MM Part Four – Research – Water Soluble Media

During my research I had come across some artists using water-soluble media to print from glass plates.  At the time I wondered what use that could be. After testing it I’m still not sure but it did lead me to another material that could be used from printing textured surfaces.

I gathered together a selection of soluble media and a glass plate. The course notes mentioned having bevelled edges to the plate and while I had been slow off the mark to actually get a glass plate made IKEAs bargain corner had come to the rescue. I picked up a Billy glass shelf for £2 in the sale. Not only did this have bevelled edges but was also made of toughened glass making just that little bit safer, or harder to break, depending on which way you look at it.

My glass plate was obviously shelf-sized so in order to determine the area I would need to apply the media to I placed a sheet of white A4 paper under the glass. This gave me a good indication of the area I would have to work in.

I drew with the media directly on to the glass. I then placed a damp sheet of paper on top of the glass plate to transfer the media from the glass. There were some media that worked well for this method but other media did not draw on to the smooth glass surface well.

Water-soluble media that worked well were – soluble graphite, soluble crayons and watercolour paint.

Watercolour pencil, hard pastel, conte crayon, soft pastel, inktense pencils and blocks, charcoal (left to right below) did not draw well on to the glass and very little was transferred to the damp paper.

When looking at the media that were not successful with this method  they are all quite hard, even the ‘soft’ pastels.

I thought that I would try at least one of these with a more textured surface. Perhaps the rough surface would scrape some of the media on to the plate and it would then be retained and available to be transferred to the paper.

The inktense blocks had the most concentrated pigment of the failed media so I felt that if these didn’t work then there was really no hope for the other materials.

I rubbed the inktense blocks over the textured surface of a stitched fabric block created for the work I had done with textured cardboard plates. Immediately I could see that the colour had been transferred from the block to the plate. How to get the colour off the plate though?

I tried the damp paper again but used the press this time. This lifted a good amount of colour on to the print and much of the detail of the fabric weave and stitches used were visible. Spraying the plate with water and using dry paper also resulted in a coloured print, if with less detail, produced.

This gives another material that could be used to print with. It would be possible to rub different colours on to a plate and then lift them off with damp paper. This would be useful where several colours could be applied to a plate without them mixing and also that the inktense block is dry so there is no need to rush to print before the media is unworkable as with ink drying on a plate.

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