infryq: Kitchen scene at dawn, post-processed to appear as if painted (Default)
[personal profile] infryq
Soooo as part of prep for opening an Etsy shop to sell my extra soaps & yarns I started doing research into packaging, which through the usual internet of twisty passages led me to monoprinting using a gelatin plate. There's a synthetic on the market (Gelli Plate) but those are expensive and people have been making a slightly less durable version at home for a century or two.

I started at a thefrugalcrafter video and also read the much better recipe she redirects folks to in the comments. Then I did a more exhaustive search and found a dodgier 19th century recipe and one used in SF fandom. Everything else I found either pointed to one of these, or was clearly a duplicate/rescaling of one of these, or used weird other ingredients like boric acid that I didn't want to deal with.

I have glycerine lying around from some watercolor experiments, and a big cannister of knox gelatine that I originally bought thinking it would be the same as the packets and I could make jello but no, it smells distinctly (and for me inedibly) of animal so it's been languishing in the pantry just waiting for something exactly like this.

Friday I did a bunch of math comparing the three above recipes and decided the demon.co.uk one was the best -- the victorian one was just a bit too slap-dash for me, and shazinoz's recipe had less than half the sugar and since sugar is acting as a preservative here (and my house doesn't have AC) I figured it would be better to have as much sugar in as was feasible. Plus SF fandom doesn't joke around. (I mean neither do primary school teachers but still)

So I made it. Getting the gelatine granules to dissolve in so little water was a pain, but whatever lumps remained came out in the defoaming. For a mold I used a pencil box I'd bought for the purpose which had a smooth interior surface (for some reason I couldn't find the portrait-box things Lindsay references, anywhere, not at Michaels nor Target nor...). By the time I got home from work it had set up. Getting it out of the mold was tricky but eventually worked. The texture was like one of those sticky stretchy hand things you get from a vending machine (that is then instantly covered in dust bunnies and cat hair): squishy, and elastic, and wanting to stick to everything.

Friday night I pulled some test prints. This is just using the cheapest brand of acrylic craft paint you can find at Michael's, some cheap drawing paper I bought on sale, a foam brush (the brayer is in the mail), and some stencils & masks I cut out of leftover overhead transparencies (partially-cut photo, lower right):

2x2 grid of photos of monoprints and stencils

The paint was hard to work with and kept tearing on me and I couldn't get much in the way of ghost prints (that's when paint remains on the plate after you've made a print, which, when printed, gives a more translucent/ghostly image), but that didn't matter -- it was still way fun!

This morning I did some research on how acrylic paint retarders work, then played some more:

2x2 grid of photos of monoprints showing more layering

It seems that most paint retarders for acrylics have two parts: an emollient and a humectant. Emollients provide moisture/liquidity; humectants retain moisture/liquidity. Most oils you'd use in salves and balms are emollients. Sugar is a humectant, as is glycerine. I didn't want to use glycerine since I was worried it might try to dissolve part of my plate, but I do have a pile of emollients around, and I'm not super concerned about texture so water is fine too. For a nickel-sized blob of paint I wound up adding 2-3 drops of mineral oil and 3-6 drops of water for the initial mix, then adding water as needed each subsequent time I painted the plate until there wasn't enough paint left on the palette, then adding more paint and oil, etc.

It worked great! I got more working time for stamping and pulling off paint in various ways and blending my colors better and getting thinner layers of paint to work without tearing, and I got at least one ghost print and sometimes two for each pull, depending on how I'd used various stencils and masks. I also started experimenting with placing the paper over only part of the plate, or at an angle, which gave me some additional combinations.

More prints from this morning:

2x2 grid of monoprints

All the ones from today are 8.5 x 5.5 (half letter), plus a couple of index cards I used for masks that now get to be tags or something cool.

Here are the stamps I used:

wooden, cardboard, and foamsheet stamps

The paisley and the quarter-circle are wood stamps P picked up initially for stamping on clay. The dealy in the upper right is a cool one; you cut shapes into corrugated cardboard and then peel off the outer sheet from some sections, leaving the corrugations to show underneath. I made up the pattern & wasn't sure it would work, but it's... promising. The big flat stamp is a sheet of fun foam with more fun foam shapes glued on top. It was based on an example I saw somewhere that created amazing depth from the shadows of the layers, but they used pellon (extra-stiff interfacing, like you'd use for sewing an elaborate headpiece or something) and the fun foam was a little too thick for reproducing the effect exactly. I still got some amazing patterns out of it though so I'm calling it a success.

I made some more texture stamps and tools out of stuff in my craft bin but I have to wait until the glue is dry before I can try them. :( I'm also thinking of more stencils I want to make...

art art art

Date: 2015-07-20 05:42 am (UTC)
ext_174465: (Default)
From: [identity profile] perspicuity.livejournal.com
my, you have been busy :D

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