Printmaking Processes Series 3
THE TRANSFER - image to plate
In order to transfer my images to my plate, I use a red carbon paper. I place the carbon paper between my plate and my drawing and traced the lines on my drawing to transfer my lines to my zinc plate. I then carved up the plate. The thing to remember is that the images get reversed onto the paper when printing the plate. If there are countries, letters, or something that will be noticeably incorrect if flipped, then the image needs to be reversed before coping onto the plate. Most of the time I don't really worry about the image being flipped. I didn't have any text in the image, so I dismissed that issue and made a HUGE mistake!
I carved up the whole plate. I etched the plate by dropping it into a bath of copper sulphate. After waiting a short time, (times varies on each plate based on the amount of detail and how deep the lines are wanted) I removed the plate from the bath. The plate is now etched, which means that it has grooves eaten away by the copper sulphate, where I planned to put the ink to print it. I then inked up the plate. I used a small piece of cardboard and scooped out a small amount of thick black etching ink and ran the ink along the entire plate covering the plate in ink. I then wiped away the excess ink, leaving ink in only the grooved areas. I was then ready to print, so I wet my paper. Wetting the paper losses the fibers so they can sink deep into the grooves of the plate to catch the ink. I put my plate on the press bed and layered my paper on top of it and the press blanket on top of that for cushion. I rolled the bed through the press and it came out on the other side. I raised the blankets and my image was printed onto the paper. I removed the paper only to realize that the US and India printed backwards. Unfortunately, I had to scrape the entire plate to remove the countries from the plate. I had to make a photo copy of the drawing, flipping the image and then re-transfering the countries to the plate. The way it turned out, India is first on the left and US is on the right, which is reversed when looking at a real map. Also,because of my limited space from having to switch the location of the two countries, I ended up having to omit some states that are on the northeast side of India, but I figured, it is there for symbolic purposes not for geographic reasons, so it would be understood.
After scrapping out the countries, I had to burnish the plate, which is a sort of like polishing the plate to rid it of any extraneous rough marks that could catch ink when printing. To burnish, I use a very smooth metal tool called a burnisher. I put a few drops of 3-in-1 oil on the plate and rub the plate with the burnisher until all the marks are gone. It took me a very, very, very long time to burnish out all the marks, and the thing about this method is that I had removed some of the zinc in scrapping, so the areas where I scraped and burnished are slightly lower than the rest of the plate. This can make it tricky to ink the plate evenly, especially for a beginner. Thank goodness I had some experience under my belt!
I then repeated the printing process to check my image. Yay! My countries were now facing the correct direction. So now, I needed to transfer this image to my 4 wooden plates. First, I use a shellac to seal the wood. Then I printed the image onto the paper and made sure I put the wood plate in exactly the same place where I had the zinc plate and laid the freshly printed paper onto the wood plate in exactly the same place as it was when I printed the zinc plate. We call this registering the plate and paper. Then I rolled it through the press. The fresh wet black ink on the paper transferred to the wood plate when I rolled it through the press, so when I removed the paper my image was on the wood plate. This gave me a guide to where I need to cut the wooden plate. I did that for all 4 wooden plates being careful to register them as best I could.
THE EXECUTION...Read about the final processes to carve, ink, and print leading to the final art.