January 17, 2010

Printmaking Meets Rubber Stamping?

About six years ago, before I ever gave thought to being a printmaker (before I even knew what a printmaker was!) I was looking for ways to make personalized greeting cards and, by fluke, landed in the rubber stamping universe.  I spent a few months there, messing around with store-bought stamps, reading technique books and on-line tutorials, collecting specialized supplies, and making cards like crazy.  After I got disillusioned with the generic nature of store-bought stamps, I spent some more months carving my own stamps, collecting yet more specialized supplies, and making more cards like crazy.  And then, one day, a girl in the art store introduced me to battleship gray linoleum...
A big fast forward: this weekend I'm working on the print I'm calling, for lack of a better name for now, Garden Mandala .  The inspiration is this summer's photo of a purple daisy in the garden; I did the sketch for it a few months ago. 
I finished carving the block last night and was sitting around, trying to figure out if I should print it all one colour, as per original concept, or if it would work better with another colour added.  This is one of the drawbacks of not having a dedicated studio space; even something as simple as pulling a proof involves a lot of prep work which, at 10:00 on a Saturday night, seems like too much hassle.  
That was when I remembered all those rubber stamping supplies I still have. This print is small, only 5.5 x 5.5 inches, so pulling a proof using a brayer and a black stamping pad instead of ink was a reasonable way to go and was, using Masa paper, pretty easy to do.  I used an IKEA glass tea-light holder as a barren and managed to get several good proofs:

But, as I was digging out the stamping pad, I came across my embossing powders and remembered how much fun they used to be.  Suddenly it really wasn't much of a leap to toss them into the mix as well.  Essentially, embossing powder is resin, ground up into a fine dust that will adhere to anything damp and will, subjected to a few seconds of heat from a heat gun, harden and become glossy (or textured in other interesting ways).  There are literally dozens of colours and colour combinations for almost infinite possibilities and it's very cool to watch the transformation.  Actually, if it weren't for embossing powder, I probably wouldn't have stuck with rubber stamping for even as long as I did. 
Anyway, last night I experimented with a few different colours and added a very light sprinkling.  The colour I liked most was this one: 

It's hard to see all the detail in the embossing here but, in person, it adds an interesting element to this print.  

I find it intriguing enough to have decided to print two versions of this block: one traditional, two-colour reduction and one in an ink/embossing powder combination.  Just for the hell of it.  I'm doing both over a coloured background and got that part ready today.  Of course, I can see only a limited use for the embossing; it certainly wouldn't work with any of my other prints.  But, for a simple graphic image like this one, it may just end up being something cool.

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