Printing has been in my practice since my student days. I did my A Level ‘Craft’ as Printmaking, specifically Lino printing. During my Diploma Course I studied Lithography and at the Post Graduate course at the Slade School I discovered Etching. Some years later I acquired an etching press and set up my studio for painting, drawing and printmaking. In our contemporary idiom I have had to outsource much of the printing due to the high cost of the technology.
Studio Printing Equipment
Heat Press for bonding materials. Self Timer & Temperature
Etching Press: Table-Top A3 for Plates & Lino Blocks
Whilst I am happy continuing my interests in the traditional studio methods of printmaking, I have developed, through academic research, an interest in the digital aspect of image making. I currently work in entirely digital terms and print is the way of crossing over from the digital domain to the world of materials as an analog version. This can happen in many ways and I choose this method as part of the making strategy, the materials I want to work with. My new images require Laser printing (not Inkjet) and have introduced me to new methods and materials in making prints utilising new technologies. I consider the digital formatting as ‘craft’; as an understanding of working with digital material. With this comes my engagement with the printer/artisan whom I commission to make product with and for me. To have ‘in-house’ technology is simply too expensive.
‘The Quilt Maker’s Garden’ (above) is an example of an ongoing print image in development. The image is entirely composed as a Linear Drawing in Adobe Illustrator (Ai) software. The image is the black ‘Outline’ drawing and solid black perimeter printed on the front side of translucent synthetic paper. The CMYK colour image (Tamil Text Textile1) is printed on the Verso or Back of the paper substrate. The nature of the substrate allows you to see through the paper albeit as a softened image due to the optical properties of the substrate, not clear but translucent. This is an aesthetic material choice and part of the concept.
‘The Quilt Maker’s Garden’ (Left -detail) A trial sample of a new material and method. The black line drawing is printed using Laser Printing Toner. A powdered material that is delivered dry to the surface and fixed with heat to the paper. The new material for me is Laser Toner Foil which is applied to the finished black print by overlaying foil to the entire surface and passing it through a Laminator, a heat press commonly used to apply plastic covers to printed documents. The Tone Foil transfers to the Black print only and covers it, in this instance, with Holographic Toner Foil. The foil changes colour according to the fall of light or movement of the viewer. Here you can see the linear design chaotically changes colour all over the surface whilst the geometric drawing remains constant.
Lino Block: Another concept is that the original Ai linear drawing can be transposed to other technologies or methods of production. In the example below the same image was opened as a Laser cutter file for Laser Engraving, literally drawing or cutting into the material with heat, in this case a Lino Block. I refer to this process as ‘Digital Recycling’, I simply need to adapt the composition to meet the needs of the technology to ‘read’ the image. Again this is shared with an artisan /printer who knows the language of the technology and method, to achieve a shared product. We have a shared responsibility in the making of the image.
‘The Quilt Maker’s Garden’ is a Blind Emboss Lino Print on Somerset Satin 415gsm Paper. The Lino Block has the design cut into it by the laser cutting machine. The print is made by hand in the traditional method, I used an Etching Press and dampened mould made paper. This is a craft skill in its own rite. The block is not inked, but run through the press in a specific manner and the image indented permanently into the paper surface. The colour of the paper is the colour of the print.
Dye Sublimation Printing: (Dye-Sub) A sublimate is understood in material terms to be “a solid that transforms to a gas without becoming liquid” ‘Dry-Ice’ being an often quoted example. Technically a dye is fed to a normal Inkjet printer and printed onto a special paper that releases the ink when subjected to heat and pressure. The ink penetrates the substrate and colours the material, specifically in textiles. One aspect of the substrate is that it must contain or be made of polyester. Polyester is very receptive to the process. It does not sit on the surface of materials but penetrates it or the polyester coating.
I discovered the process and materials whilst conducting academic research into print technologies and hand-craft. I found it most commonly used in the gift-ware trade where bespoke objects and materials can be economically and speedily produced. In some respects it has become a ‘hobby-trade’ as it is often made as a home craft. At the other end of the scale, ‘Cat-Walk’ fashion textiles can be produced to order is exact quantities and sizes without the need for mass production. I met experts in the field at the Centre for Advanced Textiles (C.A.T.) in Glasgow, Scotland.
