Part 4, Stage 2, Project 1, Monoprinting

A representative sample of my monoprinting attempts are shown here.   To be honest, I did several of these Part 4 exercises simultaneously, and it’s hard to categorise some of them because they contain elements of several techniques.  If something seems to work, or not work, it’s natural to find out if the idea will succeed using a different technique.

Monoprinting frustrated me, because there are so many lovely examples in exhibitions, books, on the web, and mine look like a primary school effort.  My research tells me that Monoprinting and Monotyping are different, but I think the technique described in our coursework is the same as that used by Rebecca Vincent, whose methods are described here Rebecca Vincent, Techniques .  These are images I would aspire to; the patterns, the colours, the feeling of space ..  The images are produced in layers which, I understand from browsing the  OCA Printing students’ work, means means being careful about the placing of half-made images onto a fresh printing plate, ie making a Register.  I feel I am still learning to make the first layer!  For one thing, I have experimented with both Textile inks (Speedball screenprinting ink) and acrylic paint (with and without retarder), but the consistency dries up before I am ready to take a print.  So all my prints are rushed and, like I say, rather child-like

First I created a series of mark-making tools, some are shown below.  For example, corrugated card was folded and fixed into wavy lines and circles; I reckoned the inner layer of card would add extra richness.  Polystyrene was used in various ways, for example pieces were cut up and taped together.  Cocktail and thicker barbecue sticks, plain card, brushes, ruler, fingers, twigs, lacy fabric, were also used. Marks made with finer tools were less effective than broad sweeps with a piece of ordinary cardboard, or a brush.  The finer marks in the ink/paint dried up around the edges more quickly and didn’t transfer successfully.

img_4593        img_5439

First attempt (above) doesn’t look good and I can’t think how to improve it!   Here are some more images in their initial state.  Some were later cut up and used as components for collage, etc.  More on that later.


Marks made with corrugated card applied to the inked plate, and printed onto calico cotton.


marks made with corrugated card, wooden ruler and cocktail sticks applied to the inked plate.


‘Curtain effect’ marks made with small strips of polystyrene taped together.  Printed onto stiff drawing paper.  The marks are quite successful, I like the draped effect made by the polystyrene.  This piece was cut up into little squares, and I made these images in my sketchbook.  For fun.



Swooping marks made with an edge of card.  On the left is the printing plate, on the right is the polyester cotton I printed onto.  Printing onto thin fabric was more successful than printing onto paper.  The circular marks resembled one of the small clay tablets made during Part 3, possibilities for combining the two were considered and eventually I tried enclosing the clay into a crocheted wire mesh.  Stuck into sketchbook for future reference.



Using a cocktail stick and printing onto newspaper.  More effective than printing onto plain paper because nothing happened.  The newsprint gave a subtle texture through the marks, and perhaps the tendency of the newsprint ink to transfer itself somehow helped?

Various colours were added to the top of the printing plate and rollered downwards to cover all the glass.


The resulting print was cut up to make the collage

A3 sketchbook pages.  Stencil on right, with rollered paint application surrounding the stars.  Excess paint used to make the monoprint on the left.


Below: I went a bit mad with string wrapped around polystyrene, which works well.  The cocktail sticks were, this time, dipped in ink and drawn over the plate.  The whole thing was transferred to a piece of calico cotton and more cocktail stick lines and blobs of paint added directly to the cotton.


A circular piece was cut out of the above monoprint, and embroidered at random with feather stitch.  On the right is a monoprint created by removing a few areas of textile ink.




I asked myself what would happen if I printed over one of my basement stitch samples, and matched some inks to the threads.  Lines were drawn onto the plate, for printing (which I suppose is, more strictly, Exercise 2 …).  This looks fragile and delightful, but I was then curious to see what happened if I added a plaster wash ..


… the colours were muted by the plaster wash, the embroidered threads were stuck and tangled in places, and the texture of the muslin fabric is firmer, but mottled as the plaster has not stuck evenly.  This maybe suitable for conveying the idea of crumbling masonry.

My tutor made favourable comments on some plaster ‘sandwiches’ I sent in for Assignment 3, and told me these are ideas which can be developed.  He wrote about work which might develop from ideas around wrapping and enclosing, and some remarks I have made about healing and mending (not just in the literal textile sense).  This made me think about clothing, which is a kind of wrapping, and examples of artwork in the form of clothing which I have been collecting on my Pinterest pages.  For example, I am currently exploring the work of Anselm Kiefer whose heavy impasto works with embedded natural objects and pieces of clothing, and whose emphasis on myth, history and healing the past, is intriguing me.  Exploring his work on the Web isn’t enough, I need to find myself a book to read, or (unlikely in my circumstances) an exhibition to visit.

I’ve begun work on a Sculptamold infused muslin blouse, size 14, with a simple batwing sleeve construction.  Two fronts and two backs were cut out, one front and one back were rapidly monoprinted.

I moved everything into my tiny kitchen area, prepared a sloppy mixture of Sculptamold, painted it onto the un-printed muslin pieces, and placed the printed pieces on top to make a sandwich, front and back.

blouse front
blouse back.  

I put these aside for a while, not sure whether to join the front and back together or not – I think not – I’ve understood the physical idea of a plaster infused blouse and now I could try a more careful version, with a planned design.  I have learned the blouse would be quite heavy, more than I expected.  There is also a large area to cover.  I would have to consider how the front and back would relate to each other – would the design ‘turn the corner’ for example?  The shape of the batwing sleeves has been lost, perhaps I would have to sew in arms – it does need something definite to avoid looking like a cushion.   I could practice further printing and embellishments on the separate pieces and send one to my tutor (a whole blouse wouldn’t fit into our mailing bags together with my sketchbook and other samples, for one thing!).  So quite a lot of work to do here.

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