I may have mentioned that my wife, Denise, is also a craft artist; she makes handmade paper and hand bound books, which she sells through Saturday Market as Pulp Romances. We sometimes play in each others' playground: she'll glaze empty bowls or make small ceramic pieces. I'll pull paper and experiment with different bookbinding techniques. And this weekend, we got to play in someone else's playground.
Heather Fortner is a printmaker based--for a little while yet--in Toledo, Oregon, just east of Newport. She's in the process of retiring to Mexico, and was offering a farewell workshop in Gelli printmaking.
Gelli plates are soft, flexible printmaking plates, that you ink up, and then place various resists--pressed leaves, cheesecloth, paper stencils, feathers--on top, before you lay on your paper, burnish, and pull off a print. You can then re-ink the plate in a contrasting or complementary color, lay down different stencils and pull a second color onto the print, a third, even fourth. There are ways to pull prints from residual ink on the plate, ways to create textures in the ink layer before printing, just a whole bunch of different ways to manipulate the image.
It's essentially mono print, but on a flexible, forgiving substrate. The process was lovely but challenging, especially as we were using acrylic inks, which dry fast, so you had to commit to your design, or see it sitting dry on the plate.
This is my workstation at starting. On the right, you sell the clear plate and ink brayer (roller), top and left, leaves to use as stencils, and bottom left, tubes of printers ink. I started with cobalt blue (of course), cadmium red and titanium white. The first print I did was two-color, in red and blue using the Japanese sea weed. Worked pretty well (see below, left), though I quickly found I needed to move my table out of the sun, as the ink was drying too fast in that corner.
I also quickly got too engaged in the process to remember to take photos, so I have no process shots at all, not even of Denise working (though here's one of her cleaning off her gelli plate). She did some things I didn't, like overprinting on text blocks, and pulling second prints from dried ink residue. (As in the top left and bottom right prints, below.)
All in all, she made a lot of prints...
But then, so did I.
I also found myself being called in to consult on color choices, not just by Denise and Hope, but by Heather, who said I had the best color sense she'd seen in a while, and invited me to help some of the other students choose color blends to overprint on their pieces.
All in all, a very satisfying day's workshop. But we didn't buy a plate to take home. God knows we don't need another art hobby...