‘Touching Glasgow’ The Law School, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland. A Dye-Sub Mural on Synthetic Felt, Hand Embellished with Glitter in 112 parts. A commission for the University’s new Law School.
Every circle was found during a research trip Glasgow. It was transformed in Photoshop (Ps) and Ai and printed in Cardiff on 1mm thick synthetic felt. The prints were heat bonded in my studio to a 20mm thick synthetic substrate using a conservation quality Textile Glue in sheet form. Each group or grid covered simple narratives I found in and around Glasgow. The final process was to cut the circles out of the material using a ‘Clicker Press’ at Anglo Felt Industries, Huddersfield, a process I was trained for and managed for myself.
Below: Details of the process of making each of the 112 discs.
Heat Bonding: Each disc was bonded in the Heat Press [Blue press in the image] to the oversized thick substrate. This required organisation and concentration. Trial & error taught me the correct process and how to obtain the best results. Every process; glueing, glitter, stencil design, etc, was tested before it went into production. I edited all the images at Cardiff School of Art where I was teaching at the time.
How it’s Done! Another principle material was a Non-stick & See-through Plastic & Heat Proof material. I created stencils that allowed me to see where I put the glitter and could leave the stencil in place whilst in the Heat Press. The glitter was also Heat Proof. Locating the materials became a large part of the research strategy. Creating the mural was a positive research outcome where new learning was applied to a ‘real-world’ situation.
The Central Motif: A Map of Glasgow 1863 The first map to show the new university. The original map is Black & White. The colour was added in photoshop and by overlaying a digital image of an artwork.
Dye-Sub and Giftware: ‘Kat-Kups’ is the title of a giftware series of mug designs seen as a series of prints. The whole group of 9 mugs presented the complete image of ‘Katmanli-Daha’ produced for UpFront Gallery in Cumbria.
I also printed a dye-sub polyester ‘Fridge’ magnet copy of an artwork with 81 parts on a sheet steel white enamelled surface.
InkJet Large Format Printing: Artist in Residence at Gemini Digital Print @ Bridgend, Wales.
‘GGG’ A Digital Original. Funded by Artwork Wales and Art & Business (A&B) I won a placement at Gemini Digital Print to trial their new large Format Digital Printer at 54″ wide. My research led to finding huge samples of material suitable for the printing process. I was guided by the company’s Art Director, Dominic Lee, who was a splendid help to me, and from whom I learned a lot about Photoshop and creating files for large prints. The image is based on a watercolour painting scanned and deconstructed into separate bands of colour. Each band represented a region in Turkey as expressed by their weaving technique and natural colour combinations. I played and changed all of these to become new interpretations of the original material. The ‘Kat-Kups’ above derive from this image.
Right: ‘Katmanli-Daha’ an enlarged version of the ‘GGG’ above. Inkjet Print on Canvas with Hand Embellishments. 5 mtr tall. Seen here at a conference exhibition in Kansas City, USA where a Cardiff based textile research group ‘DIGIT’ were showing alongside American Digital Artists who were from within the textiles community. The show moved to Glasgow and a conference was held there to discuss similar developments in the U.K. I was a member of DIGIT and a conference speaker. I was put forward for the Glasgow mural at this conference. I had been working from Turkish Textile based subject matter for some years and exhibited in Izmir, Turkey. I showed this print at a Textiles Conference in Izmir and made a presentation. I created print files in as a bookmark, A4, A2, A0, and above.
Printing on Ceramics:
Printing on hand made ceramics uses the same technology in todays commercial market only the materials are different. The computer images can be manifested in exactly the same way and are printed by what is basically a photocopier. The quality is very high and quite reliable by my experience. The term ‘Decal’ is the generic term for prints that function in this way. Thay can be seen on ceramic or glass surfaces. They are transfers that are applied wet to the glazed tile and positioned and dried a little to fix them in place. They are fired at a medium to low temperature onto the high fired ceramic surface. The colours become embedded in the glaze and are a permanent feature of the surface.
‘The Kings Cross Labyrinth’ Mural. Decal Prints on Porcelain. Every image on the above sample tile is a decal. Some designed or collated by me, others found in collections or purchased from ‘ready-made’ decal collections. It is a very common process for ceramicists. Modern decals are made in ‘continuous tone’ not as ‘dot-screen’ prints so can be highly photographic as images.