Monthly Archives: September 2008

Ink over acrylic, pt 3

Further to last, you won’t be seeing a scan of the failed print after all – it occurred to me that I had some clay shaper tools lying around, and that they might work nicely for applying printer’s ink by hand. It turns out that yes, they do, so I laid some of that over the outside frame and the central oval, and will leave the webwork light and ghostly.

This will make it take even longer to dry, of course, but never mind that.

Printing over acrylic, pt 2

It looks like the ink transfer from the block to the paper is much more sensitive to bumps in the paper surface than it is to the permeability or otherwise – I prepared a silver-blue background the other day, on black handmade paper with quite a rough texture, and even quite a thick layer of paint didn’t smooth things out enough to get even a halfway useful ink transfer.

I did a print from my cartouche block onto it, and got very scrappy, patchy transfer – you can just about make out the design, but not much more. For comparison, I dropped a sheet of printer paper on the block afterwards, without re-inking it, and took a clear if very textured impression, so it obviously wasn’t anything to do with the amount of ink on the block or what I was doing with the baren.

When it’s dry (which will take a few more days, on an impermeable acrylic surface) I’ll scan them both for comparison.

Trafalgar Square, redux

Further to my post on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, something else occurred to me when I walked past on my way from Waterloo to Charing Cross Road on Friday – having sculptures which are explicitly designed to be temporary means artists have a much wider choice of materials. Model for a Hotel 2007 is made from coloured glass (the artist wanted Perspex; it proved technically impossible) and it must be quite a nightmare to maintain, to keep looking nice. Having to do that more or less forever is a daunting prospect.

Also, the proposed Gormley sculpture would be even less feasible.

Pentagram print, & failures

I did this last night, on some faux-parchment paper I had lying around. It’s done with Japanese carving vinyl, and I’m quite pleased with the way most of it turned out – the four styles of interlocking lines distinguish themselves nicely, and I managed to get cutlines where I wanted them and not where I didn’t. (Cutlines – the traces from clearing vinyl from the blank areas, rather than the relief outline forming the main design.)

However, I managed to do something bloody stupid, which is that I forgot completely that the design would be mirrored. Normally it doesn’t matter with my work, but this particular one completely fails to work when the pattern goes anticlockwise instead of clockwise.

Pentagram 1 on parchment

Here’s a version flipped sideways in the Gimp, to show how it would have worked if it had, you know, worked at all.

Pentagram 1 on parchment (flipped deosil)

I did half a dozen prints onto different papers, and learnt one other thing doing this – the flower petal inclusions in the nice handmade paper aren’t very firmly included.

Science & art, again

I’ve finally got around to reading through the backlog of Guardian arts column articles I had piled up, so here’s some more commentary for you! This is another by the usually-reliable Jonathan Jones – reliable in that he’s almost always flat-out wrong.

He’s terribly disappointed in the limited scope and basic crapness of the artists, but to me they all look really interesting – especially Richard Woods, but then I’m rather a sucker for printing techniques overall.

I wish I’d managed to see the exhibition myself, but that’s timing for you. I’m rather looking forward to seeing the final result, by Tania Kovats.

I think, personally, that Jones is looking at an overly narrow interpretation of Darwin’s ideas, and that “art inspired by Science” must necessarily be about Science. Kovats is primarily a landscape artist, rooted very firmly in the same cultural soil as Darwin was, although it’s evolved and enrichened itself over time, and she’s chosen to focus as much on that soil – the archaeological context for Darwin’s work – as on the strict scientific themes. For something that is going to become part of the fabric of a museum (the closest thing to a permanent context there is) that’s an ideal choice.

Mixed-media Lammas print

After this, I decided to try printing onto an acrylic-painted surface. It turns out that it works rather well, but takes quite a bit longer to dry – I suspect I can generalize from that to say that the drying time depends on the absorbency of the paper beneath.

Here is the result, which is now framed and hanging on my kitchen wall. (Mounted in a simple A4 clip frame, with a sheet of neutral-grey acid free paper between it and the mankboard backing.)

I don’t feel I can sell high-days prints, but I’m happy to give prints from this block away to good homes.

Lammas 2008 earth 1-1


I’ve been using the GIMP for quite a while, so I was rather interested to see this review from Dave at Scriptorium.

As far as free software goes (in the FOSS sense, rather than the strictly literal send-no-money-now sense), the GIMP is pretty damn good. However, as free software tends to be, it’s designed (in the usual loose sense of ‘designed’) by programmers and ideologues rather than by domain experts. It’s extremely good for just about any casual purpose, eg. web graphics or home inkjet work, but just doesn’t have the tools for pre-press or professional design work.