Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Two etching techniques and Pronto plate results

Good day to you! I am feeling great today after my surgery. I have not even needed to take a pain killer yet! Praises to God for that. I know a lot of people have been praying for me, and I think it has really helped.

Today is the first day of my letterpress class, and as I had written before, I wanted to blog about my previous one before I jump into the next one. I also taught an acrylic plate litho class over the weekend, and we had great results with different media.

So at the nontoxic printmaking class we also used two different soft grounds. The first one was made by using Graphic Chemical water based relief ink- Crimson Red #1661 and Lascaux Transparentlack #2060. The transparentlack was added to make the ink dry quicker on the plate- don't use too much of it or it will dry too quickly. We mixed in ratio of 1 part transparentlack and 3 parts red ink. There are some interesting comments on the technique in the Graphic Chemical Bulletin board.

Below- we were using a thin aluminum plate from an offset litho place as a rolling out surface. A fun idea.
below- here is the teacher rolling out the red base on the plate. There is a limited time to work on this, so I would not go out to lunch in the middle of all this. After the ink has been rolled out, let it dry slightly, just a couple of minutes, and then roll it though the press with what ever you were going to use on your soft ground. Tip- to keep backing paper around your feather or other material, sticking down to the softground, slightly oil a piece of mylar and set it over the plate and softground materials before running through the press. That way no extra soft ground gets picked up. For the same problem you can also just cover the areas up with the johnson hardground by hand after you ran it through the press.

I did some pieces of moss and leaves for my soft ground try out. The dark areas on my plates are aquatint that was sprayed to keep some of the more open areas from completely open biting.

You can also use the red ground as a regular etching resist hard ground. After rolling it out, dry it on a hot plate for about 20 min. It will stay flexible enough for a little while (day or so) so you could just draw through it with you etching needle. I like this option, because this ground stays on pretty well, and you don't have to be as careful with it as you have to with the johnson hardgrounds. The result looks much like a traditional line etching with asphaltum hard ground.

The second soft ground we did was mixing 3 parts Graphic Chemical water based ink Black #1659 and 1 part Lascaux Transparentlack #2060. This works similar to the red ink soft ground, but the ink granules are more coarse. You can either roll the ground on and then manipulate it with distilled water or then mix it with dist. water in little cups for several "strengths" to paint with directly on the plate. The different thicknesses of ground will let the ferric chloride bite though at different lengths of time. We used an Edinburg etch for all the etching in the class. Below is an example of a plate that we were working with the black ground - rolling it on and painting it with water ground mixture.

I like the possibility of some really nice tousche type washes with these grounds. You can use the red ground in the same way as the black. After rolling the red ground on you can use distilled water, which will separate the ink particles. The red will give you a finer wash and the black a coarser wash. You can also use sticks, q-tips and different type of brushes to manipulate the ground. If you are using the red ink just on its own without the transparentlack, you can get a stepped aquatint where the lighter applied areas will etch through first and thicker applied areas etching last. Below some pictures of us mixing the grounds and painting on them.

Here is a nice example of the soft ground wash etched on a plate. The plate, the print and a closeup:

I also found another link for floorwax etching ground using Future-floor polish. It can be found here.
Whew, are you still ready for some more information? Here are some images from the plastic plate lithography I taught over the past weekend. I had previously used Z-Acryl plates, and this time I had ordered some Pronto plates. I wanted to see what the differences were. I was also interested in trying this out, since from my research I had figured that crayon drawings might work better on these plates.

We were able to try out several techniques. One of the students brought in her drawing and she just ran over to Office Max to get that xeroxed on to a plate. Her prints turned out great, exactly like her original drawing was. Here are a couple of pictures of that.

Above- proofing on the press.
below- the plate itself and below that the print from it.

Closeups of both.

I was really excited to try what happened when we used crayons on this material. I read that Korn's litho crayon #4 works best, so I had some of those ready on hand. One of the students made a drawing with it. To our horror as soon as we wiped the plate wet, the crayon washed right off. But to our suprise, the crayon had left an oily residue, that picked up ink as we rolled it up. We only had time to proof it twice, and the results were very interestng. I think if we would have rolled it up a little more, it would have rolled up quite nicely. So I was very encouraged by the results! Drawing with crayons on the Z-Acryl plates in the past did not seem to work at all. The ink would pick up when rolling, and leave behind nothing. Another 2 things I liked better with the pronto plates, was the there is no wrong or right side and that it is more translucent. Having it more translucent makes it easier to work with for beginning students I think, if they need to trace their drawings.

