. I usual work several sheets at a time and watch them as they each develop into unique works of art. Usually, I spend a certain amount of time ‘listening’ the work as it progresses as I decide on what the next layer should be. Out of all my artwork, I’d have to call the gelatin prints the most serendipitous but also enjoyable. Like walking into an unknown maze, I never know where I’ll end up, but eventually I get to somewhere interesting.
Here’s an example of one I need to ‘listen’ too. It may be finished, but a little low contrast. The red top lay is achieved using the second small plate to ink up. Below, two details so that you can see the ‘bubbly and translucent’ texture this extra step give. After scanning and blogging this one, I’m thinking the image is finished but it took me a few days to come to this conclusion.