Monday, June 3, 2013

Grey Matter, Now In Color

Block and proof on newsprint.

Remember the weird pile of grey stuff I showed you a few weeks ago? I can now show you what it is and what I am doing with it.

The substance itself is a very pliable relief printmaking material called soft kut. I don’t know exactly what it is - it feels rubbery.

The softness is great for two things. First of all, it takes less strength to carve an image into soft kut than in wood or even linoleum. So if you, say, have an arm injury, maybe you can still make some prints.

 Block pulled apart so you can see that each color is a little piece.

It is also ridiculously easy to cut a block into pieces. A zillion little tiny pieces. Plus, the stuff bends and stretches, which means it can be finagled back together again.

  Close up of block pieces.

The first jigsaw I ever printed was using this stuff. It was a jigsaw and a reduction color print.

But for this one (and a print I showed you a few weeks ago), I kept them to one layer and added a white-line element to the design.

Traditional white-lines use woodblocks and watercolor and are “inked” with a brush. (Remember this post about how I make white-line woodcuts?)

For the soft kut white-lines, I use rollers and waterbased printmaking inks. (Specifically, I use Akua intaglio, in case you are interested.)

The little shapes are individually inked and then reassembled. Then the entire image is printed at one time by laying a piece of paper on the block and rubbing it with a wooden spoon.
Each color needs its own roller. I took this photo after 
I cleaned up and put plastic wrap over the ink and rollers.

This print isn’t finished. Because of all the little pieces, it has already taken two solid days of mixing ink and "proofing", or making test prints. Now I am in the evaluation stage - I have the proofs and I am deciding what to do next. I will post the final version of the print once I have one!


Sesi said...

Hannah, love how you shared your creative process and all the amazing detail. Beautiful composition.

Hannah Phelps said...

Thanks Sesi!

I know the process looks tedious, but I really enjoy it and I am glad you like reading about it!