Sun Over Mountain

Sun Over Mountain - 6 Color Block Print

Sun Over Mountain – 6 Color Block Print

This little print (4×6 inches, 10×15 cm) is the culmination of two weeks research and planning and gathering of materials and tools. It is my first attempt at printing in color. It uses six plates to print six colors.

My goals for this project were to :

  • find an easy and fast way to make durable plates from cheap, easily attainable materials,
  • experiment with Golden Open acrylic colors instead of printing inks,
  • print multiple colors by hand without using a press.

In the crafts section of Walmart I found some Peel and Stick Foam Sheets. It is sold in a pack with a variety of colors. Each sheet is 2mm thick and comes with a white backing sheet. It is easy to cut with an X-Acto knife. My plan was to use a single sheet, draw a pattern on the white backing, cut it out with an X-Acto blade, and stick each color’s pieces to a separate piece of foam core board. That’s what I did and in no time I had six finished plates – one for each color blue, yellow, gray, magenta, light green, and dark green.

Sun Over Mountain - 6 Foam Plates

Sun Over Mountain – 6 Foam Plates

I then made a jig to hold the same sized plates and used two registration pins at the top.

Sun Over Mountain - Plate Jig

Sun Over Mountain – Plate Jig

I tried two papers – plain white inkjet paper and Scratch Art Subi Block Printing paper. I used two methods of applying color to the foam. I used a one inch flat brush on the blue plate and I rolled on the yellow with a brayer.

Sun Over Mountain - Blue and Yellow

Sun Over Mountain – Blue and Yellow

The paint was easier to apply with a brush, but the roller produced a smoother color. I used the Golden Open acrylic paints without thinning. They are bright, bold colors even when mixed with white and they stay wet long enough to mix, apply, and print multiple prints. I dried each print between colors using a hair drier. These paints are transparent. Overlaying yellow on top of blue, for instance, produces green.

It was hard to see the yellow paint when I rolled it on the yellow foam. Next time I’ll use white foam so I can better judge the coverage of each color.

Registration was off even though I used registration pins. The foam was stretchy. So, it wasn’t necessarily the same shape when I stuck it to the board as when I cut it. Next time I’ll pencil in the shapes on each board before I stick down the foam. I might also use a copy of the drawing on a pin registered transparent overlay to check the placement of the colors before printing.

I like this method. It’s nice to be able to draw the image once as it will appear in the finished print without having to make a mirror image copy onto the plate. This makes it relatively fast and easy, and the plates are durable. The foam stands up to printing and washing. The paint produces bright, clean, flat color and is non-toxic and cleans up with water. I used a moistened rag to clean the plates.

Next up:  How to hand print textures and fine detail.

Jim

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