Do you have a great printmaking tip you would like to share with others?
As printmakers we are constantly on the lookout for ways to make the various processes run smoothly and our health & safety is always of paramount importance.
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Oh!--and another tip that I do is right before I clean up my oil based ink from a day of printing is to have some extra paper handy and make several trace monotypes. This is such a great way to not waste that ink that is we love by making Art that we love!!!
Save your spent coffee grounds and use them with a little liquid detergent to make a hand wash.
Most of the industrial hand cleaners have petroleum in them to help break down the grease and that's stuff is nasty and totally wrecks your skin. The cleaners with citrus oil in them are sometimes hit and miss in the effectiveness area and they can be fairly expensive.
I wash my hands with this mix in the region of 30 or 40 times a day and it works perfectly. Oh, and keep the detergent and coffee separate until you need to use them. The coffee works best when it's dry.
You can also try mixing the coffee grounds with Olive oil and use as a face scrub. Sharing is caring.
Tip for making Gelatin Prints.
My advice is to never give up. The process is not an easy one to master. I thought it would be easy, however its messy. You keep layering and printing until you get a result. Afterwards pressing shapes on top of the print. I enjoy the process but my advice is not to give up.
If you want a recipe to make one of these plates please click here, Annie
My best tip to any printmaker, is to proof first and always know that there will be more to cut. Sometimes you teach new students and they seem disappointed at the first pull on the press. I try to explain to them that the first printing session will only reveal where more cutting needs to be made. Always proof your work before using the more expensive paper.Two months of woodcut carving and the first proofs are made. Looks like another few weeks of carving before i can get the good paper out. Looking good but not good enough yet. Loving this new work,
This might be common print making knowledge, but I recently discovered the benefits of corn flour (corn starch) after cleaning my rollers. It stops then becoming sticky/tacky. It only takes the smallest dusting, so I keep a zip lock sandwich bag of cornflour with my rollers.
When doing reduction linocut it is a good idea to carve two lino plates with the same design. When you start printing the colours over each other one of the lino plates gets reduced to small pieces. By doing two you will have a spare lino to try more creative designs. I have posted one of my reduction linocut prints.
Some of my best mono prints have been made on butchers paper, while cleaning up the ink. The less ink you have on the plate, the finer the detail
Bi carb and orange oil makes a good cleanup - better for the environment.
Rosemary Mostyn has 2 great tips:
Vaseline is an excellent product to use in place of Easy Wipe in loosening up stiff inks. Really good for collagraphs and cheaper too.
Leftover ink can be scraped off glass with a spatula and placed on pre-cut pieces of Glad baking paper. Fold into small parcels, tape and label colours and image details with a marker pen. Place snugly in a suitable size plastic container with tight fitting lid. Ink should remain pliable for some time and not form a skin too quickly.
These Gelatine Plate prints were made last year. Prior to this lot, I was using the traditional gelatine plate. These were pulled from a permanent plate made using gelatine, alcohol and glycerine. I found more gelatine was needed than quoted in the recipe. In some of the images you will see stamps that I have made myself to use in my gelatine monotypes. My top tip: Use speedball, waterbased block inks for the best impressions and colours. Clean the plate with baby wipes.
The stamps were made from high density foam. You can get this from a $2 shop in the form of a children's puzzle mat. You heat the smooth side with a heat gun and quickly press into a textured surface. The impression is permanent until heated again
More from Jennifer describing some of her uploaded photos: Not all inks or paints work. I tried using Derivan block printing ink and it wouldn't release from the plate. My favourites still are Speedball block printing inks.
Barbara Nell In classrooms, I have asked students to sit on their lino plates to warm them up, this works well, then I come back later and ask them why they aren't doing any work?
Stacy Frank Here's an example of polyester litho printing on Pronto Plates ...non-toxic and fun. Last month, while visiting with our family in Portland we went out for dinner to a fun pub. While we were waiting for our meals to arrive my youngest niece, Nora, and I traded a piece of paper back and forth taking turns doodling. I can't remember who drew what. Her birthday is coming up so I decided to turn the doodle into her card, polyester lithograph with watercolor...
