I am lucky to have a Mum who has always encouraged mine and my sister’s artistic endeavours, and so when she rang me to see if I wanted to accompany her on a course in printmaking and painting in St Ives I jumped at the chance!
I have split this blog into two parts so as to give a bit of space to each discipline, and show enough photos!
2 days printamking in Porthmeor Print Workshop, St Ives, with Annabel Wilkes.
Annabel is an artist, printmaker and tutor in St Ives, yoou can find out more about the courses she runs here
We started the day getting inspired in Ros’s kitchen with a look at some examples of collagraph printing plates from some of Annabel’s previous classes, and some examples of how to create texture on the plate. Our plates were to be made of recycled cardboard cereal boxes and similar card. Annabel supplied us with everything we needed to make 3 plates to print from.
The day before we had gone out sketching on Porthgwidden beach, and I had done a close charcoal sketch of some limpets on really black rock, with barnacles and lichen on it too. The pattern and colours were amazing. So I chose to use this for my first print and started cutting out limpets out of the card and creating a pattern and texture on them. I really enjoyed this process, although I picked a method that was very fiddly, I am used to that with putting tiny printed eyes and feathers on my ceramic birds!
I then placed them on the plate and used tile adhesive to make a raised barnacle texture around them. I used the end of a straw to make the circle of the barnacle, and pressed a line into it for the mouth!
There are a multitude of ways to raise and also take away from the surface of the card to create a relief print which then retains ink and can be inked-up and printed like an etching plate can. You can use tile adhesive, masking tape, bits of lace or cloth, embossed wallpaper samples, sand and glue amongst other things, to create your plate.
I also glued carborundum (silicone carbide) to the surface to create the dark printed texture I wanted for the rock, this absorbs a lot of ink, so is great for areas that you want to print really darkly..
When the plate was finished, we varnished it with shellac, to help protect it during the inking and printing process. This is what it looked like below, ready to ink-up.
This making process took nearly all day, and we had a sneak peek at the Print Workshop at the end of the afternoon, to learn a bit about what we would be doing the next day. This is an amazing building, situated above the Penwith Gallery in St Ives. It used to be Peter Lanyon’s school of painting, so no pressure to create great art!!
The gallery is a huge space, packed with amazing work by some of the great St Ives artists. I really fell in love with the paintings by Winnifred Nicholson, we wandered around the gallery after we had finished on day 1, seeking inspiration.
I loved this rack of rubber gloves, used for removing etching plates from acid.
We started by doing what's called 'Blind Embossing', which is taing a print from your plate before you ink it, it can show you what the relief of the plate looks like in reverse, in some cases these can be the best prints! The printing paper we used is Somerset Satin, and it is soaked and blotted before you use it, so that it picks up all of the lovely detail of your plate as it goes through the printing press.
At this point I realised my texture was really a reverse of what I wanted, I hadn't really thought it through to this stage!
I really enjoyed this process and had plenty of ideas of how I could make it work if I did this technique again. I can't say I was amazed by my results, but it was great fun.
Here is a close-up of the limpets and barnacles. I can't say that without doing a Cornish accent!
Here is my Mum about to reveal her first print!
She did a seascape, inspired by her sketching the day before.
I also did a seascape. It had to have a bird in it!
Make sure you check out Day 2, drawing and painting around St Ives. We had such fun.