Tag Archives: Foamex

Talk Turned Geeky

17 Apr

SONY DSC

Husb and I had a teatime visit from friends today and, as one of them is a fellow printmaker, the talk turned geeky. She noticed a number of my blockprinted portrait heads on the wall and we chatted about materials and techniques. Instead of the traditional lino or wood, or even modern vinyl, I used signwriters PVC foam sheet called Foamex. Lots of signwriters around here use it and chuck away the offcuts so it’s easy to get hold of them for free and recycle it.

flotex head

It’s not easy to cut with conventional tools, it works better if you incise the surface. I used screwdrivers, chisels, ballpoint pen and a four-inch screw which I used to incise lines against a steel rule. Then I cut around the edge with a junior hacksaw and printed it up with black litho/relief oil-based ink onto Zercoll 145gsm paper using the Colombian Press at Swansea Print Workshop.

If you want to see more of these portrait heads, which I based on drawings I made during my first visit to Pakistan, please click here.

Tea And Welshcakes

29 Mar

Hunza Elder Woman copy

I’m taking part in a ‘Museum Experience’ at Swansea Museum, beginning on March 31st and carrying through to May 17th. It’s called ‘PROCESS’, because it focuses on the processes that artists use to create their work. More than an exhibition of work on walls, ‘PROCESS’ also showcases sketchbooks, tools and materials to foster an understanding of how artists create art.

There’s an opening at Swansea Museum with tea and Welshcakes in a family-friendly event on Easter Sunday afternoon (April the 5th) from 2-4pm to launch it. You’re very welcome to join us in this fabulous Victorian museum, a proper cabinet of curiosities and there’s an art-trail for children to do as well.

The show, with other members of the 15 Hundred Lives collective, covers painting, drawing, printmaking, collage and electronic media, and there’s also a programme of interactive arts events throughout March, April and May.

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My part of the show features some of my block (relief) prints – lino, wood and foamboard. These portrait heads are based on photos and drawings I did during a visit to Pakistan and they’re incised into offcuts of Foamex signwriters board. It’s a fairly hard PVC foamboard that’s great for cutting very fine lines, much finer than you can get with lino or softwood. It’s the first time I’ve exhibited these portraits as a group. If you’re in the area, it would be lovely to see you.

Block Block Block

17 Nov

 

Someone asked me about the difference in the final prints made by blocks in different materials so here are three I did earlier :). This top one is hacked from a piece of plywood. It’s very rough and choppy because the wood splinters when you attack it with the cutting tools and it also tends to split along the grain. Solid areas also show the grain when they’re inked up so it’s hard to get a solid black. Some expert printmakers, however, scratch the surface of the wood instead of cutting and gouging. This gives a very refined and delicate tonal quality – here’s a link to an accomplished Chinese printmaker, Xiang Sl, who does amazing huge portraits in this technique.

The next block print is one I did with PVC foamboard, used by signwriters. In Britain, it’s called Foamex. Signwriters usually give away their offcuts, so it’s free and recycled. Bargain. It doesn’t like being cut and blunts tools after a couple of gouges, but it loves being incised with the point of a nail or screw, the tip of a screwdriver or even a ballpoint pen, pressed hard. The solid white areas in this print are cut with conventional cutting tools, the fine lines incised with the point of a 4inch screw held against a steel rule and the dots were made with a crosshead screwdriver jabbed into the surface. It gets rid of a lot of stress. It gives very good blacks and you can do very fine linear detail, much more so than with softwood or lino.

Finally, here’s a reduction print in lino. I find it’s the easiest of the three to cut and the tools love it – they take ages to blunt. It’s great for getting lovely flowing lines, it’s like drawing with blades and you can be very free when you’re cutting into it, especially if you warm it gently before you start. Hhowever, you can’t get the very fine detail possible with PVC foamboard, because it squishes slightly in the printing press and finely cut lines can close up under the pressure.

Phew – that’s very geeky 😀

ps block printing is also known as relief printing.

Blocks And Cuts

12 Sep

I’ve been working on a set of nine block prints for some time now, picking them up and down when I’ve got time. I’ve proof printed the first three of the series, that I’ve called Voyeur and I spent this week cutting the remaining 6 blocks. Here they are, with my ‘swag’ Convers. I’ll proof print them tomorrow to see if I need to do any more cutting. I love block printing. Cutting the blocks is like drawing with knives – I think of it as a form of drawing. I’ve cut the images into 18cm square pieces of signwriter’s foamboard. I think it’s a PVC and it’s known commercially in Britain as Foamex. It’s easy to incise but quite hard to cut, so I design with this in mind, using fairly small areas of white, as these have to be cut out and I have to keep sharpening my tools every two or three cuts. Can’t wait to proof them – I’ll be covered in printer’s ink tomorrow 🙂

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