The scanned artwork is printed onto the Pronto plate with a laser printer and inked up in a similar manner to a lithograph using a water and gum solution.
Tony Deigan - printmaking tutor at BDAS - - has an excellent clean up tip. He uses paper towel and a powder cleanser like Ajax sprinkled on the glass dry to clean up the remains of printmaking inks at the end of a session. It leaves the glass sparkling clean and the spent powder can be put in the bin along with the paper towel.
I have a sort of similar method to Tony Deigan's. I use a spatula to get the bulk off followed by a paint scraper with a razor edge. I sprinkle a little whiting on and buff it off with a cloth. The whiting dries it out and basically rips it off the glass. It's all I use about 98% percent of the time. If anything doesn't budge I can just go over it with the razor and it comes off or I wipe a little isopropyl alcohol over it. Whiting is dirt cheap and a lot safer than Ajax dust.
When setting up for printmaking it is great if you have old xrays can cut them up into small pieces and bend these can be used to pick up your paper thus ensuring clean work and no mishaps with fingerprints. Xray plates also make great base for mixing small amounts of ink for al la poupee and can be washed off easily later. Also those parcels or glad wrap means when want to use can create a small hole and use small amount at time to create work and cover over thereby less mess and also less wastage of ink. Thanks Rosemary for your imput
Stacy Frank Fun way to get several prints off of one roll-up!
Monotype demonstration using paper as a mask followed by off-set and ghost printing. These prints are used as backgrounds for a series called 'Love' which features layers of hearts. The prints I pull in this demo are subsequently printed over with drypoint and carborundum plates.To see the finished pieces visit my website at or my ETSY page at
Glass used for inking up. Make sure the edges are completely covered so no edges are free. I cut my finger today on a side I thought was covered so lesson learned.
We use wet and dry sandpaper to smooth the sharp edges, it only takes a little time to get everything smooth and safe, use an old scouring sponge to wrap the sandpaper and it will curve around and smooth away the sharp edges.
Otherwise Gaffa tape is a quick solution but messy in the long run.
While not a technical tip, this is what came to mind for me yesterday when I was inking up my largest plate to date (30 x 50cm). Printmaking can be a rigorous undertaking, arms, shoulders, back and hip joints can suffer, from our posture as we create plates or print them. I have been going to a pilates class weekly to assist with other health concerns, but the overflow into my printmaking is wonderful. My posture when I am carving, etching or inking and wiping back plates... is now corrected through what I have learnt. Shoulder blades are gently positioned down, keeping my shoulders away from my ears. My abdominal muscles are contracted to provide stability for my lower back and I elongate through the spine with a nice chin tuck...... and after I have pulled a few prints I lie on the floor and do a few gentle rolls and stretches!! I want to keep being able to use a variety of printing techniques in (what I figure at best) the next 20+ years, and I think learning about how to look after my body assists my technical and artistic work.
My top tip is the one that really changed my photo screenprinting methods from expensive to very affordable. I used to buy expensive film positives to transfer my photo images onto my prepared screens.
A few years ago I was shown a very easy method of turning photo copies or laser prints into translucent stencils by wiping them with baby oil. Just remember the toner in the photocopier or laser print is the key as it is dark enough for a translucent stencil.
Yes it works! I now use it for very fine detailed images. I still hand draw much of my artwork and stencils but I can also enlarge or reduce these images on a photocopier or computer. They are then easily turned into stencils via good old baby oil.
I tie my wheel to the press so it can't be turned by little fingers or inexperienced hands. As my studio is located on the same property that my young niece and nephew live, I wouldn't want then accidentally turning the wheel / bed and injuring themselves. (needless to say they aren't meant to go into the studio without me, but curiosity is a feature of a young mind....)
