An exercise in patience

Intaglio printmaking is an exercise in patience! It is slow and I feel a real intimacy with the process when I am in the studio. I have taken to sitting down whilst I ink up my plates because it takes me such a long time !    Intaglio printmaking tests my patience and sometimes I could scream when I pull a print and it’s  over-whiped or underwhiped or the edges are messy ! ! I walk out of the studio, take a break, have a cuppa tea then come  back later and re-evalute how to wipe the plate to achieve a good balance of lights & darks…..and I start  again.  Today I printed some collographs and achieved only one good print.  It was a good ‘flowing’ printing session, however,  because  I am getting used to the small space in the Green Room and I got very organised before my print session
Here are the prints: 

I feel that this print of the wren is successful.  The composition works and I have achieved a good overall balance of light and dark areas.   The following prints aren’t terribly successful due to the way I’ve wiped the plates.  The first print has distracting splotchy wipe marks  and the second doesn’t have enough contrast.  I have achieved some interesting  textures  and the compostions work I just need to work on the inking ! I’ll persevere with them & I’ll probably add another colour to  all these  prints.  Stay tuned….


My lesson for the day was to make sure I print enough proofs on proofing paper before printing on “good” papers.    I need know  each plate intimately and know how to treat every inch of my plates when inking and wiping.   I managed to “waste” some very nice heavyweight Hannemule paper today because I didn’t do enough proofing first and didn’t know my plates sufficiently !  As always a good learning curve…. and I am always comforted to realise that the paper isn’t really wasted as I use my “dodgy” prints for bookmaking, cards or collage.

7 thoughts on “An exercise in patience

  1. These are lovely prints Jo. I especially like the one of the honey eater. I look forward to seeing you “tweek” it until you are completely satisfied. It’s a great way to learn – thanks!

    1. Thanks Amanda. I’ll be tweeking and tweeking away ! I’m actually beginning to understand the process a little better and getting to understand how important the wiping of the plate is and the different subtle effects you can create with the wiping. I have also made a similar collograph of a Tassie Bush hen but it printed up really badly and I’m re-working the plate at the moment with crackle medium and glue to try to fix it up….! I guess as a printmaker you sometimes just have to accept that “it didn’t work” and move on to the next print !! I really hope I can get this set to work. Thanks for your encouraging comments. Jo

  2. Hi Jo

    You offered to contribute something on collagraphs on my ‘How To’ focus this month. I’ve had a very slow response to collagraphs this month so if you are still willing it might help to kick start it. You can do it by either adding your contribution at a comment on my posting with a link back to your website or just a link to your blog where you have written your own posting that points visitors to mine so visitors can see a spectrum of approaches.

    I find your comments above about proofing very interesting. I am in two minds about proofing on paper other than what you intend to finish with. Whilst I agree you need to get to know the plate intimately I find the results I get from ‘proofing’ paper to the Fabriano Rosapina differ so much that I prefer to go straight to the paper I intend to use.

    1. Hi Carol, I have a “how to” – Drypoint Collographs sitting in my drafts and hopefully will publish it tomorrow. Just got to gather a photo or two !
      Further to proofing…..I used to use heavyweight paper straight away but found that I was “wasting” so much. Now I find it is much more economical for me to use the cheaper Hannemule proofing paper for the first 2 or 3 prints whilst I am getting to know the plate and deciding where I want the highlights. Once I feel confident that I know the plate well enough, I’ll move on to the “good” heavyweight Hannemule. This has saved me some $ and I find the results on the Hannemule proofing paper are pretty pleasing. Look out for my “How To” ,Carol. Cheers. Jo

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