Double Elephant Print Demo and Workshop  1st/2nd July 2022
Monotypes, Collagraphs and Etchings

Double Elephant gave us two jumbo sessions comprising a lively demo of different 'art' printing techniques presented by Simon Ripley followed next day by a great workshop of printing activities organised by his colleague Lynn Bailey 

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Double Elephant Print Workshop are a large team of artistic printmakers based in Exeter's Phoenix Art Centre and committed to a community and outreach approach that takes them into schools, prisons - and even art societies!   They take their name from one of the more exotically named imperial measures of paper size (26.7" x 40", since you ask). 

Firstly Simon demonstrated how to create a monoprint by rolling printing ink onto a metal plate, arranging leaves or other textural objects onto the plate, and rolling the plate through the printing press.  

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Simon's Example Monoprint

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This was a technique further demonstrated next day by Lynn resulting in a large number of exciting prints from those attending the workshop. Many of these were the result of a rearrangement of elements on the plate after the first pass, resulting in more nuanced paler colours and greater complexity of image in the second pass through the press.

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A 'first pass'

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Another 'first pass'

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'Second pass'

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Another 'second pass'

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Collagraphs are the printing equivalent of collage.  Imagine a monoprint where the leaves and other elements [textured wallpaper cutouts, plastic mesh, card ... ] are permanently glued in place on the plate [often a metallic sheet]. Creating the design is usually a much more considered and intricate affair. The payoff is that the collagraph can be used to reproduce an image many times over - varying ink colour and pattern if desired. 

We were shown several examples but time did not permit our creating our own in a busy one-day course. 

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'Proper' etching is, of course, the business of drawing on a thin layer of wax with a sharp scribe and then sinking the underlying metal plate into a bath of acid which then eats into the metal.
Instead of that rather risky procedure we were shown how to take a sharp nail [embedded in a wooden holder] and a piece of perspex sheet. We carefully cut into the perspex, choosing from a selection of images of insects mainly. This was surprisingly tough for some of us [well, me anyway! [CP] ].

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Cutting into the perspex

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'Intaglio' (from the Italian for 'to cut into') is the next stage after the etching and involves working thicker black printing ink into the cut marks with a stiff toothbrush. (Wash it properly before cleaning your teeth!!). The surface is then loosely wiped clean, followed by rubbing gently with very soft 'scrim' and finally burnishing the unmarked portions [with Yellow Pages paper if you can find it!).
This leaves the ink of the image remaining in the grooves.
As with a collagraph, the result can be printed from over and over again.

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Applying the ink into the grooves

A pile of scrim

A print from a perspex etching

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