This eraser is magic. If you get a fingerprint of ink (oil based and water based) or indeed any inkspots on the paper when pulling the print, just dampen one of these and use the same way as you would a normal eraser, gently in a circular motion.
You will see a little
fibre on the surface
(it is from the eraser)
but the ink will be gone.
Let it dry and brush off
Don't know how it works,
but it does
I use flexible plastic (smoothed bathroom floor tiles, for example) for relief work and a pasta machine for printing. The shortest dimension is about 13 cms bur... can be as long as you like as the material bends as you wind it through. this is the cheapest entry point to relief printing that I know and works very well.
I place the rolled up plate and the print paper in a sandwich of card, and some further paper backing to make it up to an appropriate thickness for the setting I choose on the pasta machine. You need to experiment to find what setting works for you. You can also make registration marks on the inside of the card sandwich so that you can reposition the plate and the print accurately and roll it through again for reduction printing. As always you have to get the ink roll amount right, but it is not a big issue. I usually print with water washable ink on dampened computer card. I use light coloured plastic tiles that I can draw on, or trace an image off a drawing with conte backed paper, then strengthen the lines with black waterproof marker. Finally, I then rub a dark ink into the plate so that I can see the effect of cutting quite clearly. I use wood engraving tools but other coarser tool are OK. Hope this helps.
Have you thought of making your own dabbers in your printmaking practice for pochoir/stencilling, etc?
Here is how to make one:
Choose a 10 - 15cm square of sponge or dacron wadding and form it into a small ball - gathering up the corners bind tightly with gaffer or strong tape to form a handle. You may need a thread to hold in place while applying the tape. This makes a basic dabber.
• Try covering the sponge with fine plastic sponge sheeting – as used to pack electronic items. This surface is great for wiping clean after use and gives a smooth finish Annie Day
I don’t know about you, but I constantly battle against skinning on the tops of my cans of oil based and rubber based inks. Especially the rubber based inks used for waterless lithography – because no ink modifiers can be added to them. (Despite the fact they are not supposed to, my rubber based inks do start to skin over time.)
My solution is to cut a disc with 5 arms from a plastic index sheet, recycled from the office. The plastic of these sheets is sturdy enough to withst...and frequent pulling without tearing.
I pull up the arm at the highest level of ink, scrape some ink off, and push the disk back down so the top of the ink is level. Removing ink from a different location each time (with a different arm) makes it easier to keep the top of the ink more even. The long arms make it easier to access the ink as the can gets low.
No skinning, no big holes dug into the ink by students and no lumps in the ink. Much less ink wastage.
When cleaning off oil based ink from glass inking bench, use spray cooking oil and soft rag. Spray over the ink on the bench as well as the tools. This avoids the use of a whole lot of cooking oil and is more effective as well. It also prevents palette knives from rusting.
AHA!!! those mlcrofibre cloths are brilliant for cleaning off the lino pates - well for water based inks anyway! (as well as the inking plates) why did I not think about this before now!
We all know that framing for an exhibition can be cost prohibitive. But if you keep most of your prints the same size, you can reuse your frames by popping in a new print that has been matted to fit the frame. I know that I have a few framed prints stored in my studio and it is great to be able to take the prints out and put a new one in for another exhibition. Just a thought!!
Your favourite framer can make you up the right size frame that can easily be undone and re used, and will make you a new matt for your new print each time. Works out much cheaper than IKEA and looks so much more professional.
I keep meaning to post this and forgetting: an alternative to akua's "wiping cloth" substitute for tarlatan is tearaway or sew-in interfacing, bought for$1-2 pm at Spotlight etc. I've tried various weights, and some work well for carborundums and some for fine etchings. One of my classmates hated wiping carbs until I gave her some of the light interfacing to try, while I prefer the stiff tearaway style for my etchings & drypoints.
Cheryl A Bickham
How to make Tarlatan. Butter muslin PVA glue and water 1 part PVA 2 parts water 3 parts water if you want softer material. works out about $2.20 a meter