So I mentioned earlier that we’ve been creating monoprints in printmaking. This weekend I took my camera along with me to document the process with the hopes of sharing it. Keep in mind that most of this is completely silly, because I’m a silly person, and I really actually do love this class. Just so you know.
First off, a little information on what exactly a monoprint is – mono, from the Greek, is “singular” or “alone” – “one,” and print, from the, um, English means, well, “print.” It’s pretty much impossible to exactly reproduce the image more than once. In a sense, it’s a painting on your block, or Plexiglas plate (which is what we used), which is then run through the printing press to produce an image. Sorry if that whole etymology joke wasn’t funny. It all made sense in my head, I swear!
You’re probably thinking, “When is she going to get to the interesting stuff,” by now. Alrighty, here we go…
Step 1 – Well, actually step one is to pick or sketch out your design, but I forgot to make a little image for that. So for the purposes of this post, step one will be to tear down our paper to an appropriate size for the print we wish to make. We measure our paper to ensure even margins on the top and sides and leave a larger margin on the bottom. Unfortunately I don’t have any really good images of this process. I’m such a terribly lax tutorial-photo-taker. Anyways, once you have your paper to size it would be wise to place it in a tray of water to soak while you’re getting your plate ready to print. The damp paper picks up ink better. Don’t forget to soak your paper and wait around 30 minutes after your plate is ready, like me. Yeah, you’re dealing with an expert here.
Step 2 – This photo shows a part of my plate, that I will apply ink to. On the opposite side I drew a rough sketch of my design. If all goes well, I should be able to see my drawing through the ink and then remove all the areas I don’t want any color. It helps to label which side the marker is on, especially if you’re special like me.
Step 3 – At this point we ink up our plates with the first color. In this print, I chose to do the red first.
Step 4 - Start removing the areas you don't want the color. Go crazy because "AGGHH this takes FOREEEVEEEERRR..." Doodle randomly in areas, wasting time. Hi!
Step 5 - Take photos of the Q-tips you've used and think about how they look kinda gross. Use lots and lots of Q-tips and maybe some paper towels. If there aren’t any left at Fred’s, I’m sorry, but the printmaking class bought them all. They were for a good cause, really.
Step 6 – Finish the plate, line it up on your paper, and run it through the press. Once again, lack of detail because I got excited and just HAD to run my plate through the press and forgot to take any photos. But look, it’s the plate after I ran it through and the image with only red! Funky right, maybe? The next step will be to add the black to the print.
Step 7 – AHA, gotcha! Step seven is actually not so much fun. Actually, it’s my least favorite, but necessary part, cleanup. Let’s pause for a collective groan. We use plain old vegetable oil and vinegar to remove the ink from the rollers and work area.
Step 8 – Well, this photo is actually cleanup too, but at least it’s interesting to look at, right? So this is me cleaning off my plate. I then hurried to clean all the red ink smears off my hands. Nobody wants to look like they’ve been in some crazy horror movie.
Step 9 – Now we finally get to the black. This color is much harder to see through once it’s on the plate, so I stick it on the light box for ink removal. This is the part where I go completely bonkers. The black takes me even longer than color does. Apparently I like to punish myself with lots of detail. I think the ink makes me loopy.
Step 10 – Lose it completely and swear to everyone within hearing distance that you will never use this much detail EVER again (end up doing it two times again anyways).
Step 11 - Insanely attempt to remove all the black ink on your plate to get bright white areas. Give up and settle for a more "organic" look.
Step 12 – Alright, once again, no photo because I got excited. Run your plate and paper through the press, peel it back that final time and pray to God that all of your lines registered.
FINISHED! Whew, when did I get so long-winded? I think I might have lost half of you a while ago.