Here is a proof of a horse drawn quickly with a ball point pen. This is a pretty foolproof media to use on the plates.

That was quite a long post, but I'm glad I got to report on all the exciting things I've discovered in the last couple of days and months. Hope you enjoyed it, letterpress stuff to follow next.


Debra James Percival said...

Wonderful blog Mirka.

Stinson Fine Art said...

I think the information on your blog is great Mirka. I'm sorry I missed the chance to be at your demos/classes you had recently as I would like to learn more on the pronto plate litho process.


Sabeth Jackson said...

Mirka, thanks for sharing all of this helpful information! I'm getting ready to try printing with polyester plates for the first time, and your blog and demo have given me so much helpful information.

Danielle said...

Thanks for testing the Pronto Plates vs. Z*Acryl plates. I was going to order some Z*Acryl plates, but now I'm just going to stick with the Pronto Plates. You have saved me some money and time.

Matthew Pernack said...

Were can you buy pronto plates at? I have found the other ones online but not the pronto plates. I want to make sure they are the correct ones. I am more intreasted in using the korns crayons to create my images.

Mirka Hokkanen said...

You can get both of them at Graphic Chemical. www.graphicchemical.com look in the litho section, they are called pronto polyester litho plates. Thanks for reading my blog.

RikkaRikka said...

Hi there! I was using mircron and sharpie on my pronto plate, but the ink doesn't seem to stay on after charging the plate and wiping it softly. I was wondering if it helps to heat up the pronto plate first.

Also, what ink did you use on the pronto plates?


Mirka Hokkanen said...

Hi RikkaRikka. It is possible that the marker can rub off, but when we've inked up plates it's enough just to have the residue. Just keep inking up the plate and it should roll up where you had drawn your image. I don't think heating will do anything to keep marker on the plate. It helps for lazer printer toner. I have used etching and relief (oil based)inks for the plates. The looser ink will fill up sharp lines like sharpie like a charm and is easier to print, but the stiffer etching ink works well if you have shading or detail work. Hope that's helpful. Let me know if you have any more questions.

RikkaRikka said...

Perfect! Thanks a bunch! I just finished turning my garage into a printing lab, but I hadn't used pronto plates in a few years. I'm really excited to get back into it!

Rod McDonald said...

I just use ordinary artists oil paints on these pronto plates, applying the paint softly with a sponge. Sounds nutty I know but the reason is, I really want to re-use the plate. I find if I use etching ink and a roller, the plates become scuffed and scratched eventually.
I only get one use out of them.
It's fine to do one or two proofs but try doing a few more and the plates gum up very easily.

Mirka Hokkanen said...

Thanks for the tip on using Oil paints. I have never tried that. I used a fairly soft etching ink when printing a larger edition and was able to get over 40 prints without any problems. I'm sure it would have yielded more. Make sure you are keeping it wet enough if scumming is an issue. :)

l said...

Hello Mirka, what kind of ink do you use or recommend with these pronto plates ? Laurent

Mirka Hokkanen said...

Hi Laurent, most oil based printmaking inks will work. It depends a little on what you have on the plate. To get good gradations from lets say a laser printed image, I would use a very stiff ink, even a litho ink. But if you have litho crayon or something else soft on the plate that might come off, I would use very soft ink like relief ink. In most cases a medium ink will work, like an etching ink. But even etching inks have big differences in their density. Blacks are often super thick, so I add a little oil to them. Sorry I don't have a simple answer for you. But if you going out to buy a can of ink to print with, my first choice would probably be a can/tube of etching ink.

l said...

Thanks Mirka. I will buy some tubes and try this out ;-)

Valentina Castro said...

Mirka!!. Thanks for your Blog. Can you recommend me a brayer(s) for pronto plates maybe from blick's or graphic chemical web page). I also have done waterless and litho on aluminium
plates. Is there a brayer for both pronto and aluminium plates?

Joanna Posey said...

Thanks for sharing! What process do you follow if you use litho crayons?
Do you have to heat set them or wash the plate before inking?