Teapots and Hands


This is Ursula, in Ustrasana, the camel pose.

I’m taking some sessions with printmaker Pam Lawson.  It is a joy to have access to a press and the wisdom of an experienced printmaker to go along with it.  That night I told my husband the bad news, I’m going to need a press.  He says fine, stop fooling around and let’s fix up our house and sell it, and then I can have a press and maybe a space of my own to work.  The problem with that is that I’m up against time constraints.  When I start fixing up the interior of our house, that’s going to eat up my studio time, at least for a while.


Same pose, Peg Mulqueen this time.

There is so much potential here, I want to work with multiple plates, layering the figures in their yoga poses against Islamic tile patterns.  Meanwhile, Ellen Olson-Brown reminded me to get back to daily drawing, and I’ve been doing more or less that for a few weeks now.  Here are a few sketches.



After a few sketches the teapot wanted more attention, so I’ve been working on this one for several days:


The handle is a bugger, let me tell you.  What’s nagging me about the prints above top is the hands, I’m not drawing them terribly well and they need to be good, so once the teapot is done I’ll practice drawing the yoga poses for a bit, and try to get those hand positions down.  The two teapots here are a good illustration of a frustrating drawing phenomenon.  Quick sketches often have a life to them, a vibrancy that is hard to maintain in a longer more detailed drawing.  You can kill the darn thing so easily, and it becomes lifeless and dull.


Ursula/ Ustrasana with stamps

I bought some Speedball Speedy-cut and a set of lino cutters and experimented with combining stamps with gelatin printing using the pose of Ursula, a photographer herself and a dedicated ashtanga practitioner, doing Ustrasana, or camel pose.  The smaller stamp from yesterday is Peg Mulqueen in laguvajrasna.

Here are the stamps:



And here are some of the prints.  You won’t believe how I got the background:





Here I cut out a masking stencil to change the dimensions and see a cleaner edge:



Not a bad day, after all.  I rolled Indian corn gently but with a little pressure over the jello.    Then combined a few other things with it.  I could use some different size pans to make gelatin plates in.  I could also cut them down to size.

So these are all Speedball inks, which come in “brown” and “yellow”  instead of “burnt umber” or “hansa yellow.”  I like a little more specific information about the pigments I’m using so I’m thinking of trying Golden Open acrylics, which are slower drying acrylics and which I could also use to paint with and use my good bristle brushes, which generally you can’t use with acrylics.  Then there’s Daniel Smith block printing ink, which is oil based but water soluble I think??  The consistency of the Speedball inks can be a bit gummy and I wonder if that is due to filler.

The annoying thing is that nothing holds the delicate nuances of pattern like the jello itself, so it’s hard to get patterns onto the stencils, and even if I do they don’t always release from the stencil.  I’m sure that Linda Germain wrote about this somewhere on her blog, and next I want to try freezer paper stencils and see how that works out.  After I carve a few more stamps.


Cutting the Gelatin

Last week I made some headway with these prints:


This one (above) was overprinted with white to emphasize the contrast between the figure and the background.



I’m a little frustrated here with the stencil, but I still like how it came out.



Not, perhaps, a total success, but I love the edges on the gelatin prints.  The figure needs more… more something.  More visual interest.

But then I tried this technique from Nancy Marculewicz’s out of print book on gelatin printing, which involves cutting into the gelatin.  Here’s something you can’t do with a Gelli plate.  Well you could, but it’s cost prohibitive.  With this technique, it’s often the ghost or cognate print that comes out best.


This one is my favorite.  The letters printed upside down don’t read so letter-y.  The stars and moon pattern is from a cardboard plate from the Provincetown workshop.  I probably should have reworked the bottom before printing, but I love the detail in the figure.  That’s what I’ve been trying for all this time.  How did I do it?  I need to take more notes while I’m making these because I forget.  Let’s see.  Oh yes, I made a stencil and carefully saved all of the pieces.  Unfortunately it was on this horrible curling when wet translucent paper I bought this Summer, so I had to throw it out after one use.  But I was able to ink the plate and block the area outside the figure, than press the pattern onto the inked figure that was cut into the gelatin.  You see?  Maybe not.  I can really see the point of making videos of these processes.


In this one you can see the lines that are formed by the gap between the cut-out gelatin shapes.


Now this one, you see those black lines?  Trying to get those fine black lines with a gelatin print is not all that easy.  I’ve been reading about a method of offset printing with an acrylic plate, but haven’t had that much luck with my Provincetown plates and I don’t have any more acrylic plates.  This figure is the ghost (or second print) from the gelatin plate.  The hand and foot area is fuzzy because it’s tricky cutting fine detail in jello with a regular exacto blade.  I need something akin to a pumpkin carving blade.  Come to think about it, perhaps I can find them for cheap at Target or CVS!  I’d be willing to bet those cheap knife sets work a whole lot better with gelatin than they do with pumpkins.  I’m also thinking of buying some plates, either acrylic or they have these foam plates.  Or perhaps I’ll try my hand at cutting linoleum plates.

The possibilities are truly endless.  It’s funny.  My daughter said: no offense Mom, but all you do is yoga poses?  Well, that’s okay daughter.  Stubborn-ness is my worst vice and my greatest asset.