I got some Speedball linocut carving tools and a couple of rubber printing plates for Christmas. I’ve never tried relief printing before. I spent about a week researching relief printing techniques and subjects. The toughest part for me was choosing a subject. I’ve been working with a full range of values and colors in watercolor and acrylics. It was hard to switch my thinking to just black and white. I looked through my collection of sketches and photographs, and picked out a few that were high contrast. One was a picture of my father’s almond orchard.
I slept on it and woke up with an idea. In photography if you want to make a print from a positive (a slide), you make an internegative and print from the negative. I wondered if I could carve a positive and use it as a mold to make an internegative plate from moldable plastic and then print from the internegative. So, I tried it.
I had two questions. 1. Would the plastic stick to the rubber plate? and 2. Would the plastic hold and release the ink well enough to make a good relief print?
I carved a small (2×3 inch) test plate. I then heated some InstaMorph plastic and rolled it out to make a thin sheet and then rolled the sheet onto the rubber plate and refrigerated it to harden the plastic.
Above you can see my rough reference sketch and next to it is the carved rubber plate and below that is the InstaMorph plastic internegative. Here is a print from the plastic plate.
It sort of worked. Unfortunately the plastic did stick to the original rubber plate. I had a very hard time pealing it off the rubber and in the process I tore some of the rubber off the plate. That actually turned out to be a happy accident. The picture at the top of this post is a print made from the torn rubber plate.
I used a spoon to hand print both plates. The plastic internegative plate took the impression well. It has good detail, but it did not print well. The raised areas were uneven and sharp because the depth of my carving on the rubber plate was uneven.
It’s an interesting idea. I may explore it further using different techniques and materials.