Monday, January 3, 2011
Fun with Meat Trays
I finally finished watching a video titled “Foam is Where the Art Is”. I watched it in little segments after supper over the course of several days, and irreverently kept referring to it as “Fun With Foam”. Given that the foam referred to is the soft disposable styrofoam (polystyrene) most commonly encountered as a meat tray (also take-out containers), I started calling it Fun With Meat Trays, especially after washing out the first bloody one (ewwww…). The foam in use here is actually the top of a curry (I think) take-out container that I fished out of the garbage. The circle was dictated by my limited supply and the fact that I just happened to borrow a book on Celtic Art from the library.
The above print is a gelatin print with linocuts as texture, two layers of colour, topped by my double spiral foam plate with sections masked out. The masked sections (the centre upper and lower) where added in afterwards as monotypes. Confused? This why sometimes free (as info) is not as good as the stuff you pay for. The video is explains things in ways I never could and honestly well worth cash, but here’s the easy peasy version…
Save up your foam containers (although you can buy in bulk too), slice off any part that is not flat. Doodle on it with a ball point pen. Roll out some ink, ink the foam, press onto paper.
White paper, plated inked with pink and yellow with the upper centre & lower design masked out (cut paper), plate pressed by hand, followed by a layer of turquoise ink (no masking).
This one gets complicated. It begins with a circle of black acrylic paint, then pressing several coloured layers of the foam plate, including masking. The outside of the circle was done by rolling the inked brayer (rubber roller) over the foam plate and then over the paper. The final layer was the hand drawn swirls in turquoise, which were done by inking a thin flexible plastic sheet (sheet protector), laying it on top of the paper and drawing on top of that with a stylus, creating a transfer effect.
Showing all three monoprints together displays some of the range of expression you can get with using foam, although it’s pretty much unlimited and this is just a tiny sample.
Here is the well used plate; I believe it was chicken curry, as it’s marked with a c c in sharpie on the other side. Garbage can be beautiful. Have fun, after all, foam is free so you can’t go wrong.
More circles will be forthcoming. It turns out that used supplies are more difficult to procure than I thought (our in home meat trays yield a maximum 4” x 6” printing plate, twice a week, maybe), and while I would prefer (for moral and environmental reasons) to reuse used trays, it looks like I’ll have to buy wholesale. In the meantime, I bought a pack of 22 disposable polystyrene plates for a whole precious dollar + tax, and will thus will make 22 circular designs, and just see where that takes me. I think 22 circles will not be too many; there are so many possibilities to explore.
Celtic Art, the Methods of Construction by George Bain (still in print). Unlike other books, it shows you preliminary layouts with guide lines and dots so you can learn to draw these complex patterns from scratch rather than trace or copy. I find the process of construction helps me understand the principles of the design in a deeper way than copying could ever do. You will likely be seeing more along these lines from me.
Video “Foam is Where the Art Is” by Annette Mitchell. I received mine is part of the Santa printmaking gift package I received in early December, but it’s still available on-line. If you want a very comprehensive look at printing with foam, I recommend it. Quilters, take note: Annette also displays gorgeous art quilts on the website, so wander over and take a gander.